I love my local baker's shop. In fact I'm glad when there's a queue, (except when it's out on the pavement in the rain), just so that I can take in the Unmitigated England atmosphere. I always think the floor slopes down to the counter, but that might say more about me than the shop. On the right as you go in there's a glass cabinet with sliding doors, filled with the jars of the Unmitigated Preserve of Choice- Wilkins of Tiptree in Essex. The classic white labels line-up on everything from Medlar Jelly to Orange & Tangerine Marmalade, the jar I inevitably carefully extract. The glass-topped counter doubles up as a display cabinet for fancy cakes and cake decorations, and the wall behind is a mural of Twinings Tea packets. The staff are all, without exception, very pretty girls, but of course you will understand this has nothing whatever to do with my twice-weekly patronage. Oh yes, the bread I go in for. Some of the freshly-baked loaves stacked on the angled wooden shelves are a very tight fit in the cream paper bags, so there's always a brief interlude whilst the girl carefully slides the paper over the crust. My usual purchase is for a Scotch Tin, so of course I never tire of marching in and demanding "A large Scotch please".
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012) and Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012)