There’s a story that the Duchess of Windsor once had a cushion with words that read: If you are bored with shopping, you are in the wrong shop. With this thought in mind, please step inside my own favourite shop – Entertaining Elephants 0f Church Stretton in the Shropshire Hills.
For the past two years this lovely little emporium of quality foodstuffs, grocery essentials and ethically made gifts and clothing has been run by Jo Bickerton. And before I go much further, I should declare an interest: Jo is my sister. Here she is in her domain. You can be sure of a warm welcome if ever you visit. I also doubt you will leave the shop without buying something wonderful.
Just now there is an array of Christmas speciality foods, but you can also buy your basic groceries too: free range eggs, Wenlock Edge bacon, Pimhill organic porridge oats. As far as possible, all produce is organic, ethically sourced and fairly traded. Customers with food sensitivities are also catered for. Artisan foods, such as bread, soups and cheeses, are produced locally. The same goes for many of the craft items and artwork. Jo’s guiding principles are that whatever she sells must be well made and life-enhancing.
Upstairs there are more Christmas treats, and also Jo’s latest addition – a range of organic cotton and bamboo clothing.
The classically simple tunics, tops, and leggings can be dressed up with stunning recycled sari wraps and scarves, Turtle Doves lovely wrist warmers made from repurposed cashmere knitwear, and necklaces strung from Kazuri beads made in Kenya.
And in case you are wondering where the name Entertaining Elephants comes from, it was chosen by the shop’s previous owners, from Maurice Sendak’s lovely picture book Alligators All Around An Alphabet.
E is for Entertaining Elephants – every day, not just for Christmas. It’s worth coming to Shropshire just to visit.
Contact: The Old Barn . 43 High Street . Church Stretton . SY6 6BX
copyright 2014 Tish Farrell