The Co-operative – here for you for life

I met a lady from far away, whom, whilst showing me her wares, (a cardboard suitcase oozing vintage scarves) whispered I should visit a market in a Northern town.

Two scarves (one polka dot polyester, one lilac silk) and 47 miles later I park here:

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Hope Mill. Or rather Hope Mi.l, according to the sign on the fir green door, not so much dark and satanic as dank and sagging.

The smell was overwhelming, growing stronger as I paced towards the bustle of the Market Hall.

Fish and Chip Shops. Attacking from three different angles. Enough vinegar to pickle the whole town.

Stalls set out in a square grid. Anything from armless Action Men to rampant bronze lions. With a great deal of CD’s, chipped plates and Chinese fakery in between. But it was good. Interesting. Very busy, and shouty. Lots of activity; banter, buying, bartering. I bought. Earrings, cufflinks and two bulbs of smoked garlic. I put back a Losol jug. Which I now regret of course.

It began to rain. I asked a woman with dreadlocks and creamy cappuccino skin to suggest a decent cafe.

And did she:

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The Bear. Deli downstairs, eatery upstairs via a staircase Scarlett O’Hara wouldn’t sniff at. Was once The Co op, when once the Co op stood for Caring and Sharing. Unlike now. Help yourself why don’t you?

Pink lemonade in a silly ballon and celeriac soup in a bowl with basil and bread like this:

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They like their chow in this Northern town. And they’re happy to share it.  The ‘Incredible Edible’ project plants orchards and vegetables in unused spaces around the town. For everyone to partake. Cherry trees in the car park, and flocks of herbs along the canal.

What a marvellous idea. Prettify brown sites, rally a community, eat your greens.

Simple. Cooperative.

 

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April 12, 2014 · 9:21 am

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