Posted
Comments None

The Good Life Experience was definitely a great experience, though quite an unanticipated one…
Arriving at 9am and being instantly confronted with the beautiful Cerys Matthews standing right outside the hut was certainly an exciting wake up call. Dressed all in white with a hat as promised, she wandered into our quaint shepherds hut and began telling us about her love for all things traditional. Remembering vivid memories of singing my heart out to ‘Road Rage’ and ‘Mulder and Scully’ from an early age, I was suddenly a little lost for words as I stood in front of such a welsh icon. However, before we could offer her a lovely slice of bara brith and a cup of tea she was off to welcome the other traders.

Julie and I continued setting up the hut ready for the ambiguous arrival of some Cuban cigar traders from London. They didn’t turn up until around 2pm (fashionably late), so we had a chance to mingle with the festival goers and gain considerable hut buying interest. Eventually the Cigar traders were set up and before our eyes our familiar charming and rural shepherds hut had been transformed into a quirky Cuban style hut selling cigars and mojitos. It was great to see how adaptable our hut can be, although slightly unsettling as every cigar buyer was given a free shot of Captain Morgan’s’ spiced rum to go with it! Soon enough we had a Mexican looking band of musicians posing in front us too!

All in all it was a very eventful day. The hut received yet more compliments and certainly experienced a different culture, we met the fantastic Cerys Matthews, and both Julie and I came away having learnt a bit about Cuban cigars.

Author

Posted
Comments None

5th of September 2014

Taking place in the streets of Nantwich and around the towns grand Church, the annual food and drink festival was the first we have attended which took place in a town. Logistically, manoeuvring the hut through the streets of Nantwich was going to be a challenge.
Firstly, we had to drive the Hut from Loggerheads to Nantwich; this would be the furthest distance the Hut had travelled. Around halfway through the journey unaware of the mile long queue we had created due to our, let’s say ‘constricted’ top speed, we pulled over to let cars pass. I hid my face in my hands after what seemed like an endless run of cars passed us, full of relieved drivers.
We finally arrived in Nantwich after an hour and a half drive, and the Hut had made it intact! Our next mission was to find the ‘red’ exhibitors area. A simple instruction, just follow the signs provided. After ten minutes of looking for the right entrance we had driven completely through the town and had come out the other end. The sign couldn’t be seen anywhere, and after a few more laps of Nantwich I jumped out of the car to ask someone local for directions.
After finally positioning the hut in the centre of Nantwich, and nearly running over a few daft pedestrians, we were safe to breathe a sigh of relief. To our delight the hut looked fantastic amongst the historic backdrop of the Roman buildings and gathered immediate attention as we started setting up. We spent the whole weekend at Nantwich amongst an array of delicious food and drink traders. We were even formally announced (or shouted about) by our friend, the town crier, who afterwards very kindly started sharing his throat clearing sweets with me. However, after selling out of bara brith, winning an award for the most individual stand, and being interviewed by BBC radio Stoke amongst a rush of teas and coffee, we were finally on our way back to our beautiful and familiar spot on Moel Famau.

Nantwich was a pleasure, even though it was a bit of a maze, and we will be sure to return next year to share a little taste of Wales once again.

Author

Posted
Comments None

For the first time the annual Ruthin Carnival was being held on the Ruthin school field, an ideal location for the event. Spread across the field, local stalls and activities had been put on show, with the school building as the backdrop to the event, the Carnival looked great.

We had a very busy day in the hut, with little time to take a good look around. The atmosphere was great and we had plenty of customers to keep us occupied. The stage playing music provided a soundtrack for the day and the time seemed to fly by. Before we knew it we were packing up and taking the Hut back to its home.

Thursday the 21st of August, another county show was upon us, The Denbigh and Flint show. I arrived at the show at 8:30. All I had to do now was find the hut in a maze of marquees and pop-up stalls; I kept my eyes peeled, until I saw a small chimney poking out of the skyline. A chimney I could recognise anywhere. I arrived at the Hut to find Julie had already set up. The Hut wasn’t in the most ideal of locations, wedged between a Flintshire county truck and a gentleman from Stoke selling outdoor furniture.

Busy from the start; it was good to see agriculture still being supported in such a positive way, with visitors and exhibitions from all around North Wales the whole day was great to be a part of. The Hut was attracting attention throughout the day people slowed to a stand to take a peek inside. The pot-belly stove also tempted them in as the weather was quite chilly.

The day passed with a lingering grey cloud that always looked to burst any minute, luckily it held itself and even brightened up in the latter part of the day.

At 6 o’clock it was time to pack the hut up and move out, we packed up the Hut at usual. Only to notice the end of the Hut that we hitch onto the 4×4 was blocked off by a clothes stall, which made it impossible to move. We had come back to the show ground the next morning when the stall had been taken down to finally get the hut.

Author

Posted
Comments None

The 2nd of August was the date of the Oswestry show, which is the annual agricultural show for the County. A dismal forecast was given for the show and true to the weatherman’s word the heavens opened as soon as we arrived. My duties for the day were to showcase our products In front of the Hut, attracting potential customers with offerings of free chocolate and pate. (Not to be eaten at the same time, that would be weird) With hope of the weather improving, we set up the Hut and prepared ourselves. Gradually the rain did stop the sky brightened; I poked my head from the cover of the awning, as did all the other participants of the different stalls. Cautiously tip toeing out of their tents peering up at the sky, just to be greeted with a splash of water as the rain began again. This was the theme of the weather throughout the morning, stopping and starting.

Between showers, I had time to take a walk around the show, looking into other stalls and chatting to the people running them. One particularly interesting stall was a local group of volunteers who were demonstrating defibrillator machines. They are being introduced in to public places from libraries, to schools to help increase the chances of heart attack sufferers. I volunteered to give the machine a go and a willing participant was needed for me to administer an electric shock. A kind gentleman by the name of Billy offered. Billy was a limbless manikin and didn’t really have any choice in the matter but that’s neither here nor there, he volunteered nonetheless. The demonstrator showed me how to check the signs and what to do if someone were having a heart attack. We went through CPR, as I was giving Billy mouth to mouth a thought occurred to me. ‘Just how many people had given Billy mouth to mouth?’ A few I imagine and pulled back only to here the demonstrator say “we generally don’t give mouth to mouth anymore.” ‘Ok why’d I have to do it then?’ Regardless of my unnecessary romantic encounter with Billy, I took some very useful information from the demonstration on what to do in such an event.

In the afternoon the weather brightened up and the Sun came out. This was met with much gratefulness from everyone at the show. We had a lot of interest in the Shepherds Hut, it was turning heads and people were eager to take a closer look inside. I like to think my offerings of free chocolate helped too. As I came back from lunch I was met pleasant surprise. Julie was being awarded first prize in the trade stand competition, she was handed a silver plate for first place.

The Show started to wind down in the late afternoon and people began packing up. We were still attracting visitors to the hut to have a last minute look around. I went to the car park to retrieve my car. As I was entering the car park I noticed the thick wet mud that had accumulated throughout the day, thanks to all the rain and tractors that had driven over it. This probably didn’t deem a problem to most attendants of the show as they came in 4×4s and tractors. In my corner is a 1.2 Renault Clio, challenge accepted. I skidded my way through the car park, mud flying through the air and eventually got stuck where the mud was most thick. By this time a few spectators had gathered around, one gentleman cheering me on. With the man’s (slightly drunk) cheers of motivation on my side, I put my foot down and jolted out of the mud. This was met with one final cheer from the chap, I turned to him and gave him a thumbs up which he did back to me as if to say good show friend, good show.

Author

Posted
Comments None

The same day that I interviewed Sue Vaarkamp, I went to meet Dominic Lawrence who actually built the Shepherds Hut. I was given the address and again typed it into Google maps, hoping that I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, and was cautious of where the device took me.

Twenty minutes out of Ruthin I was directed to take a left turn into an estate which was home to a mansion,
‘wow, there is a lot of money in these shepherds huts,’ I thought to myself. I pulled up the car in front of the house and it dawned on me, I’m in the wrong place….again. After considering throwing my phone out of the window, I gathered my thoughts, ‘it can’t be far from here’. I turned the car around and headed the way I came.I noticed a house to the right of me, where in the back garden a man was working with wood. Knowing a little of Dominic’s profession, this had to be the right place.

I was right. I greeted Dominic who was indeed working in his outdoor work shop. He was working on jumps for horses that are used in equestrian events.The particular Jumps he was working on were being sent to Dorset, he does sell jumps to places all across the UK. One of Dominic’s proudest achievements was making the Jumps for the equestrian events in the London 2012 Olympic games.

Working for himself, Dominic takes on a lot of responsibility with his projects, relishing in the process and striving for the perfect result. Initially trained as a landscape designer and working with wood mainly for the past 6 years, he has gained a profound knowledge of the craft. This is why Dominic was the perfect choice in craftsman when it came to building The Shepherds Hut.

He’d never made a commercial trailer before and mentioned how it was all a learning process for him. Starting off well after doing some research into Shepherds huts and the way they were built Dominic began with the Initial frame work, which he had a certain vision for. The interior of the hut was more of a ‘thinking on his feet’ approach taking into account the purpose of the hut on the catering side, which required essential utilities such as gas, water and electricity. All these factors made for different challenges which Dominic overcame with successful results. On the finished result of the Hut Dominic stated to me “I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. I had an image in my head of what it should be I happy it’s turned out that way”. I have witnessed his work first hand and have spent a lot of time in the shepherds hut.
The effort and attention to detail put into the project is self-evident, It is something Dominic is really proud of and rightly so.

Author

← Older Newer →