Things I love include food, flowers and heritage. Since moving to a more rural posting here in Wiltshire, I’m also nurturing a growing interest in wild food and foraging. So finding a pop up coffee shop with an emphasis on local and sustainable located in a historic courtyard of converted buildings…winner!
Wilton Shopping Village is housed in a historic courtyard of brick buildings, the oldest of which dates back to the 1700’s. The site has been used in the past as a grist mill and a tannery and, of course, as a weaving mill for the production of the famous Wilton carpets. Yes, that Wilton.
In the carpet weaving days, the central lawn was used for the rolling out and inspection of larger carpet creations. If you’re interested in that sort of thing (and it is more interesting than it sounds, honestly) check out @wilton_carpets on Instagram for some intriguing heritage images and some jaw droppingly beautiful shots of the modern creations.
The carpet weavers might be long gone, but colourful things are still being created in the courtyard thanks to the arrival of a pop up cafe from Herbs & Wild. The work of Salisbury based Hannah Thomas, H&W places the focus back onto traceability of ingredients, foraged food and seasonal eating. I love the idea of slowing down the approach to food, of using what can be sourced locally and connecting a bit more with what goes on our plates.
I touched in a previous post on my attempts at a little bit of foraging in my local woods, but I don’t have the knowledge to do much more than pluck a few berries at the moment. No one wants to find out the hard way they shouldn’t have eaten something. So finding a place to go that will give me a taste of the wild is a beautiful thing.
And it is also a beautiful place. Wooden tables, each with its own jar of wildflowers, fill the space under a marquee. It creates a lovely intimate-feeling space nestled in amongst the old brick buildings. The perimeter of the courtyard is planted with lavender and pretty summer blooms, and for those who prefer more casual seating there are traditional striped deckchairs.
Being a blisteringly hot day- I think it got up to about the 34 degree mark- we opted for gelato and iced drinks in the shade. The gelato came the form of some locally produced loveliness from the nearby Lacock Dairy. Yes, that’s Lacock as in the nearby village visited and blogged about here. I’m not sure I’d get more local, unless I made it myself. Lets leave it to the experts, shall we?
Due to the heat and the fact that we foolishly timed our visit for just after lunch, we didn’t sample the foody offerings. Not that I wasn’t tempted, but it would have been sheer gluttony. And my waistline is telling me that there has been quite enough of that in lock down, thank you. I’m definitely pencilling in a return visit very soon, though. The menu includes dishes like windfall apple, blackberry and lavender cobbler and samphire spaghetti, so I’d be missing out if I didn’t.
Beyond the walls of the courtyard, there’s plenty of space to walk off the indulgence. The town of Wilton is just up the road and there are some lovely walks along the banks of the River Nadder. Honestly though, I was a bit hot and gelato-stuffed to walk, so enjoyed the river by perching and dipping my feet in.
I love the idea of slow food, of wild edibles and foraging. Quarantine forced me to slow down, evaluate and has left with me with some ideas on changes I’d like to make and avenues I’d like to explore. Food and the great outdoors play a big part in everyday life for me, so isn’t that a grand place to start?
The pop up event runs at Wilton Shopping Village from July to September, use post code SP2 0BH. Beyond this, Herb & Wild offers a range of supper clubs and work shops all of which look brilliant. I’d highly recommend checking them out. Even if you aren’t local enough for a visit, the website and Instagram account @herbsandwild is a feast of inspiration.
Have you started going out to eat and drink again? Been anywhere nice or found any local gems? Let’s chat in the comments.
P.s…this is the first post I’ve created with the new WordPress editor. Honestly, I’m struggling with it. So please be kind and forgive any mistakes if I’ve missed them! And let me know how you are finding the new ‘blocks’, I’m interested to hear how others are getting on with it all?