Flowers for Springtime


Today is a beautiful spring day here in Urmston. Walking through the streets this morning I saw so many pretty bluebells, budding trees and leafy shrubs, all bathed in golden sunlight.

Walking past Rose and Bumble on Flixton Road, I spied these lovely blooms. They are grown locally and cost just £4.50. You may not know this, but the flowers you find in most big supermarkets are flown in from Africa and sprayed with horrific amounts of noxious chemicals.   The flowers I bought in Rose and Bumble were grown by Patch to Posy on their farm in Urmston.  You can find them on Facebook, tweet @clairjee or email them at


Record Store Day 2016

Record Store Day is designed to get people into their local shops to buy vinyl or CDs rather than downloading. Far from the landfill-suitable relics they were briefly considered to be, vinyl recordings are now in high demand. I much prefer to have something tangible and  I enjoy the act of sliding the shiny platter out of its sleeve and onto a waiting turntable before carefully positioning the needle onto the required track. I like to think that slightly scratched vinyl that jumps or sticks occasionally adds something unique to the listening experience. A damaged vinyl record is like a book with the pages turned down here and there, a shopping list on the flyleaf or little notes scribbled in the margin. For this reason alone, I feel like I own my vinyl in a much more real way than I own my downloads, most of which are scattered on different devices and cannot be claimed to be a ‘collection’ of any kind.

Record Store Day is tomorrow (April 16th) and you may be surprised to learn that Urmston now has its very own record shop. Housed in the back room of the aptly-named ‘This and That’ on Flixton Road (next to JW Hairdressing), the record shop offers a selection of vinyl. It’s nice to see vinyl making a resurgence in our little suburb, so please support it if you can.

Facebook pages of independent Urmston businesses

You can boost independent businesses by liking their Facebook pages.

You can boost independent businesses by liking their Facebook pages.

You can show your support for Urmston’s independent businesses by connecting with them via social networking sites such as Facebook.  I’ve put together a list of about thirty Urmston businesses, directly linking to their Facebook pages.  It will take you about five minutes to click through and like all the listed businesses – and if you particularly love them (and have used their services), you can leave a review for them.  Positive reviews are very encouraging for independent businesses – many of us operate a one-person set-up and it can get a bit lonely at times, so kind words from customers mean a lot.

If I’ve not listed your business, please comment below or email me with a link to your Facebook page and I’ll add your business to this post.

Belle Amour Home

Better Tuition

Budget Baby Boutique

Candy Stripes Sweets

Darbys Coffee and Arts Lounge

Deccan Indian Restaurant

Empire Restaurant and Takeaway

Foutté Dancewear and Ballet Boutique

Gloucester Road Emporium

Helen O’Donohue School of Speech and Drama

Home Estate Agents

Hop House, the

Kobella Beauty

Lily’s Coffee Lounge at Eden Square

Lockette’s Fashion

Lucy Loves

Mrs M Vintage

Paul’s Floors

Prairie Schooner Taphouse

Purple Buttercup

Richard’s Cakes – over 136,000 likes!

Salon Pierre on Moorside Road

Sarah de la Hoyde photography

The Blue Raj Indian Restaurant

TD Plumbing and Heating

The Hideaway on Church Road

Urmston Bookshop

Urmston Market

Vital Space Estate Agents

The Prairie Schooner: New Bar on Flixton Rd, Urmston

Delicious mulled cider from the Prairie Schooner, Urmston.

Delicious mulled cider from the Prairie Schooner, Urmston.

Newly opened on Flixton Road, Urmston, the Prairie Schooner is an independent micropub (what a very fine word that is!) and bottle shop.  And what is a “prairie schooner”?  It’s the name given to a covered wagon used by 19th century migrants settlers across America.  Yes, the kind you’d see on Little House on the Prairie.  The name is purely metaphorical, and relates to the pioneering spirit behind the venture; it’s not a theme bar.

Situated opposite Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge, the bar is warmly lit and cosy, yet far bigger than it looks from outside.  It has a three-sided bar and plenty of seating, with has a relaxed, comfortable ambience.  This is a space that can equally accommodate genial gatherings of friends, intimate rendez-vous for two or solo cogitations at one of the window seats, where you can watch the comings and goings of Flixton Road.

I’m more or less teetotal but the mulled cider smelled so festive I couldn’t resist giving it a try.  It was deliciously spiced and wonderfully warming on a winter’s day.  My husband and I reflected that we could easily spend hours in there and we shall certainly return.

Watch the comings and goings on Flixton Road from the window of the Prairie Schooner Taphouse.

Watch the comings and goings on Flixton Road from the window of the Prairie Schooner Taphouse.

I shy away from listing pubs and bars on here because it’s often unclear whether they are independent or not (many are linked to breweries in a kind of franchise-like agreement), but the Prairie Schooner Taphouse is clearly an indie operation.  The Prairie Schooner Taphouse specialises in real ale from local microbreweries poured by the pint straight from the cask. They also stock a selection of traditional cider and perry, fine wine, prosecco, single malt whisky, small-batch gin and old-fashioned soft drinks all made by independent producers.

The Prairie Schooner Taphouse is at 33 Flixton Road, Urmston.  Children are allowed on the premises till 6pm and dogs are allowed at quiet times.  Visit Prairie Schooner Taphouse’s website for details of their opening hours.

Darby’s Mulled Christmas Punch – Recipe

Merry Christmas from Darby's Coffee and Arts Lounge.

Merry Christmas from Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge.

It’s cold.  Darby’s Coffee and Art Lounge on Flixton Road, Urmston are serving mulled Christmas punch.  Sorted. What’s more, Amy Darby, owner of Darby’s, has provided Urmston Independents with her extra special recipe. Enjoy!

Darby’s Mulled Christmas Punch
Makes one litre


800ml cranberry juice

200ml orange juice
1 tbsp gingerbread syrup
5 tbsp demerara sugar
and some dried mixed mulled spices wrapped in muslin.
Darby’s bought their mulled spices – which include dried fig and oranges –  from the Manchester Christmas Markets.


Put it all in a large saucepan and bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes

Call in to Darby's Coffee and Arts Lounge for warming winter treats.

Call in to Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge for warming winter treats.

If you enjoy the results of this recipe, you can thank Darby’s by giving their Facebook page a like or calling in to their Flixton Road coffee and arts lounge (M41 5AB) for food, drink or festive gifts.

Small Business Saturday 2014

small business saturday

It’s Small Business Saturday: please support small businesses wherever you find them.  There are hundreds of small businesses in Urmston, Flixton and Davyhulme.  Speaking as the owner of a small business, I know that, from candle makers to plumbers, none of these small businesses would exist without customers, including my own tuition centre.  

Using a small business is not an act of charity. It is quite wrong to assume that big chains are cheaper than small, independent traders.  Behind the marketing jargon, the deals offered by big corporate chains often represent a more expensive proposition than the more straightforward pricing of a smaller concern.  Why do we assume that big chains are cheaper?  Because they spend massive amounts of marketing money telling us their prices are fantastically low; small independent businesses can’t and don’t.  

As well as fairer prices, there is often more expertise in a small business; small businesses thrive on the passion of their owners and making money is not their main focus.  Personally, I don’t see education as a product I sell; I see it as a way to change young people’s lives forever.  Look at Mrs M, of Mrs M Vintage on Flixton Road: she’s not a corporate suit, working on her next ad campaign.  She just loves vintage and sells it because she wants to spread vintage joy.  How about Card World on Crofts Bank Road?  They have the biggest range of cards in Urmston and beyond – adoption cards, confirmation cards, sorry-I-forgot-to-get-you-a-Christmas-card – you name it, they sell it and that is because they really want to provide a card for all occasions.

If you want to support small businesses today and can’t make it out to the shops, why not tweet about them, like their Facebook business page or even write an online review for them (please only do this if you have used their service)?  Online recommendation is a powerful way to help small businesses, and what’s more, it really encourages independent traders when they see something lovely written about them – after all independent trading can feel a little lonely at times.

So today, Small Business Saturday 2014, please shop small and shop local: use our independent traders in Urmston and help our little town thrive.

An A-Z of independent businesses in Urmston:

Urmston Market at Christmas

Urmston Market's Christmas Fair takes place this Saturday.

Urmston Market’s Christmas Fair takes place this Saturday.

Along with raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens, Urmston Market’s Christmas Fair is one of my favourite things. This Saturday the market will be bursting with colourful, beautiful, useful things.  As well as festive food and drink, there will be finely-crafted giftware, wreaths and decorations (including large, pot-grown Christmas trees) and all the trimmings you need for Christmas.

Live music will provide an ambient yuletide vibe and the event poster promises ‘festive friends’, so if you do go down to Urmston Market’s Christmas fair, listen out for the jingling of bells and keep an eye on the sky …

Urmston Market is open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with an Artisan Special on the first Saturday of every month and and Vintage and Crafts market on the last Saturday of every month.  It’s a stone’s throw from Urmston train station and the bus stop (numbers 15, 22, 23, 255, 276, 278 and very probably some more).  You can park in Eden Square car park at M41 0NA if you’re driving.