OUR EUROPEAN HERITAGE

Leaving our eighteen-year-old son at home on the farm, we are away for three weeks in Wales, Yorkshire and Puglia. It will be a rejuvenating break from work, a catch-up with family, and a chance to sit in the sun with the celebrated peasant cooking of southern Italy. I will be looking at farms, too, with an eye for the innovative and the traditional. We want to find a higher-quality packaging for our cheeses, moving away from plastic to a breathable, attractive and practical alternative, and I'll look at presentation in English and Italian cheeses.

Portmeirion in north Wales

We have family in Wales, and we'll visit the surprising Italianate town of Portmeirion, designed or rebuilt by an architect who loved Mediterranean Italy. If the Welsh skies are not dark with rain, the views over the estuary and gardens are grand. Portmeirion is a stand-in for glamorous Europe on British television, and famously the secret location of a cult sixties show called The Prisoner. You've probably seen Portmeirion china, too: the green and floral botanical prints on white pottery, and other designs, were made by the village architect's daughter.

Barnsley in Yorkshire

My parents still live in Old Royston, outside Barnsley in Yorkshire. It's industrial countryside, with canals and the railway - but there's no mining or linen weaving now, and very little glass-making. The villages and towns have plenty of small businesses, though, and I enjoy the food shopping at small butchers and greengrocers, the leisurely tea-rooms and heavingly popular plant nurseries.

Puglia in southern Italy

Puglia is my husband's choice. It is the heartland of Italian olive oil, with simple, delicious cooking and many small farms to visit. We'll wander rugged olive groves and look out for fresh cheeses. I'll also be looking for inspiration for our farm shop. I love the tactile pleasures of practical, hand-made things. Not the must-have accessories of those who judge themselves and others by their possessions - merely a very few, useful things made with skill and centuries of experience. I will bring a little of that European heritage back with me.

 

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