If anyone else asks me what’s happening with De Grey’s, the famous Ludlow tearooms that closed last week, I shall scream; I will start rattling a few rumours around, just because I can, and the folk of south Shropshire simply adore a juicy rumour: Tesco Express, Nandos, maybe even Ann Summers (now that would be something), that’s what’s happening. Official.
It’s the same old thing though, we all go berserk when one of these types of places closes down – and indeed it is a great shame – but just because we’re locals doesn’t give us a right to claim ownership. “But it’s an INSTITUTION!” I hear you squawk. An ‘institution’ that many of us probably hadn’t set a foot in more than half a dozen times in the last decade (and taking Uncle Alf there once a year for a cuppa and a cream horn once a year barely counts).
The independent shops, restaurants and other businesses that you love so much and make you proud to call places like Ludlow your home, actually need local support and cash to be at the very core of their success. Not nostalgia. It’s all very well bemoaning their loss and worrying that the tourists will have nowhere to go. Although tourism is essential to our region, businesses need you in order to survive.
But it’s not all bad news because, as I mooted in this column some time ago (thanks very much), the Bosi family are back in Ludlow. Cedric’s taken on the Charlton Arms, and it ought to be jolly good indeed. I can’t wait to pop in, despite being terrified of the resident ghost (When I worked there in my uni holidays several years ago, the Charlton ghoul very nearly caused me to accident myself when I was changing a barrel in their spooky old cellar. A story for another time perhaps.). Anyway, best of luck to the new owners, I’ve no doubt it’ll be fabulous.
Rhubarb. That’s what you need in your life right now. Not the stringy old green astringent stalks with the gigantic leaves that Uncle Alf (remember him? Partial to a cream horn Uncle Alf?) grows. No, no, no. What you want it the pertly pink forced stuff that grows in candlelit sheds up in Yorkshire, and I adore it. It’s expensive, but delicate, sweet, so very pretty, and only around for a few weeks. I actually bought some at the farmers’ market that had been grown in Worcestershire by Will Edmonds (the most handsome and charming farmer I know), and it was magnificent. I love it raw and dunked in sugar like a sherbert dib-dab, but go easy on it as too much will give you a gippy tummy and cause you to…hang on…did I ever tell you about the ghost in the Charlton Arms?