Although I couldn’t make this year’s RNA conference, I was a stone’s throw away from Telford, where it was held, just a week earlier. We visited Ludlow, and its castle, on a warm, sunny Saturday.
I love going round castles. It’s all history, mystery and teashops with decent cake.
Ludlow Castle was the seat of government for Wales and the Border Counties during Edward IV’s reign. I knew some of the history from this period already, thanks to Emma Darwin’s engrossing novel, A Secret Alchemy. The king’s sons, Edward and Richard (the Princes in the Tower), spent much of their childhood in Ludlow. It’s also where Catherine of Aragon honeymooned with Arthur, brother of Henry VIII. Arthur died whilst they were still in Ludlow and his heart is buried in the town. It was extraordinary to think ahead to her marriage to Henry himself, and the momentous chain of events she was caught up in.
Ludlow’s become known as a gastronomic hotspot, with prices to match, but this article in The Guardian suggests where to eat without breaking the bank. I can vouch for the lovely location of The Green Café, right by the river.
The town also has a lively market, with an excellent book stall (yes, I did indulge…) as well as multiple artisan foodie offerings. (And offerings for the four-legged friend in your life too. It was the first time I’d seen pigs’ ears and snouts for sale… Obviously, it’s great to avoid waste. All the same, if I had a dog, I can safely say I would not want it lolloping round the house with a snout in its mouth. I have visions of finding the odd abandoned one behind the sofa.)
On our way out of town, we stopped at St Laurence’s Church, where Ludlow Choral Society were practising for a concert. We got to hear part of John Rutter’s The Sprig of Thyme. This isn’t the same choir, but here’s a taste of what we enjoyed: a wonderful, atmospheric end to the day.
As for the RNA Conference, well, I’m determined to go next year, when it will be held at Queen Mary College in London. In the meantime, I’m contenting myself with all the information on the RNA website. The reports from past years contain some fantastic advice, which I shall enjoy digesting. (After that I really will do some actual writing. I have moved on slightly from my ‘stuck in the middle’ doldrums. Nearly at 60,000 words…)