If you are visiting Dorset, do make sure you visit the very attractive Georgian market town of Blandford Forum. Home to nearly 9000 people, it sits on the River Stour, between the Cranborne Chase and the Dorset Downs. Do not miss two wonderful shops, both very near one another, in Salisbury Street.
The first is called Hawthorn, and it is a contemporary art and craft shop. For kitchenware lovers there are beautiful ceramics by Jeremy Broadway, Ann Wilson and Rachel Dyke, and hand painted tiles (very attractive for the country kitchen) made by Julia Davey. Stephanie Carswell is the owner, and she is extremely friendly, smiley and enthusiastic.
Seventy percent of all the artisanally produced items in her shop have been made within a fifty mile radius. From textiles to glassware to haberdashery, you will be enthralled and captivated by the skill and talent of all the artists and craftsmen and women. She says that this part of Blandford is becoming more and more artistic and sought after.
Even the tea-towels look too good to be used. See what you think in the photo. They are made by www.zeenashah.com.
A few doors down you will enter the inner calm of the temple of style and beauty at The Hambledon Gallery. Would you believe that this shop has been here since 1962, and it is the sister shop of our other Foodie Bugle favourite, The Hambledon in Winchester? Well, when you walk in you will see many similarities, and a reassuring sense of déjà vu and comfort will envelop you. What clever sisters Charlotte, Victoria and Sandy are, so much talent in just one family. Mum owns the building, so she is obviously clever too.
The kitchenware and homeware section is on the ground floor and it is amazing. From Burgon and Ball, to Cabbages and Roses, Orla Kiely, House Doctor, Green Gate and Cath Kidston you will not find a more comprehensive selection of beautiful things for the keen cook and party hostess. This shop is testimony to many, many hours of stock research, editing, buying and presentation, and there is great skill in that.
All laid out in beautiful shelves and with a lovely little courtyard garden at the back, you will not be able to choose between the cookie stampers, recipe notepads, mugs, jugs, bowls, candlesticks, cake stands, picnic cushions and linens. And if you want to look super-elegant for that dinner party you are cooking, wander up the stairs and behold some of the most covetable clothes of the season.
All that is needed now is a lovely café and delicatessen to open in between these two shops and foodies will be making a beeline for beautiful, buzzing Blandford.
Follow Stephanie @hawthorncraft