We haven’t been to Stoke or a while. Looking back to post links to the last visit I see it was almost exactly a year ago. We had planned to visit at least twice this year but, as usual, it didn’t quite work.
This morning Julia, who had a list of jobs for both of us, looked at the weather and said: “Do you fancy a trip out?”
I suggested Stoke and forty=five minutes later we were eating breakfast on the outskirts of Derby.
The satnav is getting more use these days as I get used to it and after taking some postcodes from the internet we were able to drive straight to the Trentham Shopping Village – a place we’d never visited before.
The parking was free and plentiful and the toilets were excellent, though The Works was the worst branch I’ve ever been in – small, badly stocked and crowded. Well, nothing’s perfect.
There’s a shop that claims to sell artisan foods, though as with all these shops the stock is a bit more industrial than the signs in the window claim. There was some good stuff there, though it didn’t really look like it had been made by sweaty men wearing bandanas and working with open pans. Or whatever your definition of “artisan” is.
I Googled for pictures of “artisan” and most of them are grubby-looking men in overalls so I wasn’t too far off. It’s a strange thing that though women surely make the majority of jams and pickles in this country we always seem to think of men when we mention the word “artisan”.
There was a whiskey shop too. We had a look in because we were looking to buy some gin for a Christmas present. At £20 for a half bottle we decided to rethink that one. They were selling samples of whiskey in medicine bottles. I can see the point in smaller bottles, and I can see the comedy potential of a medicine bottle, but it just doesn’t look right.
There’s another shop selling alcohol too – whiskey, gin and vodka. You select a bottle, then you fill it from a big container. There are many varieties of fruit-infused gin and vodka, for just £6 (plus the cost of the bottle) it seemed OK. Then I put my glasses on. I hadn’t been expecting much for £6, but I had been expecting more than 100 ml – that’s £60 for a litre, or £45 for a supermarket bottle.
No wonder they can afford staff and glitzy shop fittings.
More from Stoke, with photographs, tomorrow.