Community Cheesing

Let us be of good cheer. The bad stuff is not going away, but today I’m having a break from it for a few hours.

I felt better this afternoon, but rather wobbly on my feet. I decided to have an afternoon constitutional to get back into the swing of things. I’m very lucky that I live in a part of Leicester that has a real community feel and is centred around an old fashioned high street. I live ten minutes walk from Queen’s Road. It has a post office, a grocers, a butcher, an independent chemist (two actually), a bakers an excellent florist and a deli. It also has a thriving library, a bank that actually opens and has real people in it, two charity book shops, one excellent Oxfam shop and a great many fantastic places to eat and drink. We do have a small Sainsburys, but when Tesco tried to move in as well, the community wouldn’t have it, and they had to back down and go elsewhere.

I must also give a special shout out to the lovely lady who runs the Elizabeth James gift shop on Clarendon Park Road, the lovely Alison at Knit One, the wool shop where Tilly works, and the extra lovely Keeley who runs Prettiez where you can buy all manner of superb jewellery and silk trouserage. They are all fabulous people with great shops. I intend to do most of my Christmas shopping locally this year. The older I get, the more I appreciate community and how rare and precious it is. Just like everything else we value, these things need our support if they’re going to carry on being there for us.

Today my special shout out goes to a lovely man called Simon. For years now there has been a great deli on Queen’s Road, called Christopher James. I go in there from time to time because they do amazing cakes. I am particularly enamoured of their version of what my mum used to call chocolate refrigerator cake. Just recently they’ve started to do salted caramel flapjack, which is as good as it sounds.

It’s a tiny shop, but they have made best use of every, single inch of space they have. My particular favourite is the cheese counter, which is astonishingly varied. I went in today for a slice of chocolate cake, and came out with three cheeses as well. There was a wonderful Welsh cheese called Y-Fenni, which is a kind of warm cheddar, punctuated with mustard seeds to try on the counter. I loved it so much I ate half the tasting bowl and then bought some.  I bought some Cornish Yarg, because it’s Tilly’s favourite, and I got to try a sharp cheddar called True Grit, which is my favourite of the three.

Simon was very patient, and very helpful and knowledgeable. He’s going to look out for a goats cheese studded with pink peppercorns for me that I fell in lust with several years ago and which I now can’t find anywhere. If he finds it, I may nominate him for some kind of prize.

If you’re in Leicester, come and hang out on Queen’s Road. Tell them I sent you. Buy trousers, and books, and wool, and cheese. If you fancy a coffee there’s loads of independent places that serve an excellent brew, and more than one fine cake emporium to test. If you fancy some company, Tweet me and I’ll meet up with you. Swell the ranks of our community. We’d love to have you.


22 responses to “Community Cheesing

  1. Right that’s a trip to Leicester in the new year. Mostly to stock up for cheese club. Yes, I am genuinely in a cheese club.

  2. Sounds like a lovely place to have a good old mooch ☺

  3. If only I lived closer than New Zealand.

  4. Sounds lovely! if I am ever in Leicester, you can be sure I’ll let you know!

  5. Because my daughter was at University in Leicester, we visited fairly often. But because we can’t get South Indian food locally, we made a bee line for all the great little places that would feed us. Great to hear that independent shops of all kinds are flourishing too..

    • Oh yes! There are some fabulous places for curry and I’m so glad that South Indian food is flourishing here too. When I was small you couldn’t get it, but now it’s here to say along with loads of other fabulous eateries with food from all over the world. I went to a great Persian restaurant on Saturday night.

  6. I lived in the student accommodation on Elms Road for a year. Every day I would walk to uni via Queens Road. I loved the shops there. Last year or so I had lunch with a friend in that lovely place with the lots of flowers on the outside, I forget the name now, it’s near Victoria Park – they do great sandwiches. It’s a great little part of the world! Absolutely love it. x

  7. Chris Boddington

    Like, like, like! Love your blog Mz Katyboo.

    Sent from my iPad


  8. Sounds lovely, just my kind of high street!

    Supporting your local shops is a subject very close to my heart as I have been involved in retail in our town for twenty years now. It wasn’t a conscious career change or anything, in fact I was quite enjoying being unemployed when we moved here from London if I’m honest.
    I volunteered at a charity shop (which effectively meant I was paying them as I bought so much) and then offered to help out a gift shop owner I had got to know through my habit of talking the hind leg off a donkey wherever I go. When a job came up at my favourite shop in town, a mix of eclectic new and vintage bits with antique furniture and the odd bit of salvage, it was inevitable I took it and spent most of my wages there….
    I’ve been there off and on, ever since, the owners come and go but I’m like one of the fixtures and fittings.
    It is currently run as a co operative as it’s about the only way you can afford to keep a shop of this size and selling these types of things going – by splitting the costs (there are seven of us at the moment).

    Over the years I have watched people I love dearly go bankrupt trying to keep the shop going and got to know many other small business owners struggling to keep afloat. I briefly had my own shop, on probably the most reasonable terms anyone could ever have, and still came to the conclusion it just wasn’t economically viable to go it alone.
    I have listened to local people on the one hand complaining that the town has lost so many ‘useful’ shops and in the same breath admitting they do all their shopping in Milton Keynes/Tescos, apparently unable to see the connection! I have had to bite my tongue as people wander round our shop exclaiming how lovely it is and how they never realised it was so big, only to discover they have lived here for 8 years…

    I sell a mix of ‘upcycled’ furniture – I use the term advisedly because when I started people were barely familiar with recycling, but it seems to cover the mix of restoring/reinventing that we do – new stuff and ‘vintage’. I love the fact that it can be both creative and environmentally friendly, a LOT of the furniture I acquire would most definitely end up in landfill as only nutters like us would even think it a) had potential or b) was worth all the work.
    I buy the new items to broaden the appeal of the shop but also because I am getting older and it is sooo much easier 😀 However the profit on these things is very limited, you have to sell a hell of a lot of £6 tealight holders (bought for £2.75) to cover £1,000 a month rent, let alone all the other running costs.
    The furniture side is not the road to riches some people seem to think it is either. Yes, you can *sometimes* pick up a dresser for £20 and end up selling it for £220, but you still need to cover the cost of the materials you used and hopefully pay yourself more than £2 an hour for all the work you have to put into it (I dream of the minimum wage). I can walk out of our local trade hardware shop £100 lighter and only have two carrier bags to show for it. Don’t even get me started on the price of woodworm treatment (an absolute essential for us) which is only slightly cheaper than liquid gold, or the fancy paints customers expect us to use.

    Anyway, I could bore on about this subject for hours but I will spare you any more ramblings 😀
    I will just thank you, on behalf of all small independent retailers, for your support, it is people like you that keep us going.

  9. That Welsh cheese is pronounced – Ee Venny. Single ‘f’ sounds as a ‘v’ and ‘y’ sounds as it does in French.

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