Award-winning Mill Road

There have been a few winners in the Mill Road area already this month and so I thought I’d give them a well-deserved mention…

Cambridge Wine MerchantsCambridge Wine Merchants
Independent Drinks Retailer of the Year
(Drinks Retailing Awards)

Run by friends Peter and Hal who met here in the City, Cambridge Wine Merchants opened its first shop on Mill Road itself back in 1993. They now have seven branches (mostly in and around Cambridge, though one is in Salisbury) and host masterclasses as well as tasting events and training courses. Although I have bought wine from their shop on Mill Road, I have to admit that most of my visits have been when I have been looking for small presents – the shop has a huge selection of weird and wonderful miniature spirits and liqueurs (not to mention beers!), many of which I haven’t seen anywhere else! The Drinks Retailing Awards were held earlier this months in London and Cambridge Wine Merchants scooped the Best Independent Drinks Retailer award – for the third time!

Cambridge Women's Resources CentreCambridge Women’s Resources Centre
Finalist
(Cash For The Community campaign)

Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre is based on Hooper Street and provides resources and opportunities for women, including training, networking, friendship and one-to-one support. They also have an on-site creche for users of the centre and are open to all women in the community. The centre was recently chosen as one of 25 local community groups who will share a £10,000 pot of grant funding via the Cash For The Community campaign (other groups who will share the pot include Headway, formerly of Mill Road). The campaign was set up by the Cambridge Building Society and Cambridge News, and the amount each group receives will depend on how many tokens readers of the Cambridge News collect and submit for their chosen group before 8th March.

Hot NumbersHot Numbers
Best Independent Coffee Shop
(Discovering Cambridge Awards)

Hot Numbers opened as a coffee shop almost two years ago, but has quickly grown its repertoire and now hosts various music nights, gigs and art events – for example on Thursday night Hot Numbers will be playing host to acoustic guitar and bluegrass with Kate Vowles, and next Tuesday sees the fortnightly Dr Doodleys Drink & Draw meet up. The shop also recently merged with Williams Art next door and is now a coffee shop and art gallery all in one. The Discovering Cambridge Awards were set up last month by local MP Julian Huppert and are aimed at celebrating the independent shops and businesses we have here in Cambridge, with a winner being chosen in a different category each month. Hot Numbers were voted Best Coffee Shop, winning the very first award in the competition (an over all winner for 2013 will be chosen at the Mill Road Winter Fair in December).

The Sea TreeThe Sea Tree
One of three local winners
(Local Business Accelerators competition)

The Sea Tree opened on Mill Road nearly five years ago and is now well known locally for its wide selection of fish (and of course chips) to eat in or take away – though what may be less well known is that you can buy fresh fish and seafood to cook at home (I have a particular liking for their fresh King scallops!). The Sea Tree is one of three winners that have been chosen in the Local Business Accelerators competition for the Cambridge area (the other two being Cambridge Van Man and Whey Forward Industries) and will receive a free advertising campaign in the Cambridge News and mentoring from local business leaders, as well as the chance to scoop the top prize in the national competition later in the year (which includes a £10,000 advertising campaign, a years membership of the CBI and mentoring from Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden).

There's something about Mill RoadThere’s something about Mill Road
Winner of 50 copies of ‘Mission: Explore Food’
(The Geography Collective book competition)

Well, I couldn’t really write this article without giving myself at least a mention could I (!). The Geography Collective have written a book called Mission: Explore Food, which has lots of tasks and missions for children to do and teaches them (and indeed adults!) about the food cycle. They recently decided to give away fifty copies (worth £1,000) to a library in the UK and entrants had to write a blog post all about the book and which library service they would give them to. I didn’t let the fact that we don’t actually have a library service around Mill Road put me off applying (!) and it seems the Geography Collective thought that this made the Mill Road area a particularly deserving winner. I was thrilled to win the books for our area and will be distributing them amongst my chosen list of twenty local groups who I think would particularly benefit from receiving them – this includes Romsey Community Garden, Romsey Mill, Friends of Mill Road Cemetery, Argyle Street Housing Co-operative Kids Group, the RSPCA Bookshop and Ridgefield Primary School, as well as lots of other organisations doing good things in our community. You can read my winning blog post here.

More local winners?
You can collect and submit tokens on behalf of Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre (or whichever of the 25 groups you want to support) in the Cash For the Community campaign, tokens are printed in the Cambridge News every day until 1st March and must be received by 8th March. Also, the category for this months Discovering Cambridge competition is music and bookshops – so don’t forget to let Julian Huppert know what your favourite local independent in this category is by the end of the month.

It’s great to live in an area that has so many fantastic community groups and independent shops and businesses. Well done to all the recent winners! If you’re aware of any others I’ve missed then do let me know.

The write stuff…

January can often be a month of ‘staying in’, following on from Christmas excesses (both financial and dietary!); and with the cold weather here for a while longer, what better than to curl up with a good read. The Mill Road area has been blessed with a few local authors, at least three of whom have recently published books…

Mission: Explore - FoodLocal resident Tom Morgan-Jones is an award winning illustrator. I first met Tom a few years ago when he was visiting my friend and neighbour with whom he had co-created the board game ‘War On Terror’ (great fun to play, though I think my parents were a little taken aback when I bought it for them as a Christmas present!) and since then he has worked on numerous projects. His work can be seen in all manner of places and one of his most recent publications is ‘Mission: Explore Food’, which he both co-authored – along with other members of the Geography Collective – and illustrated. The book aims to change the way children think about food and teaches them everything from growing food and cooking it to eating and food waste. It’s a family book and includes over 150 ‘missions’ for children to complete. Tom has lived just off Mill Road for over fifteen years now and whilst doing his research for the book he spoke to local butchers Andrew Northrop’s. He tells me that they were extremely helpful and really helped the book to become what it is – so where better to get your copy than on Mill Road itself! Mission: Explore Food’ written by The Geography Collective & illustrated by   Tom Morgan-Jones. Hardback, available from Andrew Northrop’s (114 Mill Road, CB1 2BQ) priced £20. Also available to order online via the Guardian Bookshop.

Two under twoCelia Anderson is a writer and web designer who runs her own copywriting business in Devon, but her roots are firmly steeped in Cambridge and she has lived on Mill Road itself – in fact she describes herself as somewhat of a Mill Road fanatic (and I know she still misses the Black Cat Café!). I have known Celia for many years though have not seen her for a while – during which time she has had two children (where does the time go!). Combining her love of writing with her new-found experience of motherhood inspired her to start her blog – 2under2 – back in 2012. This has been hugely popular and so she has now published a digital book all about her experiences – ‘Two under two: coping with a baby and a toddler’. It’s a personal and empathetic guide to coping with a toddler and a newborn and has plenty of useful tips as well as interviews with other parents of two under two.
Two under two: coping with a baby and a toddler’ by Celia Anderson. Available for download on Amazon, priced £5.73.

Animals BetrayedJoan Court is a local writer and campaigner with a passion for animal welfare. She lives in the Mill Road area and is a confirmed vegan and cat lover who is very much part of her local community. I first met Joan some time ago and she is one of the most active people I know (which considering her 93 years, puts many of us to shame!). Although much of her time is currently taken up with running campaigns for Animal Rights Cambridge (which she co-founded in the late 1970’s), she has had a varied career that has seen her work as a district midwife in wartime London, witness Indian independence, attend fasts with Mahatma Gandhi, pioneer birth control in Pakistan, retrain as a social worker and at the age of 86 become a crew member on the Farley Mowat (as part of Sea Shepherd) – as well as gaining a degree in social anthropology from New Hall (now Murray Edwards College) here in Cambridge and a masters degree in social work. Joan has recently published her third book – ‘Animals Betrayed’ – which has interviews with a number of animal rights activists and campaigners, and gives an insight into many of the issues that have affected animal welfare over the years.
Animals Betrayed’ by Joan Court. Paperback, published by Selene Press and priced £12.50 (+£2 p&p). Please phone (01223) 311828 to order your copy.

Luckily you can get your hands on copies of all the above books without ever having to leave Mill Road – happy reading!