What a year?!

Isn’t it just a brilliant time to reflect and look forward at the same time?! Since I was pregnant with my first I have made myself a little ritual on New Years Eve. I take pen to paper and write myself a little summary of everything significant that’s happened within our family, month by month, over the past year. Trips we’ve been on, life changes that have happened, new lives within our family and friends, developments in the business, if it’s significant enough to remember at the end of the year I write it all down. I finish it off with a page or 2 with our plans and hopes for the next year. It always focuses around ‘I’d like a little more family time’, but yet we load ourselves up with more jobs to do!! Then I don’t look at the folder until next New Year’s Eve. And when that day gets here I read back over the last year, and what my hopes and dreams had been and assess how many of them became a reality. Then I write the next instalment.

So this year I decided I’d do a little version of this for our business to include upon my blog. I won’t go into the nitty gritty of month by month but more use it as a reflection of another crazy 12 months and then think forward to what we hope to achieve in 2018! So here goes…

We Moved!

It’s easy to forget that this happened in 2017 because it was back in January! The move from Chesterton Rd to Victoria Ave was not far in distance but a big step for our business. It gave us the chance to have a smarter, more purposefully designed premises that showed off what we do a lot more. We were very happy with the new store but we were more than a little nervous. We have been very happy in our old home, and being the sentimental so and so that I am I didn’t like to say goodbye. You never really know what a new store holds for you until you do it. Truth be told we were still nervous until we had done a Christmas there. We need so much storage space at Christmas, and space we do not have. However, with huge thanks to our lovely new neighbours at the Waterman, who lent us some space, it all went well and now we feel a little more at ease. (If you haven’t eaten at the Waterman yet, I advise you try it, it’s been a godsend for us for lunches with the boys over this busy spell)!

I broke my ankle

Yes, although I may not want to remember it, it was significant! At the end of June I fractured 2 bones in my ankle which had me on crutches, in a boot and unable to drive for 6 weeks! We always used to joke about ‘imaging if one of us broke our leg’, as a sort of ‘what the hell would we do with all our responsibilities with one of us out of the game’? Well then it happened. Ben was brilliant at stepping into the breach and picking up a lot of my responsibilities, as was Karen, the amazing baker that works with me in the bakery. And do you know what?! We got through it. Nothing fell apart. We’re all still here. So it’s quite empowering really. That thing we always joked about happened and we dealt with it. It also allowed my time to reflect and…

I Started a Blog

I really miss the interaction I have with a lot of our customers and friends now that I’m more home based. Breaking my ankle gave me some time to think, and I decided to have a go at writing a blog! I’ve really enjoyed it, and the connection it’s given me back from people I don’t see that often anymore. People keep telling me they are reading it, which I’m thrilled to bits about!

We Said a Final Farewell

In September we sadly said goodbye to our friend, Brian King. Brian was the man that taught Ben everything he knows about butchery and had been with us since the beginning. Brian used to run his own butchers shop business in the 70’s and was always there for us with a kind nod of encouragement or knowing words of condolence when things went wrong. Brian was 80 when he passed away, but had still been coming to work until 3 weeks before so it was a shock to us all.

Brian will never be forgotten for the things he’s taught us in the business and for the lovely man we all got know as a friend, and all the advice and wise words he passed on.

We Welcomed New Team Members

Our team is bigger than ever with now 12 people, not including me and Ben (who mostly just get in the way!). The business we are runs on the array of characters that make it a welcoming and positive place. We are lucky to have them all to look after our customers and make delicious food!

We have our mini Commercial Free Range Egg Unit set up

Yep, there’s now chickens clucking outside my front door. This project took a lot longer to set up than we thought and was about 8 months behind schedule when we got it started in August. But better later than never. We now have 250 commercial free rangers supplying the bakery and shop!

We got to the Finals

Yes we got voted by our customers into the top 3 in the farm shop and deli category of the Cambridge food and drink awards, for the 3rd year running! But we didn’t win, for the 3rd year running! It seems our customers love us but the judges don’t. That’s the way I’d prefer to have it! I like the sound of 2018 anyway!!

We got to your doorsteps even more

In November we launched our new and improved online store, and it helped us get out to more people’s doorsteps than ever before. We have been working really hard to get more and more of our offerings online and to offer the best and most convenient service out there! We’re really proud of the start we’ve made…but watch this space!

On to 2018…

So what’s on the cards for next year?

To make the online store the best and most convenient way to buy food! We want to host the products of all the local and independent businesses we find on our site, and deliver it out to people’s kitchens. There’s some great small food producers out there and we want to get all their offerings together in one place for the most awesome independent shopping experience. So we have lots of adding and improving to keep doing.

To start a recipe hub. We have this idea of making video recipes for YouTube that people can cook along with. We would also like to make videos with our producers showcasing the awesome stuff we sell and giving tips about how to use and cook with it. This will be housed on our website to make it an even more complete service.

We want to fill the shop with even more great products! We can still squeeze a bit in!

We want to deliver even more days a week!

To keep making the best food around!

So 2017, there’s been blood sweat and tears, and the odd broken bone. There’s also been laughter, pride, good friends, a great team and awesome customers. Our little family has grown up a bit more! But now 2018 we are ready for you!

My Independent Christmas: The Results

Firstly, an apology. I promised myself when I started the blog that I would post frequently. However, nothing happens that isn’t food making and order taking in December! So I’m sorry for the lack of posts during silly season! I’m back in the real world again now!


Beautiful handmade tree decoration by Kplunkers https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Kplunkers

So this year I made a little vow to myself that I would do all my shopping with independent businesses. We have the food well and truly taken care of, and I can hand on heart say that nothing on our Christmas dining table ever comes from a supermarket. It pleases me greatly to not ever have to battle the supermarket queues and panicking in the run up to Christmas. Plus we get to enjoy the experience that our customers get of a Radmore Christmas, and are bursting with pride at the food we produce. So this year I decided to carry this through to all my gift shopping and try to support only independent businesses, instead of giant multinationals. Here’s 10 things I learnt along the way.

1. You have to spend more time, not more money

Overall I have spent about the same in money on Christmas as in other years. The main reason I have used platforms like Amazon in the past is because it’s easy. You can sit down in one evening and get most of the Christmas shopping done in one hit and have it delivered to your door. It’s taken more thought and more leg work to use independent businesses, but as a result…

2. Everyone gets something with more thought

To use independents I have put a lot more thought into each persons present. You can’t just put 8 of the same item in your basket if you are getting hand made and personalised gifts made like you would from a major retailer. So everyone has had something with thought instead of just a token gift. And isn’t that what gift giving is all about?!


Personalised sacks- the handmade Christmas co https://handmadechristmasco.com

3. There’s some great platforms for accessing small businesses these days

Sites like Etsy and Not On The High Street allow you to directly buy from small independent businesses without having to trawl around every craft fair in the midlands.

4. It takes longer to arrive

I will be prepared for this next Christmas. Because most things you order from an independent business are hand finished and made to order, they take longer to come. If you buy it on amazon it turns up in 24 hrs. Obviously it’s much nicer to have something hand made and sent out from a  business of real people, but I had left it later than I intended with some of my shopping and as a result was waiting for a few items till quite close to Christmas. And I couldn’t remember if I’d  missed anyone, or if siblings gifts were very mismatched in value until it arrived.  Not very organised of me, I know. Next year I will consider this before I start! Everything did turn up in time and was beautiful may I add!


I can’t believe these are chocolate; the amazing chocolate workshop https://thechocolateworkshop.co.uk

5. You feel more virtuous

I really felt like my money was doing good and my custom was valued!

6. Everyone doesn’t get the same present

This is probably my favourite thing. Everybody got unique and individual presents. Some years I have worried that the same child might get the same toy 5 times over, but I didn’t even have to consider that this year.


HandMade holly wreath by Bliss Lane Nurseries, Flore 

7. You have to decide what constitutes a small business

You have an image in your head of what a small business is and what a large corporation is. Some companies blur the lines though. If you see that they have 70,000 Facebook followers, they are not really ‘small’. But if they are making hand crafted goods in the U.K. Well that’s the sort of business I want to use. So I guess it comes down to personally how you decide to spend your money. I decided this. If I felt my custom would be appreciated. If I felt the owners of the business would wake up in the morning, look at the orders that had come in over night and be delighted. If I felt my custom would help the company of real people to grow. Then they made my list! Because that’s how WE feel. We appreciate our customers above all, we LOVE orders coming in and a good Christmas helps our business grow into the new year. So that’s how I set my bar!

8. You make friends along the way

Because you deal with real people you get a personal service and build great relationships along the way. This really has to be the best thing about using any small business. And you use each other’s businesses in return too.


Hand stitched book pillow by Stitched By Em

9. It spreads to other areas

I found that I thought more about EVERYTHING I was buying. Instead of buying Christmas cards when I was at the supermarket (because it was easy and needed no thought) I went online and searched for cards that support charities. I’m a supporter of the air ambulance and found some lovely cards to raise money for their service. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never even thought to do this in the past. We also had some customers at the shop who were making hand made crackers to raise money for Mind and the DEC. Buying those made me feel good about Christmas crackers for the first time ever! And again, they were hand made so much more special than your supermarket waste of money ones!

10. You feel much more in control

I know this might sound a little crazy but when in a big multinational, either physically or online you know you get subliminal messages, positioning and a multi-billion-£ amount of research that influences you to buy more than you intended. I loved the feeling of being in control of my purchases through using small businesses. It felt much more considered and purposeful!


Arthur beloved Peter Rabbit from a stall at his Christmas fair 

Overall, I loved the experience and have no reason to not carry it through to next Christmas and many other purchases in between! I did buy a couple of bits for my boys from a big company that wasn’t an independent business, but for many of the same reasons. This business was Toys R Us. A foundation of my childhood with a theme song that’s ingrained in my brain. I felt so sorry for them and their staff with the news that their future was uncertain, so I popped in to get a couple of bits on the run up to Christmas. I thought perhaps I could spread my money around a little more.

I have used so many great independent businesses and it’s been a lovely experience. I’ve put links to some of them in here, but this is just a few that I’ve used I couldn’t list everyone.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Special thanks to my friend Catherine Tarbun who is an independent Usborne book trader who made Christmas a lot easier for me and all the book worms in the family.

Also deserving a special mention is Ben’s very talented Auntie Caroline who owns the Spa at Ely; fantastic for gorgeous high quality gifts, perfect for those who just need spoiling! https://spa-ely.co.uk