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A second supermarket has opened within a 100 yards of our tiny but perfectly formed high street. High street is over-egging it a bit. We are talking about five independent shops on and just off Royal Hill. Together with an organic food store in Greenwich Market, the small kitchen and hardware shop on Greenwich South Street and the delicatessen come café further up the hill, these five shops meet most of our everyday household needs.

As unswerving fans of the local shops Mr M and I are holding our breath in the hope that the new Sainsbury’s – a stone’s throw from the Co-op – will not signal the end of our beloved independent stores. The Creaky Shed – an old-fashioned greengrocer’s – was certainly pulling out all the stops with a more varied pavement display than usual and a bowl of dark cherries on the counter. Like all accomplished retailers, the greengrocer knows how to position delightful titbits to tempt customers. It did, however, not take much to persuade me to pop a couple of handfuls of these deep red temptresses into the basket as Mr M is particularly partial to cherries.

As we waited to pay we decided that stewing them in Kirsch would be an almost virtuous dessert but by the time I got home it seemed a waste of the lovely juicy cherries. Also, following a week in my Lilliputian Parisian kitchen I was itching to use my London one to bake up a treat. So the Maraška – the Croatian maraschino cherry brandy – came out of our amply stocked bar and my fingers turned blue from pitting cherries. After the fruit had enjoyed a leisurely alcoholic soak I spooned them into a Madeira cake mix and scalloped baking tin, before popping the promising dessert in the oven.

Several hours later Mr M tucked into a sizeable slice of cherry cake. The rest went into a tin to serve as a pre-bedtime snack for him well into the week. He will probably finish the grown-up Madeira cake about the same time I manage to scrub the stubborn cherry stains off my fingers. The blue stained hands are, however, a small price to pay for the fun of baking Mr M’s favourite cake rather than buying an inferior industrial version from the new supermarket.


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