Ellesmere and its Regatta

PUBLISHED: 08:31 26 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:26 20 February 2013

Ellesmere and its Regatta

Ellesmere and its Regatta

Sarah Hart visits Ellesmere, a town that offers pretty shops all year round and a pretty thrilling day of bell boat racing on July 4

Splash out...

Sarah Hart visits Ellesmere, a town that offers pretty shops all year round and a pretty thrilling day of bell boat racing on July 4

Its the 15th year of the Ellesmere Regatta when teams from across North Shropshire descend on the largest of the towns beautiful glacial lakes for the exciting race.

This year the event, on Sunday, July 4, aims to raise thousands of pounds for the Severn Hospice Appeal.

For an afternoon visitors can expect to enjoy the spectacle of up to 25 races as competitors, in their twin-hulled bell boats, battle it out for the right to lift the senior and junior trophies.

There will be plenty of action on shore too as Cremorne Gardens jangles with entertainment including live music, a bird of prey demonstration, vintage cars, and a junior five-a-side football competition, as well as a funfair, refreshment marquees and stalls selling an array of items.
And if thats not enough visitors can stretch their legs for a scenic walk around The Mere, or drop into The Mere Visitor Centre to catch a fascinating glimpse of herons nesting or feeding their young live on CCTV.

Its always an absolutely wonderful afternoon, says Geoff Corfield, chairman of the Ellesmere Rotary Club committee that organises the regatta every year with the support of the towns Inner Wheel.

Cremorne Gardens is a stunning backdrop to the Mere. Families come and have a picnic in the park while they enjoy the spectacle. Theres something for everyone so it really is a great day out for all members of the family.

Up to 3,000 people are expected to attend the event to cheer on the teams, each made up of eight paddlers and one coxon. Races will launch from the beach head, with the streamlined fibreglass bell boats resembling two canoes bolted together able to pick up quite a pace.
This year 14 senior and 14 junior teams, made up of enthusiasts from local businesses, Young Farmers groups and schools, will be taking part. The seniors compete for a large brass bell trophy while the junior victors are awarded a brass plate. But in the end everyones a winner.

The teams are encouraged to have lots of fun and not treat the races too seriously, says Mr Corfield.

And then splash out in town

Ellesmere itself is a pretty market town noted for its half-timbered and Georgian buildings. Many pleasant hours can be whiled away investigating its little side streets, exploring its canalside walks or browsing the food, gift, antiques and interiors shops it has to offer.

Just opened in Cross Street is Jelly Bean, a delightful, colourful boutique selling classy gifts for big girls and little girls, plus trendy modern kitchen accessories and upmarket cards and wrapping paper.

You want to let out a quiet ahhhh as you step inside. Its painted in jolly cupcake colours that are reflected in the delicious-looking cakes neatly laden on the counter. Behind the counter, is former home economics teacher Angie Roberts, who with her smile and blonde ringlets, looks as sweet as the cakes she has rustled up in the kitchen behind her.
A constant stream of customers come in to buy the cakes, some of them muttering that theyve possibly been coming in too often since Angie opened the shop three months ago, but just cant help themselves.
Food was always my thing. My degree was in home economics, says Angie who was a stay-at-home mum looking after four children before deciding they were old enough to let her take the plunge into business.
I was looking for a way of tying something foodie into a broader business and this works well.

The colourful gifts and even the lime green retro food mixer in the window almost look good enough to eat.

Across the road is the delightful sight of Vermeulens traditional delicatessen and bakery, its counters bursting with specialist cheeses, sausages, pats, pies and Parma hams. And a few doors down from Jelly Bean is a much older gift, card and confectionery shop, Fred Roberts, which has been doing business on the same spot since 1872, although the interior is decidedly more 1980s.

In Market Street Peter and Lynne Davies are celebrating the 40th year of their enchanting shop, White Lion Antiques. The business was launched in 1970 by Lynnes late mother-in-law Dorothy Wheeldon, a widely- respected Shropshire antiques expert. Lynne joined the business as her apprentice 32 years ago. Today she runs the shop while Peter works out the back restoring furniture.

The beamed 16th century building, a former pub, still has its charming old pub sign hanging outside. The inside is just as inviting. Fine oak furniture, delicate antique crockery, gleaming cut glass, old clocks, shiny silverware, vintage jewellery and sparkling chandeliers are all neatly displayed in a warm, homely fashion.

Ellesmere still has its Red Lion and Black Lion pubs, and theyre
excellent places to stop for a pint and a bite to eat.

The town is a great haunt for vintage and country-style home accessories shops. Aladdins Cave, occupying a former air-raid shelter, in Scotland Street, is worth a peek for both new wooden furniture and hand painted vintage pieces, soft furnishings, mirrors and curios, all at very reasonable prices. It was opened by Janet Jones, a former nurse, who turned her flair for home interiors on a shoestring into a business.

Hoppies Interiors, in Wharf Road, was started by interior designer Emma Hopton three years ago, selling country-style home knick-knacks, ranging from Cath Kidston mugs and retro cake tins to willow baskets and herb planters. Recently moving from a shop in the town centre she now sells from a converted room in her lovely canalside cottage. She also sells online at hoppies.co.uk and makes curtains and blinds to commission.
And the icing on the cake when youre shopping in Ellesmere is that you dont have to pay for parking.

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