Friday, 20 April 2018

Dining Out at the One Elm Pub, Stratford-upon-Avon

One of our favourite places to visit is Stratford Upon Avon. There’s such a relaxed, unhurried feel about the town, whether you’re visiting one of its many attractions, discovering more about William Shakespeare through his works and places associated with his life, or just exploring its shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

You can be quite spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Stratford, and we were recently invited to go along to The One Elm in Stratford to sample their cuisine, and what a fabulous dining experience it was.

Nick Hart and Ollie Coulson
The One Elm is the second pub in the Peach Pub’s stable. Situated on Guild Street, it has a small car park but don’t panic if you can’t squeeze in as there are larger public car parks close by. The pub proved to be a spacious, welcoming place where you instantly felt at home whether you’d stopped by for a drink or a three-course meal.

Although it’s part of a chain, the chefs are free to create a very wide and extensive menu. One thing that remains constant however, is that they use high quality fresh ingredients, free range chicken, eggs and pork, with products sourced locally wherever possible, and all freshly cooked.

Being just 14 miles from Evesham – famous for its asparagus, every spring The One Elm has something of an asparagus campaign, using this delicious, locally grown vegetable in their menu.
So, when ordering, photographer Rob chose for his starter, classic British asparagus, smoked salmon, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.

“It’s a classic dish and everything was as it should be,” said Rob. “The asparagus was as perfectly cooked as it could possibly be, there was a beautifully soft poached egg and a really good Hollandaise sauce. A wonderful starter.”

I chose breaded Brie and chilli jam which looked great and tasted delicious. I was worried in case the Brie would be too powerful, but I found it to have quite a delicate flavour. And that texture of the soft, warm, runny cheese inside the crunchy outer layer was delightful. Coupled with the sweet and tangy chilly jam it was divine!      

The One Elm has an excellent range of starters, mains and deserts, plus daily and seasonal specials. Prices for starters was around £5.50; main courses ranged from £9.75 - £14.50; or you could go for grills and sizzlers which ranged from £12.75 - £23.50. 

There was lots of choice if you just fancied a snack or a burger. There were meat, fish and veggie snacks at £3.75 each; soups and sarnies ranging from £5.50 - £9.50; burgers and chips – thick or thin, priced between £10.50 - £14.50. And all the puddings were £5. So, food to suit all pockets.

We found that the service was good, with friendly, helpful staff and everywhere was clean and comfortable. For our main course, Rob went for grilled salmon, sprouting broccoli, lemon and tarragon sauce and new potatoes. “The salmon just melts in your mouth and the sauce is perfect,” he commented.

I’d decided to go for something that I wouldn’t normally have, and chose slow and low beef dandy ribs, BBQ sauce, hash brown and slaw. Wow! I wasn’t quite sure where to start. It was definitely a meal to get stuck into – and finger licking good! In fact, Rob had to write some of my notes as my fingers were just too deliciously sticky to pick up my pen! The beef was so tender and the BBQ sauce rich and lovely. The diner on the next table had the same, and it was a thumbs up from both of us! So, thank you to our chef that afternoon, Chef de Partie, Dan Jeffs.

The One Elm serves a fabulous range of real ales, bottled beers and ciders, wines, spirits, cocktails and Champagne. If gin is your tipple, this is the place for you – a dozen gins to choose from – and it was the same for cocktails, lots of variety. To accompany my meal, I had a glass of Cotes du Rhone Rose, Les Cerisiers, Rhone, France. I found this light, pleasantly dry and not too sweet. Rob went for a pint of Longhorn IPA unfiltered which is brewer locally by the nearby Purity Brewery Co, based just a few miles down the road near Alcester.

“The ale was fantastic,” said Rob, who knows a bit about real ale! “It’s definitely one of the best IPA’s I’ve ever tasted.”

It seemed only fair to sample the puddings too. Rob went for chocolate brownie with Jude’s strawberry ice cream. The brownie was warm and very darkly chocolatey and went perfectly with the fruity ice cream. I had a rich, creamy raspberry ripple cheesecake which was divine!
Please can we go again!

Chef de Partie Dan Jeffs

The One Elm, 1 Guild Street, Stratford-Upon-Avon CV37 6QZ Telephone 01789 404919

Please get in touch if you would like a restaurant review by Ann and Rob at Words & Images UK. 

Friday, 30 March 2018


Whippet Tease with owner Yvette Short

Attending Crufts each year is one of our favourite jobs here at Words & Images. Both of us are big dog lovers and in our element  amongst so many happy dogs. 

The highlight of course, is the judging of Best in Show. Around 21,000 dogs had been judged over the four days, and the top dogs from each of the seven groups came into the arena to great applause. The judge was Jill Peak, and breaking tradition, the winner and runner-up were announced in reverse order.

Winner, Tease the Whippet and runner up, Gundog Pointer, Kanix Chilli.
Everyone waited with baited breath to see who Ms Peak would select, and finally the Gundog pointer champion Kanix Chilli was announced as the reserve Best in Show – and then Tease, a Whippet from Edinburgh owned by Yvette Short was announced as the Best in Show to rapturous applause.
However, Tease had only just set foot on the podium when protesters tried to disrupt proceedings. Yvette Short moved to keep her dog safe, while a Kennel Club official ensured the protesters didn’t get their hands on the coveted trophy. The chaos was over in seconds, and the protesters were led away, leaving Tease and Kanix Chilli to enjoy the limelight they so rightly deserved.

Protesters were swiftly removed.

Over the 4-day show, there were many displays such as agility, obedience, Heelwork to Music and displays showing how dogs are helping people. One such event which took place on the Sunday evening in the Genting Arena was the Friends for Life competition. This annual event was a celebration of dogs who have changed people’s lives in their own unique ways.

More than 300 people entered their dogs into the competition and the five finalists in the 2018 Crufts Hero Dog Awards were welcomed into the arena. Their stories were re-told over the large screens before the announcement of who the public had voted for as overall winner.

The award went to Vanessa Holbrow and her rescue dog Sir Jack Spratticus. Jack had also had a very bad start in life, but had changed Vanessa’s life by helping her deal with complex mental health illnesses. They won £5,000 to donate to their chosen charity, which was Border Terrier Welfare where Jack was rescued from in 2012. The prize was presented by former Spice Girl Geri Horner.

Read all the finalist’s stories here:

A very special award was presented to PC Phil Healy and his police dog, Mojo. They were awarded the Crufts Humanitarian Action of the Year Award. PC Healy and Mojo were first on the scene at the  terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena on 22nd May 2017 when 22 people lost their lives.

Heroes PC Healy and Mojo

PC Healy and Mojo had to work around the deceased and seriously injured checking for other unexploded devices and making the area safe for emergency services and the public. They were later joined by other search dogs but continued working tirelessly in horrendous and traumatic conditions throughout the night, clearing the area until 7am. On their way home they responded to another call to investigate another suspicious device. Chief Constable Rod Hansen, head of the police dogs in England made the presentation to these true heroes.  

There was a very entertaining demonstration of agility, obedience and special training by the RAF Police Military Working Dog Display Team. The dogs showed off some excellent skills as they were put through their paces, including scaling a vertical seven-foot wall.

RAF Police dogs in action.

Everyone’s favourite event is Mary Ray and her amazing Heelwork to Music displays. A few years ago we were fortunate enough to interview Mary at her home, for Dogs Monthly magazine, where she talked about her lifelong love of dogs. Once again, for Crufts Mary put on a show-stopping performance - as she has done for the 25 years. However, this year was Mary’s final Crufts. She performed a fantastic routine with her dogs, Lyric and Frankie, and was joined by obedience and heelwork to music expert, Richard Curtis. There were clips shown on the big screen of Mary’s past routines, and at the end of her final performance she was joined by her husband Dave and sister Pauline for a final farewell.

Mary Ray's last Crufts performance.

Having also interviewed Richard Curtis in the past for Dogs Monthly, it was great to catch up with him at the show. Richard is one of the UK’s leading Heelwork to Music/Canine Freestyle handlers. He’s a renowned competition judge and dog handler. He told us that he's been busy doing three demonstrations per day with his dogs Betty an 8-year-old Chihuahua cross and Herbie a 3-year-old Border Collie. To the delight of the crowds, Richard demonstrated how to get started in Heelwork to Music Freestyle with your dog, doing simple tricks and moves. He put on a brilliant, fun performance that showed the wonderful rapport he has with his dogs. Betty and Herbie loved it, and the audience did too.

Richard Curtis with Betty and Herbie.

The Discover Dogs area at Crufts is the perfect place to learn more about the different breeds, especially if you're thinking of getting a dog or puppy. The Kennel Club currently recognise 218 breeds. Top of the popularity stakes are the Labrador, the Cocker Spaniel, the French Bulldog and the Pug. While at the other end of the scale there is a list of Vulnerable Native Breeds. These are the dogs whose status in the dog world has diminished over recent years, and whose numbers are declining. The Vulnerable Native Breeds list breeds which have achieved 300 or few registrations in a year.

Surprisingly, since 2015 the Bearded Collie has been on the list. In 2016 only 284 dogs were registered. Compare this to 33,856 Labrador Retriever puppies over the same period. However, for Bearded Collie lover, Gail from Chesterfield, there was only one breed for her. She happily gave 4-year-old Ember a hug before taking her into the show ring.

Gail and Ember.

Skye Terriers are also on the Vulnerable list, with only 28 pups registered with the Kennel Club in 2016. However, the Skye Terrier which takes its name from the Isle of Skye which lies on the northwest coast of Scotland is said to be the oldest terrier breed of Scotland, going back to the 14th century at least. We asked the very handsome Merlin aged 9 to pose for the camera and 20-month-old Pasha.

Skye Terrier Merlin.

Skye Terrier Pasha.

With so many gorgeous dogs to meet, one that caught my eye was Taz, a Lagotto Romagnolo, which is quite new to our shores. The breed originates from Italy, and the word ‘Lagotto’ is an Italian dialect word for ‘curly coated duck retriever’ and Romagne was the district in northern Italy where the breed developed. Environment changes in the 20th century diminished their duck retrieving days. However, their acute sense of smell means that they are now used in truffle hunting in their homeland.

Taz, a Lagotto Romagnolo.

Towards the end of the final day, it was lovely to meet some of the owners whose dogs may not have made Best in Show, but were champions in their eyes. Such as Roger and Maureen Millbank of Bath who were delighted with to be taking home another rosette won by their beautiful Flat Coated Retriever, 3-year-old Hamish, or to give him his pedigree name – Kvsans Eye of the Storm off Larksdown. 

Roger and Maureen with Hamish, a Flat Coated Retriever.

Sit back and enjoy some more pin-up pooches!

Canadian Eskimo Dog.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Buster.

Bert, a Papillon, love those ears!

Who says dogs can't smile?

Or frown!

Lakeland Terrier, also on the Vulnerable Native Breeds list.

Norwich Terrier.

Wilf, a Bullmastiff.

Ava, an American Spaniel.

And Best in Show once again.

Hope you enjoyed. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

A Little Bit of Collaboration!

Ann Evans & Rob Tysall
Collaborating for us isn't a new thing. We’ve been working on non-fiction articles as a team for many, many years. Words & Images UK is exactly what it says on the tin, Ann's words, Rob's images.

With my (Ann's) fiction hat on, I've been writing books for children, young adults and adults for years. But something new, is that Rob and I have collaborated on a fictional novel - a supernatural thriller. And the brilliant news is that Bloodhound Books, have accepted it for publication and it will be out in July 2018.

Creating non-fiction articles for publication involves two different skills – photography and journalism. But, writing a novel is a combination of both our imaginations, visions and writing skills. The only images are those in our heads – and the skill is in getting the pair of us imagining the same thing!

Although our book has only just been accepted, and we’ve only just settled on what its title should be, which is:  The Bitter End, people are already asking, “So how does collaborative writing actually work?”

For myself and Rob it’s been a sort of evolving situation. Neither of us could have made a deliberate decision such as, “Hey, let’s write a book together!” It was nothing that straight forward. We’ve simply found ourselves chatting about story ideas over the years, usually while travelling to and from jobs for magazines. If ever I was stuck for a plot, or had written myself into a corner, I could chat it over with Rob and he’d always come up with a great twist or a new idea. In fact, I’ve dubbed him my Ideas Man.

One day about four years ago, he came up with an idea for a book that he thought I should write. I listened and then said, “I can’t write that! It’s too dark. It’s too deep. I don’t think along those lines!”
But would he let the matter drop? No! His idea was growing and growing in his head and he wouldn’t let up.

For a while we didn’t make any actual progress, but we did a lot of talking, and plotting and planning, until finally, I relented and drafted out the beginnings of a story. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t how he had envisaged it. But it was a start and we decided not to scrap what was written but began working on it together. As any writer will tell you, editing something is a lot easier than editing a blank page!

Admittedly, his first suggestion that I change a paragraph sent me into spasms! Someone telling me what I should or shouldn’t write! Unheard of! But that’s where a solid friendship comes into play. We listened to each other’s ideas and reasoning, discussed every scene and sentence, and didn’t fall out! In fact. Some of the most tragic and intense scenes would reduce us to fits of laughter as words and ideas ran away with us.

There are dark sections in this book, especially from the viewpoint of one particular character (no spoilers here) where Rob was in his element and waxed lyrical while I typed. The practicalities of a collaboration, at least in our case, is that just one person does the typing, that keeps the style ‘uniform’. And I’m a much better speller, and faster typist – which I really need to be, as once his imagination is let loose, I’m hard pressed to keep up with his dictation!

So, imagine if you will, a male Barbara Cartland lounging on the sofa dictating his latest masterpiece to his secretary! It wasn’t quite like that, but you get the picture.

Creating the characters and their backgrounds has been great as a collaboration especially having someone of the opposite sex putting the male point of view over, and I think this shows in the dialogue and actions.

And discussing the plot with someone else provides a stack of events and dramas, that one person alone would not have thought of. For example, when halfway through the book, Rob says, “You know (character) has to die, don’t you?” And I scream: “What? No! You can’t kill (character)!” And Rob just nods and says, “Yes you do.” I admit I was reminded of the famous Stephen King quote: “Kill your darlings.”  (Don’t worry it’s not the dog…)

Now that our book is finished, I think the proof of the pudding as to whether the collaboration worked or not, is the realisation that without each other, the book would not have been written. And we’re still friends! And making a start on a sequel!

Q. So, collaborating with a friend, is it something you’ve done or tried to do? And did it work for you?

The Bitter End by Ann Evans & Robert D. Tysall. Published by Bloodhound Books, out July 2018.

More on Rob Tysall:

 Have you read crime novel: Kill or Die, also published by Bloodhound Books.

And have you read time slip YA thriller, Celeste, published by Clean Reads.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Words & Images UK hit the Whisky Trail.

The BBC Good Food Show always has lots going on, bringing the very best of food, drink and foodie gadgets to the consumer’s eye. We went along to the show held at the Birmingham NEC just before Christmas, to check out some of the whiskies on the market, looking particularly for brands and blends that weren’t quite so familiar to us, and to learn something of the distillers who produce them.

Our first stop was at the Glen Moray stand, award winning producers of Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Speyside. The distillery set in Elgin, one of Scotland’s oldest towns has a wonderful history, the roots beginning in 1930 as the Elgin West brewery producing local ales. Their first spirit run was on 13th September 1897, and since then, only five men have had the honour of holding the title Master Distiller, whose expertise has been passed on these past 120 years, ensuring craftsmanship and quality.

They produce a beautiful range of whiskies, distilled in copper pot stills, using locally sourced malted barley and the pure waters of the River Lossie. Their whiskies are matured in carefully sourced oak casks. These include the intriguing Elgin Classic Collection; the Elgin Heritage Collection with 12, 15 and 18-year-old single malts; there’s the 25-year-old Elgin Reserve, a limited edition, with every bottle unique and individually numbered; and the Elgin Prestige which they regard as the pinnacle of their whisky making, skilfully crafted by their current Master Distiller, Graham Coull.

From our selection for tasting, Rob particularly liked the 18-year-old single malt from the Elgin Heritage Collection which he found to be beautifully smooth; while I liked the sweeter taste of the Glen Moray Classic Sherry Cask Finish. You can discover their full history and their range of Single Malt Whiskies by visiting:

Our next port of call was at the Tomintoul – the gentle dram stand. Pronounced Tlath, the Gaelic word for gentle and mellow. Their distillery was built in 1964 near the village of Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands of Scotland in the picturesque Glenlivet Estate in the heart of the whisky producing Speyside region. It took a year of searching for the purest spring water before they finally found the Ballantruan spring. This goes into producing their smooth and mellow whiskies which have won numerous awards.

Highlighting just a few of their blends, there’s Tomintoul Tlath matured in first class American oak bourbon barrels; the unusual and unique Tomintoul with a peaty tang which has a deep smoky flavour; the smooth Tomintoul 10-year-old with its gentle oaky spice; the Tomintoul 25-year-old with its smooth honey-sweetness – right up to the Tomintoul 40-year-old Quadruple Cask which took Gold in the World Whiskies Awards 2017.

From our selection of tasting Rob particularly liked the Tomintoul 15-year-old Portwood Finish with its rich spicy sweetness, while my favourite was the 16-year-old Tomintoul which I found smooth and velvety to the palate. Discover more at their website:

We next decided to learn a little about Evan Williams Bourbon at the Marussia Beverages stand, which handles specialist spirits from around the world. If you’ve ever wondered what makes Bourbon a Bourbon, rather than just a whisky, I’m reliably informed that by law, Bourbon must be made up of at least 51% corn and aged a minimum of two years in a new charred white oak barrel. (Evan Williams age theirs much longer). While Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, Kentucky is the only state allowed to put its name on the bottle. Bourbon is not Bourbon unless the label says so.

 Evan Williams Bourbon is distilled in Louisville, Kentucky. The man himself was actually born in Dale, Pembrokeshire, but emigrated to the USA towards the end of the 18th century. He began distilling in 1783 and the company is still producing Bourbon using the same time-honoured methods that he used all those years ago. Today they produce some of the world’s most critically acclaimed Bourbons. Evan is described as something of a Jack-of-all-trades, an entrepreneur, a politician but most of all a distiller. He had the knack of turning corn into smooth whiskey. He set up his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River, and today you’ll find a marker on that spot officially declaring Evan Williams as Kentucky’s first Commercial Distiller.

From our tastings, Rob really liked the Evan Williams Cinnamon Reserve Liquor while I – having a sweet tooth, loved the Evan Williams Honey Reserve. You’ll learn more about Bourbon at:

Glen Scotia produce two types of  Single Malt Whisky: peated and non-peated. The distillery can be found at Campbeltown, an isolated town situated towards the Southern end of the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland. The town once proclaimed itself as ‘the Victorian whisky capital of the world’. In 1851 it had around 30 distilleries, today there are only three, one of the finest being Glen Scotia. History extends ever further back however. Whisky making on the Campbeltown Peninsula goes back to 1636. Then, due to the availability of local barley ‘bere’, peat for drying the malted barley and fresh water, illicit whisky production became rife during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Glen Scotia is proud of its Campbeltown characteristics. The distilling of their Single Malt Scotch Whisky is known as ‘small batch processing’ the result being a fine selection of award winning single malt whiskies. There’s the Glen Scotia Double Cask, the Glen Scotia Victoriana, the Glen Scotia 15, 16, 18 and 25-year-old single malts, and the Glen Scotia 1832 Campbeltown. In truth, they were all exceptional on the nose and the palate, some rich and spicy others offering a subtle smokiness. Discover more at:

A brand new distillery on the scene is The Quiet Man Craft Distillery Company, which Niche Drinks has invested £12 million into. The new distillery in Ebrington, Londonderry includes a Visitors’ Centre due to open in 2018. They produce The Quiet Man 8-year-old Single Malt and the Quiet Man Traditional Irish Whiskey Blend. The whiskies are named after the father of Niche Drinks’ Ciaran Mulgrew.

He says: “My father was a bartender who worked for over 50 years in bars around Northern Ireland and now that I am making my own whiskey I am naming it after my father. In 50 years as a bartender he saw a lot of things and heard a lot of stories, but like all good bartenders, he was true to his code and told no tales. My father, John Mulgrew. ‘The Quiet Man’ or as they say in the Irish, ‘An Fear Ciuin.’ Discover more at:

Co-founder of The Whisky Lounge Amanda Ludlow (left)

 If you're keen to learn more about whisky, then The Whisky Lounge was the place to go. This husband and wife team of Amanda and Eddie Ludlow, originally from Belfast and now based in York are on a mission to turn everyone on to whisky through organising all kinds of entertaining, educational and exciting events.

Having worked in the industry for many years, Eddie Ludlow founded The Whisky Lounge 10 years ago. Today, Eddie, co-founder Amanda and their team run regular whisky tastings, whisky festivals, whisky blending workshops and whisky trips. Amanda said that her husband’s dedication to whisky was acknowledged last year when he was inducted into the Keepers of the Quaich. This is an exclusive international society, founded in the 1980s by leading Scotch whisky distillers, to recognise individuals who have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky Industry.

Eddie is quoted as saying: “The Whisky Lounge’s mission has always been to introduce whisky to new audiences by breaking down the barriers and myths that may stop people falling in love with the Water of Life.”
Take a look at the many whisky events coming up in 2018:

We were determined not to leave the Welsh out of our roundup, and we loved the taste of Celtic Spirit Company’s whisky and brandy liqueurs which were so festively displayed! Celtic Spirit Co is the oldest spirit company in Wales. They produce high quality spirits and liqueurs from age old Welsh family recipes date back to the 1870s derived from fruits of the Wye and Usk Valleys. My favourite was Black Mountain with its rich aromatic apple and blackcurrant brandy; while Rob liked the Danzy Jones, mellow with herbs and rosehip syrup.
Discover more:

Also producing delicious Welsh Liqueurs was the family run business of Condessa Welsh Liqueurs. Founded by Richard Jones in 1969. In 1989 they moved to their 5,400 sq ft factory and winery in rural Anglesey where they make delicious award winning fruit liqueurs and low fat cream liqueurs. Sally Nelson, daughter of founders Richard and Carol Jones was now at the helm alongside husband Matthew. Over the years they have won many awards for their liqueurs including the Proven Fine Foods Great Taste Awards and the True Taste Awards for Wales.
Discover more at:

Cheers everyone and Happy 2018!