Gone shopping

The best cook shop for miles around, vintage home wares, ploughman’s lunch and a wander by the river lure Jane Pikett to the historic Tyne Valley village of Corbridge

A large part of the joy of cooking, particularly baking, is in the kit. At least that’s how I see it.

My mother’s old cake tins, circa early 1950s, are still the best I posses, ditto her Kenwood Chef (late 60s/early 70s, I think) and, bizarrely, the ancient Pyrex dish she used for the Sunday sage and onion. Funny, the stuff you hang on to.

Quality cookware, she always said, lasts a lifetime and never fails you; a fact attested to last time I put a cheap roasting tin on the hob top to make gravy and ended up with a crazily deformed bit of metal fit only for the bin. That was back in 1986, and I haven’t made the same mistake since.

My mother would have appreciated Walton’s cook shop in Corbridge, where stuff is made to last and, like its myriad metallic cake containers, does what it says on the tin.

Short of the top layer tin for my wedding cake, this is where I headed and fond one as good as my mother’s, which formed the base and middle layers.

In search of a pastry brush you can pass down to your grandchildren? It’s here, alongside the only kitchen knives you will ever have to buy.

My only problem is my addiction to kitchen stuff, which ensures I buy every time I visit. Last week, it was a wine bottle stopper, £1.99 and the best I’ve ever used.

Walton’s is a pretty good start to any Corbridge visit. At the centre of Middle Street, it’s a fair central point, and best to visit first because it’s likely to be your longest stop-off, so you don’t want to be rushing it at the end of the day.

This is a village simply made for mooching, which is why the grey pound is so well spent here (they have the time), and why it’s a lovely indulgence for an afternoon off.

Grant’s Bakery on the Market Place sells heavenly meringues, properly soft in the middle, and Corbridge Larder and its cafe, in Hill Street, sells just about everything else.

Skrumshus sweetie shop on the Market Square is cute as cupcakes and a pleasure for all generations, and Corbridge is spoilt for cafes and pubs. In fact, a day-long food and drink tour of this village would provide sustenance enough for Monsieur Creosote and all his family.

We worked off a ploughman’s lunch at Café No6 on the Market Square with a stroll along the river, and then became distracted by the beer garden at The Dyvel’s, where a pint of Deuchars IPA and a bag of crisps made for a fair afternoon tea.

Back over the bridge to RE for everything vintage you can imagine, plus much more, a bit more mooching (clothes, shoes, jewellery, art, rather a lot of cheese, plus wine, another pint at The Black Bull), and we were ready for tea at Il Piccolo, where teatime pizza and pasta are superb and bring a flavour of the Mediterranean to the Tyne Valley.

I judge a good restaurant on its loos, and a good village afternoon out on the quality of the cafes, pubs and delis. Corbridge has all you could want and a lot more. Just make sure you make room in the kichen cupboards before you go- you’ll need it when you get back.

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