Super Market

Friday, 30 November 2012

I hate clothes shopping, loathe shoe shopping and detest Christmas shopping.
But food shopping? I love it. 

At the moment my food shopping is done mostly online which helps prevent me from spending too much and although I visit farm shops for my fruit and veg I do miss walking around the supermarket and seeing all the lovely things there are to take home and cook. Waitrose is my favourite supermarket. Posh and pricey you might say, but I say excellent quality products, helpful, well-informed staff and uncluttered aisles.

From today, however, I have a new favourite supermarket. Whole Foods Market , Cheltenham.
Whole Foods is a Texas based chain of organic supermarkets which now has several stores in the UK. Most are in London but there is also one in Glasgow and as of this month one in Cheltenham. This is lucky for me as Cheltenham is only 3 junctions down the M5 from Worcester - a half hour journey.

If you like good food and enjoy food shopping then you will love Whole Foods, but be warned, if you thought Waitrose was expensive.... well...let's just say in America Whole Foods is sometimes known as Whole Paycheck.


The fruit and vegetables looked absolutely stunning. Much attention has been paid to how the produce is displayed. I was very tempted by almost everything I saw.


I examined the fresh turmeric (the knobbly little tubers next to the yellow carrots), the habanero chillies  the graffiti aubergines,


 the stripy beetroot,

the piles of leafy greens,

and the prepared vegetable mixes.

I nearly bought a large tub of fresh pineapple chunks but decided £4 was a bit much.


I examined the nut butter machines where you can grind your own peanut or almond butters.

I exclaimed over the bowls of spices laid out like some Middle Eastern market. Here you can by as much or as little as you like. Little china scoops are provided along with small plastic bags. I chose the zatar which is sumac, thyme and sesame -two bowls behind the cumin powder.


Next I had a look at the oil cans. Here you can buy a bottle and fill it from the cans and then when it's empty you can bring it back and refill it. You can do the same with beer, cider and wine.

Nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and grains are available to buy in bulk from canisters like these, or bins with scoops. I bought some black beluga lentils.


Self-service antipasti.


Fabulous looking dairy produce. I bought a tub of gorgonzola dolce which was on sale. The extremely helpful and knowledgeable cheese chap gave me some to taste before scooping it out from a large whole cheese and telling me to let it come to room temperature before serving.

I didn't buy any fish but next time I visit I shall take a freezer box and get some of the lovely looking frozen Scottish seafood.


These rolled pork shoulders looked wonderful and I noted they were cheaper then Waitrose. I wanted something quick to cook for supper tonight so I went for steak instead -a rare treat.

Next I bought a bar of Culture Shock chocolate (white chocolate with ginger and chilies) and a few Christmas treats.


I didn't buy cookies from the cookie bar,


or cupcakes, or macarons (they get everywhere),

 or even cookery books,

 but I did buy three Eccles cakes for the children and two cappuccino bars for Charlie and me.

We also came away with local beer and a bargain bottle of wine (£5 -hope it's alright).

I came away from Whole Foods seriously impressed with the look of the place, the quality and choice of the food, but also with the excellence of the staff  who were friendly and informed.
I also came away quite a bit poorer.
I'm dying to go back though. Soon.

72 comments:

  1. My sister lives in the USA Sue and she raves about Whole Foods, thanks for the virtual tour, it looks amazing. I too would come away with less pennies in my purse after a visit. How I wish there was one in the South East, lucky you, enjoy!

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  2. Thanks Sue!
    I shall be checking this out!

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  3. On my last visit to London I got to visit one of the whole Food Markets. I was very impressed. The quality and range was fantastic. It is very easy to get carried away and spend a fortune. It will be top of my list to visit again if I get a chance of another trip to London.

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  4. Blimey, not sure I would ever get out of there!

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  5. What a WONDERFUL shop! I would have gone in the spices section! Did you spend the whole month's worth of food budget in one go?!

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  6. Anonymous6:35 pm GMT

    that looks fantastic lucky you living so close
    tess

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  7. Replies
    1. No, not as big as I had expected. much smaller than a normal supermarket, There's a café as well.

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  8. It is lucky that I don't live three junctions down from this amazing place or I would be bankrupt... It all looks truly fabulous. I hope you bought yourself a little birthdaytreat too? Have a gorgeous day tomorrow- I hope all your birthday wishes come true!!! Ax

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    1. Thank you! You have a good memory. I did buy a little treat or two x

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  9. Wow! Good thing we have nothing like that around here. I'd be broke in an instant. I'm a sucker for gorgeous shops like that.

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  10. Thank goodness they haven't opened a store in the North West, we would be bankrupt too. However I do have relations in Cheltenham. I think I may just visit!

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  11. Oh, I want to live in Cheltenham now.

    Like you I adore food shopping, and hate most other sorts of shopping. Even though I barely have time to breathe these days, I gave up on getting my supermarket food delivered because I missed going round Waitrose too much. I now save up a Waitrose trip for a treat on my days off!

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  12. Oh my goodness, it looks amazing! It's probably a good thing we don't live near one :)

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  13. Anonymous7:28 pm GMT

    I live in Denmark and ALWAYS go to Whole Foods when in London. All these photos make me want to go back to London RIGHT NOW!!! :D

    Are you watching "The Killing 3"? You're in for a treat this time. It finished last Sunday here and my lips are sealed. ;)

    Geatings from Copenhagen,
    Helle

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    1. Hello Helle! Oh, I am watching The Killing and enjoying it tremendously.

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  14. Wow looks like foodie heaven! Would love a visit if only for special occasions - just know the rest of my lot would love it too.

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  15. The bit that always makes me want to poke my eyes out is the olive bar. An entire island devoted to fifty kazillion varieties of olive! I get lost in the Health & Beauty area, too.

    Good thing the nearest WF is 100 miles away, or I would be prostituting my entire family and robbing a few banks to pay for those olives and skin serums (and organic wines and cheeses and and and...).

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    1. I forgot to post my pic of the beauty section. Do the skin serums work, will they make me look like Gwyneth Paltrow?

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  16. When we were within striking distance of London I used to love going round the food halls of places like Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nicks. Whole Foods looks and feels like one of those.

    P.S. Have a very happy birthday. Jx

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  17. Everything looks so beautifully organised that it deserves to be bought. I shall fly over with my suitcase of British pound coins.

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  18. Anonymous8:43 pm GMT

    isn't it fab? I have been a few times now with friends and had lunch as well, highly recommended.So lucky to work just around the corner...

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  19. I go to Wholefoods rarely as I cant really spend twice a much as usual on groceries. Also I noticed last time that there is a huge amount of expensive junk food in the centre of the store. I also think that organic produce aside Aldi s produce is just as good for half the price although the selection isnt as great.

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    1. I shouldn't think anyone can afford to spend twice as much as usual on groceries. I certainly can't. This will be a once in a while treat and I can't see myself ever doing a whole week's shop there.

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  20. Anonymous8:53 pm GMT

    I'm from the Boston, MA, USA area, and love Whole Foods. I'm on a wheat and dairy-free diet and if it weren't for Whole Foods and their stock of compatible products, life would be much more difficult. Next year we're getting a Whole Foods in my town just north of Boston, and that makes me very happy.

    I just discovered your blog and am enjoying it very much.

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  21. Pinch me I must be dreaming! That looks well worth a trip to Cheltenham. Wow!

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  22. I visited one of these in California and was open-mouthed at the size and quality of the fresh produce. I could have spent hours there. Mind you I could have spent hours in a standard supermarket - doesn't take much to make me happy!

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  23. Hi Sue, I live in a country town in regional Australia and I do all my Christmas shopping on the Internet. Wishing you a happy day. Your blog never fails to inform and delight. Tara

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    1. Hi Tara -good morning! I do it all online too now, much less tiring.

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  24. Golly everything does look gorgeous but £4.99 for an aubergine, all be it a graffiti aubergine, that is a bit stiff. Having said that vegetables are expensive this year and we've just eaten 3 romanesco's with dinner tonight (they were so small I had to use 3) which would have retailed at £1.30 each. I didn't pay that, the grower gave them to us along with a huge bag of freshly picked sprouting broccoli. I shall certainly look forward to visiting a "Whole Foods" after your virtual tour.

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    1. Prices were per kg Carol, but even so all the fruit and veg was extremely expensive and I will be sticking to my local farm shop where the produce is not organic but is very local to me and cheap.

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  25. I felt just the same after a visit to the Glasgow Wholefoods (put lots of pics on the blog too - visually stunning!) I bought shampoo and deodorant and toothpaste without parabens and found the staff knowledgeable and friendly. I also take the approach that I'd rather eat less of food of this quality than more of cheaper food..at times..just as well that it is a couple of hours journey from home perhaps. Glad you are loving it too.

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  26. Only 3 junctions down the motorway??? I would have to drive for an hour to even reach a motorway. No such luxuries for us!

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    1. What, you mean not everyone lives in Worcester???

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  27. Now see, I would treat this place the way I treat Waitrose - wouldn't dream of doing my 'everyday' shop, just use it for treats , the seafood and meat and fresh bread...just nice to buy and it IS good quality. Just not for my big shop. My fruit and veg usuually comes from our weekly market,though Morrisons are one to beat now on the freshness and variety of their fruit and veg.

    I've blogged on occasion about the dichotomy between the eye candy which draws us in to buying magazines only to find we are disappointed by the poor delivery of their content; while I wouldn't suggest that we are subsequently disappointed by our 'posh shop' purchases, I think there's a definite parallel with the 'eye candy' analogy. We sometimes just need to feel we've treated ourselves. I've certainly feasted my eyes on these photos, Sue, and I'm very envious!

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  28. I love it, too - but so horribly expensive, just as well it isn't on my doorstep. Yet. They're building one next door to my local Waitrose. I see serious temptation ahead.

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  29. Sue, as you probably already know, there are several Whole Foods stores here in New York. When they first landed here, they were a bit of very high-priced novelty, and I admit to doing a few mini shops in two of them.

    After that, I really decided that there was just a little bit too much hype involved in what was on offer...and that I did not want to pay for hype. Our local farmers markets also have prices that are higher than the average grocery shop, but somehow I can allow myself to pay a bit more when I know I am handing over the money to the actual farmer without funding middlemen and advertisers.

    Now youu have seen my colder thrifty approach to food shopping. I love fresh ingredients and try to buy seasonal varieties from the farmers markets. As to the other cupboard staples, I usually try to find the least expensive, wherever they might be.

    Whole Foods is a company whose stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange, and I am always wondering just where the company does find all its willing customers.

    Hoping none of this truth-telling comment will offend anyone. xo

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    1. I agree with you Frances. But, I shall still enjoy the occasional visit to WF just because I like food shopping so much. Organics are not a priority for me, local is. I shall continue to buy my fruit and veg from my local farmshop and my basic supplies online.

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  30. Whole Foods is going to be the ruin of us, we can't get enough of the place! I love cruising the aisles, so much more exciting than clothes shopping, as you point out!

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  31. We live in Canada and only have the opportunity to go to Washington State once a year and usually manage to get in one visit to
    Whole Foods. Also really like Trader Joe's. DS2lives about half an hour from the U.S. Border and goes down every other week to get groceries etc. That he can!t get in Canada. He's always sending me little treats that he picks up for me.
    He's going to be in London in about three weeks and I'm getting my list ready for him!!!

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  32. I am very lucky and live in Cheltenham, we have been there about 4 times now and just done a little bit of shopping each time - otherwise I think it would break the bank! Faye

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  33. Did someone say its your birthday today?If so happy birthday.Its also my husband,s birthday today ,he cant cook or crochet,I always thought astrology was rubbish!

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  34. Anonymous9:40 am GMT

    It worries me that Whole Foods Market is American. The American food industry is a nightmare, and I don't really want it over here. Can't we buy local, at farmer's markets, or even Riverford (which is getting too big), is surely more local than a company from the USA?

    I love Waitrose, as it is good quality and ethical. Both in the sourcing of its ingredients and in its treatment of its staff. And no shareholders. Too much packaging, though!

    Thanks for your blog. It's always interesting and well-written and I really enjoy it. I just felt I had to speak out against the American Food Industry. Even when it's prettily packaged.

    Amanda

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    1. Amanda,although the company is obviously American the majority of the products on sale at the Cheltenham branch are not. A lot of them are familiar British organic brands and much of the produce was local to the Cotswolds and so was a lot of the meat and cheese. Local for me is more important than organic which is why I favour a local farm shop in Worcester which has the added attraction of being cheap.

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  35. wow .... I am another one that is almost pleased she doesn't live closer....just stunning

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  36. The comment I posted yesterday seems to have vanished - think the filters must have thought I used a naughty word.... So I guess I better try again ! Anyway - that looks utterly wonderful, and I don't know whether to be pleased (for financial reasons) or disappointed (for all other reasons) that I don't have one anywhere near me.

    And happy birthday Sue....

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  37. Anonymous12:47 pm GMT

    It is all about choice.
    Yes, Wholefoods can sometimes be pricey but I find the fresh produce is comparable to most of the major supermarkets here in Tennessee.
    I buy my basics at Publix or Krogers but my fresh produce especially fruit and vegetables at Wholefoods .With clever planning and detailed lists it works for me. The quality at Wholefoods makes it worth the effort and meal planning prevents the need to buy processed food.
    I will also batch cook for the freezer when items are in season and at a low price. This means we have our own supply of "fast food" at home.
    Oh I love your blog!. I love the fact you are proud in your role as the guardian of your family's health and well being by planning and cooking such wonderful dishes.

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  38. A girl after my own heart ... I detest clothes and shoe shopping and as for Christmas shopping, why on earth do we do this every year, it's madness? Do as much online as I can, but like you, would love this place, it looks like food heaven! And how well do they understand 'display'? Colours, textures, and all so beautifully arranged, I'll bet no one leaves without buying something! Thank goodness I live too far away to visit this place!!! South Devon's just a little too far for weekly visits, even monthly visits!
    Margaret P

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  39. I wonder if they will open in Edinburgh ...

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  40. I too posted a comment which disappeared. No matter. WF looks scrumptious but if it's that expensive just a place for the odd treat I think. I too love food shopping - even on-line I quite enjoy it! Most of my shopping is done on-line as it saves all that pushing & shoving & becoming more & more despondent not to mention knackered & then getting home to find you're not that happy with what you've got or have forgotten most of it and have to make another trip some time..
    it goes on and on. I like Xmas and enjoy the prep but like to make life easy for myself!

    Happy Birthday Sue. x

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  41. I'm glad you made it Sue, those photos are stunning and now my husband can see what I was raving about he wants to come too. How was the beer by the way?

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    1. We chose some Bewdley beer- Charlie was trying to find something from as near to Worcester as possible. I haven't tasted it yet.

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  42. Flipididoodah, did you come away with your credit card intact?? Is that real earth I spied on them there veg....

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  43. I love Whole Foods. We have one opening here in Richmond (UK) which I'm hoping will be more manageable in size than the vast central London store.I certainly wouldn't/couldn't do all my shopping there but it is a nice place to go for the odd treat and their bulk items can actually be quite economical (that's my excuse anyway).

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  44. Pati from London6:42 pm GMT

    Wow Sue!! The shop looks amazing!! I've never been to any (didn't know it existed actually) but will definitely love to have a look at the yummy stuff. Even though I don't like peanut butter my kids love it and would love to try those machines to make some.... It's good to know from Deb (above) that they are opening one in Richmond as we live quite close. Pati x

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  45. I must find one of those even if it's only for a one-off experience.

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  46. when we lived near Boston we used to go to the one there for a very special treat. they had a wonderful gluten free section, if you could bring yourself to spend £5 on a packet of cookies....

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  47. I've been to the one in London which is huge but I got asked to stop taking pictures! I must admit that the way things are presented does tempt you to buy more. Our local Morrisons now have a beautiful presented veg aisle - very Wholefood style - but a good sight cheaper!

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  48. Oh, Whole Foods! Thrilled to shop in one during a trip to the United States last year. Could spend a whole day in there, I could!

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  49. What a treat of a shop! Bring them on lsewhere in the UK! Like you I have taken to doing most of my basic shopping on line as it saves a lot of money even with the delivery charge but the pleasure of walking round a shop like this and buying some carefully chosen things is not to be underestimated - good for body and soul! I'd say enjoy the odd trip here Sue whenever you can! E x

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  50. I do love all the veg stacked up like that - it's one of the reasons I love the vegetable market in town on Wednesdays. It's really easy to get sniffy about different supermarket choices - we all have different incomes, and different lifestyles, and people shouldn't begrudge you a trip to Waitrose because it isn't within their own budget. I shop at the local market and at Lidl, and I rarely spend £5 on a bottle of wine - I get mine from the 3 for £10 aisle - but it's certainly lovely to see what you're up to, and your obvious passion for food.

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    1. Thanks Coffee Lady. It is indeed easy to make judgements about people's supermarket choices without knowing what their other spending choices are.

      Waitrose is Lidl when you compare it to Whole Foods Market.

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  51. Very interesting post. We shop at Wholefoods frequently here in Michigan, yes the prices are higher, but the choices are better, and not just in what food is available either. I like to see the differences in items offered too, we don't have the loose spices like that, or oil, beer and wine to "fill your own".

    What has interested me most of all about this post though has been the comments!

    "It worries me that Whole Foods Market is American. The American food industry is a nightmare, and I don't really want it over here." - Please don't tar them all with the same brush, there are people and companies in America trying to make a difference and WFM is one of them!

    And as to "can't we buy local", I highly doubt Wholefoods are air freighting in goods from America to be sold in the UK, in fact that pork looks very traditional and local to me. And as WFM are sourcing locally when they can, providing jobs for local people and contributing to the local economy you can't get more local than that!

    "Whole Foods is a company whose stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange" - Well whoop-de-do! Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's are all traded on the London Stock Exchange. Even the bloke on the market stall or farm shop is out to make a profit, they're not doing it for the fun of it.

    And as for organics not being a priority, organic culture isn't just about health choices, it's about moving away from modern, intensive, monoculture farming methods that destroy the soil, the organisms and the water sources too. And when the soil is finally depleted new land is then required for growing more crops in the exact same destructive way, 15 million hectares every year for the last two decades according to The United Nations Food And Agricultural Organization. It's a viscous cycle I'm afraid that can only be broken by changing the way we farm and produce our food, and by changing peoples attitude to the way our food is produced. It's part of what you pay for when you shop at places like WFM. Cheaper has many, many more hidden costs.

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    1. Thank you - as you were posting your comment I was posting a reply to the comment about local produce -yes of course the products on sale in the UK stores are mostly British and local.

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  52. What - you're not going to visit me at Waitrose?

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    1. I was there yesterday actually (4th Dec). I didn't see you - had enough of Tesco have you?

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  53. I went into the one in South Kensington yesterday and made my own almond butter. I love how they do all the tasting stations. I bought 2 of the biggest meringues I have ever seen! £2, each.

    Very good health and beauty section, I bought some shampoo I usually order from the States, eco stuff that I could water the flowers with.

    I have been to this one in Cheltenham. The one that I went into was over 2 floors. It was amazing

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  54. MMmmmm - Montezuma's chocolate. Made in Chichester, West Sussex. If you ever get the chance to try their lime, chilli and tequila truffles, do.

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