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Shops and shopping

Shops and shopping

Not long after Fred Holdsworth had turned a fish shop in Ambleside into a small bookshop, Arthur Ransome became a regular visitor. The author of Swallows and Amazons died in 1967 but you can still buy his stories in hard back here, some in their original dust jackets. There’s a lot more besides (10,000-15,000 titles) although where the cheerful and knowledgeable owner Stephen Baskerville-Muscutt finds the space for them is anyone’s guess.

Fred Holdsworth celebrates its 60th anniversary this year which, at a time when so many independent bookshops are going out of business, is certainly something to write home about. To celebrate, Steve is holding a ‘win 60 books’ competition over the summer holidays, with 10 prizes of six paperbacks each. Check website and Facebook page soon for details.

Friday, 05 February 2016

Independent shops in Cumbria

This morning I had the luxury of popping out to my local butcher to buy a chicken, six sausages and two pounds of mince. I say luxury because in many parts of Britain, the habit of using a small, family butcher is ‘so last century’. But this is Cumbria where family-owned shops - butchers, bakers, greengrocers, fishmongers, clothes shops and hardware stores - are still much in evidence. And thank goodness for that. Visit towns like Ambleside, Cockermouth, Kirkby Lonsdale, Penrith, Ulverston and Windermere and you’ll see what I mean.

Two recent stories have raised the issue again. In Penrith, still a bastion of small independents, traders say that the increasing number of supermarkets is having a ‘detrimental effect’ on them. Then today, The Cumberland News reports that in its Our Cumbria survey, ‘41% of respondents insist that independent shops are the lifeblood of our town centres and should be protected from the arrival of further major retailers.’ Considering that Carlisle, home city of that newspaper, is almost overrun with supermarkets and national chains, that is certainly encouraging. The attractions of local stores are often and loudly proclaimed but it does no harm to state them again. Well run independent shops bring variety and character to the high street - and often a different level of service - and are not always the expensive retail option that many people suppose they are. And unlike the profits of major chains which may well flow out of the county, the profits of the small, family shop will probably, and largely, stay in the community.

Pictured are More? The Artisan Bakery in Staveley, near Kendal and The Sporting Lodge at Sandside near Milnthorpe.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Cumbrian food and drink

If you want to support Cumbria this Christmas after the floods, why not buy something that’s made in the county. If locally produced food or drink is on the last minute list, you’re completely spoilt for choice, with a big range at Cranstons Cumbrian Food Hall at Penrith, taste at Rheged near Penrith, the Westmorland farm shops at Tebay Services on the M6 and Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop (pictured) near Kendal. Don't forget there are more than 25 small breweries in Cumbria, heaps of local butchers and then specialist shops like Grasmere Gingerbread, Cartmel Cheeses, The Toffee Shop at Penrith and Hawkshead Relish. Wishing you a very happy - and tasty - Christmas and New Year.

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