Chilbolton Stores Book Swap

Recycle your read books!

How it works…

  • All approved books are marked with a red sticker, books must be in a fit state to be read and brought back
  • Choose your book from the selection and take it to the counter along with any books you have to swap.
  • A member of staff will check that the book to be swapped is acceptable and mark it with a red sticker.
  • If you do not have a book to swap the price of each book is £1.
  • If you do have a book to swap the price is 50p.
  • You may swap more than one book at a time but the minimum price is 50p per book taken away, regardless of how many books you bring in.
  • Read, enjoy and return.

5 years in Chilbolton and counting…

Chilbolton Stores Fresh CoffeeLast November was the 5 year anniversary of David and I walking through the doors of Chilbolton Stores as the new owners.  Enthusiastic and maybe just a little naive, at 33 I don’t think I was what most people expected of a shopkeeper but as I said at the time… I may not have retail experience but I am really good at shopping!

In hindsight the first couple of years were fairly straight forward, although it didn’t seem like it at the time.  We had to cope with road closures, broken fridges, replacement tills, making our home watertight (a new thatch doesn’t come cheap) but the economy was buoyant and people were keen to support us.  Introducing new ranges was relatively easy and caught on quickly.

Move forward to 2009 and things were a little different, the credit crunch had started to take hold and even in Chilbolton people were starting to feel the pinch.  We had to work just that little bit harder, cutting costs where we could and really trying to differentiate ourselves.  Customers would no longer buy things from us just because it was convenient, we had to give them things they couldn’t get elsewhere and then most crucially “tell them about it”.

Inside Chilbolton Stores
The website and Facebook page were really born from a need to keep people informed about the refurbishment program at the beginning of 2010.  With a grant from Hampshire County Council and SEEDA we were planning the most extensive works to the shop for many decades.  There would be disruption and we needed to keep our villagers informed.

At the end of the work, I think everyone agreed it was worth the small amount of pain.  The new layout is fresh and bright and makes running the shop much easier and more efficient.

We continued with the social media as it was popular and growing all the time, a competition to photograph your Chilbolton Stores Bag to win a Kindle was a highlight and it is the perfect place to tell people of new products and our regular wine tasting events.  The website too has been popular, bringing in orders from further a field and many extra customers for our local free-range turkeys at Christmas… not just from the village but from around Hampshire.

Chilbolton Stores in the spring sunshine

So the last six months have been some of the best, the business is growing and we are ”leaner and fitter” from a period of austerity.  I for one look back over the last five years fondly, I have always believed that you get out of something what you put in and that nothing really worth having comes easily.  We have had many, many good times and made lifelong friends in Chilbolton and I don’t regret a moment.  Here’s to 5 years and counting…

Hampshire Free Range Turkey at lower prices than Waitrose or M&S

Hampshire Free Range Turkey from Chilbolton StoresHampshire Free Range Turkey at lower prices than Waitrose and Marks & Spenser from Chilbolton Stores

After the success of last year we’re delighted to say Noah’s Ark Farm once more will be supplying us with their fantastic Free Range Bronze Turkeys and they’ll cost you less than almost anywhere else.

Why? Because we source them directly from the farm.

Last year I was able to realise one of my ambitions since our first Christmas in Chilbolton five years ago; to find local Hampshire Free Range Turkeys. The problem has been that the largest turkey farms are in Norfolk and East Anglia and one our aims when we bought Chilbolton Post Office & Stores, five years ago, was to source as much of our fresh produce and meat locally, as possible. There are a few farms in Hampshire that provide free range turkeys, but unfortunately they’ve either been too far away or simply too expensive.

After talking with Mike Smales, who make the wonderful Lyburn Cheese, he recommended a farm on the edge of the New Forest, where he gets his. A few calls later and I’m talking enthusiastically with the owners of Noah’s Ark Farm. They really care about the welfare of their turkeys and raise them from a day old, letting them roam in the fields (when they are old enough) and graze in a natural environment. When the day comes in December, the turkeys are processed on the farm, which reduces the stress on the animals and also food miles.

All of the birds are slow growing Bronze Turkeys which develop over 22-24 weeks, compared to the fast growing birds in supermarkets, which develop in 14-16 weeks. The Bronze has the flavour of the traditional Norfolk Black, but also more meat, so is a great Christmas alternative to the white turkeys. The care continues during the preparation stages, with all the turkeys being hand plucked and hung for a minimum of 10 days, which improves the flavour and tenderises the meat.

This Christmas Chilbolton Stores will providing the option of either a traditional Fresh Turkey from Randall Parker (formerly Bennetts) or a Hampshire Free Range Bronze Turkey. As I will need to drive down to the New Forest to collect these, we will be delivering these only on the 23rd December.

To order your turkey for Christmas 2014 click here:

Please note we only deliver in Chilbolton, Wherwell and the surrounding villages.


How Free is your Free Range Chicken?

I sat on a bench at Waterloo Station with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall not long after he took on Tesco over chickens. Although he was cross because his car was late picking him up for a TV show, in the five minutes we spoke, we had an great meeting of minds over free range chicken.

When you buy free range chicken you picture the chickens running around the field, happy in their lives, enjoying the freedom. True?

I though the same until I started looking into this.

According to DEFRA Free Range Chicken must have outside access for over half their lives. This is the ‘standard’ Free Range Chicken you can buy in Supermarkets, but these chickens are raised in large sheds which although less intensively stocked than the traditional broiler, are probably far from the picture most would associate with Free Range.

Free Range (Uncaged) Chickens in a Chicken House

Is this your picture of Free Range Chicken?

The chickens in this picture are Free Range as they have access to the outside, but they are still fairly intensively stocked.

If you are looking for ‘real’ Free Range you might want to disregard those that are described as Free Range and look for labels which describe the birds as Traditional Free Range or Free Range Total Freedom.

Jamies Hampshire Free Range Chicken

Total Freedom Free Range Chicken

When we first met Jamie at Locks Drove Farm he was keen to impress on us the difference and that they believed that a Free Range Chicken should be kept in small sheds without restriction to their roaming. The slower growing birds develop more flavour and enjoy a more natural live, being able to scratch around and feed in a woodland environment as they did in times gone by.

We chose Jamie’s Free Range Chicken for Chilbolton Stores as they were not only local, but in my opinion the best type of chicken, as they are truly free to range, have 24-hour access to the outdoors, to breathe fresh air, to have access to a large meadow, field or orchard, to peck and scratch about and to have a truly natural existence; to be protected from foxes and other vermin by an electric security fence; to have shelter from the weather when needed; to have a place to roost and a plentiful supply of grain and fresh water.

Total Freedom Free Range Chicken are truly happy chickens…

…and they taste delicious 🙂

Christmas at Chilbolton Stores

Well another Christmas has been and gone and as always Christmas comes creeping up and suddenly it arrives and we are into the last few days. This year was no exception and the snow and ice made a usually busy time even more busy.

Thanks to everyone in Chilbolton and Wherwell, this December has been one of the most successful, helped by the increase in Christmas orders we received. In fact we received orders from as far a field as Southampton, Newbury and Whitchurch, a testament to the quality of local food produced in and around the village. Smoked Trout from the River Test Smokery, Christmas Puddings and Cakes from Emma Way (Taste) and speciality pies from Cottage Savouries were all well received by customers far and wide.

This year we added Free Range Turkeys from Noah’s Ark Farm to our traditional Christmas fare and it was fantastic that so many people chose this option as well as the traditional turkey option, which has proven a great success. Personally I thought it was one of the best turkeys I have ever cooked and eaten, but judging by the numbers of comments we’ve received I’m not the only one. In fact Jo was flagged down in Village Street last Monday, by a customer who had to tell her how good her turkey had been.

This feedback is really important, as Jo and I both want to support other local suppliers and will be passing on this to Sue and Paul at Noah’s Ark Farm. I knew we had made a good choice when I collected almost 40 turkeys on the 23rd December. Noah’s Ark Farm was a ‘real’ farm, not a ‘factory farm’ and the care that is given to the turkeys is evident in the quality of the meat. As one customer commented the turkey smelt fresh and was beautifully presented, no plastic wrapping in sight. I can guarantee we will be using Noah’s Ark Farm next Christmas.

After delivering almost 80 orders between Jo’s parents and I, we were glad when Christmas Eve arrived, together with our customary visit from Father Christmas and the Christmas post. I don’t know how he gets time to fit everything in, but he didn’t stay long, as he had a busy night ahead of him.

New Year is now rapidly approaching and we are all feeling positive about what 2011 will bring. 2010 was a tough year for all, but we are looking forward to 2011 and we both are grateful for the support and friendship that the villages provide us.

All that remains is to say Happy New Year to all from both Jo and I and we look forward to seeing you soon.

All the best

David & Jo

Fancy a Gossip at Chilbolton Stores?

Morning Coffee and a Gossip at Chilbolton Village Shop

Morning Coffee and a Chat

What could be better on a damp November morning than popping in to the Chilbolton Village Shop for a gossip with friends? Well Eileen and Victoria didn’t need to think twice about it and that’s one of the reasons we took over the village shop in Chilbolton. We all love to catch up with friends and the shop is great place to do it, especially when its grey and drizzling outside. A cup of hot freshly made cappuccino, a freshly made doughnut and you can wile away the hours quite happily with friends.

At the end of the day the village shop isn’t just about buying your milk, bread and getting your morning papers, its about meeting friends and finding out what’s been happening in the village or with friends and family. Word has been getting out about our bean to cup coffee machine and the fantastic cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolates and espressos we now serve; the table and chairs make it easy to sit and watch the world come and go, so feel free to do exactly that.

Come down and have a chat, everyone is welcome and no-one’s a stranger, especially if you’ve got some gossip…

…come on now, don’t be shy we want to hear it.

Have a great weekend

David & Jo

New Local Deli Meats & Fresh Soups

Today Chilbolton Stores took delivery of our new range of deli continental meats and fresh soups. Produced by local companies Atkins and Potts and Dorset Smokeries these are wonderful tasting and produced by local businesses which care about the quality of food. Not available in Supermarkets we hope every likes these new additions as much as we do..

Chilbolton Stores on Facebook

Jo created a Facebook Page for Chilbolton Stores earlier this year, but in order to improve and connect with more people we have updated it to link directly with our Blog as well as creating a Group, which means you can keep in touch with all our updates in one place.

Check back regularly and see what we are doing, new offers, products and just what is going on in the village.

Abbots Mitre Pub Quiz and Autumn’s arrived

Spent a great evening over at the Abbots Mitre last for the monthly Chilbolton Pub Quiz. Thanks to Andrew for once again organising a great evening and I thought we on a roll until 3 Girls and 2 Blokes let themselves down with two disasterous rounds. OK a quick on Google and yes and I admit Horsell Common is near Woking. The Martian invasion in War of the Worlds starts there and not Hampstead heath as I thought. Congratulations to the Bobby Dazzlers who once again performed to their usual high standard.

Out this morning bright and early with Blue on the common and it was distinctly autumnal with the rain coming down and the two egrets hunched up on the river bed. A reminder that summer is on the way out and the leaves will be soon changing. To be honest thats my favourite time of year, golden frosty mornings walking round the cow common. I just hope we get a few more warm days as its brings people down into the village and into the shop.

Fresh Fish delivery today and remember if you want to order in advance, let Jo, Gaynor, Jackie or Jill know; alternatively you can place a fish order online at the Chilbolton Stores website