The beautiful villages of Saddleworth in Oldham are pulling out all the stops for Christmas this year, and making the sometimes-stressful process of doing the Big Shop a whole lot more magical.
The independent businesses that are based in villages including Greenfield, Uppermill and Delph will be selling everything from beer to veg to tea to trees.
Promising to tick off all those fiddly trimmings on your festive to-do list, the local shops, delis and breweries are poised and ready for Christmas.
Once you’ve ordered your main event from Meat in the Middle at Tommyfield Market, or from the award-winning butchers at Albion Farm Shop in Delph, it’s over to the likes of Weaver & Wilde’s Groceries and Provisions.
Here, Cal Rowson-Codd and his husband Thomas can finish off your Christmas Day dinner with the finest sides, including veg boxes starting at £20 which can be collected fresh during Christmas week.
Cal says: “It has everything you need from a veg aspect then we have a massive range of really cool little bits that are special and make a difference to your dish and your party.
“We do pickled pears, wild garlic bulbs, we’ve got all your cured meats, cheeses and chutneys – everything you want so you can gorge and go over the top.”
Weaver & Wilde’s Groceries and Provisions opened in Greenfield in June after great success selling produce from their coffee shop in Uppermill during the pandemic.
Cal continues: “It kept the doors open and people needed it, plus they didn’t have to queue for an hour to get into Tesco – and the more we did it, the more we realised the demand in Greenfield was buoyant because people missed Stanford’s greengrocers.
“We had lost that commercial amenity in the village and [when that happens] it starts to lose its soul, so it was important for us to [preserve] that.”
As well as providing a local service, Cal and Thomas pride themselves on supporting homegrown brands, like Saddleworth Honey and loose-leaf teas from Oldham-based The Tea Keepers in Uppermill, and small suppliers from as far as way as Cheshire and North Yorkshire in Greenfield, all perfect for Christmas week.
Cal says: “We focus on quality products and ethics, we know our farmers are getting paid the right price to sustain their crop, we employ people that live in the area because it pays for their kids’ school uniforms.
“It’s part of what moulds community – if there weren’t small local producers, villages like ours would lose their identity and because we partner with a lot of local suppliers, it helps keep the small cottage industries alive.”
The Greenfield shop will also sell low needle-drop Christmas trees from mid-November. He hopes that after a tough couple of years, people will choose quality over convenience.
“People are returning to normal-ish life so it’s an online shop and a supermarket drop at your door – for smaller indies, it’s a big financial impact,” Cal says.
“We want to be here long-term and want people to have the quality and flavour of the Christmas dinner they grew up with, which you don’t get from the big commercials.”
Just a stone’s throw from the greengrocer’s is the Old Cobblers, a one-stop community shop selling award-winning coffee, natural wine, craft beer and locally produced gifts.
“We do as much as we can in terms of getting produce in from the area,” says owner Dave Bell, who opened the store two years ago.
“Our coffee is from six miles away, we have lots of beer from breweries in Manchester, our gifts are from very local makers – the more local the better.”
Dave’s shop is packed from floor to ceiling with stocking fillers and delicious eats from nearby suppliers, such as baked goods from Little Saddleworth Pie Company and Saddleworth Brownies, and chilli jam for the charcuterie board from Oldham maker Jam Hot.
Nearby Donkeystone brewery has a huge selection of artisan ales and IPAs, with a 26-strong line of products brewed at their Wellington Road unit, which is also home to a 200-capacity taproom and on-site shop, Palate.
They moved in last June after outgrowing a previous site in Greenfield when they diversified from supplying pubs with kegs to canning their own products.
“We jumped at the chance for the new site, and we’ve been building up the business,” says founder, Stephen James. “There’s a good tradition of decent beers being made in Oldham over the centuries, so we wanted to carry that on.
“It’s proper craft beer that’s been produced on a small scale, but we’ve got a massive range and we try to suit every taste. And in our shop, we don’t just sell beer, we have a range of artisan products that we try to keep as local as possible.”
As well as a taproom and shop open seven days a week, Stephen and his team hope to resurrect production at their gin distillery Grail, which they paused during the pandemic, and are soon to open a dedicated bakery on-site to produce the bread they’ve recently started making and selling.
These little independent businesses are what breathe life into local communities, but they rely heavily on regular custom from the communities they serve.
Cal from Weaver & Wilde said: “Probably the best reason to shop local this year is that if you really like anyone that is trading, go and help them because this winter they’re going to need it.
“It doesn’t matter if they’ve been there 30 years or three, any small purchase will make the difference.”
Three Little Words and Seven Brothers Brewery are moving into Kampus this summer
This week, Manchester’s waterside neighbourhood Kampus has revealed that two of Manchester’s best-loved indie drinks producers will be moving in over the summer.
Manchester Gin’s bar and distillery Three Little Words will be taking over the infamous bungalow, whilst Ancoats’ favourite Seven Brothers Brewery will temporarily move into the neighbourhood’s red-brick Minshull Warehouse – previously tipped to house a new taproom from Cloudwater.
This summer, the brewery – first founded in Salford nine years ago by the McAvoy brothers – will open the doors to the warehouse serving up their popular family beers alongside a few Kampus specials.
With seating inside and out, once the warmer nights arrive drinkers can once again enjoy the Manchester neighbourhood’s canalside beer garden.
Set to open officially from the long Easter weekend, for the first time tables and chairs will be nestled throughout the giant tree ferns and palms, with visitors able to sample the delights of the impressive foodie community – including Nell’s, Pollen, Great North Pie, The Beeswing wine bar and Yum Cha.
Elsewhere, in the Bungalow popular local gin distillers and cocktail pros Three Little Words will serve up a sleek cocktail menu – all made up from their portfolio of multi-award-winning spirits from The Spirit of Manchester Distillery.
First opened in 2019 by Seb & Jen Heeley-Wiggins, the founders of Manchester Gin, luxurious cocktail bar Three Little Words has since won awards for its signature menu of innovative cocktails.
Both will kick-start on Friday 7 April, with an Easter Weekender of booze, beats and eats in store – with Nell’s Pizza also joined by guest DJs throughout the weekend.
The season is a major moment for Kampus, the first year when the neighbourhood will have a full force of eclectic independent operators fully trading.
More names are set to join too. Red Light will lift the curtain on the insta-friendly Little David Street LGTBQ+ cocktail den, with the opening date to be revealed in the coming weeks, whilst taqueria and mezcaleria Madre is currently fitting out its space ready to bring its take on Mexican goodness to Manchester.
Seb Heeley-Wiggins, Master Distiller & Co-Owner The Spirit of Manchester Distillery & Three Little Words, said: “We’ve got such a loyal following and we’ve been on the hunt for a spot where people could enjoy our cocktails in a beautiful outdoor setting … spritzes in the sunshine.
“Kampus absolutely fits that bill and will be an incredible summer posting for our team. We’ll be bringing our signature menu as well as some seasonal creations unique to Kampus.
“There’s so much going at the neighbourhood that we’ll be in good company. We’ve already got celebrations planned throughout the summer months, where we’ll be collaborating with incredible brands and creatives, and we’ve got a big surprise in store for next month. We just need a long, hot summer now.”
Keith McAvoy, CEO for Seven Brothers, said: “We’ve been big fans of Kampus for a while so we jumped at the chance to put on a summer-long party and create a new beerhouse here. The historic setting is stunning and we know we’ll create, hands down, the best beer garden in Manchester.
“We’re a family run business, born here in Greater Manchester. Our Kampus run is a fitting celebration for how far the brewery has come with the incredible support of every person who’s ever enjoyed a SEVEN BRO7HERS pint.
“We’ll be in good company with our brilliant independent neighbours and encourage everyone to come spend summer with us.”
Seven Brothers will be open Thursday to Sunday every week all summer, whilst Three Little Words will open Wednesday to Sunday.
Featured image – Kampus
Huge line-up revealed for Leeds International Festival of Ideas
The 2023 line-up for Leeds International Festival of Ideas has been released, and it’s all taking place in a brand new venue.
The huge event will bring together some of the most thought-provoking speakers of our time and is well worth the trip across to our neighbouring city.
Taking over the Leeds Playhouse will be a diverse programme and educational discussions, The Hoot reports.
Giving a glimpse of what we’re in store for this year, LIFI has announced the first of its highly-anticipated speakers.
Best-selling author and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax will be bringing her unique brand of humour to the festival as she takes the audience on her journey to address the importance of mental wellness.
The author, performer and activist is excited about joining the festival: “Leeds International Festival of ideas 2023 looks really exciting and I’m thrilled to be part of the line-up this year. I can’t wait to visit Leeds again and take audiences on my journey to mindfulness.”
Steven Bartlett, perhaps most notably known as the podcaster Diary of a CEO, co-Founder of Social Chain, and also as an investor on Dragon’s Den, amongst other business endeavours, will be taking to the stag to share an insight into ‘how he spots the next big thing’.
Bringing an insight into representation and inclusivity in the media, reality TV star and LGBTQ+ activist Bimini, will also be a key speaker at the International Festival of Ideas.
And this is just the beginning.
The four day festival promises to host a programme of panels and keynotes which focus on topics such as grief, political systems, womxn’s health inequalities and self-sufficiency, among others from Wednesday 27 September – Saturday 30 September 2023.
And what better venue than the Leeds Playhouse?
The award-winning cultural hub was recently recognised at the UK Theatre Awards as the Most Welcoming Theatre in 2022. With a mission to seek out the best companies and artists to create inspirational theatre in the heart of Yorkshire, Leeds Internationals Festival of Ideas, will be joining the long list of exciting productions, festivals and events that Leeds Playhouse have hosted over the past 50 years.
Martin Dickson, Leeds International Festival of Ideas has commented: “We are thrilled with the programme we are bringing to the city for LIFI23, built on the outstanding success of last year, we think it is our strongest speaker line-up yet.
“We’re also hugely excited to be presenting the festival at the incredible Leeds Playhouse, on of the most famous theatre venue in the city, a privilege and an honour.
“LIFI23 will once again address some of the most important social issues affecting us all, taking them on over 4 inspirational days across 11 events and shining an outspoken light on Leeds, projecting the city once again as a bold, innovative thought-leading city.”
The full lineups and tickets will be available from Tuesday 4 April but in the meantime those wanting to grab tickets are encouraged to visit the Leeds International Festival of Ideas website to sign up for announcements and ticket updates.