Wednesday 6 November 2019
Shopping in the Chilterns is fun at any time of the year, but it’s even more exciting during the build up to Christmas. With a huge variety of talented food and drink producers, and unique artisans and craftspeople, you’re sure to find a special gift for a friend or loved one, whatever their tastes. With a growing awareness of the importance of reducing food miles and being more sustainable, why not try and source some of your Christmas table essentials from local suppliers and producers too?
Here is a selection of local businesses offering a wonderful range of pre-Christmas experiences in the run-up to the festive season…
Based in the picturesque market town of Wendover in the heart of the Buckinghamshire Chilterns is No2 Pound Street. No2 is an innovative wine shop, selling classical favourites alongside organic, biodynamic and quirky wines made by smaller producers. Complementing the wine is a superb British deli counter celebrating award-winning British artisan producers of meats, cheese and smoked salmon. With a strong ‘try before you buy’ ethos, pop in at any time during the festive season to sample their delicious products or join them for a special Christmas Cheese and Wine Tasting event on Wednesday 27th November. Booking and event details are available via their website.
The family run Chiltern Brewery has a superbly stocked shop at Terrick, selling its full range of bottled and draught beers; plus locally made wines, ciders, condiments and a delicious range of products such as fresh beer bread, malt fudge, beer cheese and fruit cake that are all made using their fine ales. Tour, taste or shop at Malt the Brewery, Prestwood. Or why not purchase the gift of a Brewery Membership, and as well as receiving discounts and access to exclusive events, help to invest to transform this local brewery, create more local jobs and build an even better community asset?
If gin is on your shopping list, a visit to Puddingstone Distillery, at the base of Wilstone Reservoir (just five minutes from Tring) is a must. The home of Campfire Gin, the distillery was founded by Ben and Kate Marston and has a shop open for visits on Fridays and Saturdays (and additional days throughout December). Why not really spoil yourself and attend their Cocktail Demo session on Saturday 14th December when Ben will demonstrate how to make three Campfire Gin and chocolate cocktails and you will get a mini sample of each to try! The event is free but booking is essential via their website.
For those with a sweet tooth, you’ll find it hard to resist the delicious Auberge Du Chocolat in Chesham. Founded by husband and wife team Ian and Anne Scott, they produce an original range of award-winning hand-made chocolates on the premises and invite the public to experience the joy, satisfaction and art of chocolate-making. From the smallest pocket-money chocolate bear to the most luxurious chocolate box gift, every chocolate wish is fulfilled. And, if you need to incentivise small people to join you on your festive shopping trip, why not try their children’s Chocolate Making Workshop on Wednesday 18th December or the drop in session on Friday 20th December? Booking and event details are available via their website.
Also not to be missed for chocolate gifts, and to rest and refuel on your shopping trip, is the wonderful Rumsey’s Handmade Chocolates in Wendover. Master chocolatier Nigel Rumsey has been creating his exquisite range of award-winning handmade chocolates since 1991, and continues to produce a sumptuous selection of truffles, ganaches, pralines, creams and petit fours; each with its own distinctive flavour.
For your Christmas lunch spread and festive entertaining needs, you can source home reared meats, biscuits and dairy products (amongst other things) from Buckmoorend Farm Shop. Located on the small family run farm, nestled within the beautiful Chiltern Hills, it is part of the Chequers Estate, and is steeped in history. Nearly every corner of the farm can be viewed (and reached) from the extensive network of local footpaths, including The Ridgeway, and with a kitchen serving hot food and drink at the weekends, why not make a day of it!
No Christmas lunch would be complete without award-winning sausages from Orchard View Farm. With a wonderful farm shop and cafe at Owlswick, you can stock up on a wide selection of local produce. If cooking your own Christmas lunch seems like too much effort from 10th December onwards (Tuesday to Friday only) you can enjoy their delicious Christmas Lunch menu in the café, but be sure to book in advance. Booking and menu details are available via their website.
Meanwhile, on the road to Stoke Mandeville, you can stop off for some artistic creativity with a seasonal twist at Obsidian Art. The gallery displays work by a broad range of UK-based artists and makers with an aim of showing some of the best in art and craft, including some of the best local artists. Its latest exhibition Winter Fairytales runs till 21 December and promises wintery magic and lots of Christmas present ideas! Obsidian Art opens all week (Mondays – Saturdays 10am-5pm, Sundays 12 noon – 4pm). Pop next door to the Buckinghamshire Craft Guild shop where you can find the best in designer and applied contemporary crafts in Buckinghamshire.
There are also many local creatives who don’t have a physical shop to visit but purchases can be made online while at home with your feet up enjoying some mulled wine from one of the above farm shops! Lucy Levenson is one such creative who, working from a table in the cellar of the old pub that is her home, using just her sewing machine and a pair of scissors, fabrics, paper and glue, makes applique cushions and pictures, decoupage prints on canvas, giclée prints and other small items. All done in her own folk art style. For additional ideas of local craftspeople with wares to buy visit our “Meet the Maker” page.
Who can resist a trip to Waddesdon Manor at Christmas? The Christmas Craft Fair takes place over 5 weeks (16th November – 22nd December, Weds-Sun only) and boasts a huge variety of craftspeople selling candles and home fragrance, clothing and accessories, jewellery, gifts, homewares as well as food and drink (both for taking home and to sustain you along the way).
While you’re there don’t miss the brilliant Christmas decorations or light installations, to really kick off your Christmas. Younger guests might enjoy weekend activities making Christmas lanterns or writing to Santa, or the children’s house trail. Entry to the grounds is free for National Trust members but house entry is an additional cost and must be pre-booked. More details of all the Christmas goings on at Waddesdon can be found here.
Peterley Manor Farm in Prestwood, recently voted Best Farm Shop in the Chilterns for 2019 by the Chiltern Society, kicks off its Christmas season with a Dried Flower Arranging Workshop on Sunday 17 November (10am-1pm). It’s happening in Peterley’s own greenhouse, with top tips from experienced local wedding florist Cherry Green.
Christmas events also include:
Details of all these special events can be found here.
Missenden Abbey holds its annual Christmas Fair on Sunday 1st December? From 11am-4pm there will be a wonderful event featuring over 50 craft stalls, festive food and drink, an opportunity to meet Santa and his reindeer, lots of festive entertainment and traditional Christmas goodies. The craft stalls will be selling a variety of fantastic Christmas presents and stocking fillers. There will be everything from jewellery to handmade gifts to candles and much more. Proceeds from the fair will go to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. For more details please head over to their website.
These are just some of the incredible events happening in the Chilterns this festive season. Please remember to check the websites shown above for the most up to date information/entry/parking arrangements etc. And do wrap up warm as many of these events are outdoors, whatever the weather.
Whatever is on your list, enjoy the experience of shopping within the beautiful Chilterns!