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The Muddy Winners Drinks!

Fizz, gin tasting, gourmet canapes, live music and CAKE! We had fun at the Muddy Award winners' drinks.

It may have been drizzly outside with major roads in traffic chaos but this didn’t dampen the high spirits in the Elizabethan Barn at The Stratford Park Hotel and Golf Club, Snitterfield, near Stratford-upon Avon where we celebrated the achievements of the 24 Muddy Award winners 2019. Pop the cork and cue the Prosecco!This stunning venue is only five minutes out of town but set in 130 acres of rolling countryside and 18-hole golf course. We had fizz and gourmet canapes laid on by the hotel, a gin tasting by last year’s Best Food/Drink Producer winner Shakespeare Distillery, live music by emerging Warwickshire singer-songwriter Kieran Taylour, from Rugby, a chocolate cake to die for from Caking and Baking, Leamington and the most splendiferous spread by The Farm, Stratford upon Avon. On our part it’s fascinating to meet so many interesting people, finding out what they do, and telling others about them (see our A-Z guide below).

Clockwise from L-R: Best Photographer – Isobel Murphy Photography; Best Boutique Stay – Paul Salisbury and Helenita Jones, Baraset Barn; Best Jewellery Store – Tara Osborne; Best Interiors – Richard and Zoe Biggs, Bonds Interiors

For an entire month in May life goes on hold in the Warwickshire HQ as Muddy Awards mania takes hold. The Awards are the hardest but most rewarding time of the year – the time when new exciting businesses emerge into the spotlight, and everyone takes the time to support the hard-working local indies they love. This year we had:

  • 24 categories
  • 9,300 nominations
  • 120 finalists
  • 27,000 votes in finals

#Inloveithlocal Gin tasting with Shakespeare Distillery; Muddy’s Georgina mid-speech and flowers by Green & Wild in Warwick.

Our most popular category was Best Bar won by Fizzy Moon, followed closely by Best Café and Coffee Architects was our well-deserved winner for the third year in a row. Best Food/ Drink Producer was the third most voted for category with The Farm, Snittersfield, crowned as winner (also a finalist in Best Newcomers). Best Destination pub came in fourth with The Red Lion Hunningham winning the vote.

Clockwise L-R: Best Destination Pub – Richard Mérand MD & the team from The Red Lion, Hunningham; Best Fitness Instructor – Lauren Gregory; Best Day Spa – Julie Phillpot and Louise Riley, The Spa, Leamington; Best Family Attraction- Lead Period interpreter Sharon Lippett and colleague from Mary Arden’s Farm.

In conclusion, Warwickshire’s discerning voters like to party, are coffee connoisseurs, and love good food and drink, especially locally-produced and sourced.

Best Newcomers: Charlie and Marisa from Zero Store

The Leamington Lot! Clockwise L-R: Abbie and Nicky from Best Bar, Fizzy Moon; Principal stylist Megan and office manager Jackie from Best Hair Salon, Headmasters of Leamington Spa; Saffron and her esteemed colleague from Best Local Food & Drink Producer and Harriet and her guest from Best Beauty Salon – The Beauty Rooms.

A huge thank you to:

The official cutting of the cake by Saffron

  • Saffron at Caking and Baking for making THAT incredible cake!
  • Stratford Park Hotel and Golf Club for hosting the Awards drinks in their beautiful beamed Elizabethan barn to Nikita and Sharon for waitressing, bartending and keeping the Prosecco topped up and to their excellent chef for slaving in the kitchen to create a range of mouth-wateringly delicious canapes.
  • The very charming and always entertaining Peter Monks from Stratford’s Shakespeare Distillery for his award-winning Stratford Gin tasting session.
  • The Farm, Stratford upon Avon for the AMAZING spread of local delicacies they brought for everyone to sample – including quiche, fresh breads, meats, pickles, Neal’s Yard cheeses, banana chips, chocolate and locally produced apple juice pressed especially for them.
  • Young Warwickshire-based singer/songwriter Kieran Taylour, an emerging talent who embarks on his summer Road to Rugby tour on June 22 – Aug 22. Check out the dates on his Facebook page hereWe wish him all the very best!
  • Award finalist Hannah Bosbury at Green & Wild in Warwick for creating such a fabulous floral display and providing locally grown British peonies.
  • Our photographer, Jez.

Peter Monks, Shakespeare Distillery

Courtesy of The Farm in Snitterfield

But there would be no party, and no Awards with no readers to vote for their most loved indie businesses, so it’s a big heartfelt THANK YOU from me to you for taking the time to give your local favourites a pat on the back and showing your support for the Muddies. See you in 2020 for the 4th year of the Awards, but until then, give a virtual round of applause to the Muddy Awards Winners 2019.

Clockwise L-R: Best Farmshop/Deli: – The Farm, Stratford upon Avon; Best Art Gallery – Press officer Carole Foster (centre) and two gallery volunteers, Compton Verney; Best Florist – Suzanne Evetts, Southam; Best Children’s Business – Sue Dronfield and team, Baby Barn & Nursery Centre, Marton, nr Rugby

Here’s a roundup of some of the latest news and happenings in an A-Z Winner’s Guide:

And the winner is…

Art Gallery – Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park (3rd year as winner)


  •  July sees the opening of a new exhibition all about the nation’s favourite brew – A Tea Journey; from the Mountains to the Table (July 6-Sept 22). Looking at how tea has inspired artistic expression from ceramics, to paintings, to poetry, it will feature more than 150 works, from the Tang dynasty to the present day, to new work and commissions by contemporary artists.
  • One of the exhibition highlights will be a tea ceremony house made of bamboo and paper designed by architect Kazuhiro Yaji. Compton Verney has also partnered with independent, Berkshire-based company, Dragonfly Tea to create a “sensorium”, giving visitors the opportunity to sample several teas from the wide variety now available in Britain, and to enjoy their assorted scents and aromas; from oolong to rooibos to pu’er, and many more
  • The other exciting piece of news is that the BBC Antiques Roadshow series will be filming at Compton Verney for the first time on Tuesday July 2 hosted by Fiona Bruce and a team of experts ready to examine paintings, jewellery, ceramics, glass and hundreds of other historical artifacts. Entry to the show is free, everyone is welcome, and no tickets or pre-registration is required.

Bar Fizzy Moon Brewhouse, Leamington Spa (2nd consecutive year) –

  • Lively, friendly and eclectic Leamington bar with great microbrewery, Cocktail & Gin Bar (150 gins and counting), and a monthly Gin Club. We were joined by Abbie, Moe and Nicky! Their next Gin Club will take place on Thurs June 27 with a Chase Distillery tasting and on Thurs July 4 there’s A Night of Americana With Folly Brothers, Stone Bear & The Fallow celebrating American Independence Day.

Beauty Salon – The Beauty Rooms, Leamington Spa

  • Talented Beauty director/owner Harriet impressively started up her own business at 21 (Alan Sugar would be proud!) and been in the beauty industry for 10 years+ She now manages a team of 7 therapists and specialists.

Bookshop  – Warwick Books, Warwick

  • Mog and Pauline run significant author events throughout the year. This summer events schedule includes Joanna Glen talking about The Other Half of Augusta on Tue June 18, 7pm; Sunday Times bestselling author, well-known historian and a professor at Oxford University Harry Sidebottom on The Lost Ten on Wed June 19, 7pm. PLUS, Robert Harris, (Sept 5), David Baldacci (Sept 26) and Carolyn Kirby (Oct 16).

Boutique Stay – Baraset Barn Hotel, Alveston

  • Just this year this popular restaurant, inside a 200-year-old historic barn, opened 16 boutique rooms in a large barn conversion offering affordable luxury for locals and tourists alike, featuring modern English style interiors and fabrics the brainchild of owner Sue Salisbury and design partner Jess Earl. All rooms are centred around a courtyard garden with firepit and stylish seating. Rooms start at £100 per night.

Cafe – Coffee Architects, Leamington Spa

  • An always in-demand independent family run coffee bar with a great, chilled vibe Tues-Sun with their own coffee and incredible fresh, healthy yet indulgent menu. An irresistible combination – this is their third Muddy Award! The lovely Sam and guests were, unfortunately, caught up in the crazy traffic but so glad they made it.

Children’s Business – The Baby Barn Pram and Nursery Centre, Marton, Rugby –

  • This independent family business, based in a converted barn in farmland, celebrated their 25 years anniversary last summer. Owner Sue Dronfield first opened the store when her own children were in pushchairs! Upcoming events: Marton Baby Massage (June 28, 10.15am-11.15am), Baby and Child First Aid classes and the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan (Sept 27).

Day Spa – The Spa, (Leamington Spa)

  • Thanks to Julie Phillpot and Louise Riley for their company. This relaxed friendly day spa is gearing up for summer with offers and treatments including tropical orange gel nails.

Destination Pub – The Red Lion, Hunningham, nr Leamington

  • As the manager is French it would seem fitting that the ‘big’ event this summer is an all-day family-friendly Bastille Day Fireworks on Sat July 13. Attractions include kids rides, an airplane show, live music and of course, fireworks. If that’s not enough to tempt you, their new outdoor Bar and Kitchen will also be in action. (£2 & free for kids under 12).

Family Attraction – Mary Arden’s Farm Wilmcote, Stratford upon Avon

  • Summer fun at this fun Tudor farm includes: Midsummer Madness (June 23, 10am-5pm) – Tudor fairy-tales, fairies and magical unicorns celebrating the longest day; Lammas Day (Aug 1, 10am-5pm)- storytelling, music and bread-making at this new event. Lammas, or ‘loaf mass’, was a traditional celebration in the Tudor calendar. Outdoor theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, July 19 & 20, 7.30pm – Shakespeare’s tale of magic and mayhem is brought vividly to life by Oddsocks Productions in an energetic and musical, festival-themed production. Tickets: £11 concessions, £17 adults.

Farmshop/Deli – The Farm, Snittersfield, Stratford upon Avon

  • Run by two local families in Stratford upon Avon who both share a passion for real food. The Farm is a collective of artisan food producers and Nourish, a wholefood café, plus a great children’s play area.

Fitness Instructor – Lauren Gregory Fitness PT, Leamington/Warwick

  • Mum-of-two Lauren won this category in 2017 and again in 2019. She’s an endurance athlete, ex European Kickboxing Champion, PT, Founder of Run Like a Girl, a Running Leader and a Runfit class instructor, covering Leamington Spa, Warwick & Stratford.

Florist – Suzanne Evetts, Southam

  • Dedicated Suzanne knew she wanted to be a florist since the age of six! As well as being crowned our winner she’s a 2019 Wedding Industry Award Regional Finalist and winner of the UK Wedding Awards 2018. It’s currently her craziest time of the year! Check out her elegant floral designs on her new website.

Hair Salon – Headmasters Salon, Leamington Spa

  • An award-winning independent family run salon in the historic Leamington Old Town. Thanks to principal stylist Megan and office manager Jackie for collecting their Muddy Award.

Interiors Store – Bonds Lifestyle, Stratford upon Avon

  • An independent antique dealer, interiors store and café on the outskirts of Stratford run by husband-and-wife team Richard and Zoe Biggs, who took it over 3 years ago. Upcoming events include an Annie Sloan Essential Chalk Painting Technique half-day course, June 29, 10.30am-1.30pm, (£65); Jewellery Workshop: Stacking Rings, July 6, 10am-4pm (£120); Lino Print Fabric Workshop, July 7, (£45).

Jewellery Store – Tara Osborne Jewellery, Ettington Business Park

  • This is Tara’s second Muddy Award. She specialises in affordable luxury Sterling Silver jewellery made by hand in her workshop at Ettington Business Park. Earlier this year, she relaunched her new website.

Local Food/Drink Producer – Caking and Baking, Leamington Spa

  • Bespoke celebration cakes, cupcakes and teatime treats freshly baked and individually hand decorated by Saffron, who will be attending Kenilworth Food Festival on Jul 21, Leamington Fire Station Open Day on Aug 10 and Leamington Food Festival on Sep 7, plus food festivals at Southam (Sept 15) & Stratford (Sept 21).

Photographer – Isobel Murphy Photography, Stratford upon Avon

  • Wedding photographer Isobel is a recent bride herself and a recommended supplier at Gorcott Hall, Cider Mill Barns, Yarnton Manor & Big Little Weddings.

Newcomer – Zero Store, Coventry & Warwickshire

  • Former Coventry teachers Charlie and Marisa met and discovered the other had a passion for all things eco-friendly and reusable. They dreamed of a place where they could do their food shop without all the excessive wrapping and packaging; in fact, without any packaging at all. And so the idea of Zero was born. A mobile shop that could dispense ordinary everyday grocery items to you in whatever containers you happen to have. Zero plastic, zero waste. Zero. They also run pop-up shops across Coventry, Warwickshire & Banbury, do deliveries and have permanent concession stores including a new mini Zero at The Green Unicorn Vegan Store in Fargo Village. Upcoming events: Zero Open @Everything Usefill, Banbury, June 22, 10.30am-12.30pm & Simply Sustainable a Fargo Village, July 27, a new sustainable living market.

Gift Shop – Twinings Home Fragrance, Rugby

  • Mum-of-two Carrie Twining runs an independent, family run business producing beautiful, natural soy wax candles & melts by hand in small batches from their Rugby home. This is Carrie’s second consecutive Muddy Award.

Restaurant – Dough and Brew, Warwick

  • Award-winning wood-fired sourdough pizza. On June 21 they’ll be making freshly prepared pizza for the inaugural Slurp Gin Festival outside Slurp’s Banbury wine shop with more than 10 gin producers and a live jazz trio (£30).

Theatre/Arts Centre – The RSC, Stratford upon Avon

  • Current highlights include The Taming the Shrew; As You Like It, The Provoked Wife, and Venice Preserved. Opening this summer is a new play Crooked Dances by Robin French (June 20-July 13) and Measure for Measure (June 28-April 4). Early booking is advised for this year’s Christmas show, The Boy in the Dress, an adaption of David Walliams’s family-friendly comedy made in collaboration with Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers and Mark Ravenhill directed by Gregory Doran.

Women’s Store – Sass, Rugby

  • In Rugby’s creative independent quarter you’ll find this independent womenswear boutique with handpicked collections and stylish brands.

Yoga/Pilates Instructor – Caroline Skinner Forever-Fit Pilates, Stratford upon Avon

  • Caroline is trained in pre-natal pilates, pilates and yoga and teaches in and around Stratford. She’ll be running a special a special Yoga class to mark International Yoga Day 2019 on June 21 at St Peter’s Church, Inkberrow and an International Pilates Retreat in Mallorca Oct 12-19.

Don’t forget to check the Muddy winners and finalists in our neighbouring Midlands and Cotswolds counties, particularly if you go there regularly:

You can check out:

Muddy Northamptonshire 

Muddy Leicestershire 

Muddy Gloucestershire

Muddy Cambridgeshire

Muddy Bucks/Oxon

Find more ideas here

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