I have to admit that every time I go away I always feel when I see the Shropshire sign on the road I have come home. There is just something so special about the county. I don’t know if it has something to do with the fact that so few people know where Shropshire is or what it has to offer.
‘Where do you live?’ usually asked when travelling.
I reply ‘Shropshire.’
‘Oh where’s that?’
Me ‘erm it’s on the border of Wales sort of to the north and west of Birmingham.’
This is usually met with slightly puzzled looks sometimes with additional questions about famous towns, events and people etc.
People are suprised when you talk about Abraham Derby and Ironbridge, Much Wenlock and the modern Olympic Games, Shrewsbury and its Flax Mill. Richard III spent some time in childhood at Ludlow Castle. (I often feel like saying ‘not a lot of people know that’) Indeed Shropshire appears to be a very well kept secret. Is this because Proud Salopians don’t talk about it much? Or as I like to think, once people have discovered the amazing gem that is Shropshire they like to keep it the way it is?
I feel at home here it’s an amazing place to live and work. If you are creative and artistic there is endless inspiration in the wonderful natural landscapes, from the hills of south Shropshire to the fertile lowland areas of North Shropshire . The history here is fabulous from stone circles and hill forts like Old Oswestry to Roman and Medieval sites nearly every period of history has left some sort of indelible mark on the Country.
When I moved here as a child, the contrast between a mining town in South Yorkshire and Shrewsbury could not have been greater. Clean fresh air, gentle countryside softly spoken people. It takes longer to get to know native Shropshire folk they might not be as welcoming as Yorkshire people but once you get to know them you have friends for life.
Since being made redundant in 2012 I decided to start my own business called Creative Upcycling. You can chat to me on Twitter @ShropshireCraft. I upcycle quality items and vintage finds into new items for the home for decorative and practical use. I also have found the time to do watercolour and silk painting and quilted landscapes. I say fortunate because there are many places in Shropshire to learn these skills, endless inspiration from the suroundings and the people who appreciate what you are creating.
I have found that when I explain what upcycling is and how green and sustainable it is; people of Shropshire are keen to know more and support you. I have been lucky to have received support from the Princes Trust for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) to support the start up of the business and find places within the County like Shifnal Farmers Market to showcase my products.
When I need to recharge and feel the need to get out in the fresh air I feel most at home in the area of the county between the Long Mynd and the Stiperstones. There are great views, fabulous walks, history and for me more importantly family who farm there! Yes you do need to wear your wellies on the farm but I have upgraded mine to some tough country boots and these work fine! If it’s a walk over the Mynd then its walking boots.
So next time you head back into Shropshire maybe along the M54 from the M6 and then head onto the A5 heading towards Shrewsbury as you pass over the brow of Overley Hill just past Wellington you can drink in what I think is one of the best views in Shropshire. Stretton Hills to the left of the road, Breidden and Rodneys Pillar, in the distance Wales a distant hazy mountain and Haughmond and Grinshill hills low mounds to the right with the spires of Shrewsbury nestling between them all.
Tell me, do you have a small sigh as the familiarity of the county washes over you?
Yes I do! Thanks Clare. Find out more about her creative upcycling.