Bereft without our butcher and baker

RETIRING: Spalding baker 'Richard Pacey
RETIRING: Spalding baker 'Richard Pacey
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Blogger Trish Burgess writes for

The search for the perfect bread roll has taken me many years. My husband likes ham rolls in his packed lunch.

He’s a simple soul, doesn’t want for much but he has always yearned for a soft, white roll which is easy to eat at his desk, freezes well and doesn’t give him indigestion.

After a lot of sampling we eventually found the Holy Grail in bakery items, a bread roll which satisfied my discerning husband.

Our search was over. I ran around the kitchen shouting, ‘The Man from Del Monte, he says yes!’

The source of this delectable dough? Pacey’s Bakery in Spalding. And now I hear it is to cease trading because its owners are retiring.

Howls of protest from my husband’s digestive tract.

If this wasn’t bad enough, our local butcher’s, Jackson’s in Holbeach, is also closing due to retirement.

I’ve tasted a fair few Lincolnshire sausages since I’ve lived here but my chipolata of choice has to be from Jackson’s.

Two of my favourite local independents are closing and I am bereft.

Confession time. I didn’t always use independent food shops. Growing up on a new housing estate in Newcastle in the 70s, the supermarket arrived and seduced us with brightly lit shelves groaning with exotic produce: boil ­in ­the ­bag curries, frozen crispy pancakes and butterscotch Angel Delight.

As a student, then later when I was working, I didn’t have the time to seek out independents. I was also afraid I wouldn’t know what to ask for or that, once they’d cut something for me, it would be too expensive.

Far easier to see an item wrapped and priced.

Once my son was born and I was at home more, I began to supplement the supermarket shop with visits to smaller traders. It wasn’t easy. In the bakeries I was bewildered by an array of loaves. I tried to memorise “cob” and “cottage” then froze at the counter before asking for “that round one and the one with a hat.”

At the butcher’s, I soon realised the staff were more than happy to assist when I was clueless with amounts and cuts of meat.

I had no idea about weights and would order Sunday joints by the inch. I’d point at the lamb and ask for pork steaks.

Are we the generation that lost the art of independent food shopping? I wonder if our children will reverse the trend.

They are certainly more familiar with asking for food at a counter. My son always does the ordering for us at fast­food outlets, even more so after the embarrassing KFC episode which I am never allowed to forget.

Returning from holiday a few years ago, we stopped at the services on the M11 and I said to the assistant:

“What can you recommend for a hungry family of three?”

At this point my son, mortified, slunk away. The young girl was so flummoxed you’d have thought I’d asked her to recommend a robust red to go with my fries.

“Erm....a bargain bucket?” she suggested.

That’ll do nicely.