There are certain phrases which I find to be less pleasing than others.  One such phrase is ‘gob-smacked’.  Whilst neither particularly coarse, nor vulgar, it conjures up a mental image which makes me wince.  Never-the-less, there are times when ‘gob-smacked’ fits the bill so perfectly that it’s pointless trying to find an alternative phrase or sequence of words.  One Saturday morning some weeks ago wasa case in point.  There I was sitting on the sofa, sipping a cuppa when, without any warning whatsoever, H2B paid me a compliment which made my jaw drop. Lest you jump to the conclusion that Mr Moore is anything less than generous when dispensing compliments to his WTB, I should make it clear that nothing could be further from the truth.  Indeed, his praise of me is such that, on occasion, I find myself wondering whether a rose tint was applied to his contact lenses during the manufacturing process.

No, my gob-smackedness was caused not by the fact that H2B paid me a compliment but by the nature of the said compliment; namely that I had started to display slightly geekish tendencies.  Now, at this point I’m guessing that your forehead might be furrowed in confusion.  But before you reread the above sentence, I should explain that H2B is an IT professional with a brain the size of a planet.  For him to regard me as having any technical ability whatsoever makes my heart swell with pride.  It’s how I imagine I’d feel if the Poet Laureate were to compliment me on the sophistication of my sentence construction.  As it so happens, I do know the (former) Poet Laureate professionally and whilst he has approved many of the sets of minutes I have diligently churned out over the years, I can’t recall him ever having mentioned anything about my skill with regard to sentence construction.

Anyway, H2B’s comment about these said geekish tendencies was triggered by my enthusiasm for a piece of technical wizardly I’ve recently come across called Audio Boo.  This clever app allows recordings to be made using a mobile phone and shared with subscribers in a Twitteresque fashion.  I was really excited to discover it because I thought it would be a great way to conduct a few interviews at the Handmade and Vintage Wedding Fair which we had planned to visit later in the day. Hosted in the impressive surroundings of Wolverhampton Art Gallery, it promised to be a bit different from some of the other wedding fairs I’ve been to because its focus, as the name suggests, was to highlight local small scale independent craftspeople and suppliers with a particular passion for bygone times.  In the event, time constraints limited my use of Audio Boo to recording a quick message from our friend Jennifer Bone, who used it to thank A Warwickshire Wedding for bringing My Little Wedding Shop to the attention of Brides magazine.  If you’d like to hear Jennifer, just click here.

Although I didn’t have chance to interview anyone else, we did manage to have a quick look round some of the other suppliers; two of which particularly caught our attention.  The first did so by virtue of offering a complimentary scoop of ice-cream.  Given that I have a bit of a fetish for free samples, especially those of the edible kind, I made a bee line for the intriguingly named Gelato Trike as soon as we walked through the door.  Basically, a traditional style tricycle adapted to carry an ice-cream unit, the sight alone of this marvellous contraption was enough to make me smile.  Attended by a young woman sporting a smart straw boater and green stripy apron, the Gelato Trike evoked a sense of nostalgia, bringing to mind images of Edwardian elegance.  And if the visual delight of the Gelato Trike made me smile, the culinary delights of the Just Rachel luxury ice-creams and sorbets on offer made me smack my lips in hearty approval. Produced locally, using Herefordshire dairy cream, the Just Rachel range includes old favourites, such as strawberry and vanilla ice-cream, alongside some imaginative combinations of quintessentially English flavours that are as quirky as they are delicious.  Take, for example, Just Rachel’s Brown bread ice-cream or the Herefordshire Cider sorbet.  A stroke of pure culinary genius.

The other supplier that I particularly wanted to tell you about is Shropshire based DJ Shellac.  Otherwise known as The Gramophone Man, this dapper DJ really set the vintage scene by spinning his wonderful 78’rpm records on an antique, but fully-functioning, wind-up gramophone.  With an extensive collection of records ranging from early 20th century through to the 1950s, he really is just the ticket for anyone who is looking to create an authentic audio backdrop to a vintage themed wedding or indeed celebration of any kind.

Walking around the Handmade and Vintage Wedding Fair that afternoon and seeing the Gelato Trike and Gramophone Man, as well as all the other stands, opened my eyes to the rich seam of talent and creativity that exists at a local level across the country. Whilst the causes of the current recession are complex and there are no quick fixes, it’s clear that growth needs to be stimulated from within the private sector, so it’s good to see public sector organisations, like Wolverhampton Art Gallery, taking the initiative and providing a forum for these small businesses to showcase their work and network with one another. Such networking can, of course, lead to collaborative working partnerships being forged, whereby one local business promotes another whilst at the same extending the range of services or products being offered to its own customer base.

This approach is taken by Jennifer Bone, who actively seeks out local craftspeople whose work is complimentary to her own creative endeavours. So at My Little Wedding Shop, nestling alongside big London names such as Lynn Ashworth dresses and Harriet Wilde shoes, you’ll also find elegant lingerie from Sacred Realms and beautiful accessories from Big Little Things, both of which are Shropshire based, together with unique lace items by Kate Slater who works in neighbouring Dudley, as well as stylish hairpieces designed by Rosie Willett in Tyne and Wear.  But don’t take my word for it, click on the play button below and hear Jennifer talking about her commitment to local suppliers in the latest instalment of A Warwickshire Wedding on Tour.