Christmas Hits Hard At The Yard

Christmas Hits Hard At The Yard

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Every now and then there is a person or a group of people that some how manage to start right in the middle of an over populated and saturated market and somehow manage to not only wade through it to the front, but charge forward and tear through the restraints of recent clichés and deliver something truly special. It has now been just over a year since Wayland’s Yard opened its doors on Foregate Street in Worcester and they have done exactly that. I couldn’t be more impressed by how it has gone for Sam and his team as they seemingly just gets stronger and stronger, punching above it’s weight class when situated 50 yards from a newly opened Seattle based sugared bathwater shop it is a truly impressive feat that quality and care are maintaining peoples interest better than big brand corporate coffee. This is an exciting prospect as it means people are willing to stick with real produce and have an honest, genuine experience rather than just wanting to Instagram a take away coffee cup with your name written on the side in sharpie pen.

Wayland’s Yard represents something. 12 months ago it represented Sam’s own life after rugby and his own passion, now it stands for his whole team. You get a feeling it is all about the collective now (It always was in essence but you can feel how established it really is today) the controlled chaos of a busy moment where you have sporadic blasts of food walked past you from their impressive menu, silky hand shaped latte art, smiles on the faces of all the staff and the excitement and instant fuss and joy a new dog gets when walked in through the front door. It’s a spot where you can truly be safe, comfortable and happy in an environment that sets you up to do exactly that. The best part about this is that not only is the environment that surrounds you but the stuff that is getting dropped off before you. The food is to such a high quality I honestly don’t think I am capable of eating anywhere else in Worcester anymore. Seriously man this place just ticks all of my boxes and they look after everybody so well why would you want to go anywhere else?


This visit was to have a look round their Christmas event which I believe was orchestrated by Polly, a friendly and attentive member of the team who looked after me while I was there. The festivities were marked by stalls from local hand made gift companies and crafters, which included things like hand made jewellery, Christmas cards and organic soaps. I managed to cop some soothing foot balm for my dog as he struggles with itchy paws so that was a life saver! There was some really interesting and talented people on show which really tapped into the philosophy of the whole business. Support the proper, honest and local people trying to make their way in the world against the constant incoming tide of mass produced mediocrity. I also got a few hand made Christmas cards for my family to add a bit of a unique twist to my gift giving this year, I can attest to this being a lovely little addition to Worcester in general not just to Wayland’s Yard. Almost the definition of ‘keeping it real’ without wanting to use too much a dead phrase from the early 90’s.

In the now fully developed Victorian high walled Yard mentioned in the name, was not only the mini festive market but also a showcase of local musical talent too. Throughout the weekend there was a variety of brilliant local solo artists and groups that added to the atmosphere and collective buzz of the event and it was a really nice touch. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Saturday which Sam said was possibly the busiest day they have ever had, however, following on their Instagram story while I was helping to cater a family event allowed me to tap into the fun from afar. Again an element of the whole package that makes a difference to people. Even when I am not there I am still constantly connected to the comings and goings at the shop and it keeps people truly invested in the long term success of their favourite coffee shop.


I might have to make a slight apology on this one actually. Upon finishing my meal Sam asked me how it was and I shook my head. I wasn’t shaking it in a negative way at all. It was just a little big ridiculous how good they managed to make 2 crumpets. Genuinely I am not just gushing for the sake of it here they were f***ing silly good. I don’t even usually like crumpets! so to start at the beginning, I was greeted by Polly and given a quick down-low of how the weekend was working and immediately directed towards the special board which had the words ‘eggy crumpets’ sitting on it. Not usually something that would bother me at all but upon really getting my eyes in a few keys words flew into my eye holes. Halloumi. Chorizo. Smoked Chilli Jam. ermmm… yes, yes and yes. I ordered this accompanied by my usual decaf white chocolate latte (Next level. regardless of its unleaded nature) and the Mrs had the ‘Fry up’ which I have touched on in a previous write up so I won’t review that again apart from saying its worth it for the sausages and the sweet potato hash alone.

The food came out really quickly and what I was presented was a vibrant looking dish that even made the humble crumpet look like a bit of a star. What graced my plate were two, soft and fluffy, eggy crumpets (think French toast with a crumpet) with 2 grilled pieces of halloumi, scattered with crunchy fried chorizo, finished with finely sliced red chili and lashings of rich smoked chilli jam. It was bloody ridiculous. Hence my initial head shake. The textures of the crumpet, cheese and chorizo just made it a constantly changing experience that you never really got settled in to, which is great as you don’t become complacent. You pay attention for the entire meal and then from the background the chilli jam gives you a sweet heat to melt away the saltiness from the cheese. Obviously this is followed by a size 8 fresh chili shaped foot up your arse but the best way to describe it is a comfortable heat that compliments the dish. Think of a size 8 jelly shoe rather than a size 8 steel toe cap. Subtle… Its certainly present but it could be a lot more aggressive! I like my heat anyway, so more of that please. Wicked good. Overall and as always, bang on. Only major draw back is that is currently a special and not on the main menu. Petition goes live Monday and the picket line outside the shop on Tuesday guys.


To end this visit to Wayland’s Yard I want to be open and say just how much they continue to impress me. As a business, as a team and as a coffee shop, it feels like so much more now. I address this to everybody there now when I say: You all clearly live and breathe the ethos Sam wanted to create when opening the shop and made what started as his personal next step into a real landmark on Worcester’s high street. The atmosphere and quality is down to all of your hard work and I hope that you continue to do what your doing as you all contribute to the heart and soul, which lots of your competitors lack. The soul of WY is what keeps people coming back for more and I am proud to say I contributed at the very beginning however little, in the crowd funding campaign. Sam, If you and the team keep doing what your doing, whatever comes next for Wayland’s Yard is going to be a big success. Keep it up and I and many others will keep coming back.

Overall a great morning was spent enjoying proper food and proper coffee… provided by proper people. Thank you Wayland’s Yard and Merry Christmas to all of my readers!




Meat. Do it right.

I have something that has been bothering me for years now, something that seems so trivial to most people that it would come across as a none issue if not brought to the table with a little context. This particular gripe is the incredibly average but irritatingly widespread, supermarket meat.

Now I know this is a sweeping generalisation and that is one thing I don’t like to do, but the quality and level of complacency that people are willing to accept is unfathomable. My granddad worked at a butcher shop in Wolverhampton in his later years and seeing the level of skill and care taken by Graham and Alan has always stuck with me. In supplying the local area with fresh, good quality cuts of meat they were conducting a dying service and I never realised until I got a bit older. Our system doesn’t seem to support the level of demand we have put onto it and this provides the supermarket and its ‘one stop shop’ approach an opportunity to throw plastic boxes of mass produced cack at every Tom, Dick and Harry that walk through their doors.

Image result for diced venison

Now this is a vicious circle really because the more supermarkets that pop up, the more local butchers that fall flat on their faces and years of experience and knowledge goes down the pan. It infuriates me as you have no idea the level of artistry and experience it takes to make the most of an animal in the way a real butcher can. Sainsbury’s will never give you the option to take home the type of meat you want, you have to make do with what they had. I remember a time a few months ago when I lived at my old house, there wasn’t a local butcher and I wanted to make BBQ pork ribs. Naturally I went to the nearest supermarket to fetch a rack as I knew I had seen them before, however, when I got there I was told that they hadn’t put them out today because they had been sent more pork steaks and they had to sell them. I can kind of understand this to a certain extent but when I asked them to go and try to find me some out I was told ‘No, unfortunately not as they will be at the bottom of a container somewhere’. It took me a week to actually get some ribs and the amount of shiners on them easily qualified them to sit in a sodding jewellers window. (For those who don’t know a shiner is when the rib is cut too close to the bone and the bone penetrates the meat… I am talking at least half of the entire rack was showing bones. dire.) Not only this but not too long ago I was in there getting some bread after work and saw an elderly customer at the meat counter who asked for 800g of fresh mince. One would assume that she is asking this so she doesn’t have to simply settle for the mildly greying brain fart excuse for beef mince sitting on the shelves. What she got however was exactly that. The guy only had 100g or so to hand so he told her he would go and get some more… he went to the shelf, got 2 packs of the aforementioned mince and simply emptied out onto the scale.

The supermarket butchers counter is a front. It presents the illusion of freshness and the real butchery experience when in actual fact it is just the same stuff that is served on the shelves. It just has a man in a hat.

I recently moved house and now live in a village with possibly one of the best butchers I have ever used and the contrast is just on another level. On my first full day living here I went in and had a chat with them to feel out what I was dealing with and to see what was available to me. I had a laundry list of cuts I wanted to know if I could get my hands on that I have struggled for in recent months…. Beef short ribs, whole brisket, game birds and venison steaks, all of which were greeted with a wry smile and a definitive yes. I left with 500g a freshly diced venison to get me going. Now if you can tell me a single supermarket that offers that kind of offering with the quality of product I received I will go out into the currently snow filled streets stark bollock naked and do a Chris Ashton swan dive into my neighbours garden. Not going to happen.

The moral of the story is this. There are some truly talented, under appreciated masters out there and they are being wasted. I was guilty of it as most of us are but we need to stand up and realise that they need our support. Every time I turn on the TV or radio people are talking about supporting local business and yet at every turn we seem to be able to avoid the butcher or the green grocer as an inclusion. I do not give a single shiny toss about another t-shirt company starting in Wolverhampton or a crowd funded start up to develop apps down the road. I care about the kind of sustainably sourced meat and poultry supplied by Astons butchers, Coven, South Staffordshire, WV9 5DB. I may have been a bit harsh on the supermarkets, not all of it is that bad…  but compare the beef or lamb you get there to a cut of native bred livestock that was looked after locally and hand picked to give you the very best experience possible… go to somebody who cares about what they are giving you and not just how much of it they can sell. Your local butcher cares about you coming back through the door and your satisfaction is a priority, not just the yearly profit differentials of 160 different stores.

There is an Astons near you somewhere. Find them. Support them. Enjoy them. Before it’s too late.


Wayland’s Yard Christmas Festival

Wayland’s Yard Christmas Festival

It turns out it has been so long since I last wrote anything on here that I had totally forgot my password. The last 6 months have been borderline ridiculous and I have had so much on that the blog has had to take a back seat. To give you a brief idea of just how busy I have been… work has been all consuming, I have sold a house, moved out of said house, moved back in with my parents and subsequently bought and moved into a new house… which has left me precious little time to sit down and do anything, let alone pontificate about food and drink.

I am looking to right the wrongs of the recent past and get back on the proverbial horse with a hell of a lot in the pipeline to get things moving again, but first and foremost there is a looming yule like presence breaching the horizon. I can hear nothing but Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra in the shops which means one thing and one thing only… Christmas is here. Strangely though, the day that it really dawned on me just how close the big day is, I had an incredibly well timed email from literally my favourite spot in Worcester… Wayland’s Yard. If you don’t know who Wayland’s Yard are, I covered their launch heavily last year and was really impressed with their local attitude and concentration on building an amazing culture that equates to equally amazing food and wonderful coffee. Sam, the man behind the yard, has been kind enough to invite me to their Christmas Festival and Craft Market which promises to be a festive celebration with their beautifully presented coffee flowing throughout the weekend, complimented by mulled wine, mince pies, and again…their genuinely good food. If you are an existing subscriber of the blog you know how I feel about their food. so I can’t wait to get back there and get involved with the guys.


Polly from Wayland’s Yard got in touch and said:

After our first anniversary in October and some successful Yard Parties over the Summer, we thought it was time to celebrate Christmas the Wayland’s way. Everything we do is about championing local produce, business and people – that’s why our Christmas Festival is going to give over 40 local crafters/business people the platform to sell their gifts to people just in time for Christmas. Add to this local musicians, a choir, mince pies, mulled cider and our usual food offering and we think we’ve got a pretty decent recipe for a party!!

I think everybody who loves what this blog is about loves the idea of a successful local business supporting other local business to give people something unique for the festive season.  So lets get down there and support them and get festive in the Yard!



If you want to attend.. clear your calendars on the 16th/17th December, WY is located at number 6 Foregate street, near the train station and the party gets started from 11am to 6pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday.


I can’t wait! See you there for some Proper coffee… and proper food.