Saturday 10th May 2014
Reviewed by Adam Legge
“How time flies. Thirty years ago, the Marches Transport Festival Started life as the ‘Ludlow Vintage Vehicle Display’, an event organised to mark the Ludlow Art Festival’s ‘silver jubilee’ in 1984. Just 20 vehicles were displayed in our beautiful town centre. It proved to be a success, and so from little acorns do tall oaks grow. The event developed down the years with the addition of a Leominster Vehicle display and the start of the Leominster to Ludlow run – evolving into the Marches Transport Festival, covering all types of vehicles from bicycles to tractors. Six years ago, the Marches Transport Festival became a joint enterprise with the Ludlow Spring Festival and this year marks their 30th Anniversary. A ?eet of classic Rolls-Royces, Swallow Dorretti’s and many other cars will make their way to the castle’s Outer Bailey during the week end of May 10 and 11.They’ll be part of the Ludlow Spring Festival, which this year will feature a record-breaking 190 real ales. There will also be chef demonstrations from the best in the business, kids’ cookery, masterclasses and lots and lots of exhibitors. Oh, and we almost forgot, there’ll also be plenty of live music to keep you entertained. There’s much more – read inside for full details, we’re all revved up and ready to go.”
They had me at the 190 real ales! However, it was the promise of food, kids cookery classes and vintage cars that made us decide to take our three children, Sophie 11, William 9 and 21 month old Florence too. We took the advice of the festival’s website to use the park and ride on the day to avoid the congestion in the town. We easily parked and were impressed that you just pay for the bus ride which was just £1 an adult and 50p for the two older children. The only downside was that there were just two buses running so we had a wait of 25 minutes in the drizzle.
A short trip later and we were dropped off right at the entrance to the castle. The usual Saturday market was in full swing so we had a look round the great stalls in that area first before venturing through to the actual festival. Ludlow is such an attractive town and coupled with the pudding trails, the town market, the live music and the ‘Meet the Brewer’ on the Friday night ~ it really would be worth you booking into a hotel and spending the whole weekend there – we’re going to next time, no designated driver needed then!
Wristbands (pre-paid tickets) get to bypass the queues and go straight through which was great as it was still a bit drizzly so that made for the perfect excuse to go straight to the beer tent! This made us glad to have arrived at 11ish and would recommend that you either start your day at 10-11 or later at around 4, at these times, it was easy to get around the beer tent. The 190 barrels were centred in the middle of the tent with a good selection of independent businesses such as lagers, ciders, porkpies, bottled beers and juices around the sides. We bought our beer tokens, £1.50 over half pint token, which I felt was surprisingly reasonable, and immediately headed over to the beers – wow! Kid in a sweet shop quite aptly describes how I felt, where to start? I’ve never seen a selection like it and so many were from such small breweries that I’d never come across before – oh if only I could have tried them all! The staff were extremely helpful and offer you tasters, I really could have just stayed there all day, however, my kids had something to say about that! So off we headed with our first beers, Gloucester Gold and Diawl Bach and found the great board games section that William would have happily stayed at all day – so that was us men sorted!
We then spent a very happy half hour with our second drinks, Bankers Draft and Anti-Gravity down at the other end of the large marquee where there was seating and plenty or grassed space for picnic blankets, listening to the live music of Anthony Doyle. This is where Florence would have stayed all day, he had a fabulous way with the kids and was encouraging them all to dance and join in!
After tasting all the pies and purchasing a few too – we headed outside to wander through the great display of vintage cars to the outside stalls. This is where all your senses are sent into overdrive with different aromas coming from every stall. The selection of local producers was impressive, from Indian food, to cheese suppliers to medieval food producers! The kids favourite stall of this section (other than the Little Round Cake Company!) was the Easy Peasy kids cookery workshops. This was hugely impressive as was free and lasted half an hour with them making themselves three sausage rolls. You need to book your children (aged 5 to 12) in but we had no problem at all. The two ladies leading the class were very friendly and helpful and Sophie and William were very proud of their creations.
One tip would be to book in on any workshops you’re interested in right at the start of your visit as we discovered the pottery class and Indian cookery classes just as the sessions were ending. Also make sure you don’t miss the stands over the moat within the castle grounds – we nearly did but Florence was so determined to cross that moat that we accidentally discovered it – my wife was pleased as had we not she would have missed the chocolate stand, Daniel’s Delights, which she declared as the best chocolate ever, (apparently the salted caramel is to die for!) well, I now know where SHE’D have spent the whole day!
All-in-all, I’d sum this up as a great day/weekend out for people of all ages and tastes—there really was something for everyone. The festival is very well run and it’s buggy and wheelchair friendly. Whilst you’ll inevitably spend a small fortune as you just get tempted at every turn, the entrance to the festival is very reasonable, (see below) definitely worth mentioning the impressive allowance of upto 4 children on the family ticket from 5-13 years, with under 5’s free, the cask beers are not at all over priced and the bottled beers to take home are as good as any supermarket price but with a far better selection. We won’t be waiting until next year to return, Ludlow Food Festival, 12th-14th September 2014 is already on our calendar!
A fab family day out that has something for everyone – 5 out of 5.
Meet the brewer: Friday: 5-9pm. Adults only £2. Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday 10am—5pm. Adults £6, Children £1.50, Family £15 (2 adults and upto 4 children aged 5-13 years) Two day tickets are available: Adults £9, Children £3 Weekend family tickets £21.
For more information or to book tickets for the Ludlow Food Festival 12-14 September visit www.foodfestival.co.uk.