Posted on

EAT:FESTIVALS – TRULY LOCAL FOOD

Man from Ginger Beard Pickles and Preserves holding a jar of pickle

eat:Festivals are renowned across the South West not just for the excellence of their festivals and traders selection, but for their award-winning efforts to produce a sustainably run festival. We talk to festival co-founder, Beverley Milner-Simonds, about the importance of shopping locally, eating local foods and supporting local businesses.  

Q) You run a series of award-winning local food festivals across the West Country. What does local mean to you, and why is it so important that you only feature very local traders at each event? 

A) We’re all from somewhere, and making where you live work and play a better place seems the right thing to do. Focusing on local producers allows us to keep that money in the local community and introduce people to producers they can buy from easily time and time again.

Woman trading at the EAT Festival holding a wrap

 

Q) If people are used to buying big brand products, what do you think are the key things they’ll notice if they start to shop at smaller local places, or to buy locally made, hand-crafted food from local producers (and why does it matter)?

A) Buying from small local producers allows you to get the story behind the product. To understand how it was grown, made and ultimately brought to life for you. Understanding where your food comes from, meeting the maker, and having a great time is the underlying ethos to eat:Festivals.

Q) Why is it important to support local producers and do you have any specific examples of a business that suffered then bounced back or had to innovate or diversify as a result of the huge challenges of recent years? 

A) Being able to help micro and small businesses thrive really gets us out of bed in the morning with a big smile on our faces. Watching fledging businesses grow, become employers, develop new products and get stocked locally is incredibly rewarding. Take for example Nutts Scotch eggs. They relied heavily on face-to-face sales, pre-pandemic. Now, they also focus on their online sales, supported by some of their previous direct sales to customers, and have developed their kitchen space ready to supply bigger customers wholesale in this post-pandemic world. They’ve seen a big switch in their business balance; having more regular wholesale customers now enables them to have a steadier income and to employ two more members of staff. 

 

Crowds at an EAT Festival

Q) You’ve won multiple awards for your green, planet-first ethos. What environmental, green or ‘local’ related award are you most proud of and why, and do you have any nuggets of advice for small food businesses who want to minimise their impact as they grow? 

A) We are very proud of how we run our business. Sustainability for us has six key parts. Transport, energy use, water use, food, waste and impact in the community. The events industry has been a very wasteful sector over the years, with temporary structures erected and scrapped after the event. We were recognised at the Tourism Excellence Awards South West in 2019 for our responsible, ethical and sustainable approach to tourism. We have proved that you can run events differently. At a festival, you have an opportunity to engage with people in a different way. You can prompt behaviour change by encouraging people to walk, cycle or scoot to your event, or mandating no single-use plastic (which met with no resistance whatsoever from any of our producers). You can encourage people to switch to fully compostable materials, or to those that can be recycled at home for those who are taking purchases away with them. Our top tip for small food businesses starting out is to look at the different aspects of their production along those six areas we highlighted. Transport, energy use, water use, food, waste and impact in the community. 

Q) Where might your traders’ products be stocked, locally and in the region? Will you find any of them at motorway services?

A) We get such a buzz when we spot one of our producers being stocked locally, regionally and in some cases nationally. You’ll find our producers at your local farm shops and sometimes even at farm gate sales too. But you’ll also spot them on the menus at independent restaurants and cafes and bistros and at some petrol stations and forecourts, especially businesses like Touts, based in North Somerset.  

 

Man enjoying a Secret Orchard cider

Q) The Extra Mile book exists to help people find good local food in lovely surroundings just off motorway and main road junctions, to stop them having to go to the Services. Can you name a few of your own favourites (here is the Extra Mile map if that helps)?

A) Top tips off the Motorway? Well, obviously Gloucester Services for anyone heading up and down the M5 in the West Country. We also love Pyne’s of Somerset, just south of Bridgwater. Brockley Stores on the A370 in North Somerset, OMG, it’s worth the detour, let’s face it, such incredible stuff in there! If you’re heading further south on the M5, then Darts Farm is a really good food hub, with lots of amazing producers stocked there. And if you’re looking for a cracking cup of coffee, we’d love you to turn off at Wellington and go and explore Brazier, a coffee roaster based in Wellington with a lovely back story. 

Q) Will you use The Extra Mile Guide – Delicious Alternatives to Motorway Services?

A) Being able to get to the root of where your food and drink comes from, to meet the maker and to hear the story behind the product, is a really nourishing way to eat. The Extra Mile enables you to discover great local food and drink on your travels so we think it’s a great idea! 

 

People browsing local food stall at an EAT festival

eat:Festivals are a great free day out. You’ll find them in 17 town and city centres across the South West, showcasing the very best of local food and drink from within 30 miles of the town. In addition to the truly incredible food and drink on offer, each festival offers free entertainment, education, sometimes free bike mechanic sessions and a whole heap of foodie fun. 

Visit eat:Festivals on Facebook and their website for more details on upcoming events and how to join as a local trader.  

To buy The Extra Mile Guide (from Glovebox Guides) visit our Shop now. The fourth edition is underway and will be out in spring 2023. Contact us now if interested in joining its collection of memorable local places to eat, drink and rest.

Posted on

TELL US YOUR TIPS

The Extra Mile from Glovebox Guides (ed. 3)

Avoid the Services: Nominate great cafés for the new guide

Research is underway for the 2023 edition of The Extra Mile – Delicious Alternatives to Motorway Services – every driver’s essential guide to good food on the move.  
 
Nominations are welcomed from (or for) independent cafés, cosy tea rooms, quirky pit-stops and welcoming farm shops – within a 15-minute drive of a motorway or main A-road junction – to feature in this useful glovebox guidebook and on its companion website. Is there anywhere we really shouldn’t miss?
 
Writer, Kerry O’Neill, said, “We’re keen to fill the upcoming fourth edition of this sell-out guide with some classic and new foodie destinations to help drivers avoid the monotony of motorway services. We’ll uncover the best farm shops, cafés, tea rooms and eateries we can find near motorway and main A-road junctions, many of which would love a helping hand following the challenges of recent years. The Extra Mile helps its readers find and support the small and independent food and drink businesses who are going the extra mile to keep us all fed and watered in local, low-food-mile style.” 

 
England, Scotland and Wales: the café hunt continues 

In early Sept 2022, Icelandic foodie and photographer Iris Thorsteinsdottir will set off to explore Scotland’s off-motorway and A-road wilds on a quest to find more venues to join The Extra Mile while author Kerry O’Neill continues her quest across Wales and England.  
 

Nominate yourself or a favourite venue 

To nominate a venue to join The Extra Mile – Delicious Alternatives to Motorway Services for the team to visit, go to Find a stop to see if it’s already part of the collection. If not, submit the information at Join the Guide. Nominations should be interesting and independent (or part of a small regional chain) with a strong locally-sourced food ethos. They must be within a short drive – 15 minutes maximum and the closer the better – of a motorway or main A-road junction in mainland England, Wales or Scotland. Most importantly, they should be friendly, foodie and fabulous!
 

Who can be nominated? 

  • Coffee shops and tea rooms 
  • Cafés and bistros (including those within gardens or visitor attractions) 
  • Farm shops, farm shop cafés, garden centre cafés 
  • Delis and bakeries 
  • Vegetarian and plant-based cafés 
  • Unusual take-aways, pre-order picnics/ veg box companies 
  • Ice-cream parlours 
  • Breweries, wineries or distilleries with sit-in food options 
  • Family-friendly and dog-friendly spots 
     

Buy a copy for yourself or for a gift

The Extra Mile – Delicious Alternatives to Motorway Services is the essential glovebox guidebook for anyone seeking interesting eats while exploring England, Scotland and Wales by car. It’s the ideal gift for drivers, food lovers and gloveboxes everywhere. The most recent edition (ed. 3, 2019, by Laura Collacott) sold out and was refreshed and reprinted for 2022 by Glovebox Guides. The new, fourth edition is being compiled now, with a deadline for inclusion of 30 Sep 2022. The book will be in good bookshops and online in 2023. For updates and an alert when the new edition is available to order, subscribe to our newsletter on the homepage. Buy the current edition now while stocks last.

—– ends —- 
 

Notes for editors 
For further press information and to discuss related content, photography, book giveaways and reader competitions, email Kerry at The Extra Mile Guide.

 
The Extra Mile guidebook 
The Extra Mile – Delicious Alternatives to Motorway Services is the essential glovebox guidebook to memorable food and drink experiences while on the move. It helps readers replace monotonous motorway food with the fresh, colourful and often locally sourced flavours of over 300 independent cafes, growers, makers and bakers, all within a 15-minute drive of a motorway or main A-road junction. Plan your journey, explore the alternative eateries and eat better when on the move, while supporting local producers. 
 

The Extra Mile website 
The Extra Mile site is an extension of the print guidebook with venue details and a ‘search by map’ function to direct hungry drivers to their chosen foodie venue. The site is updated regularly, with a curated collection of stop-offs, eateries and farm shops featuring in each new edition of the book. To submit a venue or request to join the collection, visit Join the Guide.
 

Glovebox Guides 
Glovebox Guides is an imprint of Printslinger Ltd, the independent publishing company run by renowned slow food lover, Alastair Sawday. Glovebox Guides will publish the fourth edition of The Extra Mile – Delicious Alternatives to Motorway Services in 2023 as the first in a series of new titles.  Buy direct from Glovebox Guides to ensure you get the refreshed 2022 reprint.
 

Kerry O’Neill, author 
Kerry O’Neill is a UK-based travel researcher and writer with an MSc in literary tourism. She has collaborated with key sustainable travel, food and wine brands including Secret Compass Expeditions, Sustrans, TravelLocal, Sawday’s Special Places to Stay, Sidetracked magazine, Avery’s Wine Merchants and FoodWorks South West. The Extra Mile is her first collaboration with Glovebox Guides.   

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Posted on

IT’S A HARD JOB, BUT…

Image of Farm Shop sign

Laura Collacott, writer of the first three editions of The Extra Mile, is back on the road in June 2022. She’ll be making a cameo appearance in the new edition of the book (due out in spring 2023), as she’s seeking out memorable new venues in the North East for the fourth edition of our essential glovebox guide to good food on the move. Laura found a moment to reveal the reality of life on the road. It’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it after all…

View of the North York Moors
Laura’s view over the North York Moors this week

“Ah, the joy of being a food writer. We know what you’re thinking. Meandering from café to farm shop, chatting idly to the good people behind them, languorously tucking in to gargantuan sandwiches, feasting on slabs of cake and scratching farm pigs behind the ear. Gently fattening.  

If only.  

In truth, finding the good cakes and best breakfasts involves a lot more legwork. It starts with poring over maps and trawling the internet for places that look promising, followed by long days on the road zipping from place to place and diverting to follow tip-offs from locals or the glimpse of a promising signboard. Many of the places we visit don’t make the cut for various reasons – too greasy, too bland, too unfriendly; simply not special enough.  

But for those that are – special enough – those that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to a friend, we set to work. We speak to the owners to find out why they set it up, and their food ethos; to staff to find out how it runs and where the ingredients come from. We talk to customers to find out what they like best about the place and what their favourite dishes are. We explore the shelves and inspect the menu, tasting mouthfuls where we can and taking extensive notes. Then we’re off again, on the hunt for the next. 

Far from eating cream teas in every stop (we’d be the size of houses if we did), this is a life of hastily eaten pastries and scotch eggs on the hoof. A life of broken snatches of Radio Four shows and disgraceful crumb- and paper-strewn cars.  

Sometimes there are long, dispiriting stretches where nowhere fits the bill. But when you do stumble across a fantastic place, where the welcome is all wide smiles and the owners are foodies who can name the farmers who supply the eggs and salad leaves…it makes the empty miles melt away. 

And then there are the views. The sweeping, moorland vistas or emerald hilltops that you just can’t see from the motorway. The countryside traffic jams caused by a string of ducklings crossing the road and the little-known towns that surprise you with their vibrance. That’s when we’re sure it really is worth going the extra mile.”  

Order The Extra Mile book now

The updated third edition of The Extra Mile is being prepared for print now and will be back in the shops around mid to late July 2022. We’re updating everyone’s opening hours so that you don’t turn up for a slap up feed when a cafe is closed, and we’ve removed those places that are no longer open. Order from our Shop today and your book will arrive and may even still be hot – or at the very least a little bit lukewarm – off the actual press. If you order it elsewhere online, it will likely be people’s older stock of the 2019 edition so our top tip to ensure you get the 2022 reprint with up-to-date intel is, buy directly from us.

NEW edition coming in 2023

Laura and our other similarly discerning roving reporters are on the road in 2022, seeking out more great finds to feature in the fourth, spring 2023 edition of the book. Subscribe to our newsletter (scroll down the homepage to enter your email) and keep an eye on our social media channels for news of its release. Don’t forget to let us know if you discover any terrific eateries while on your travels this year. We’d love to feature their local characters and flavours in our new collection of independent cafes, pubs, restaurants, farm shops, ice-cream parlours and attractions across the land.