Although I spent most of Saturday last weekend doing the ten minute edit (which naturally took nearly all day) on my first round Whittaker submission, I did take a little time out to meet up with friends and attend the launch of something really special in my town.
One of the fabulous things about living in Stone is that, notwithstanding high rental costs, we still have a viable High Street, in fact a quick count up reveals that on and in the immediate vicinity of the High Street we have:
- 3 Hardware/Home Equipment Stores
- A library (with real books)
- Electrical Goods store
In addition, to numerous banks & building societies, with and without software glitches ( am I glad I don’t have to deal with their disaster recovery), we have boutiques, shoe shops, restaurants and coffee shops, supermarkets, gift stores, a jeweller, an herbalist, a Fair Trade store; card shops, a newsagents, wine & spirits, a sandwich shop, a sweet shop, pubs, betting shops, travel agencies, opticians, an hotel; a Post Office, a tea room; a gallery, salons, pharmacy and beauty stores, a wool store, a bicycle store, estate agencies and the inevitable (and in these uncertain economic times, welcome) charity store. We also have a particularly busy and well attended Farmer’s Market once a month and regular weekly street markets
What is especially pleasing is how many of these, on this somewhat inexhaustive list, are independents and, for myself, having lived for many years in areas of the world where the only stores were big-box strip malls miles away, this diversity is refreshing indeed.
It would be wrong to suggest everything is perfect, we still have our share of empty units and store closures however compared to other areas we are pretty vibrant.
What was special about Saturday was the launch of Totally Locally in Stone, and here I will let the picture sum it up. But it really makes you think what an impact a relatively small amount of spending per capita could have on a local economy
Totally Locally isn’t the only thing going on for us this year. We have as diverse an activities calendar as we have high street retailers but, as a keener than necessarily successful gardener, for me the next big thing is Stone in Bloom. Not only does it make it a joy to live here but in Stone we have an excellent track record in Britain in Bloom and in fact we have been selected from more than 1,000 entries to take part in the 2012 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals as one of only 73 finalists. I have the great pleasure of living literally less than 100 yards from the park used as a background image on the Stone in Bloom website. A beautiful and fascinating place to sit, watch the world go by and write, I can tell you.
There is a lot of dedicated hard work which goes into all this, from a very small band of volunteers. Their efforts are truly appreciated.
If all this seems like a bit of an advertorial for Stone, well maybe it is. It’s a fascinating canal town with a history stretching back to time of Ruffin and Wulfad, killed in AD 665 by their father, King Wulfhere of Mercia, because of their conversion to Christianity.
If you’re passing this way, call in – you will find a very warm welcome. And if you want to know more about what’s going on here, then A Little Bit of Stone is a fantastic place to start.