As the end of the year approaches, Britain seems to be generating a fair bit of sporting success. It’s always great for the morale of the country, and success in the sporting arenas of the world always generates a level of excitement. As a sporting nation, we love to see our stars and heroes winning. The papers and magazines fill column inches with insights into who done what, and how, and now we will start to see the awards ceremonies on the TV.

Well, we can’t all be World Cup stars, and we don’t all get medals, but across Britain at the moment there is a legion of champions who come and go, day and night, and get very little recognition. I am referring to the delivery men and woman who bring the fresh food from around Britain at this time of year. All of us will sit down to copious amounts of Christmas fayre, including fruit and vegetables, and it will all have been delivered into our shops from the producers. As small independent shops we work directly with farmers and growers. We don’t have the luxury of super hubs and a van going in every direction, as do the multiples. The drivers who come to us at this time of year start very early and finish very late. Their vans and lorry’s are fuller than usual and we, the shopkeepers, will be looking for extra deliveries.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves; they can be a grumpy bunch. They are all going to tell us how hard they are working, they are all going to have a tale about the traffic on the North Circular and, to a man, they all know exactly where the government is going wrong on road planning and improvements. And woe-betide anyone who mentions taxi drivers!! but they are great fun and, usually, they will bend over backwards to help us. It’s easy to believe that they are ‘just drivers’, an image they often try to create with great bravado, but mostly they go out of their way to get the deliveries done on time, and they do the job with a smile on their face. They consider the cab of their vehicle as their ‘office’ and they represent their companies with pride.

So next time you have to squeeze passed a van half parked on the kerb, the next time the van in front turns left without any warning and the next time the driver makes a rude gesture as he goes past, take a moment to think that he probably left a cold, wet farm or production plant in the middle of the night, and he won’t get finished until it’s cold and dark again. Remember that he is going to be confronted by thirty or more disgruntled, stressed out shop owners today, and remember that without him, there would be no festive bird on the table.

Good speed and the Season’s greetings to the delivery men and women.

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As I am writing, there is a little over three weeks until we all sit down to our Christmas lunch or dinner. I mentioned in my June newsletter that we had visited the farm in Colchester where we saw the Geese at only a few days old. The Turkeys will have followed through July and into the beginning of August. The chicks stay in the warm barn until they are big enough to fend for themselves in the open, usually two to four weeks.

Once out in the pastures, the farmer has to keep an eye out for predators such as foxes and crows. Howard’s shotgun is never too far away. Our birds run free in the paddocks and orchards and they feed on whatever natural foodstuffs they can find. Geese don’t tend to lend themselves to intensive rearing. Through the day they will feed on natural grasses and at night they will be fed locally grown corn. At Meat London we favour the slow growing, Free Range Bronze Turkey. They too get to feed naturally, with their feed being supplemented with omega rich silage to encourage a depth of flavour. After dry plucking, the birds hang for up to 10 days to ensure their succulence.

I have known Howard Blackwell for more than 20 years. Howard is a ‘proper’ farmer, a man who cares passionately about his farm and his animals. His son George is now working in the family business and, although a bit of a rascal, he is showing all the signs of inheriting his dad’s ethos and mentality. Together they make a good team and, due to their dedication, we at Meat London can guarantee our customers fantastic birds this and every Christmas.

We are taking orders at Meat N16 (0207 254 0724) and Meat NW5 (0207 267 2591). When placing a Christmas order, please make sure that you dial the right number.