Fancy Free Walks during October

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How was September for you?

It's funny how different months / seasons bring different thoughts and feelings for lots of us.  Whether it is important dates for friends and family,  milestones in your life or how the landscape changes around us, we are all affected in some way.

Now that I am shopkeeper, there is a whole other reason to feel differently towards the months of the year.  The beginning of Autumn not only brings with it, a stunning change in the scenery around us, but I now see it as a time when customers start to return.  Whilst Summer is amazing for so many reasons, as a retailer it just feels like it goes on forever and that your customers are really never ever coming back, reinforced by the little voice in your head telling you so. 

It's only after three years of trading, that I can push that little negative voice in my head away, knowing that not everyone has disappeared off to a remote island to live in a tree-house permanently.  But good for you, if you did do that, although unlikely you are reading this newsletter.

Whenever you choose to revisit, it is always reassuring  when our customers come back.  As retailers, we are constantly being told that we should be reminding everyone that we are still here, and that we have new stock, plus a new sale every other week.  If you are just not that kind of marketeer, (which I now know I am not), then you also have to rely quite heavily on the customers loyalty.  We appreciate that loyalty very much.    

We are proud to be part of the JUSTACARD campaign, which aims to encourage people to buy from Designer / Makers and Independent Galleries and Shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small, even 'just a card' are so vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses. Look out for the sticker in our window.   

Fancy a Free Walk?

As well as returning customers, it is lovely to see new customers who are visiting the area for the first time.  I love to scribble on a piece of paper some of my favourite destinations to visit locally.  It got me thinking that I should share some of these with you guys, in case you don't already know about them.  This week, I chatted with a customer about a lovely walk I do with the whippets in Midhurst.

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This walk starts at the amazing Cowdray Farm Shop (pic above), which provides for a slightly different experience than your average Aldi.  Last time I visited I followed Mark Owen from Take That around the place whilst he merrily did his weekly shop.  A tad annoying to be in the queue behind him, when your only purchase is a tub of olives, but you live and learn. 

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For the walk, I would recommend you start at the Cowdray Farm Cafe for breakfast, as although it looks pretty much like any other cafe, the produce used to create the menu is pretty special and you can guarantee everything is as fresh as a daisy. There is a car park at the cafe, so a sensible place to leave the car to do this gentle stroll into Midhurst. You can sit outside with the dogs, but please note you cannot take them inside.

As you leave the cafe, you take a right, with the polo fields on your left. Take a gentle 10/15 minute stroll until you reach the castle, which you will see on your left.  Follow this road around until you get to a teeny tiny bridge with a little stream.  At this point instead of following the foot path straight ahead, turn left on to the field walking diagonally until you get to a little footpath.  This little footpath will then lead you up a gentle set of steps to an open field with a little brick wall around it.  Walk across this little area and follow the path down towards a little gate which takes you past some little cottages.  You will now find yourself in a pretty little square, which has a lovely café.  You will see across the way the gorgeous Spread Eagle Hotel which has an amazing spa and who do a lovely afternoon tea.  Take a little walk around West Street, visiting the independent shops (The Crafty Pint shop is a great draw for the beer lover among you)  and you will end up on the main Midhurst high street. You can now do a little walk back along the high street until you reach the main car park, which has taken you full circle back to the Midhurst Castle. I would say, depending on the number of shops you visit, this is a an easy walk taking no more than an hour (but I could easily stretch it to 3 hours, with the shopping). 

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Now, walking guides are not my forte, so I will say that if you do want a more reliable guide to some lovely local walks, check out Fancy Free Walks.  I have found some absolute gems on here. If you have time once you get back to the car park at Cowdray, you should take a drive to The Horse Guards Inn, a very special place to eat and drink.  Plus, it has the shop The King and I, owned by Clare Priestly in the pub garden.  It is a very popular pub, so unlikely you can just turn up and get a table, but you could try your luck if you are prepared to sit outside.  Do let me know if you get a chance to do this, or if you have already done this, plus I would love to hear about your favourite places in the area, as I will start to compile a little list for visiting customers, rather than scribbling on a piece of paper!

Gemma Lewis