Happy New Year to all of our wonderful customers and I hope you all had a very lovely Christmas. We managed to survive the December cheese stampede and between our two teams of staff (one team on the front line in the shop, and the other in our workshop preparing pre-orders) we fulfilled more orders than ever. We are truly so grateful to everyone who shops in our little village store and we hope that everyone went home happy with their cheese selection.
Our Christmas at home was relatively quiet, just the 4 of us plus my mum and Ali’s Dad. We caught up with more family on Boxing Day and even managed to head up to Liverpool to take in an Everton match so all in all the Christmas period was pretty much perfect. We were then open for a couple of days for New Year’s Eve cheeses before having another couple of quiet days at home, this time it was just the 2 of us (plus our 2 dogs).
We try not to go too mad at this time of year with gifts. For us, spending time with family and friends is the best gift that we could have. Having said that I did get given the most incredible present from my dad. For those who don’t know me well, my dad is one of the most inspirational people in my life. He is the little voice in my head that pushes me every day to try and do better. I get my drive from him and he is the person I turn to when I need advice. But back to his gift….
As you probably do know I am a huge cheese nerd. I read every book and every article about cheese that I can get my hands on. There’s one book which I have in paperback (as well as an audio version) called “Cheddar Gorge” and it focuses on 10 cheeses (or areas of cheesemaking) – Stilton, Cheddar, Cheshire, Double Gloucester, Leicester, Wensleydale, Caerphilly, Dunlop, Irish and Blue Vinny. Each chapter is on one of the cheeses and each is championed by a lover of that particular cheese. It was one of the first cheese books I read when we were in the process of buying the shop, back in 2015. My amazing dad (with the help of one his friends) had tracked down a limited first edition of that very same book and it is incredible! Apparently the original bindings were totally destroyed so he had it re-bound with an amazing new cover. The book itself is signed by the editor (Sir John Squire) and the illustrator (Ernest H Shepard) and it is number 85 of 250 copies. Ernest Shepard is someone who the people of Pangbourne are well acquainted with as he famously illustrated the Wind in the Willows which was written by Kenneth Grahame who lived right here in Pangbourne. Opening the book on Boxing Day almost made me cry, I was so touched!
Back to the here and now and it’s a wet, windy January day in Pangbourne. It used to be that January in the shop was fairly quiet but the last few years have completely bucked the trend and judging by today I think this year will too! The cheese of the day has been Tunworth, a beautiful Camembert style cheese made just down the road from us in Herriard, Hampshire. It’s perfect to eat as part of a cheeseboard but if you want to get really decadent I love to slit the top of it and pop a couple of fresh garlic cloves inside, drizzle a dash of olive oil over it, and sprinkle with fresh rosemary before baking it in the oven… grab some warm sourdough (I can highly recommend Birch Bread in Pangbourne) and that is dinner sorted. Cheese for tea after a busy day in the shop is the perfect way to relax. I often get asked if I get fed up with the cheese and the answer is mostly definitely no!
Thinking ahead to the 25th January, last year we put together a limited edition Burns Night cheese box and we will be doing something similar this year. It will contain a variety of Scottish cheeses as well as oatcakes and a chutney. They’ll be available to order for delivery the weeks beginning 15th & 22nd January. Hopefully the lovely British weather will have improved by then! But if you can’t wait until then for your cheesy goodies, our online shop is back up & running plus we have a counter full of cheese here in Pangbourne.
Thank you for reading and here’s to a busy 2024!