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.