Cambridge Wine Merchants

Wine merchant

A very good wine merchant’s in the heart of Salisbury. Cambridge Wine Merchants stocks a very good range of wines and is very conveniently located. On my visit, I was given advice that was obviously based on long experience.

Opening hours are currently: 10-6. Closed Sunday and Bank Holidays

Hopleys Café

The café is an adjunct to a nursery. It is set in the middle of what, according to Pevsner, is Hertfordshire’s most splendid village. When I visited, it was free of piped music and I suspect that it always is. It has plenty of indoor as well as outdoor seating under a grove surrounding a splendid Atlantic cedar. The gardens are fairly extensive and worth taking some time over. They include a wide, sloping avenue of pretty hornbeams; very much, along with the oak, the local tree.

Although I only had tea and polenta cake, they serve both breakfast and lunch-time meals and soups. The smell from the kitchen was not at all generic café, but good food!

Mérite un detour!

Café Opening:
Open from March through to December.
Monday – Saturday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday: 12:30pm – 5:00pm
Tuesday: Closed

The Dugdale Centre, Enfield

Photo of the interior of the Dugdale Centre, Enfield
The Dugdale Centre cafe and foyer

The Dugdale Centre is the Enfield Council run theatre and arts centre in a windswept location, just to the south of the town centre. A river of one-way traffic swirls past its door. Plans to improve the immediate environment have been put on hold for the time being. Much of the local populace is too wedded to their cars to allow things to be put right.

That said, although very austere on the outside, and rather industrial inside, it is the most peaceful place in Enfield Town to meet and relax. The café serves soups, sandwiches and cakes; its bread comes from a local artisanal bakery, its cakes from the Forty Hall café, Its ice cream comes from an artisanal producer in nearby Edmonton. The coffee is from Union (right down at the mouth of the Lee), and priced well below the coffee-like-substance from the chain suppliers. The athmosphere is very relaxed and informal. It also gives the lie to the idea that the outer boroughs of London are cultrually homogeneous.

The council’s archive and historial library is upstairs and there is a small toy museum.

Sometimes the place is thronged with parents and children, sometimes with groups of old age pensioners.  Sometimes it is very quiet. A surprising gem!

The latest innovation is a weekly Philosophy morning.

There is a little gift shop that has a small stock of local history books. Although it seems to  be unstaffed, you can pay at the theatre box-office.

Opening hours seem to vary. When there is a performance, the bar stays open. The website claims 8am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, but sometimes I have found it closed in the morning, and it rarely closes anything like as early as 4. I will try to find out more.



Attractive restaurant at a famous museum

The Penlee House Museum Restaurant is an attractive venue for coffee or lunch, clean, good food and friendly staff and right inside the famous Penlee Museum. There are also tables outside with views of the garden. Also on site is a well-stocked gift shop.

The Vintage / 1940’s Tea Room, Nottingham

The Vintage Tea Room / The 1940’s Tea Room, Wollaton Rd, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2NR
This *does* have music, but a) it is appropriate to the era, b) it is quiet, c) let’s face it one probably has to really hate music to not like Glen Miller and Vera Lynn. You can still hear your companions while eating. This is an ‘immersive’ experience: when my wife and I went, the staff were all dressed appropriately. The food is good, old-fashioned English ‘stodge’ and is *very* filling. I can not remember if there was a vegetarian option. Best have a long walk before and after ! A short walk away down a side road is a vintage clothes shop run by the same people, but we have not been in to that bit.
Park in Sainbury’s (usual disclaimer) and walk as it’s on a major road, double yellow lines everywhere.
Definitely different and well worth supporting.
I’ve had to put “muzac free in some areas” when it isn’t, it’s muzac everywhere, but as I said, it’s era-appropriate and easy on the ear. This highly-sensitive, muzac-hating Autistic coped for over an hour.

Odin’s Table, Nottingham, Scandinavian !!

Odin’s Table, 97b High Road, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2LH
So, so much better than Ikea’s in-house food ! Yes, Scandinavian meatballs really can be that tasty and filling. I don’t know if ‘veggieballs’ is a word, but there were vegetarian options when my wife and I visited. It is small, completely free of music, but being small and having hard surfaces those with hearing disabilities might find the sounds of others a little harsh. As well as mains, afters and drinks, there was also a small slection of foods to buy, eg muesli, plus books (in Scandinavian languages) and a board game.
Even though it is on the High Street, visitors to Beeston need to know this is in the pedestrianised bit, so park in Sainsbury’s (usual disclaimer) and walk.
Highly recommended for the sheer novelty, as well as the lack of music !

House of Bruar, Blair Atholl

A food and clothing retail complex just off the A9 at Blair Atholl, it is muzac-free throughout. The eating areas can be clattery if busy. You can have a pleasant walk up the burn to the Falls of Bruar just behind.

Ceilidh Place,Ullapool

If you’re looking for somewhere quiet in Ullapool try the Ceilidh Place. They do have music playing in the cafe/restaurant but were happy to serve us our lunch in their peaceful front sitting room (when we asked nicely!)
Their bookshop is muzac-free.

Pottery Craft and Coffee Shop, Laggan

A welcome stop-off point in the Highland countryside on the road between Fort William and the A9. High end crafts and very good home baking. A lovely courtyard to sit in in good weather. There’s also a bunkhouse but it’s for groups or families only.

Lloyds Pharmacy chain

Lloyds Pharmacy is the second biggest chain of chemists/pharmacies in Britain after Boots. Unlike Boots, whose branches are often now filled with piped music – a policy supported by their head office – Lloyds branches have gone muzac-free. The staff seem friendlier there than in Boots too.
Lloyds branches are scattered across the country. I have given the address of that in Salisbury. Their website offers a store locator at