Last Saturday was The Trip to Chatsworth that I had organised for our WI, Langham & Barleythorpe, and friends. Fifty of us set off on the coach and remarkably I managed to bring the same number back! Not easy amongst the crowds of happy visitors milling about at this wonderful venue. The gardens and house looked magnificent in the watery sunshine when we arrived only surpassed by the extraordinary displays inside the house, which had been dressed for Christmas. Truly astonishing attention to detail in such a vast area and a real credit to the Chatsworth support team that they made it look fresh and exciting – not what they were feeling when they unlocked the bauble store this autumn I bet! They must be planning as soon as the previous year’s are taken down I would think. Do go if you are within striking distance – the Christmas market in the grounds with 120 individual stands of crafts, food, decorations and other products is a sight in itself. Chatsworth have brilliant catering and their own gift shops nwhich are original and affordable.
What I was pleased to see is that, unlike my last visit when no-one could tell me where their Chatsworth brand of jams and preserves were made, now it states on the jar that it is made in Bakewell, nearby. I am still not sure how, I wouldn’t think that it is artisinal but still progress as it is local employment and less shipping.
I feel strongly about this – we are routinely offered ‘Jam’ with hotel and cafe breakfasts and afternoon teas. No choice or information – just ‘Jam’ – why is this? We are often offered a choice of teas, coffees, cheese, bread, rare breed meats – we are told where it is produced, how lovingly it has been looked after, what a struggle the producer has had to succeed – so why not jams and preserves. If I have a cream tea, I don’t want to be told the scone has been made on the premises, the clotted cream is the finest that Cornwall has to offer, and . . . jam. I would like to be offered a choice – personally I am not that fond of strawberry – I might like blackcurrant, or apricot, it just depends. I would like to be told that it had been locally sourced, perfectly possible for almost every establishment these days as there are so many great local producers, I would like some information about them.
Canny B & B’s that make their own preserves and serve them at breakfast, label up jars for guests to take home as presents for friends which are taken out every day and looked at by prospective visitors. Not many business cards you can say that about!
Time to big it up for jam. I started the JAMPAIGN some time ago but it is hard to get these things going on your own. Let’s get some pins in a map for the places you know that are doing it well, let’s give them a pat on the back and if you are out and about and get served ‘plastic’ jam – ask why. You are the customer in that instance but a great many of you are also the artisans – let’s start making a noise!