Just one quick glance at a map and it soon becomes clear why Boroughbridge is one of Yorkshire’s most des-res towns. It’s just a minute or two off that well-beaten track we call the A1 (M) and yet, once in the centre of this pretty market town, you really do feel you are well away from life’s more pressing business, soaking in a rather idyllic and countrified atmosphere that seems to belong to a former era.
This is not to say it feels old-fashioned, because it doesn’t, at least not to me. It feels fresh and vibrant and uplifting, with a market square and a proper little High Street with lots of white and pastel painted cottage-style shops, traditional but updated for the 21st century, and offering the quality and personal service rarely found in the city.
This quaint but inspiring mood comes largely from Boroughbridge’s independent, owner-run businesses – an eclectic and fascinating mix featuring gifts and interiors shops, bakeries, butchers, cafes and purveyors of fashion and jewellery, plus a healthy sprinkling of beauty and hair salons. And then there are the estate agents (my guilty pleasure, whether I am looking to buy or not).
Boroughbridge is THE place to go for interiors and gift shopping. If you want to create a new look at home, or buy something special for a wedding or house-warming, you’ll find something pretty darned perfect in Boroughbridge, I promise.
Bowes Deli & Cafe on the High Street is a lively eaterie and take-away, well-loved by locals, with delicious fresh food all served with an artistic flair courtesy of the owner Liz, whose hand-made pottery can be found both on the tables and displayed on shelves.
Greenwoods Butchers, meanwhile, at the top of the town (from the Knaresborough side) is a classic example of updated traditional. I don’t often like going inside many butchers, but this is a wonder of blackboard specials and choice cuts, and at the centre of it all is owner John, resplendent in striped apron. Sourcing from local farms and markets, it has award-winning pies, dry cured bacon and a fantastic range of fat sausages, made from outdoor reared pigs. I bought a huge chicken, four large speciality sausages (including chilli and coriander), a pound and a half of bacon and a small steak pie, all for around £13. Er … amazing, and they tasted very good indeed.
Ella Georgia is a lovely little fashion, jewellery and gift shop on Fishergate. Now this really is the place if you are looking for a special and stylish gift for a special and stylish woman. The signature grey suede biker jacket is to die for (£295) and the jewellery is unusual and collectable, with everything selected with care and faultless bold statement taste by owner Sian. There’s a great website too on www.ellageorgia.com
On the High Street, The Beauty Shop is a busy little salon offering a full range of treatments from eyebrow tints at £5 to 90-minute “as seen in Hollywood” Intraceuticals facials that cost £125. I tried one and was impressed with the plumping and detoxing effects (although a course of eight is recommended).
Still on the High Street is Gone to Pot, a gorgeous shop selling gifts and wares for home and garden (there’s an interior shot at the top of the post), very reasonably priced. Market Square Antiques is great for garden furniture and all manner of furniture and curios. Issima is another inspiring gift and interiors shop. See, I told you Boroughbridge is the place to go for gifts and interiors.
Back at the top of the town, La Rascasse cafe is an oasis of calm and quality eats and drinks. I had the most delicious beef sandwich there, which came with hand-made crisps and lots of lovely leaves and couscous, with a huge pot of tea, and all for £7.50.
Finally, with the Tour to France in mind, there is a Bring and Buy Bike Sale, of all things, every first Sunday of the month on Fishergate. No excuse not to start peddling madly if you want to win that yellow jumper thingy.