I've had such a wonderful day today, touring through the beautiful South Shropshire countryside, and all in the name of research! With my trusty chauffeur and research assistant (husband Dave!) we took off with merry abandon in the morning sunshine. I'd been doing an article on the ten best cafes in Shropshire and had come to a standstill. I had about five cafes in mind but there were some others I'd had recommended to me that I hadn't been to. So in the interests of fair play and accuracy I decided to go and visit some cafes for my list! And with the promise of a cuppa and a bun my husband didn't need much persuasion. Oh how we suffer for our art!
We deposited our daughter at nursery and headed off on our travels. First stop was Ironbridge. It's only five minutes up the road from where we live so it was a logical start. I had a cappuccino and he supped some Earl Grey tea whilst I scribbled notes, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible! We then moved on to Broseley but was sadly disappointed by it's lack of proper cafe facilities where the air wasn't thick with grease, making you choke as soon as you walked in! So we swiftly moved on!
Next was Cleobury Mortimer via Bridgnorth. This was a trip of nostalgia for Dave as he went to school in Cleobury and lived in nearby Chorley until I dragged him away to marry me! He was in his element telling me about the history of Cleobury and his exploits as a teenager there. He told me the legend behind why the church spire is slightly twisted, and he lamented over his old school now housing flats! It was cups of tea, a blueberry muffin for me and a bakewell tart for him there.
We then went over Titterstone Clee to get to Ludlow. This was my turn for a bit of nostalgia as I used to live and work in Ludlow for eighteen months in the late 1980's/early 1990 as a nanny. I have been back to the town since then but my visits have been infrequent. Didn't go into any cafes here as we were a bit tea bound by this point and my bladder was already protesting! And the two cafes I was interested in were full to bursting point (as was my bladder) so I peered in through the windows and looked at their menus outside. The punters coming out seemed happy enough so I guess the cafes were good! It was a good excuse to wander around the town (and a book shop of course - any excuse and I'm in one!) We bought our daughter some flowers, a picture of which I've posted at the top of this page, and a notebook as she said she wanted a purple notebook to write a story in! (chip off the old block!)
Then it was back home via Muchwenlock, after four cups of tea, a cappuccino, a blueberry muffin and a bakewell tart between us! Phew! What a day! I really enjoyed it though, and I waved hello, metaphorically, to Carole as I walked through Ludlow and waved at the Bitterly road sign to Di and her chickens as we went past! I think my bladder has forgiven me now for making it work hard.
We live in such a beautiful county and it was nice to see some of the lovely countryside. It inspired me to see the scenery and the changing weather as we crossed the county, from the brilliant sunshine in Ironbridge to the dark and threatening skies over Ludlow and the rain on the way home. I'd never been to Cleobury Mortimer, or gone over Titterstone Clee before, so it was a new and lovely experience for me.
The settings we use in our writing is so important. It can really set the mood for a story. Think about how different you feel on a rainy, cold and dark day, to a sunny, warm day. It will be the same for your characters. A story can be so different when told from somewhere that is warm and sunny to when it is set in a cold, dark place, and your characters will react and interact accordingly. Being out and about today as made me realise just how important setting is.
Hope everyone else has had a good day.
Take care. Julie xx