A day in a Devon Life: Butcher Philip Beatty and Baker Ally Lockyer
In the latest of her series through 2016, Kate Haskell celebrates the people that make Devon work. This month: the butcher and baker, minus the candlestick maker!
First published March 2016 in Devon Life
Pictures by Matt Austin
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker - so the rhyme goes - but it is rare to find a candlestick maker in a village these days. Sometimes it’s just as difficult to find a good butcher and baker but Shaldon, on the River Teign, is lucky: it has an award winning butcher called G.T. Orsman and an artisan/craft business in The Shaldon Bakery, home of the infamous UgliBun!
It’s a shame that the third part of the rhyme is missing but with these two businesses side by side in the main street of the village, the house next door to them is rather sweetly called “The Candlestick Maker.”
G.T. Orsman has been supplying the village with the best cuts of meat for over 100 years and the current man in charge of the knife is Philip Beatty, who came to work for relatives of the Orsmans 38 years ago before buying the business nearly 15 years ago.
Newer on the block is the bakery next door which owner Simon Hacking bought six years ago and now runs with his partner Ally Lockyer.
With supermarkets taking over the shopping experience, I was interested to find out how these two businesses survive in such a competitive market place. Chatting with Phil and Ally over coffee I soon discovered that this is, by no means, an easy way to make a living.
For Ally a day in the life of a bakery business is literally that - 24 hours: “The bakers get to work at 6pm to bake the bread ready for the vans to be loaded and sent out at 1am to deliver around the region. The shop staff and I arrive at 7am ready for a day of selling, ordering and sorting out future food events. The phone can ring with problems at any hour of the day or night and often does! But we are fortunate to have some great staff.”
For Phil it is also any early start; whilst most of us are still cosy in bed he is in the shop by 6am, sorting out the ordering, dressing the window before making his award-winning sausages along with all the other day to day business, not to mention a mountain of paperwork: “ I am very fortunate too though as I also have some great people who work with me and enable me to take a step back and manage the business now and look at the bigger picture.”
And a good sense of business perspective is needed if you are to compete with the big boys! Shaldon is a beautiful village but, like many others in Devon, it has a proportion of holiday homes that make the winter a little quieter which can mean it’s hard going for smaller businesses. Ally tells me: “Summer has lots of people coming into the village but the winter is a struggle so we have had to evolve and grow in other directions. We haven’t got much passing trade either, so we like to get out to food festivals and also supply retailers as a way of getting known. Whilst we’ve tried different ways of advertising this is the best way, getting out there and meeting people.”
Phil agrees: “We sell throughout the South Devon area, but we don’t do masses as I like to look after those that we’ve got. Our meat is all local, slaughtered in a small family-run slaughterhouse and done with care and attention.”
Nothing can beat personal service and it is something that both Phil and Ally feel strongly about as Ally tells me: “We love the friendly banter between customer and staff and in Phil’s case a bit of cheek!”
This is a reason Phil thinks many like to shop with him “It goes both ways”, he laughs, “and they give me as good as they get!”
Working side-by-side in a small village, it is important to get along and it’s clear that there is much camaraderie between the two empires as Phil confirms: “We support each other by encouraging shoppers to try something that the other is selling.
“During the course of conversation, I might suggest they try out the new flatbread they are offering next door and vice versa.”
Ally adds:” That’s what nice about the village, knowing what the customers like, what they don’t, having a giggle and a chat whilst they shop and also knowing their names which we think they really like too.”
In any job you have good days and bad but when you work in a village like Shaldon the good far outweighs the bad and as Phil says they have the best of both worlds: “I work in Shaldon but live near the moors so I am very lucky.”
And for Ally, after a hard day’s work in the summer, she loves nothing better than jumping off the quay into the River Teign for a quick dip. What a way to unwind!
Not quite a baker’s dozen of facts from Ally, but interesting nonetheless.
We bake over 10,000 UGLIBUNS each year. She has over 2,000 followers on Twitter. Have you tried one?
Our skilled bakers have over 100 year’s baking experience between them producing great breads and cakes all by hand in our vintage peel ovens.
We supply Michelin-starred restaurants and top Devon hotels with our speciality bread.
We can be found all over the South West at food events and shows, as well as our little village shop.
In the beginning we had four customers and three members of staff. We now supply over 200 wholesale customers and employ over 20 staff.
Take a butcher’s at these facts from Phil
Orsman’s have been serving the village of Shaldon for over 100 years.
Room temperature is best; allow the meat to come up to room temperature before cooking. Don’t cook straight from the fridge as it will take much longer to heat the core
During the summer we produce 1,400lbs of sausages and 1,500 burgers per week using Westcountry meats.
Most people cook their meat too long. Buy a good cooking thermometer and remember, food keeps cooking even after you remove it from the heat.
Ask me to help; even if it’s already on a tray I can cut the fat off a roast, trim a steak into stir fry strips, dice your chicken breasts for a curry. Then I’ll neatly wrap it back up for you even give some cooking tips. All for no extra charge.