July letter from The Ferns talking about Veggie Pret a Manger, local artist Carole Baker and the restoration of our canal

Veggie Pret a Manger


Pret opened its Little Veggie Pop Up shop on Broadwick Street, Soho on 1st June. It has been almost a year in the making. The objectives were to give our chefs a turbo-challenge to come up with delicious new veggie and vegan options and also to ask our customers what they would like to see end up on Pret’s shelves permanently. We predicted our Veggie Pret shop would see sales drop by up to 30% and the project was expected to be an investment (i.e. a loss maker).It has been so successful that it has been reported the coffee and sandwich store is likely to open more meat-free shops.The chefs created 45 plant-based dishes for the pop-up store in Broadwick Street, and the eight top sellers are all vegan.

Bosses decided to trial the project, called ‘Veggie Pret’, after sales of vegetarian products doubled in 2015.  In the three weeks since it opened  takings are up 70 per cent

Carrot – Pret Veggie Pop Up

Well done Pret a manger!

Carole Baker – local artist and teacher

Quite a few of my guests come to Newport to take part in  painting courses run by Carol Baker She lives about 5 minutes drive from Newport town centre in the countryside at Weston Heath , and several of my guests have enjoyed  and been inspired by her venue and her  exciting  paintings. . She is inspired by the landscape, bold, vibrant colour and texture fascinate her and she strives to create exciting and evocative paintings. Here are three paintings that Carol has allowed me to feature in my blog

 Below Title ‘Woodland Walk’
Acrylic on box canvas 50x50cm
Inspired by one of the many walks close to my studio –  backlit trees at The Lizard

Below Title ‘Bathed in Light’
Acrylic and collage on box canvas 80x80cm
Inspired by a walk from Newport to Gnosall along the railway track (Shropshire)

Linda says “so atmospheric”

Below Title ‘Floating High’
Acrylic and texture on box canvas
Walking at the Stiperstones in Shropshire with the Long Mynd in the distance


Linda says:  I feel as though I’m there – so very high up!

Carol is a busy person: teaching painting workshops, travelling around the country for both inspiration and to take part in exhibitions. She was elected Member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in April 2008. Carole regularly exhibits there and in prestigious art fairs and galleries throughout the UK. She is gaining international recognition following articles published in ‘International Artist’ magazine . She has contributed to a series for The Artist magazine on practical painting techniques in acrylics.

Carol says of her courses  – that they are

•    Friendly and individual tuition.
•    Daily demonstrations and critiques.
•    Course fees: from £65 including all tuition and refreshments.
•    Workshops limited to 6 people unless otherwise stated.
•   Studio based – Full day, 10am – 4pm
•    En Plein Air – Full day, 10am – 5pm
Ideal if you wish to
•    Find fresh ideas and powerful new direction for your work.
•    Recharge your artistic batteries.
•    Meet like-minded artists.


Carole’s workshops are aimed at people who want to ‘loosen up’ and be freer. Carole paints in such a way as to draw the viewer in, to let them decipher certain elements, and therefore, lots of detail need not be laboured over…. just a suggestion of what is there is often all that is needed, making the finished work more exciting, evocative and bold.

She has  her studio open for visits from 28-31 July 2016 .Open 10am-5pm each day
Must go and have a look!

Newport Canal

Image result for newport canal

What used to be the old town marina

We are fortunate in having a canal through our little town. It doesn’t go anywhere – it was chopped off in the 1960s, and the local Canal restoration Society are trying to link it up again with the Shropshire Union at Norbury Junction.

Image result for newport canal

Restoration work going on

The Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust are aiming to raise a huge amount of money  in order to get the rest of the canal watered and useable again. A mammoth task. if you can  help by supporting them with money or  volunteer work, well worth it.

The canal is not just a wonderful place to walk – so peaceful, but we also see  ducks, swans and herons  when we walk there.


Here is a photos that I took fairly recently on the canal. Lovely!

I feel a walk coming on . . .Have a lovely summer