Look out for La Petite Fabrique pop-up French Patisserie at the Piddington Spring Market on 9 March.
Sylvain Mengel is a French pastry chef with a Diploma in Patisserie from France, who sells biscuits, tarts and other homemade goodies. He has recently moved to Oxford from Australia, where for more than six months he has been selling his delicious patisserie products at farmers’ markets. We are fortunate that Sylvain will be taking a stall, so you can sample his baking – or get some tips for the forthcoming Great Piddington Bake Off!
That is, unless you’re one of the readers of this blog who – I’m astonished to discover, having just worked out how to find the statistics section – live in the USA, India, Thailand, Spain, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Russian Federation, Cyprus or Singapore. Who’d have thought it?
I know that Piddington villagers are lucky in lots of ways: we live in a lovely, friendly village, and have a wealth of locally grown produce on our doorstep, but this year we had a bit of bad luck, in that our village pub closed in the spring. In fact, it was the loss of this pub – one place that you might bump into people informally and have a chat, or have a meal when you couldn’t face cooking – that sparked the idea of The Pantry.
Well, we’ve just heard that our nearest local now, the Bull and Butcher, Ludgershall, is offering a brilliant deal – but only to bona fide Piddingtonians.
In the evening of 9th March, from around 7pm, the pub is having a Piddington night. If you are a Piddington resident, you can tuck into a big bowl of chilli and chips for £5 and scampi for the kids for £2.50. Call 01844 238094 to book a table. But only if you can prove you’re from Piddington!
If you’re unlucky enough not to be, why not visit the pub anyway – it’s great!
The recent horsemeat scandal could change Britain’s eating habits, encouraging people either to buy less meat or to shop at the local butcher’s rather than at a supermarket. According to the online poll of 2,257 adults carried out at the end of last week by the market research company Consumer Intelligence, 62% of people surveyed said they are now more likely to use their local independent butcher.
We are lucky to live in an area where good local butchers can still be found, and we’ll have one of them – Walman Butchers and Delicatessen, based in the village of Launton, Bicester – at the spring market on 9 March. Walman Butchers have an excellent reputation locally for quality and value for money, and of course can trace exactly where all their meat comes from. The vast majority of their meat is locally sourced and they support non-intensive farming wherever possible. As well as the range of meat you’d expect to find, they also offer a good selection of produce including homemade meat pies, home-cooked ham, homemade sausages, organic meats, and frozen ready meals which are made on the premises. And, in the right season, I can attest that their venison, locally shot of course, is superb.
So, if you eat meat at all, support your local butchers, and ensure that they keep thriving.
As one of the team behind The Pantry – a community initiative, started by villagers in the small Oxfordshire village of Piddington, to promote local goods and services and create a social hub for the village – the news that a group of neighbouring villages in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland have decided to dig a 40-mile trench and lay their own broadband struck a chord with me.
As Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent, puts it: ‘After deciding that they were never likely to get a fast broadband connection from one of the major suppliers, a group of local people across this sparsely populated area decided that sitting around moaning about it was not an option. Instead they began a DIY effort, digging channels across the fields and laying fibre optic cables. They have exploited all sorts of local expertise – from the Lancaster University professor who is an expert in computer networks to the farmer’s wife who has just retired from a career in IT support. The cooperation of local landowners has been vital – free access to fields has made it much cheaper to roll out the network.’
It’s so inspiring to hear about this type of pulling together to get something done. It also made me think of the indomitable spirit of the ordinary British people as portrayed in so many films in the 1940s. Some of these films were funny – and it’s tempting to see something of the Ealing comedies about the idea of a small community pitting itself against a huge corporation and winning. But perhaps this old-fashioned image does contain a grain of truth about people. They’ll always surprise the cynics and display community spirit, altruism, optimism and kindness – and when they do, watch out, anything can happen!
I first heard about this project on the radio, but you can read more about it here:
CPRE Oxfordshire, an independent environmental charity that works in Oxfordshire and through their national office in London to ‘stand up for the countryside’, has already tweeted about us – so we’re making a name for ourselves locally!