Independent Leicester; a blogger’s outing

We had a fantastic day on Saturday, visiting some of many fantastic independent businesses in Leicester. It was organised by yours truly, with my Thirst Media hat on because I wanted everyone to shout about our lovely indies just as much as I do! So hopefully you’ll see plenty more blog posts about the new things that the lovely bloggy ladies discovered.

We started off the day at 33 Cank Street, Leicester’s own speakeasy. Regular readers will know that I spend as much time as I possibly can there, and knowing how much bloggers love their cocktails this was a no-brainer as a jumping off point. It’s a great, relaxed environment for a spot of weekend socialising.

The lovely Nancy from Sugar, Darling? won the award for most exciting and Instagrammable cocktail, by managing to pick one which had to be set on fire at the table. We also enjoyed some laid back tunes, comfortable sofas and lazy chat. A great start.

After this it was on to Divine Boutique, who I wrote about at their celebratory opening event a few weeks ago. Everyone was dreaming of being swept off their feet looking at all their beautiful gowns. We’ve decided that we will all go to the ball, even if we have to organise the darn ball ourselves! I noticed everyone was particularly impressed with the high quality for the pocket-friendly prices, even more so when they realised that alterations come as standard and are included in the ticket price. This is what I love about independent businesses – their attention to detail and fantastic customer service.

We were all feeling a little peckish, and so I swept them off to our own little corner of Italy, here in Leicester city centre, Gelato Village. We were treated to our choice of handcrafted artisan gelato, made on the premises from fresh, seasonal and often local ingredients. At least this stopped the ever-exuberant Carpe Diem Emmie from talking, if only for a moment, while she devoured her cone! I jest, of course.

Sour cherry with meringue and white chocolate with orange. Absolutely beautiful gelato.

I’ve spent a lot of time at Gelato Village, so it was great being able to explain their commitment to Slow Food principles, their shunning of artificial ingredients and additives and their brilliant relationships with local suppliers like Belvoir Ridge Creamery and Leicester Market to the ladies. And looking at all of the empty cups and hearing the audible smacking of lips, I think the quality spoke for itself!

Image courtesy of IsoElegant

We moseyed along to Lanes Fine Jewellery on Loseby Lane, because everyone loves a bit of sparkle in their life! This was a new business to me and I was surprised to find out that not only are they LCFC’s official jewellery partner, but they are one of the finest diamond jewellery stockists in the country. This is due to their bespoke service, not just designing their pieces themselves but hand selecting every single diamond, right down to the smallest, to fit the piece perfectly.

My favourite ring, just propped up nonchalantly on the side there!

They focus mainly on classic pieces, crafted to fit your look, using timeless styles which ooze elegant, but we saw that their skills extended to the more unusual and esoteric as well as more familiar cuts and shapes. There was many an admiring glance at the beautiful cushion cut ring we got up close and personal with – particular from those bloggers who have aspirations of engagement in the not too distant future! For me, this delightfully understated but unique looking diamond band was the highlight of the show. Their dedicated service and clear eye for quality has customers coming to them from all over the country, and you could really see why as we enjoyed the low key opulence of their VIP room.

I told you we had a good day!

After so much luxury, it was time to take things back to a more every day level, and so it was me! Hosting a beer tasting for the blogging ladies was something I’d had aspirations to do for a while because I think it’s really great when people get to find out about something new. There is nothing every-day about the West End Brewery, our next venue on Braunstone Gate. Leicester’s first brewpub, it is a unique little gem nestled on the outskirts of the city, at the gateway to The Narb.

I took them through a range of beers, talking about the brewing process, aromas and flavours and what makes the different beers different. We concentrated on the West End’s own range and I have to say they were all delicious, although the stout and the IPA were definitely the highlights. However, the pale ale and the copper also had a warm welcome from the group and I was pleased to have the expertise of Never Enough Shoes on hand in all her beery glory to back up my assertions about how awesome is the ale!

This was my first blogger beer tasting for Thirst Media, so modesty demands I leave it to the other guests to tell you whether it was any good or not. And we continued on, our merry band, back to Highcross Street – Leicester’s original independent heartland of ancient time – to Danique. More about that on a follow up post coming soon, but this is another long term favourite of mine. Of course, they will always be fondly remembered by me as the people who dyed my hair blue. Having ridiculously coloured hair has made the last 8 months of my life deeply satisfying. But let us not forget that Danique and salon director, Queen Ceri are award-winning, fashion industry darlings and all round super fun people. But as I say, more on them soon.

Image courtesy of IsoElegant

At this point we were also joined by another fantastic independent – IsoElegant. She is the most amazing wedding photographer, but also does the odd bit of commission work. Her photos are universally beautiful and in the short time she was with us that day, she did not disappoint! Plus, she wanted to introduce us to another new local company – Matin Prime

Matin Prime are a new printing, framing and design company housed on Narborough Road. They gave us a handy money off voucher and also a block, featuring an IsoElegant photo from our last blogger outing, which we can take in to get a print of our choice. So again, more on that as I have it! Can’t write about them until I check it out for myself… They have also offered a swank competition prize for one lucky reader, so keep an eye out on the Thirst Media facebook page for that!

Selfie time! Image courtesy of IsoElegant

And after all of that, naturally it was time for a drink, so we finished at The Globe. Here I found out more about Dizzy Miss James, who I met for the first time that day and who is also an independent businesswoman, newly returned to the city. What a happy co-inky-dink! I loved hearing her story and seeing her super cute homewares as well as finding out more about her motivation to blog. I look forward to getting to know her better!

Image courtesy of IsoElegant

Not bad for an afternoon’s work, huh? Thanks to everyone who helped me organise the day (you know who you are), all of the businesses that were so welcoming and giving of their time, expertise and products and thanks to all the bloggers that attended – see you for another one soon?

And there endeth the lesson. More reasons to love Leicester.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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