Friday, June 10, 2011

Kirkmichael Community Shop and Jock's Cafe

If you're looking for somewhere to spend a few tranquil hours, you could do worse than visit the Ayrshire conservation village of Kirkmichael, have lunch and browse in the not-for-profit shop and cafe there. This became a community-run concern just over a year ago, when the proprietor of the shop and restaurant decided to retire, which would have left the village effectively without a shop. With the help of grants and loans from the local community, from the Plunkett Foundation, the Leader Fund and the Co-op bank and with a great deal of hard work and energy on the part of many volunteers, both shop and cafe have grown in popularity.
 The cafe is pretty, cosy, and inviting. It serves simple but excellent country cooking, and truly scrumptious home baking which can also be bought  to take away. There are cafetieres of good quality coffee and freshly baked croissants, for those who want to linger over a newspaper or magazine (or select a book from the little Book Exchange, and leave a donation). There are various teas, and a full range of soft drinks. There are freshly baked croissants and scones and home-made soups as well as sandwiches with locally sourced meat and salads. The shop has a nice line in local produce, including fresh fruit and vegetables (luscious Ayrshire tatties are in at the momen, Epicures from Dowhill near Girvan!) jams, local honey, meats, and free range eggs.

You can see Jock in the picture above - he was the village blacksmith and handyman, and the cafe is situated in the building which was once his workshop. He knew everything there was to know about all the old houses in the village, and there are some who say that he's still around, keeping an eye on things! 

Kirkmichael itself is a fascinating old Carrick village, a picturesque conservation village nestling at the foot of the Galloway Forest Park, with many of the houses dating from the eighteenth century, and a few buildings even older than that. The Kirk in particular is believed to stand on the site of a 13th century building and there are many archaeological remains round about. The current church has a fine Arts and Crafts window by Christopher Whitworth Whall. There is a famous Coventanters Grave, in the idyllic kirkyard, and an intriguing story to go with it. The Kirkmichael Village Renaissance group is currently working on a series of 'walks' to encourage people to explore the beautiful countryside round about, and a history leaflet is being written, which will allow visitors to walk around the centre of the village and learn a little about the place as they go. The Kirkmichael Arms pub, closed for some years, is undergoing extensive renovations and is due to open later on this year (2011), while the village has just got the go ahead for an eco friendly new school, which will be built over the next few years.

A Himalayan Rose in One of the Village's Amazing Back Gardens.

The very active Three Village Garden Club (Kirkmichael, Crosshill and Straiton) has managed to secure funding for a new art project which will allow a major artist to work with village children in the near future to design and install a set of unique and intriguing signs for each of the villages. The garden club is also responsible for planting and maintaining the pretty flowering tubs which adorn the village, summer and winter alike, and a special community garden is planned for the new school. Last year, (2010) Kirkmichael hosted a hugely enjoyable 'Garden Snoop' (much less formal than an open gardens event) to allow visitors to have a special peek inside the variety of stunning back gardens which lie hidden behind so many of these cottages. The event was so successful that it will be repeated every second year, with a big Garden Bring and Buy sale planned for later this year. Watch this space for more news - Kirkmichael is certainly going places! And meanwhile, please visit and 'like' the shop's page on Facebook for lots more information, updated on a regular basis.

 A view from the bridge over the picturesque Dyrock Burn which runs through the village

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