Cidery’s new summer festival celebrates local brands

Cidery’s new summer festival celebrates local brands

Napton Cidery, Hillside Jamm festival

A packed day of summer fun and entertainment has been announced with the launch of a brand new festival for south Warwickshire.

An all-day line-up of live musicians will take centre stage in Napton-on-the-Hill all performing their own music for the Cidery’s Hillside Jamm event, near the Cidery, on July 29th.

As well as Napton Cidery’s range of ciders, the event will feature stalls selling a variety of festival goods and mementoes plus the chance to buy from some of the best food and drink producers in the area, including Purity in Alcester; Windmill Hill Brewers in Leamington; Tacos El Pap in Southam and Red Bangers and Water Buffalo Ice cream – made from locally-reared water buffalo – both from Napton.

It will also be an opportunity to sample the Cidery’s new limited-edition 2022 Vintage Perry Cider.

Visitors can buy festival merchandise – including T-shirts – and enjoy fun-themed stalls as well as a host of family activities to keep the youngsters entertained, including magicians and face painters.

Co-owner of the Cidery, Jolyon Olivier, said he hopes Hillside Jamm can become a permanent fixture on the local calendar. “It should be a great fun day out. The festival has got something for everyone and is family-friendly, with plenty going on with local music, food, entertainment and traders.”

Central to Napton’s growing popularity among customers is its strong sustainability ethos, from harvesting through to packaging. All of its apples come from traditional unsprayed orchards, organic and biodiverse growers, so no unnatural chemicals are introduced into the ecosystem. The cider is also naturally fermented using only wild yeasts and packaged in recyclable materials and all ingredients sourced as locally as possible.

Napton Cidery, Hillside Jamm festival

In keeping with this ethos, the festival is also banning single-use plastics and all visitors will receive a branded reusable cup to use throughout the day. The event is also donating one pound from every ticket sold to the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

Jolyon added: “It is important that, as a business, we move with the times and we care about our planet. We want to go into a field and then leave it the way we found it. There’s only so much planet and we all have to do our bit for it. One of the requirements for businesses to attend the festival is that their packaging is compostable. This is our way of giving back to nature what we’ve taken from fruit.”

Headliners for the musical line-up include the award-winning husband and wife duo When Rivers Meet, supported throughout the day by local and UK bands, including Loveday, from Leamington; Clemency Duo, from Leamington; The Hatstand Band from Rugby; The Folly Brothers from Napton and The Collective, fronted by the Cidery’s own taproom host Nick Geden.

The festival runs between 11am and 11pm but camping is also available overnight on Friday and Saturday for £20per pitch. Early bird admission tickets at £32 for adults and £16 for 15-17-year-olds are available now for a limited time. Under 15s go free.

Donna Hook, of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to attend the festival and are pleased to see the work Napton Cidery have done to promote sustainability at their event.  The Trust will be available at the event for people to find out more about how they can support wildlife in their area and make a difference to their environment.”

The taproom also hosts regular quiz nights, live music, stand-up comedy and cider tasting tours.

To book for Hillside Jamm and see Napton Cidery’s upcoming events calendar visit here

Review: Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa’s The Stuart Restaurant

Review: Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa’s The Stuart Restaurant

Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa, Stratford, review

Nestled in 11 acres of Warwickshire countryside just three miles outside Stratford-upon-Avon, Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa houses some hidden gems.

Part of The Bespoke Hotels Group, the restored 125-year-old house is popular for its beautiful grounds, sumptuous accommodation and world class health club and spa. And locals will be familiar with its Shakespearean connections – the Bard himself is said to have penned his comedy As You Like It in the hotel’s library.

But our recent visit was about putting Billesley’s modern-day culinary credentials to the test in the form of its popular fine dining Stuart Restaurant.

Here guests can indulge in everything from all manor of gastronomic delights using locally sourced – and where possible sustainable – produce, from a la carte dining to Sunday lunch and even themed afternoon teas.

Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa, Stratford, review

Taking our seats for dinner we were immediately struck by the grandeur of this splendid oak-panelled room, the Elizabethan charm setting the scene – and high expectations – for what’s to come.

We were lucky enough to go early evening while still light outside and so were afforded the stunning views through the restaurant windows. But if you have time, do take a turn around the grounds, which include an exquisite ornate Victorian-era topiary garden inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

In a fun nod to Warwickshire’s famous playwright, the menu is presented as Opening Acts, Main Event, Stand Ins and Curtain Call. Our Openers were Crispy Pig’s Head with Poached Pear, Roasted Pear Puree and Walnut Emulsion and Soup of the Day (roasted tomato). The former took us by surprise when it arrived resembling more a sausage than a pig’s head but we agreed this was probably just as well!

For the Main Event we enjoyed Duck Breast with Celeriac Fondant, Burnt Celeriac Puree, Blackberries and Jus and Pork Belly, served with Carrot Puree, Honied Carrot, Cider Braised Baby Turnip and Black Pudding Gel. Both very tasty plates of food but, after starving ourselves in anticipation, we were glad we’d also plumbed for sides (Stand Ins) of Garlic & Rosemary Seasoned Chips and Parmesan Potatoes.

Now came what was for me, the real Main Event in the form of dessert (or Curtain Call), courtesy of the chef’s Duck Egg Tart, with Poached Pear and Vanilla Ice Cream. From memory, simply the most exquisite pastry dish that’s crossed my lips – and there have been a few! Delicious and delicate complementary flavours that definitely prompted calls of ‘Encore’ from me. I’d have taken home a pack of four had there been a deli counter option on the way out!

Hubby’s Dark Chocolate Delice, served with Pistachio Gel, Pistachio Crumb and Tonka Bean, was polished off in no time. He was content with the modest sized serving as it was rich in taste – and a fitting final act to proceedings.

Those with less of a sweet tooth can enjoy an impressive selection of cheeses and there is an extensive wine menu with a deliberate focus on small production sustainable vineyards.

Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa, Stratford, review

The sophisticated and friendly ambience combined with attentive service and flavour-packed dishes will ensure a foodie experience you’ll want to repeat.

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

Visit Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa here

National recognition for local ‘lockdown saviour’

National recognition for local ‘lockdown saviour’

Hayley Alexander receives her award for Excellence In Marketing from Erica Kemp and Julie McGarrigle of Alsters Kelley Solicitors. Photos by Spaces and Faces Photography.

A south Warwickshire woman who helped navigate her new boss’s business through the challenges of lockdown, has been named among the winners of a national awards celebrating female achievers.

Hayley Alexander, from Welford, won the Ladies First Professional Development Awards Excellence In Marketing category after judges heard from Shakespeare Media CEO Vicki Bravington about how she’d helped to take the company from near closure to the multi-million-pound agency it is today. This was despite starting her role there just three months before the pandemic struck.

Vicki said: “Having hit the ground running and learning everything there possibly was about a new industry within a short period of time, Hayley was then put on furlough for 12 months. Upon returning the landscape had completely changed and the ways to market a business had changed, therefore Hayley was starting from scratch again.

“It was touch and go as to whether Shakespeare Media could find its new feet and survive. But thankfully down to the determination of myself and Hayley we did not let this happen.

“Hayley adapted herself and put her heart and soul into finding solution for new clients after coming through a very tricky period. She was instrumental in us winning some very large contracts and fully exceeding their expectations and marketing results.”

She added: “Hayley is a dream – she is passionate, committed, determined and positive. We have had an extremely difficult few years with advertising being the first thing that clients sadly scale back on, but Hayley has always found a different solution that works for them.”

Thirty-three-year-old Hayley grew up in Wellesbourne before moving to Stratford, and enjoyed a nine-year career in local radio prior to embarking on a new challenge at Shakespeare Media, in Atherstone On Stour.

She was among 35 winners who were selected from hundreds of nominations across the UK at a glittering awards ceremony, hosted at Coombe Abbey Hotel in Coventry last month.

All the Ladies First winners.

Looking back, Hayley said: “It was incredibly difficult. I’d been at Shakespeare Media for just three months and then suddenly the world stopped and this job that I was just beginning to grow into, was halted. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. However, I knew that I had to be proactive, so I used it as an opportunity to upskill and learn more/teach myself about digital marketing and social media advertising.

Reacting to her award, she added: “I’m incredibly proud to win. It’s a very special moment for me and it marks an amazing three years at Shakespeare Media. To be recognised in this way, by my peers, is humbling.

“I truly LOVE my job. I’m so passionate about what we do and I’m very lucky to work with incredible clients & businesses who put a lot of trust in me. My colleagues at Shakespeare Media are the best in the business. The passion that we all have for what we do is palpable. It’s a privilege to work alongside them.

“My ambition is to help grow Shakespeare Media. We already do amazing things every day, as a small team, but there is so much more that we can do. I never want to stop learning.”

The Ladies First team.

Other winners from south Warwickshire were: Emily Biddle who was awarded Business Woman of the Year for Emily Jayne Hair & Beauty, in Southam; Sue Ford from ActionCOACH in Warwick (Achieves Through Networking); Lisa Devine, Therapy & Fitness Centre, Leamington (Excellence In Health & Wellbeing); Kate Wilson of Medics to Medics, from Kenilworth (Woman of Courage); Charlotte Pitts, HR Consultants, from Stratford (Service Provider of the Year); Jayne Scandrett and Jane Medd, Justina and Dice, from Wellesbourne and Shipston (Service Provider of the Year – Retail); Sarah Day, One Day Film Productions, from Henley-in-Arden (Unique Business); Leanne Horne, Air Aesthetics, from Henley-in-Arden (Rising Star) and former Stratford Herald editor Amanda Chalmers, Director of Chalmers News PR in Warwick. (Excellence In Media)

Hayley’s recent success keeps the award in the Shakespeare Media family following Vicki Bravington’s win in the same category last year.

Vicki established media planning and independent buying agency Shakespeare Media in 2014 working with local and national brands such as the RSC, Warwickshire College Group, The Jockey Club including the Cheltenham Festival and Randox Grand National, Bell Court Shopping Centre and Michelin Star restaurants.