Shropshire Jelly – Work, Chat, Collaborate

Shropshire Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate….

Shropshire Jelly was started by Jan Minihane with help from Judi Heminsley (who was instrumental in bringing Jelly – an American idea – to the UK).  Jelly organisers run co-working days all over the world in cafés, restaurants and community rooms – sometimes living rooms – where people who usually work alone can work alongside other people for a change.

Shrewsbury Jelly meets on the second Thursday of the month and currently alternates between the Loopy Shrew and The Alb. It’s organised by Chris Smith @envoid and is free to attend but it is reasonable to expect that you will buy some food and drink if you are sitting in a café using free wi-fi and free electricity for your laptop.

All sorts of people attend Jelly days – accountants, solicitors, business coaches, training providers, software developers, marketing consultants, IT experts, geeks, and lots of self-employed people making soaps, jewellery, candles – and service providers helping people with health issues, dyslexia, hearing loss  – the variety of people you can meet co-working is endless.

At last month’s Shrewsbury Jelly I asked attendees why they left the comfort of their own home to travel to Shrewsbury and attend Jelly.  Most of the people worked alone most of the time, occasionally meeting colleagues in London once a quarter or in Skype meetings.  They all said that:  “Sometimes you need to speak to people face to face,” and: “It’s a good idea to get out of the house occasionally,” or they “Need a change of scene – in different situations you meet different people – and you see things differently.”  @danielclarkfca attending Shrewsbury Jelly for the first time said:  “It’s good to meet different people, discuss things, share views.”

The budget was high on the agenda at the last Jelly (it was the day after Budget Day) and there were varying opinions on the NI increase for the self-employed.  It was also the day after International Women’s Day and all agreed that we are very lucky living in Britain to have so many professional women helping the economy along – with the freedom and respect to do it.

If you have recently moved to Shropshire, Jelly days are a mine of information, jelly organisers usually have an excellent knowledge of the local area, what’s going on in Shropshire and who to ask for help with anything from computers to networking – and there’s usually an IT expert there who can help solve that niggling technical problem or explain things like ‘how to use Twitter’.

Jelly co-working days are free to attend but you do need to book. Go to for more information.

Published in the April edition of the Whitchurch Gossip

Jelly Co-working – A Day without a Daring Adventure is a Day Wasted

Jelly – A Daring Adventure?

Working from home has many advantages but it can also be quite a challenge.  It’s so easy to get into the habit of staying in your comfort zone, working on your computer on your own with no interruptions – but there’s no conversation either – and you don’t develop your expertise and experience to its real potential.

The last time I was given a fortune cookie it said:  “A day without a daring adventure is a day wasted.”  And I’ve often thought about it when I’m travelling to an unknown location or meeting new people – some days just picking up the phone can be a challenge!

It’s essential to get out regularly and mix with other people, for social as well as work reasons and co-working offers a great opportunity to mix work with pleasure.  There’s no need to dress up, nobody has to stand up and speak and it’s free to attend with free wi-fi (although most Jelly days are held in cafés so be prepared to buy a coffee and lunch).  It’s not networking, so it’s not a selling opportunity, it’s just an opportunity to work alongside other people for a change and have a chat over coffee and lunch

Jelly has no organisation, no structure, no hierarchy, no rules. It’s open to everyone – you don’t have to be running your own business – you might be thinking of starting a business, or you might be a volunteer for a local charity or community group.  If you have just moved to a new area it’s an excellent way of finding out about the local area, business opportunities, networking events – and which are most likely to be relevant to you and your business.  Most Jelly organisers have an tremendous amount of local knowledge which you can tap into – and there’s usually an IT expert there so you can solve all those niggling IT questions.  Intrigued by social media but can’t get your head round it?  Someone at a Jelly will be able to tell you everything you need to know.

Jelly has a completely different atmosphere to any other business event I’ve ever been to.  It’s a great place to meet people you’d never otherwise bump into. Jelly attracts people who never go to networking or other business events, either because they don’t feel it suits them or because they do something very specialised and don’t want to be sold to.

Jelly days are a place to catch up on local news and find out what’s going on with businesses, council decisions and good old-fashioned gossip. Judy Heminsley, pioneer of Jelly co-working in the UK has written a blog that provides advice and inspiration for home workers – find out more here


Spring is in the Air at Shropshire Jelly

Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate…. Spring is in the Air

Feel like a change from working from home?  Fancy a chat over a cup of coffee and some company whilst you are working?  Join me for a day co-working at The Coffee Barn at Holly Farm Nurseries.  10.00am – 3.00pm on the first Tuesday of the month – next one 7th March.

Of course you can visit the Coffee Barn and enjoy light lunches and homemade cakes any day of the month – Holly Farm Nurseries are open 9.00 am – 5.30 pm 7 days a week and have a wonderful selection of locally grown plants, trees and shrubs.

Now is the time to start planning your garden, stock up on potting compost and fertilizer and (my favourite spring task) choose from all the seed packets which plants you are going to grow yourself – and which plants you might buy in already sprouted.

For years I have struggled to grow sweet peas from seed with varied success, then my sister started buying plants instead of seeds and my sweet peas last year were much earlier and much more successful – except that I was in a hurry buying them so one of the trays I bought were dwarf sweet peas and didn’t do justice to the trellis I provided for them!

So take your time browsing through all the seeds and choosing your favourite varieties of plants – Holly Farm has a great selection of bedding plants and lots of perennials that will transform your garden year after year.  If you are thinking of growing some fruit, Holly Farm has some unusual soft fruit varieties like jostaberries, boysenberries and tayberries.  There is also a comprehensive selection of fruit trees, ornamental trees and shrubs, climbing plants and herbs – lots of ornamental pots and tubs to grow them in too.

Christimis Jelly with Alf the Elf

Christimis Jelly with Alf the Elf


Arriving at The Coffee Barn at Holly Farm Garden Centre for Whitchurch Jelly was like walking through a Christmas grotto – we were greeted by Alf the Elf who shared a coffee with us and told us stories of all the children that had helped decorate his Christimas tree and their family adventures in Alf’s Wintry World.

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Christimis at Whitchurch Jelly

Christimis at Whitchurch Jelly


December is ‘Pick your own Christmas Tree’ time at Holly Farm and we were surrounded by Christmas trees and holly wreaths.  Jonathan Allen grows them all at Woodfield Christmas Tree farm at Fauls – if you prefer you can go there and have a family adventure exploring the Christmas tree plantation to find your personal favourite – a woodcutter will then cut down your tree for you and net it ready to take home (with stand if required).  Trees are reasonably priced with 6 ft non-needle drop Nordman fir trees from £29.99 each.

We also met Alf the Elf who is visiting Holly Farm throughout December and we learnt all about Christimis and Alfus Tigglespin’s famous magical stories where glorious fantasies come to life in the mysterious wonderland of Alf’s Wintry World.  You can book a time to meet ‘Alf in the North’ at Holly Farm Garden Centre and enjoy his Christimis family storytime experience  on 07773 047744 or email him [email protected]


One of my co-workers was Sally Joyner of In the Loop who helps families as well as individuals come to terms with hearing loss, providing lip-reading classes for family, friends and colleagues and lots of free advice.  She normally works from home so enjoys a day out occasionally.


Conversations included the recent Shropshire Dyslexia Awards evening at Enginuity in Ironbridge, the brainchild of Eli Wilkinson and organised almost single-handedly by her (with a little help from her friends!).  The first of its kind but it was so successful it will be repeated.

We enjoyed home-made mince pies which went down extremely well with locally roast, freshly ground, Aroma Coffee followed by Maynards ham toasted sandwiches for lunch.  Holly Farm also have a selection of delicious home-made cakes.

The first Whitchurch Jelly of 2017 is on Tuesday, 3rd January – a great way to get back into the swing of things – and leave the remnants of Christmas behind – especially if you work from home!  Join me at The Coffee Barn at Holly Farm Garden Centre, very easy to find on the A49 at Prees. 10.00 am – 3.00 pm.  Call in for a coffee to see what it’s like.

Published in the Whitchurch Gossip, November edition.

Shrewsbury Jelly is back at The Alb

Shrewsbury Jelly is back at The Alb on 10th November
12.00 noon – 5.00pm

The Alb is near Shrewsbury bus station – 14 Smithfield Road,
SY1 1PB – they make great coffee and have a delicious lunch menu.


8th December will be at The Loopy Shrew, 15/17 Bellstone, SY1 1HU
10.00 am – 4.00 pm


Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate…. Self employed? Work from home? Fancy a change where you can still do some work?

Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate….

Self employed?  Work from home?  Fancy a change where you can still do some work?


Whitchurch Jelly is a co-working day held at The Coffee Barn at Holly Farm Garden Centre on the A49 near Prees on the first Tuesday every month 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

A chance to get of the house/office and work alongside other like-minded business people for a day for FREE. The Coffee Barn offers excellent, locally sourced food and home-made cakes, served in a tranquil setting surrounded by plants, with free internet access and the opportunity to work off lunch browsing many locally grown flowers, shrubs and trees.

Share conversations and enjoy Aroma Coffee and a Maynard’s bacon bap whilst catching up on some work on your laptop.

You can also have a wander around and enjoy the colours and scents of the many beautiful plants – pansies and petunias, polyanthus, pinks.

Take advantage of some expert advice from Jonathan Allen who has many years experience with growing plants – particularly trees and shrubs – so if you’ve always wanted a magnolia or camellia, he can advise the best location to plant them and how to look after them.


What’s the format?

The basic format is generally the same for all Jelly days:

  1. turn up with a laptop
  2. take a seat
  3. do some work
  4. enjoy some intelligent conversation
  5. go home

It is FREE to attend, but it is reasonable to expect that attendees will buy drinks and lunch during the day.

Follow @ShropshireJelly and Barbara Rainford @strawfields on twitter for updates.

There are now 4 Jelly Days in Shropshire – in Whitchurch, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Telford. If you would like to join us, it’s free – to find out more – and to book – visit and search for Jelly in Shropshire.

Whitchurch Jelly: 1st Tuesday of the month. Next one Tuesday, 7th June, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm at The Coffee Barn, Holly Farm Garden Centre, Prees, SY13 2DD

Published in the May, 2016 edition of the Whitchurch Gossip


Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate…. at Holly Farm Garden Centre

Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate….


The clocks go forward, the evenings are getting lighter and summer is just around the corner.  The daffodils are out, the sun is shining and (despite the rain, the wind and the hailstones) spring is in the air.

I find it quite hard to work inside when it’s sunny outside and the garden beckons.  At Whitchurch Jelly however it’s like working in the middle of a garden – surrounded by plants and flowers – and the smell of Aroma coffee and Maynard’s bacon sandwiches of course!

The Coffee Barn is an ideal location for co-working – and for meeting people.  Anyone can drop in for a coffee and stay for as long as they wish.  I am often joined by Chris who runs Shrewsbury Jelly and lots of different people enjoy a day out of the home/ office and a change of scenery.  There’s an excellent selection of lunches – and home-made cakes to go with afternoon tea.

Spring is the time for buying seeds and planting the first vegetables and Holly Farm Garden Centre provides the ideal opportunity to choose what to grow this year.  There’s a selection of spring bedding plants, a full range of vegetable, herb and flower seeds, and lots of trees and shrubs – nearly all locally grown.


I’ve found a really useful Facebook group called Allotment growers uk that have some really innovative ideas – like using a mosquito net instead of fleece to prevent carrot fly and ‘will thermal bricks work in the polytunnel?’  They also discuss all sorts of gardening issues like which weeds are edible (I think I’ll eat weeds in future, they grow better than vegetables!)  I’m not that keen on eating weeds (although I did cook nettles once and told the family it was spinach).  However, my chickens and rabbits do like weeds, chicks love chickweed and my rabbits eat lots of plants like groundsel as well as dandelions, comfrey, sorrel and shepherd’s purse – more on my website

Whitchurch Jelly also provides an opportunity for answers to all your gardening questions, Jonathan Allen is always happy to provide gardening advice – such as what plants will thrive in the shade – and which vegetable varieties are likely to do best in your particular soil.

There are now 4 Jelly Days in Shropshire – in Whitchurch, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Telford. If you would like to join us, it’s free – to find out more – and to book – visit and search for Jelly in Shropshire.

Whitchurch Jelly: 1st Tuesday of the month. Next one Tuesday, 3rd May, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm at The Coffee Barn, Holly Farm Garden Centre, Prees, SY13 2DD

Published in the April, 2016 edition of the Whitchurch Gossip

Whitchurch Jelly on Candlemas Day

Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate….

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight,
If Candlemas Day be clouds and rain,
Winter has gone and will not come again.


Candlemas Day was very sunny and very pleasant sitting in The Coffee Barn with a real Aroma Coffee enjoying the sunshine and some company for a change. But we haven’t had much winter yet have we? We’ll probably get snow in April when the apple trees are full of blossom! It’s still very windy though, storm Gertrude seems to have merged with storm Henry. Who thinks of the names I wonder – I didn’t realise until we got to Gertrude that Abigail was A-Big-Gale!

Apart from the weather (which is always a topic of conversation on Jelly days), sitting in the middle of a garden centre, we were soon talking about plants.   Daffodils as well as snowdrops are already out in Shropshire (they’ve been out in Cornwall since Christmas!) and we discussed what we might plant this Spring.

Holly Farm has a wonderful selection of seeds and plants, onion sets, seed potatoes, bulbs and corms that make you wish you had a bigger garden so you could plant everything – but then of course you have to look after everything. This time of year I always get over-enthusiastic buying seeds. I have quite a big vegetable patch ( but the flower borders always take second place and get very straggly by June. Last year I planted some dahlia tubers and, with the sunny Indian summer we had, they were still flowering beautifully in late October.

This year I have decided to give up trying to get sweet pea seeds to germinate – they fill up the propagator and take ages to grow (if at all) so I am going to buy a pot of sprouted plants instead. I might even have some sweet peas in flower for the Eckford Sweet Pea Show in Wem 16th/17th July 2016.

There are now 4 Jelly Days in Shropshire – in Whitchurch, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Telford. If you would like to join us, it’s free – to find out more – and to book – visit and search for Jelly in Shropshire.

Whitchurch Jelly: 1st Tuesday of the month. Next one Tuesday, 5th April, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm at The Coffee Barn, Holly Farm Garden Centre, Prees, SY13 2DD

Shropshire Jelly now has its own website:

Published in the March 2016 edition of the Whitchurch Gossip

What is Jelly?

Jelly – Work, chat, collaborate


WHAT is Jelly?
Jelly is an informal co-working event which aims to bring home workers, freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs together in a relaxed, informal, working environment that encourages creativity and collaboration. Jelly recognises how lonely working from home can be and how important interaction with other people is to a positive working environment. It’s a mixture of work, chat, comparing of ideas, passing on tips – and signposting – if you have just moved to Shropshire it’s a great way to find out what’s on and where to go for help with things like starting a business.

WHO can attend?
Jelly days are open to everyone. If you normally work from home, it’s an opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy a chat with other people over a coffee made for you. If you work in an open plan office you might enjoy a change of scenery and lunch with different company. People from all walks of life attend Jelly days – designers, photographers, writers, musicians, translators, programmers, cooks, solicitors, therapists, artisans – anyone in fact who uses a laptop! Most Jelly-goers are entrepreneurs or freelancers but no matter what you do or what you create, you’re welcome to go to Jelly days and share your knowledge and learn from others.

HOW much does it cost?
Nothing. Jelly days are totally free to attend and all offer free Wi-Fi but where events are held in a café, Jelly-goers are expected to buy coffee and lunch during the day.

WHEN is it held?
There are now 4 Jelly Days in Shropshire – in Whitchurch, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Telford – to find out more visit and search for Jelly in Shropshire.

Whitchurch Jelly, 1st Tuesday of the month. Next one Tuesday 1st March 10.00 am – 4.00 pm at The Coffee Barn, Holly Farm Garden Centre, Prees, SY13 2DD

Shrewsbury Jelly, 2nd Thursday of the month, alternates between the Alb (opposite the bus station), 4 Smithfield Rd, Shrewsbury, SY1 1PB and the Quirky Coffee and Gift Shop, 11 Fish Street, SY1 1UR. Next one at The Alb on Thursday, 10th March 12.00 noon – 4.00 pm

Telford Jelly 3rd Thursday of the month. 10.00 am – 5.00 pm at Brodie House, Central Square, Telford, TF3 4DP

To book for any of these events go to and search for Jelly in Shropshire

Oswestry Jelly – last Thursday of the month. 8.30 am – 4.00 pm.
At Baby Bird Café , 23 Cross Street, Oswestry, SY11 2NF
To book email Harriet Brooke: [email protected]

Shropshire Jelly now has its own website:

Published in the February 2016 edition of the Whitchurch gossip