Time is often of the essence when it comes to sorting Christmas Shopping, so here is a quick and easy guide to finding quality and meaningful festive gifts, offered by innovative and independent merchants. May these three places prove fruitful, and result in many crossings off of names on Christmas lists.
Newton St Loe Farm and Farm Shop
Proud winners of a prestigious award in both farming and culinary worlds.
Newton St Loe is a stunning and picture-perfect hamlet on the outskirts of Bath. It is also the home to an award winning farming family who offer farmhouse cooking at its best, and a wide variety of locally sourced gifts, food and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). The farm is at the centre of the hamlet, and from the carpark there are wonderful views of the Somerset hills.
With a homegrown grocers, cafe and shop on site, visitors will be spoiled for choice. The cafe operates a first come, first served policy, so it is best to have a browse in the shop first, then sample the delights of home cooked food. The shop is beautiful, and offers everything from fruit jams and preserves to ceramics and kitchenware. All of it is made with care and built to last.
Some South West ceramics, with a sea theme. Everything in this shop would be worthy of being presented as a present or stocking filler.
I love the fact that this place is still, at its heart, a working farm, and a quick walk around reveals just that. My son (aged 5), spent several joyous minutes watching the pigs that are housed on site. Though I didn't tell him, there is a brilliant on site butchers counter at the farm, and all of the produce is both reared and slaughtered on site, making it as fresh as possible.
A little glimpse of the fruit and vegetables on offer- all fresh from the ground.
Castle Farm Cafe is a small but potent Organic Farm that prides itself on serving and selling Organic, locally produced food and drinks. The cafe is situated in a converted barn, and staff hope to make visitors feel 'part of the family' as they sample the delights offered. This is the perfect place to fuel up mid shopping trip, and for this reason I have placed it between the two other venues. Though predominantly an eating and drinking establishment, there are two chalets that offer produce sourced from around Bath. All items are locally sourced, and beautifully presented.
The barn at Castle Farm, with its cosy, family- friendly atmosphere.
The site itself is beautifully situated, and offers panoramic views of the Midford Valley that surrounds Bath. There are also some friendly cows to meet, should little ones (or big ones) want to say hello.
Though obstensibly a Garden Centre, Prior Park GC also has a wonderful craft and gift shop that takes on a decidedly Christmas theme at this time of year. Adjacent to the carpark and beneath the Mezzanine cafe, there are sumptuous food, drink, homeware and reading gifts to be sampled. All of the stock at this place is of high quality, and there are some truly unusual and finely crafted gifts along the aisles.
I particularly loved some of the garden ornaments and adornments that are on offer. Both well made and beautiful, they would be meaningful presents to last a long, long time. This treasure trove was found adjacent to the Christmas light decorations.
Outdoor finery of stone, metal and glass. I would proudly display any of these ornaments in my garden.
A major part of this garden centre shop is the food and fresh produce section. With sparkling fruit and veg, jams, pickles and cheeses, there is everything one would need for a Christmas feast. For a last- minute dash for Christmas food and goodies, this would be a prime candidate. Why not take home a tasty treat from Bath's own cookhouse 'Cavendish Cooks'?
Christmas goodness, courtesy of locla farms and the renowned Bath cookhouse 'Cavendish Cooks'.