Culture: It's the season of goodwill . . . so have a hoppy Christmas says Rene van den Oort from Bury's Beautiful Beers
Perhaps to most of you it seems only a few months ago we packed away all the decorations, recycled all the greeting cards and cleaned up those last few pine needles that got stuck in the carpet or you found at the back of the sofa. But to my little girl it seems ages when it was last Christmas and she can’t wait to start decorating the tree again.
And to be honest with you, I can’t wait either. Because this is the season when all these gorgeous special Christmas beers once again, and only a few weeks, make their appearance again. I particularly love the strong Belgian Christmas beers, with their sweet, rich, smooth and lightly spiced character. Nice and warming and, just like a nice Port, one or two is just perfect for a satisfying evening tipple.
Now, I usually list a few different beers that might suit your palette, and describe the wonderful flavours of each beer. But I’m not. I’m going to ask you a big favour. Because this is the time of year when all the independent shopkeepers in the town pull out all stops to make this time very special to all customers. These businesses are often, as is ours, run by families and people who live and work in Bury St Edmunds. They rely on the local community and visitors to the town to do their shopping here. Yes, of course it’s sometimes much easier to get your laptop or tablet and press a few buttons ‘et violà’, your parcel arrives 24 hours later on your doorstep. But to actually see the goods ‘in the flesh’ (so to speak), and to get professional advice and, above all, friendly staff to help you with your purchases can be so much more enjoyable.
This time of year, dozens of independent shops in Bury are ready to show off their variety of goods. Take St John’s Street for instance; with more than 70 independent shopkeepers, it is sometimes known as Britain’s largest outdoor department store! You name it, they’ve got it. From bikes to beers, jumpers to hampers, shoes to blues and fashion to passion (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. . .); it’s all here for you.
Your support, however, is vital to the lifeblood of the town. Bury St Edmunds and its town centre and market is so vibrant, it’s important to continue to support it by shopping locally. And who knows, you might actually spot that perfect gift for someone you thought it was impossible to buy for or for someone very dear to you.
Many thousands of visitors come to Bury, especially around this time, and for a good reason. Bury has something very special, and together we can continue that special thing. Whether it’s quirky vintage stuff, vinyl recordings or unusual beers from around the world, one thing is for certain, the goodwill of the local people will ensure we will be able to continue that special thing.
Hoppy Christmas everyone.
René van den Oort is owner of Beautiful Beers
1b St John’s Street
Bury St Edmunds