Friday, 31 March 2017

Not with a bang, but a whimper

A tabby cat trying to steal dan dan noodles
Not for cats!
My local butcher is closing. You have no idea how upset that makes me. Happily, it was an odd, outlying branch – the main shop is in Devizes – and the staff have been given work at the main shop, but I'm still really unhappy. 

For the past 15 years or so, every Saturday Mr Robot and I have discussed what we fancy cooking/eating over the next week, and walked into town to get our meat. Do we need a few extra Asian bits and bobs for cooking, or some veggies that weren't included in the week's vegbox? Pop into Mac's or the greengrocer while in town. We have a coffee in our favourite café, whizz round the chazzas, maybe I'll buy a bath bomb or card from the little indie card/gift shop or some flowers from the flower stall. Now we won't be going into town to go to the butcher, we won't be doing most of those things either – I'll more likely pop into one of the Asian supermarkets or to the veg stall in Bath on a workday.

This is how small towns die.

I know, it's not the 1950s, and I don't want to live in the 1950s. I'm just not sure being stuck with no option in town but the supermarkets - whose meat is all inferior to the meat we've been buying, isn't all local, and is generally much more intensively reared - counts as progress.

Over the past few years Bradford-on-Avon has lost its butcher. Trowbridge had two; now it's got none. Mr Robot and I will drive over to Devizes to go to Walter Rose's main branch, and shop online with them, but it won't be the same as having a chat with Shaun, Louie and Cameron. I'll have to cook more for the freezer as we won't be going every week. It's going to be a big change to our lives and, I think, a really sad thing for my town.

14 comments :

  1. Small towns are dying here in Belgium too, I'm afraid. 18 years ago, I returned to live in the town I grew up in, which had all manner of shops, including a "corner shop", many bakers and several butchers. Most of them were gone by the time I returned, and it's been going downhill ever since. Just two bakers left and none of the butchers. Another butcher has appeared in the meantime, but it's part of a chain, and you can't even pay in the normal way, it all goes through a machine. I simply refuse to set foot in there. I don't want to return to the 1960s (well, only for a day maybe) but I remember the town's high street, full of small, independent shops, fondly. We hardly go into town anymore, and that's a shame really. I quite understand that you are mourning for the loss of that butcher. xxx

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    1. I'm just really glad the staff are being moved to the other shop - it would have been awful if they'd lost their jobs.

      There's no bakery in town - a branch of Greggs is the closest thing, but I suspect their dough is made elsewhere and they just bake it.

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  2. Boo!
    I watched my little hometown in California slowly die.
    In the 70's Sonoma went from tiny little ag town to major 'wine country' tourist spot. Busloads of French & Japanese tourists arrived hourly. Then came the big box stores which put the little mom'n'pop shops out of business. Then came the French Laundry/Chez Panisse crowd who took over the local restaurants & bakeries. Then came the Hollywood moguls (Francis Ford Coppola, Robin Williams, & assorted plastic surgeons) building huge villas & estates where little farms were. Now it's so upscale & pricy the natives can't afford to live there.
    At least we have a halal butcher in our neighborhood here in Nepal were you can pick your own goat!

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    1. I'd feel very guilty about picking out a goat. I guess it's something you get used to, though. I couldn't even pick out a lobster!

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  3. I'm sorry about your butcher shop-that is a bad thing for a small town to lose.

    Losing your routine is awful as well, but perhaps you'll ease into a new, enjoyable one after a bit.

    I haven't been back where I grew up in years, si I couldn't say if it is thriving or dying. I'd guess the latter as general trends go.

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    1. Well, we'll be driving over to Devizes to the other branch every few weeks. Maybe I'll have to make every Saturday a proper chazza day instead...

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  4. That's indeed sad, a good butcher is a rarity these days! I wonder what councils do to help local high streets, they seem intent on destroying them. Too many retail parks on outskirts. That said, we have a local butcher but it's not a very good one unfortunately, alas their sausages are a low meat content, their turkeys come all the way from Somerset, and their meat selection seems to cater for pensioners with microwaves rather than keen cooks. I feel sad to have been forced back to the supermarkets.

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    1. I think the killer blow for Trowbridge was Knees, our indie department store, closing and moving out of town. It was a big draw for a lot of people.

      We'll be driving over to Devizes every couple of weeks, and stocking up our freezer to get through times without butcher visits. And I'll probably have to explore a bit of veggie cookery, which won't do us any harm.

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  5. Oh, I am sorry to hear this, Mim. I confess I rarely go to the butcher now - only if I want something the supermarket's don't do; e.g. oxtail or pork ribs.

    I also use a halal butcher to buy goat or mutton sometimes. There is a butchers in our Sainsbury's though, but I rarely use it.

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    1. It's so sad to see another part of the town go. Every time it feels as though something good is happening, something bad comes along.

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  6. Welcome to my world. Walsall's just been declared UK town with the most empty shops. Very depressing.
    Love that photo. x

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  7. It's so hard to shop local when they keep driving out the smaller businesses. Our local market is slowly being turned into a trendy food market, all the little businesses are being driven out by pop ups from bigger chains, every week some one else is gone. I'm all for change but as a fellow small business owner I really feel for them. Some of them have been there years and it's quite sad when you find out they're gone.

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  8. Sad truth is: small towns fall victim to the Greater Good - "good" usually being closely connected with "growth" and "progress".
    It seems to me that the decision makers fail to see that not all places need to develop in the same way.
    Also, big changes mean "big markets". Even here, we are seeing lot of small towns getting big supermarkets. It's like telling us: why go anywhere else, when you can get everything here.
    Not for us.
    Most of us, over here, are still fortunate to have a place to buy fresh milk, eggs and meat. OK, we produce our own meat and eggs, and a lady two houses down own two cows, so.. speaking of buying local :)
    I am so sad to hear your butcher is closing down.
    Another victim of "growth".
    Sorry, Mim. Sorry Mr. Robot. Sorry kitties.

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  9. Where I live, there's a wealth of independent shops, but it's a market town with an abundance of middle class yummy mummies, so that's likely why.

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