The view a good many of us have of the Mish Mash Gallery is from a Indigo or Y5 bus, or a car, and that is as close as we get, yet if we are coming to towards Beeston this is the marker we are likely to use to tell us that we have, for all intents and purposes, arrived in Beeston. My first Pubs and Cafés map from 2013 never quite got this far, but I knew of it and thought it was further out of Beeston than it actually is. It was not until last Friday that I realised it was on the corner of the High Road with Cator Lane.
If your usual bus is a 18/20 or a 36, this is the view you will see of Chiwell's Creative Corner:
Inside Mish Mash is stylish and welcoming. This is just one view. During my visit two artists came in with folios and I bought a lovely little hare brooch. Altogether I spent an enjoyable fifteen minutes browsing before a rumbling tummy started pulling me the direction of the Fusion Café next door.
From the quick view I had, I thought it was going to be small, but once through the door there is a surprise in store, it opens out to the right behind the Mish Mash Gallery Tardis like. I was welcomed by the delicious smell of black coffee and a food cabinet full of treats, where a quiche caught my eye.
I was waiting at the counter, my black Americano being made, when a man burst in through the café's front door, took one look at me, and said 'Are you the map man' and before I could reply added 'I've emailed you this morning. I've seen your map'.
Now it was my turn. 'I know' I said 'It doesn't include the Creative Corner or the Fusion Café, but by Monday it will I promise' (and for once, I was as good as my word. I am afraid that all too often my enthusiasm runs away with me).
The man then introduced himself as 'A-J' and we ended up chatting for nearly two hours and were joined for a while by Garry Thomas, who founded Mish Mash and the Creative Corner with his wife Gail. At the end of our chat, we were setting up a Creative Corner writers group and A-J was creating a logo as we talked. His enthusiasm was infectious and I enjoyed his bubbly company.
And here I caught A-J in the act, with Garry beside him. It was all so unexpected and I eventually left in no doubt that this is how they are with everyone. As for Ceative Corner Writers? See the end of this post.
I left Fusion with another piece of knowledge: coffee is grown in Thailand and tastes even better than it smells. Undoubtedly the best coffee I have ever had in Beeston and A-J even does real tea in a pot. The quiche was yummy like creamy custard and came with a small salad on the side.
I didn't take any interior photographs because a few minutes after I arrived some mums with toddlers and babies arrived, all clearly at home — always a good sign — and one corner was full of guitars. A-J told me he runs guitar and drum classes. A older couple came in and the man could not resist picking up one of the guitars and began to play, telling A-J he had played a guitar for forty years. Hearing about the guitar classes he asked for details and said he would go along.
I said my goodbyes and made my way next door to Created By Hand, selling craft goods and ceramics, plus cards and jewellery. I was welcomed by a lady who introduced herself as Hazel, the wife of the gallery's proprietor, David Humphreys, who works with glass.
This is just one view of inside Created By Hand — I don't want to take away the fun of discovering more for yourselves. Now there is a good chance that if you are a local reading this blog post none of what I have been enthusing about will come as news, but if Beeston is normally off your radar, then this is a good example of what you are missing.
Chilwell's Creative Corner is also home to the Greenfingers Florist, who relocated from the shops opposite, after being closed for a few months because of the loss of passing customers when tram construction work began.
There is also a small gallery called Attik, which was closed at the time of my visit, and above Mish Mash is Tranquility, offering 'holistic therapies'.
The sad thing is that despite how tram construction work has impacted on Creative Corner and the shops opposite, they are outside the 'Beeston BID' area (BID stands for 'Business Improvement District). Make no mistake, this is where my Beeston now begins or ends depending on which way I am travelling and the good news is that my Beeston Pubs and Cafes Map now includes A-J's Fusion Café and Creative Corner.
There can be few better days out than a perambulation from here to the east end of Beeston High Road where it ends at Humber Road. Good cafés, galleries and craft shops, waiting to be enjoyed and explored. The buses may not have brought visitors to Beeston in droves, but The Tram should. I am forever telling friends and other folk that buses come out of Nottingham as well as into it and it was Matt Goold, he of The Beestonian free magazine and blog, who I first heard talk about pulling Nottingham University's main campus into Beeston. This inspired me to extend a version of my map to include the campus and QMC. I also added Rylands and Beeston Marina (you can find the latest version under Pages in the column to the right and Matt has kindly re-produced it in the latest issue of The Beestonian).
I will end with a plus for the Creative Corner Writers Group, which will have its first get together in March. In the meantime, if you would like to know more or to help in any way, just contact me.