We had barely parked the car in picturesque Holt when we found the first ‘must have’ purchase. Holt is awash with little independent shops and artisans with a myriad of alluring wares calling to us from attractive window displays. In a short space of time D was clutching amongst other things a china cup for Piggle, a moon-gazing hare, a whizzy salad dressing whisk and aromatic oils. A drawer knife for shaving the ends of broom handles (yes, it’s a mystery to me also) had caught the eye of MC, he’d been able to indulge in an array of wine tasting and he had also befriended a woodturner’s wife with a definite date to return to meet the woodturner himself. My ample bags were stuffed with a pair of fetching stoles (well it had turned rather nippy), a large French ‘bol’ style cup for soup, not only the same whisk as D but a heart shaped larger sauce whisk and last but not least ‘another’ picnic hamper. D and MC insisted on referring to it as ‘another’ picnic hamper as they think I have sufficient hampers already. Sufficient, is that possible? Anyone who’s read my blog possibly knows how unfeasibly excited I get when the weighty Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols hamper catalogues satisfyingly thump my doormat each festive season. But a hamper is not just for Christmas as I can succumb to ‘hamper porn’ any season! This new one has an attractive linen lining, limed washed exterior, proper glassware strapped to the inner lid and is a perfect basket for two or an opulent one for solo picnicking! It has acceptable white square plates but would be even better with my strawberries and vines china picnic plates and some crisp linen. Let’s hopes the weather holds out this summer so I can indulge.
Actually the final flourish would be one of the gorgeous linen napkins courtesy of the fine styling of Thornback and Peel. And as luck would have a little present of one of their bunny napkins was awaiting me when I arrived at the cottage, I think it was meant to be!
If you haven’t come across the gorgeous wares of Thornback and Peel I urge you to have a look. D had fallen in love with one of their deckchairs in the style section of the Sunday papers and had introduced me to them. In fact exploring Holt we fair tripped over their goldfish or ladybird adorned table mats and pigeon and raspberry jelly strewn cushions (frankly only the second time I’ve liked a pigeon, the first being when a wood pigeon has discarded its plump breast in my salad). Looking at their website I must admit that I am taken with the canvas bags featuring the aforementioned pigeons and pink jellies. And talking of hampers I also got one of their lobster (aka Pinchy) tea towels in my Christmas hamper from D&MC.
We’ve had a bit of a seafood/lobster theme for the last few years and though we are late this year with the annual Cambridge seafood festival there is still time to get out the new crustacean themed napery and tuck into some suitable crabby delight. In fact we’re in the perfect place for a spot of crab but thinking that most of our meals are sewn up we avoid the enticing delis and crab sandwich purveyors.
In the lovely shop selling Alessi hedgehogs, expanding pan stands and my utterly favourites heart shaped spoons, the owner was keen to point out her friend’s gallery as a must in Holt and then to head forth for Wiverton Hall Café for a spot of afternoon tea as it was in her words ‘truly bonkers’! “Bonkers food in a bonkers and colourful place with bonkers but jolly service.” Well mindful of the delights of the Neptune that lay ahead we were determined to see how it could be quite so bonkers and once we couldn’t carry another thing we thought we’d check it out before going home to change.
It turned out to be a pick your own fruit farm with a café attached. It was a vibrant place, there were lots of children running around and the place seemed pretty packed. The counter was festooned with cupcakes, scones, flapjakes, chocolate cake and a Victoria sponge which seemed the most popular as every moment another hefty wodge was carved off.
D and MC had a cheese scone and I had an unfeasibly large slice of the chocolate cake. The bits with the chocolate butter cream was okay but the rest was a tad dry but that was fine, I wasn’t that hungry and mainly wanted a sit down, a nice cup of tea and to see how bonkers this place could be! It was certainly colourful, there was a plethora of spotty and heart adorned Emma Bridgewater crockery to serve our selections on. The tables had various wipe clean clashing patterned tablecloths and with the leaflets, menus and now obligatory fairy dusted cupcakes the whole effect was certainly a cacophony of riotous colour. The staff were also preparing for a new offering of evening tapas so there was a flurry of chorizo chopping and decanting olives into bowls.
I particularly like the promotional graphics they use on the menus and aprons wrapped round the waists of the servers designed by Annabel Grey. The theme seemed to be strawberries and pigs which seemed a good combination to me, I was nearly tempted to add to be burgeoning tea towel collection but opted for the postcards instead.
Holt will definitely be revisited, there is still plenty to explore and if on our next visit we fancy cake, tapas or a barbeque we know a bonkers place we can go afterwards!