We were in the countryside last weekend - Mrs Botogol and I - on our way back to London after a romantic weekend away, and we had this idea: why not visit a proper Farm Shop and buy some goodies to take home for our supper? You know the sort of thing: fresh mushrooms with moist soil clinging to the base, home-made high-strength cider, dark red well hung organic beef, individually crafted ravioli containing smoked venison and artichoke hearts. That sort of thing. The sort of thing you get from Farm Shops, right?
The trouble is: Farm Shops in the countryside simply aren't as rural as the ones in town.
In South West London the farm shops and farmers' markets feature cheery, red-faced sons of the soil who wax enthusiastically about their terroir, their traditional methods, the injustice of DEFRA subsidies and the importance of knowing-where-your-food-comes-from. While they ramble they press tiny organic tomatoes into your hands, before weighing out a pat of butter on brass scales. They wear latex gloves to handle the produce. They call you 'Sir'
In the countryside farm shops are staffed by sullen-faced tattooed rustics, moonlighting from Homebase, who don't know celery from celeriac and call you "Yeh Wha?". They have freezers with manky-looking scallops, they microwave their pasties, and they don't-know-where-their-food-comes from.
We selected Bombay mix, beetroot and turkey twizzlers. Our assistant was sooo slooow on electronic cash register that we abandoned the the whole lot on the belt.
It's nice to be back home