On a recent visit to Gardenmakers I was eating some wonderful fishcakes in the Grubbery with the owners Andrew and Hilary Shaw. “Where do you get these?” I wanted to know. “There’s a story to this,” replied Hilary.
“In order to get the quality we want at the right price we make nearly everything, but we did find a small company that made a delicious rustic fishcake and ordered some. They quickly became a top seller only for the factory to burn down, so now I make them myself.” I had come because I had heard of Hilary’s reputation as a baker and cook, and wanted to see why the Grubbery is as popular as it is. The first thing you notice is how relaxing it is with the tables spaced well apart and a lovely friendly atmosphere. The food is simple but well thought out and all dishes looked wonderful and, as I found out, excellent value. After my main course I was spoilt for choice but went for one of Hilary’s sponge puddings that was undoubtedly the lightest lemon sponge I have had, with lots of tasty orange sauce and custard to go with it. It is the little things that set places apart and here the award-winning coffee matched the food; you can sit and enjoy the free fill-ups all afternoon if you wish, without anyone pressuring you to go.Now that’s a good thing because here you can browse the marvellous shop selling things from crafts to handbags to smellies and ladies accessories. On top of that, outside is one of the region’s biggest collection of plants for sale, all beautifully displayed in the open and grown for our local climate. At the time of my visit, new displays were being built for the new season and to give customers ideas for their own gardens.Andrew told me how he has spent 40 years building gardens and helping people get the best from their plot. “I was asked to do Chelsea on three occasions and have been described by a judge there as the most practical designer in the country but at the time wanted to concentrate on Gardenmakers rather than publicity. I still try to help people with good honest advice and do consultancy work and I love seeing people getting as much pleasure from their gardens as I have over those 40 years.”After that it was time for one of Hilary’s famous scones, described by the playwright and lover of English Teas, Alan Bennett, as the best in the country. I had mine with strawberry jam and cream and definitely agree: what a way to finish my day!
It is the little things that set places apart and here the award-winning coffee matched the food; you can sit and enjoy the free fill-ups all afternoon if you wish, without anyone pressuring you to go.
Coar’s Farm, Wigglesworth BD23 4SN (Between Settle & Clitheroe.
Follow the brown signs from the A65 [Settle bypass] or the A59 at Sawley)