Chapel A: New Kids on the Block

This weekend was the Chapel Allerton Arts Festival, and whilst work kept me from catching much of it, I did pop into Chapel A today to see what was going on. I didn’t go into the actual festival as I’d eaten and jazz isn’t particularly my bag, but there were a couple of shops I have been meaning to visit. Also, there was a book stall selling 5 books for £1 and that’s just not an offer I would ever let go.

First stop was George & Joseph, a new cheesemongers that’s recently landed on Regent Street. They only opened on Friday, and this is their first permanent home – they’ve been doing farmer’s markets and the like previously. The shop is so pretty with pale green frontage and shelves packed with cheesy paraphernalia, but the stars of the show are in a chilled cabinet and labelled so you can get a good look at them all.

I loved examining all the different options, but I have to admit I knew when I walked in what I was after – a nice soft goat’s cheese, as I had a hankering for a big goat’s cheese salad. Although George & Joseph specialise in Yorkshire cheeses, the one I plumped for was the Fivemiletown log, from the Fivemiletown creamery in Ireland.

I couldn’t wait to try it, and sampled a tiny bit when I got in. It’s absolutely perfect – pulsing with flavour, really tangy but with a creamy texture so that it melts like butter. It was gorgeous and I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m back at George & Joseph to purchase something else – I’ve got my eye on their Yorkshire hampers as Christmas gifts.

Next up was Chirpy, a design and gift store that isn’t new at all, but I’ve tried to visit three times since they opened almost a year ago and been thwarted by summer holidays or trade fairs or by not checking the opening times before I set off!

It was well worth the wait, and I’ve already fallen in love with about ten framed prints and all the notebooks, along with some amazing little nail transfers and several mugs. I limited myself to a little card and gift to send to my Envelope Club recipient this month, but more on that in another post. Everything is made by independent UK makers and designers, and it’s the kind of stuff you can buy as a gift feeling confident you’ve got something a bit different but really stylish.

I spent about half an hour in there just browsing and kept finding new treasures hidden on a low shelf or in a dresser drawer; it really is such a lovely pace to browse and I felt so welcome in the shop, left to my own devices. (Don’t you hate it when you’re the only one in a small shop and you’re being watched the whole time? Totally didn’t have to worry about that.)

If you’re interested in crafts, keep an eye on Chirpy’s twitter page for info about workshops, where you can learn skills like decoupage and jewellery making.

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That’s right, all this lot for a quid!

These gems might become two of my favourite local shops from now on. What are your local must-visits? And have you grabbed any book bargains lately?

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