WHEN violinist Shelly van Loen went on holidays to the continent she was always drawn to the chocolate shops.

And for many years afterwards she day-dreamed about creating the exquisite chocolates herself.

Eventually her husband said “do it” and she signed up to master classes to learn the trade of the chocolatier. Over a year she was taught the science behind the art of chocolate making as well as how to decorate pieces. Now, in between freelancing as a violin player with orchestras, pop stars, West End shows and performing 1920s and 30s tunes with band Shelley van Loen and the Palm Court Strings, she imports chocolate from Belgium and makes bespoke chocolates at her Kirtlington home.

The 54-year-old, above, said: “Music is creative, but I wanted something creative in a different way, to make things with my hands.

“Seeing the gorgeous chocolate shops in France, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

Mrs van Loen’s 30-year music career has seen her play for a string of famous names including Annie Lennox, Suede, rock band James, the Doors, Neil Sedaka, Cliff Richard, Des O’Connor and Brian May.

She also performs regularly with BBC Symphony Orchestra, and has played in West End shows including Sunset Boulevard, King and I, and Oklahoma!

At the weekend, she will be taking part in an Artists and Makers Fair, at The Glass House, Waddesdon, near Aylesbury, between 10.30am and 4.30pm.

Entry costs £3 with proceeds split between three charities, Oxford’s Helen & Douglas House, Iain Rennie Grove Hospice and Bucks Young Carers.