MY KIND OF COUNTRY
Cookbook writer and recipe developer Tess Lister
Food blogger Tess Lister on life in a mill in the Cotswolds
Tucked away among meadows is a timber-framed flour mill with cottage gardens and a babbling river. This idyllic slice of Cotswolds countryside is home to food writer Tess Lister, and her cookbook, A Handful of Flour, draws on memories of growing up here. More than just a pretty picture though, Shipton Mill is a thriving business. From dawn till dusk, its machinery rumbles away, grinding grains by stone in the traditional manner. Through the year, feasts and parties are held at the mill, and Tess presents dishes created for her blog,
The Miller’s Daughter. Well-known chefs and bakers may be spotted among the crowd here. We went to visit and found a blackberry cobbler waiting, just out of the oven…
TELL US ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE.
My time is divided between our London site and the family home, just outside the market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. Dusty, my dog, always travels with me. Shipton Mill was a crumbling wreck with nettles growing out of the windows when my dad, John, and a group of friends set to work on it in the 1970s. They breathed life back into the place, restoring it on a shoestring and learning as they went. The barns date back to the Victorian era, but there has been a mill on the site for far longer – since 1086, the Domesday Book records. We are used to a background whir from the mill, but come the evening a wonderful peace descends.
IT SOUNDS LIKE A LOVELY SPOT TO GROW UP.
I couldn’t think of a more magical place. The countryside around us is filled with otters, kingfishers and brown trout, if you know where to look. My brother, Joe, and I were pretty much allowed to roam free outside all day during school holidays. We spent a lot of time making dens, cooking on campfires, climbing trees and making bows and arrows. A little unsuccessfully with the latter, but it was fun nonetheless!
IS THE MILL A FAMILY AFFAIR?
Yes, it’s all hands on deck. Dad oversees Shipton Mill itself. My mum, Siobhan Nolan, runs our gluten-free baking courses and Joe is busy learning the art of milling at our nearby Frampton base. I started out as a lawyer in the City but returned to my country roots to help take the business forward and also for a creative outlet. Working with family is great, although it’s a bit easy to slip into talking shop. A walk with Dusty is how I start