Going back to my roots this week with a visit to my birthplace of Norwich, Norfolk. Whenever we visit the area, we have a wonderful sense of homecoming. The opportunity to shop in relative peace in the fantastic Chapelfield Shopping Centre and even better are the ludicrously tempting Lanes, which house myriad independent retailers, selling high fashion items, art, jewellery, shoes, cameras and the best fish and chips this side of Anstruther! Indeed Norwich truly is a "fine city".
Just outside of Norwich, lies the village of Taverham. Here lies a hidden secret amongst crafters: Taverham Garden and Crafts Centre. (www.taverham-nursery.co.uk). The garden centre is wonder enough, chocked to the rafters with every garden implement imaginable. As my father noted whilst there "That's the best selection of bird feeders I've ever seen!". Now, if ornithology's your thing it's clearly the place to be!
On the same site as the Garden Centre is a treasure trove of other craft shops. At the front of the site (with its own dedicated carpark - parking is in abundance here) is Saffire Chocolate. I was won over by the smell, the innovative chocolate designs, the ludicrously reasonable prices and most of all the warmth of the welcome we received in the shop. All of the chocolates are made on site and production was stopped for baby M to have a sample (which he licked and promptly rejected and I, most benevolently, helped him out...). An armchair sits in the shop encouraging you to settle down and enjoy the ambiance of the shop, or perhaps make your purchase and have a few "testers" before leaving. I obliged. Well, it would've been rude not to... For more information contact Saffire on: email@example.com
If you know me, chances are you'll be enjoying saffire chocolates for Christmas. You lucky things... (We fell for the 16cm diameter Happy Holiday chocolate wreath, boxed, for £6.50.)
Round the corner, dotted around the carpark (as I said, lots of parking) are the main craft shops. Sew Simple offers a world of sewing related products, from crochet to knitting, to quilting, to ribbons, to threads, to buttons, to other bits. If you can sknitch it, you can buy it here!
Next are the two shops that were my undoing. Firstly a visit to The Kitchenary Ltd left me much lighter of pocket, but also full of dreams that indeed I am able to master any of Nigella's christmas recipes. In fact, what the heck, I should actually write my own recipe book! Why not, I have all of the tools! (Thankfully, whilst I am delightedly working my way through all of my goodies, I have also regained a sense of normality and aware of my limitations). The Kitchenary housed more cake decorating goodies than I had EVER seen. Every shade under the sun! I also loved the fact that you can hire out cake tins. What a fantastic idea! The ladies of The Kitchenary are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and will spend time ensuring that you are able to access the correct products enabling you to become the next Delia, or Nigella.
The Kitchenary are the suppliers of the Little Swans of London "Swan" cookie cutters that are included in the Little Swans of London "Cook Together Sets". For more information on The Kitchenary, contact them on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next door is Country Corner. I'm sure I've mentioned before that ribbon is my weakness, particularly grosgrain ribbon. No idea why. I just love it. I also love East of India's ribbon. Imagine my reaction, therefore at finding a shop that housed nothing but East of India products. Amazing. The shop is beautifully presented and the pricing is, once again, incredibly reasonable. If an East of India product that you desire isn't currenlty available, they will allow you to have a nosey through the suppliers catalogue and will order the item in especially for you. Outstanding service! Whilst there, I stocked up on cards for various occasions that may, possibly, happen in the coming years...
So, if you are in the area, fancy a day out, or love ribbon/ chocolate/ ornithology as much as me, check out Taverham.
Now, where did I put those Saffire chocolates...