I was browsing through properties online this morning—as, you know, I do—and came across Whichford Manor (above), a nine-bedroom house in Banbury, Oxfordshire on the market for about $5.5 million. One of the main selling points of this estate—so significant that it's explicitly made a point of in the description—is that "The area is abundant with local pubs and restaurants including the renowned Daylesford Organic farm shop and spa." Of course, I had to Google "Daylesford Organic." After all, what's the big deal? I've never seen anyone try to sell a condo in New York on the fact that "It's just up the road from Barneys."
I don't know what rock I've been living under, but apparently Daylesford Organic is "the poshest shop in England," according to The Independent.
It's a bit like accidentally wandering out of the economy cabin of grocery shopping into first class.
So popular has Daylesford proved with Cotswold high-fliers, that a whole scene and mythology has grown up around it. Liz Hurley and Kate Moss are customers. Other local big-wigs can be seen spending thousands on the shop's organic food, clothing and homeware. Aristocratic ladies occupy the in-store Chinese tea house, discussing their addiction to the next-door spa. To shop there costs the earth, but it suggests heaven, and the place radiates prestige to such an extent that the value of our house nearby has rocketed.
This is, like, the shop/spa of my dreams. Full of beautiful things, delicious things, relaxing things, and fancy people hanging around drinking tea. I would like to own a place like this one day.
One can often tell how affluent people are by how skinny they are. And there are certainly no blobbies in Daylesford. I've never seen a woman here that I wouldn't quite liked to have had sex with, although with some of them it would be tempting to punch them at the same time. As I arrive, two latte-sipping yoga chicks exit in knee-length riding boots and thigh-clinging jodphurs, to board their Land Rover Discovery, happily chattering in fluent new-age doggerel. I pass a conspicuously gay man in a cravat, carrying what might be a cabbage, but could be a large, unusual flower, to his vintage car.Daylesford Organic has, since the Independent story was published, opened a branch in Pimlico and Notting Hill, London, but I still need to go to the original location. Going to Daylesford Organic shall be my second-strongest motivation—second to "Going to Dollywood"—to learn how to drive in 2011.
There is nothing in the food hall that I would not like to take home in one of its brown paper bags. It isn't cheap, but we're all starting to realise that cheap food is a bad deal. Bad for the environment, bad for the animals involved, and bad for the person who eats it. There are meats here ranging from snipe to sausages to full-on legs of ham, all of the highest quality, as well as alluring, often unrecognisable vegetables, fresh from the market garden outside. The bread counter is piled high with exotic rye loaves, batons and soda whoppers. There are cheeses that I've never seen before and organic soups, made to recipes by the Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, who worked with Lady Bamford for two and a half years after he was forced out of Pied à Terre for scalding a chef. Everything is wrapped, lit, or presented beautifully and there are copies of Dazed & Confused and Wallpaper magazines at the checkout. It is absolutely ridiculous, fantastic and sexy.