Minstead Village Shop
By Mike on Saturday, May 24, 2008, 14:50 - Permalink
24 May 2008 - a trip out to Rhinefield in the New Forest - to get some riverbank clay for one of my projects - we got ourselves stuck in a serious traffic tailback on the way into Lyndhurst.
Coming up over the brow of a hill, we could see that the queue trailed on a long, long way - so we decided to turn off and see if we could pick our way through the country lanes to our destination, or find somewhere else interesting to go instead...
So it was completely by chance that we happened to find ourselves passing through the idyllic little village of Minstead - but what delightful chance that turned out to be...
We had brought with us a flask of tea and some biscuits, but had intended to pick up a meat pie or sandwich for lunch in some bakery on the way through Lyndhurst - but of course we weren't to pass through there anymore - but a short distance into our detour, we drove into Minstead and noticed a small shop.
Some Small Shops
Some small shops are the kind where you buy things because you have no choice - dingy little airless places where you find yourself hopefully looking around for the least worst item - paying uncomfortable prices through necessity, then wishing you'd never bothered.
Minstead Village Shop
Happily, Minstead Village Shop represents the absolute opposite end of the spectrum - a small shop so utterly brilliant, I can hardly believe it exists.
Locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables outside the front - a well-stocked cheese and deli counter just inside the door - fridge sections crammed with tempting things such as game pies and sausages made with venison or free range pork - fresh home-made or locally-made cakes, breads and other baked goods, locally-produced honey, preserves and confectionery. But no pretence or delusions of grandeur - just an impressive array of good, honest produce.
Unusually for such an array of local delicacies and specialities, it was priced at... well... food prices - not sold as if it were a selection of expensive souvenirs.
There's also all the other everyday stuff you'd expect to find in a little village general store - the groceries, the household items, papers, chocolates, and so forth.
So we bought three of their homemade pasties - big, golden-glazed pastry cases filled with delicious tender seasoned meat, potato and vegetables.
For these tasty and substantial treats, we paid about the same prices as one might pay for those wretched dried-up versions on sale in supermarkets and petrol stations.
So we made it through the lanes to Rhinefield and sat in the dappled shade of the tall trees, munching our scrummy pasties - enjoying the delight of having discovered a hidden gem.
A Hidden Gem
And that's what it is - Minstead Village Shop - a hidden gem. I'm almost reluctant to tell you about it - because I want to keep it all for myself. But secrets like this are meant to be shared.
The New Forest
The New Forest was set aside as a hunting reserve by William The Conqueror around about the year 1080 - so it's not really all that new anymore
Today, it's the largest contiguous area of uncultivated land in England - comprising coniferous and deciduous woodlands, heaths, marshes, pastures and grassland, and of course, myriad interesting and charming small towns, villages and hamlets
Minstead Village is a couple of miles north of Lyndhurst - approximately halfway between Southampton and Bournemouth.
Since I first wrote this article, Minstead Village Shop has undergone a change - it still sells a nice range of deli foods and essentials, but also has a small tea room serving snacks, meals and hot and cold drinks, plus an interesting range of handcrafted gift items such as jewellery and ornaments.