Is this Britain’s most idyllic village shop?

Bulwick Village Shop, home to The Pickled Village preserves, is one of those magical food-and-drink places. To call it a village shop and leave it there is to do it a disservice! GFC members’ feedback on this website says it all: “A must-visit little shop”, and “We are so lucky to have this place nearby – a complete one-off”, and “The sort of shop that rural communities are in great need of”.

When the weather’s fine you can sit on the ‘tea terrace’ and enjoy the relaxed comings and goings of Bulwick village, beneath the slender spire of St Nicholas church. You might fancy Champagne, Prosecco, wine, beer, vodka or gin, for they’re fully licensed. Or maybe you’ll go for tapas, ploughman’s or a proper full English breakfast. Either way, you’ll definitely get to try some of The Pickled Village’s sublime preserves, and you’ll undoubtedly get a warm welcome from owner Camille Ortega McLean and her close-knit family team. This rural gem could be the country’s most idyllic village shop!

We caught up with Camille to find out more…

Camille Ortega McLean

Who are you?
I’m Camille Ortega McLean, founder of The Pickled Village – a pickles and preserves company which I launched from my Aga in my ‘wee shop’ in Bulwick about eight years ago.

What made you want to run a village shop and how did it happen?

In the past, the shop was a post office and village shop but had been closed for a while when I discovered it. I knew that for a village shop to succeed it would need a point of difference (like Cartmel Village Shop, for example) so began making preserves on my Aga under the brand of Bulwick Preserves. It all proved so popular that we decided to launch to a wider audience in London. We felt that a bit of a re-brand would be necessary, as most people had no idea how to pronounce it, let alone find it on a map! As most of my products contained alcohol or chillies, The Pickled Village brand seemed appropriate.

How did you get into preserve making?
Trial and error! My husband used to eat so much marmalade that I decided it was less expensive to make rather than to buy. And homemade tastes so much better, too!

What’s the secret behind making amazing preserves?
It’s all about bringing together ideas and flavours from all over the world. I am fortunate to have amazing family (I’m from a family of eight, plus I have four children). They all love to travel and bring back ideas, and there are plenty of trials and tastings before we put the products out there. The tasting table is always groaning under the weight of pickles, preserves, chutneys, jams and curds – the more feedback we get the better. It helps to have an enthusiastic team (my husband and two daughters are heavily involved – Luisa in keeping a tight ship in the shop, and Meely in bringing in her knowledge of branding from her international ad agency days.

What’s the latest in The Pickled Village series?
A Berry Sloe Gin Jam – a raspberry & blackberry jam with sloe gin and The Christmas Spirit – a plum and apricot chutney with a splash of brandy.

You also make cool hampers – tell us about those…
The Pickled Shop – the online offshoot of The Pickled Village – delivers hampers/goodie boxes for almost every occasion throughout the UK, featuring cards of our own design personalised with your message. These hampers/goodie boxes are themed to suit: eg. “Thank you”, “Huge Hug”, “Lovebirds”, etc.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing folk enjoy our award-winning preserves and meeting new customers in our little shop and tea terrace in Bulwick, where we serve all manner of deliciousness: tapas, ploughman’s lunches, homemade pastries. And now, as we are licensed, we are able to serve Champagne teas, wines and beers.

How can people find out more about you guys?
Come and visit us at the shop! I’m also always happy to give talks on the history of The Pickled Village at WI meetings, Rotary Club gatherings and other groups.

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt founded Great Food Club in 2010 and is editor-in-chief. He loves to brew his own beer and unearth food and drink gems, and lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and jack russell terrier.