The Quarterly Village Publication produced by Barrow upon Soar Community Association



Blackberry Yarns

Laura Hegarty discovers a paradise for knitters

Always happy to investigate crafty places, I couldn’t resist a visit to Blackberry Yarns which has newly opened on Loughborough Road in Mountsorrel. I must say that I can knit and crochet in a fashion, and must be the slowest knitter in the world, yet I came away from the shop determined that this is the year to improve my skills.

Situated next to the quarry entrance, with good on street parking nearby, Blackberry Yarns is quite subdued from the outside. Walk through the door though and you find yourself in what can only be described as a sweetie shop for knitters. I didn’t know where to look first and ran around, squeezing balls of wool and even sniffing them for their lovely lamby smell. I had a great time examining the most wonderful, inspiring and unusual garments, throws and bags and dreaming of how I could incorporate them into my life.

In between cups of tea and browsing through her library of patterns, books and magazines, I chatted to Gwynne Unwin about her new business. A self confessed yarnaholic, Gwynne was previously a teacher of special needs children.At a weekend workshop with Rowan Yarns, she mentioned her dream of running a wool shop and the opportunity presented itself. However, it took 18 months to find the right premises, which were so dilapidated that it took another 9 months to restore the building to its present light and airy self.

I could see what attracted Gwynne to Rowan Yarns especially (she does stock other brands of quality yarn). Mainly composed of natural fibres, these are not your ordinary balls of wool. It is difficult to convey the variety and almost audacity of some of the yarns I admired. There were ones that went thick and thin; ones with odd fluffy bits; even ones that were indigo dyed that would fade like your favourite jeans and had to be knitted to three times their finished length, then washed before wearing so that they would shrink to the correct size. Just as exciting were the knitting needles to go with it - not thick skewers - some of these yarns need ‘pins’ thicker than your thumb.Apparently this helps the item knit up very quickly so you can guess which set of needles I’ll be buying. Even better, if I get stuck, I know just the place for some friendly advice and, in the future, for workshops.

Maybe I will bump into a few Barrow residents next time I’m there.


Dancing round the pole
- but not in May

The fun, new way to keep fit

"Pole dancing classes Barrow!" My husband's surprised tone when he read out the advert was not that there were such things but that they were in Barrow. "That sounds fun!" was my response. My husband just looked at me, raised his eyebrows and walked away. I love dancing, of all sorts (I teach ballet), but I've never had the opportunity to try pole dancing. It always looked amazing when I saw glimpses of it on films. I wanted to have a go.

My biggest problem was trying to find somebody to come with me. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I think people were worried about being recognised at the school gates! Eventually a friend from Nottingham thought it was "a crazy enough idea" to come along.We dutifully trooped up to The Hammer and Pincers one Tuesday evening - with butterflies already pole dancing in our stomachs.

We needn't have worried.The two teachers - Ruth and Donna - were very welcoming and 'normal'.They only got involved in pole dancing about 3 years ago as part of a 'keep fit workout' regime. And it works.They are both amazingly fit, strong dancers - although neither of them has ever worked as a dancer.There were quite a few newcomers and Ruth showed us the ropes .. or the pole!

First of all, just hanging off the pole is difficult enough.Then what we have to do, is walk round the pole, hook a knee or an ankle onto it and swing round forwards or backwards.This needs strength in the arms and shoulders, legs and, importantly, the centre core of your body. Donna and Ruth†make it looks so easy and elegant, but ..... I usually end up in a heap, giggling at the bottom of the pole.

My fellow 'students' are a mixed bunch - all ages, shapes and sizes and whilst I'm probably the oldest there, there are some women there who aren't a lot younger. One lady comes along with her daughter.There are, also, some beautiful young women with fantastic, model-like figures - but they're in the minority.

The gym can sometimes be intimidating, running is hard on your knees and lower back, not everybody is good at team sports.And let's face it - getting fit can be so boring. Pole dancing uses almost every muscle in your body - particularly the core muscles in your stomach and back ... forget boring sit-ups, if you want a flat tummy do some moves around the pole. One lady comes along because she has problems with her knee and can't do most keep fit classes, but she's loving this. It's a fun evening. It's hard work and I'm a long way from doing any of the moves in any way resembling a dance but the atmosphere is really supportive.We help and encourage each other. It's fantastic to see the teachers and more advanced 'students' moving around the pole in such a strong and graceful way. As for the sexy image that goes with it (seedy nightclubs and the like), I have honestly not seen anything there that you can't see on any Kylie Mingoue pop video that our five-year olds watch - and copy.

So come on ladies! Sorry, it's an all female thing. Don't worry about your age, size or level of fitness. Just come along one evening and give it a go .. in a safe, friendly and fun atmosphere. Classes are held in the Rose Room at The Hammer and Pincers on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Wednesday mornings - you don't have to go through the pub to get there, stairs are outside. No special dress is needed just shorts or a short skirt and T shirt.

For information you can phone Ruth on 07836 503250 or Donna on 07761 439573 or speak to me at the school gates. I don't mind!

Karisa Krcmar

Disability friendly facilites (Part 2)


National Rail produces a rail map for people with reduced mobility.To request a copy or raise any other questions, contact Central Trains tel: 08706 005165, or write to the Customer Relations Manager, P.O. Box 4323, Birmingham, B2 4JB. It should be noted that if assistance is required from railway staff it is necessary to telephone the train operator at least 24 hours before the journey is made - not all stations are staffed making early enquiry necessary.

Bus operators do not make wheelchair accessible vehicles available on all routes which has been a problem for those with mobility limitations and mothers with pushchairs travelling to and from Barrow. If there was a sufficient number of residents who needed such a facility then it should be possible to reapproach the bus companies to request such provision.


For anyone with a mobility problem, permanent or temporary, who requires a 'shopmobility' scooter or wheelchair (powered or manual), either to shop or visit leisure or commercial facilities within Loughborough, please contact 'shopmobility on 01509 634706.

If shopmobility services are needed when staying in another part of the country, a Shopmobility Directory is published by the National Federation of Shopmobility, a charitable organisation.
Contact them at The Hawkins Suite, Enham Place, Enham Alamein,Andover, Hants, SP11 6JS, phone 08456 442446, or e-mail

National Trust

They publish a pamphlet entitled 'Information for Visitors with Disabilities' which lists their properties which may be particularly enjoyed by disabled visitors.They cater for those with hearing or sight impairment and facilities for kidney patients using CAPD are available at a large number of properties. Adapted toilets are accessible by use of a 'Radar' key. It is advisable to telephone ahead of a visit for details and advice.
Full information is available from the Access for All Office,The National Trust, Rowan, Kembrey Park, Swindon, SN2 8YL., tel: 01793 462788, e-mail
Olwen Spiers