Time to spring into action  
APRIL is here in all its glory, the warmth of a new season's sun making way for a smile as this is a time of 'New Beginnings' as we wave farewell to the darkness of winter and embrace the festivals of 'Lenten feasts', marking the end of Lent on Palm Sunday. A Palm Sunday lunch takes us into Holy Week incorporating Good Friday with a Good Friday breakfast, tea and supper, and of course hot cross buns. For the finale an Easter Sunday lunch and yummy chocolate eggs, which for all those who like me participated in Lent, following a book entitled The Feast of Lent' - written to my delight by Delia Smith - would not have tasted such delights for a long while. Some 40 days in fact. Lest we should forget those of us who cherish our 'Englishness' have further cause for celebration, feast and fest, as on April 23rd we celebrate our Patron Saint of England, with the Feast of St George. April also brings a fusion of colour into the gardens: buds bulge on the trees and tender shoots emerge from the ground as, after a period of resting and rejuvenation, nature awakens from its sleep. Last month we spoke of the saying 'we are what we eat', a saying to which I would like to add 'as a man acts, so he is'. Fast and processed foods filled with sugars, salts and fats are only popular because we eat them, supermarkets are only taking over from small shops because we use them. If things are not as we would wish them to be the only way for them to remain the same is for us to do nothing! So let's spring into our kitchens, make for the cookshop, eat fresh local produce and make a difference as each and every one of us has the ability to create a whole new way of 'wellbeing'.

Taking to the road for this month's tour we are in Cirencester as we make our way to the heart of every home - the kitchen - paying a visit to Parlour Farm Kitchens, Unit 12, Wilkinson Road, Love Lane Industrial Estate, Cirencester, Gloucestershire Tel: 01285 885336
also to be found at 6 The Old George, Fountain Street, Nailsworth, Glos Tel: 01453 835979. Open 7 days 10am-5pm for solid pine bespoke kitchens and bespoke reclaimed pine furniture. The very second I met Nick Grunfield, proprietor of Parlour Kitchens I knew this was going to be no ordinary chat. What a breath of fresh air he was as were the kitchens I looked at, possessing a sense of ‘realness' and on closer inspection the finish, refreshingly unpolished as, rather like the proprietor, the kitchens come with their character intact. Knots and all! I asked Nick to describe his perfect customer to which he replied. "My perfect customer would be one that knows what they want, one who chooses a kitchen reflecting the personality of those who are going to use it,
  meringues, locally made cakes, and potatoes from Frampton-on-Severn are stacked high on the floor. Outside the donkeys and cattle graze in the paddock, inside customers chat about what they are going to cook for supper whilst their children play  
Meg Rivers Cakes - baking a difference! together. I was told

during my visit that a lot of

    and the environment in which it will be housed. Those who are prepared to work with us in its creation. It's not all about money for us here; there is no hard sell. We are a kitchen company for Veal' people, and love to create kitchens around their personality. We like to take the time to get it right as, let's face it, the kitchen is the most lived-in room in the house, or it should be. We sell working kitchens, not fancy showpieces."

Having chosen our kitchen what we need now is a pot, a pan and a gadget or two! So we head for the centre of Cirencester, where we find The Complete Cook Shop 2, Bishop's Walk Cirencester GL71JH
Tel: 01285 657080

open 9-5.30 Mon-Sat. Owned and run by Mike Myatt and Jackie Dunkerley, who opened about 14 months ago to a wonderful reception. "We were welcomed with open arms," said Mike, who so obviously knows his onions... I mean his griddle from his wok! "We are learning every day as people let us know what they require, we in turn choose stock to suit. The shops cover everything imaginable for the occasional or professional cook: gadgets, cookware, knives, kitchen textiles, linens, aprons, gloves and tea towels, wood ware, pots, pans, and Typhoon woks, which I can highly recommend. "The locals have bowled us over with their friendliness and have show great gratitude for us being here, especially so as a previous kitchen shop had closed down. I look forward to coming to work everyday and love the products. It's a man's dream, a permanent Christmas as I indulge daily in gadgets old and new alike." A shop full of kitchen aids with plenty of VAVAVoom!
Our kitchen equipped, all we need now is a basket overflowing with fresh local produce and so make haste to Messrs PC & R Jenner, Chesterton Farm (Shops) Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6JP Tel: 01285 642160, purveyors of the finest 'traditional breed meats', bacon curers, sausage and cooked meat specialists and suppliers to the catering trade and mail order. "If you want to see British Breeds in British Fields you've got to eat them!" Chesterton Farm is a credit to the family of Mr. Peter and Mrs. Ruth Jenner who run the farm and shop with a band of happy helpers. Fresh and frozen fruit and veg, along with Winstone's ice cream and other delicacies fill the veg rack and freezers. Shelves are full to brimming with jars of Cotswold honey, Cotswold handmade
  people don't know of the shop. "We are a sort of best-kept Cotswold secret," said Pat. That's until now... The secret is out! Sitting opposite is a butchery servicing local customers, restaurants, nursing homes, and to my surprise no schools! Rare breeds of the week are featured on a customer information board, and Cornish fish is available on Fridays and Saturdays. Speaking to Irene Gough and Trevor Watkins, the butchery manager, they beamed as they spoke in unison of the reasons for the popularity of their meat. "It's down to the rare breed meat, which we hang properly for three weeks plus, meaning it cooks and tastes better. We sell 'traditional British breeds' for the purchasing of which people travel far and wide. We also have a mail order service and our meat can be sampled in nine London restaurants. Our homemade faggots and sausages are a big favourite with our customers, oh and people crave for our ribs of beef and legs of pork! We sell offal and special cuts. We cure and smoke our own bacon and have a variety of sausages with two new varieties: Cider & Apple and Beer & Garlic", both of which I have tasted. Being renowned for my boozy Suzy deserts, I can now stake claim to consuming boozy sausage too!
As our journey nears completion for all those wising to spring into action and make a difference, can do just that by supporting Meg Rivers Cakes and their Marie Curie Cancer Care Cake Promotion.
Tel: 01608 682858 www.megrivers.com
Instruments of change need faith, hope and in this case a charity - Meg Rivers Cakes have launched a cake that for all those sold between the dates of February 17th-May 17th £5.00 will be donated to Marie Curie Cancer Care www.mariecurie.org.uk

April 24th-May 3rd Nailsworth Festival Tel: 01453 839222. The first day incorporates Nailsworth Country Market with good quality local produce and is Festival Pie day too.

• Susanne Austin promotes the unique taste and flavour of this plentiful region through shows talks and events and is available for cookery demonstrations, public speaking, consultancy, freelance writing and media work and can be contacted on 01865 742793, or write to:
12 Cherwell Drive, Marston, Oxon OX3 0LY or e-mail: cotswold@community.co.uk
Copyright © Cotswold Life 2004

Please Note: This is last years article for April and therefore any information relating to events or dates is no longer applicable if you would like to see what I've written this year please purchase a copy of Cotswold Life magazine.