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Coopers of Stortford: A 300 year old English family shop

Our Store

Situated on the Hertfordshire/Essex border, there has been a business premises on our Bridge Street site for more than 300 years, trading from the original 16th century timber framed building.
This charming building is made up of three linked premises including a 19th century malthouse.  Our main shop entrance leads into the original 16th century timber-frame building where, on the ceiling (currently above the cookshop), can be seen examples of original, early pargetting (plaster ceiling decoration) which would have been undertaken by highly skilled craftsmen.  The offices above the shop remain a labyrinth of passages with beamed ceilings and sloping floors and, amazingly, there is still a section of 17th century wooden paneling remaining.

As you’d expect the store has seen many changes throughout its life having been a saddler’s shop, a maltsters, a stable, a wine store, the town’s first post office, a cycle shop, a supplier of agricultural hand tools and horse collars, a warehouse for army surplus webbing, a builder’s merchant, a café, a hardware store and of course what it is known as today, Coopers of Stortford.  But we are more than just a family run Home and Garden Store, we have also been a florists of distinction for over 40 years now, with our florist shop Margaret Kay, selling beautiful bouquets, fine wines, champagnes and delicious hand-made chocolates and we deliver both locally and nationwide!
Our friendly team has an enormous amount of experience in all areas of the business, backed up by our weekly training sessions on new product introductions, so whatever questions you may have we’ll be sure to know the answers.  And, to prove our point, in terms of experience, currently our longest serving staff member has over 49 years of service and hardly a grey hair in sight!  We even have his original shop delivery bike that he rode when he first joined at the tender age of 15 – although it is many years since he has ridden it!
11 Bridge Street
Bishop’s Stortford
CM23 2JU

Valentine’s Day disasters: ‘I bought her a pager. It was the creepiest Valentine’s present in history’

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate than sharing your excruciating memories of the least romantic day of the year.

The A-road to romance

Tim Jonze with his paramour.
Tim Jonze with his paramour.

I like to think it’s a unique and extraordinary kind of lover who can take their Valentine to watch them play five-aside football in the rain and for that still not to be the worst Valentine’s date they have ever been on. That honour belongs to 2010, in which my paramour and I took the day off but then realised we had a) nothing planned and b) quite needed a new desk. And so we did what any hot-headed lovers in the throes of passion do: headed to Ikea in Edmonton. This being Valentine’s Day, of course, I thought we should add a degree of romance to proceedings by taking the “scenic route”, one that involved traversing various non-pedestrianised stretches of an A-road in the Tottenham area and – during one map-reading error – a children’s adventure playground. I won’t elaborate on the date itself other than to say that shortly after arriving we realised that, having come without a car, our shopping would have to be limited to anything that could also be carried back across various non-pedestrianised stretches of an A-road in the Tottenham area and a children’s adventure playground. We called off the whole sorry endeavour and I realised that it was time to splash some serious cash in the Ikea canteen. Sparks must have flown over those £3.89 meatballs, though, as three months later we were married – I hope you’re taking notes lads.
Tim Jonze

Would I get to snog Tracey?

When I was 17 years old, I took out a girl called Tracey for an excruciating Valentine’s Day dinner in Watford; it was at a branch of a now defunct chain called Berni’s in the high street. I was emboldened to do this because I had — and there is no other way to put this — “snogged” Tracey during the slow-dance phase of a party at a village hall the fortnight before, while the DJ played the Commodores’ Three Times a Lady. Tracey had at the time just broken up with her boyfriend and this was very much a rebound situation. Anyway, the meal was all right in its steak-and-liebfraumilch way, and the conversation was stilted, but not too bad. Afterwards I walked Tracey back to the bus stop near Clarendon Road, and to be quite frank I considered that another snog before we parted was not out of the question. But just as we neared the old Carlton cinema I saw her ex-boyfriend on the other side of the street with his mates and, without thinking, I said: “Isn’t that your boyfriend?” Why, oh why, didn’t I keep my mouth shut? I have asked myself that question many times over the years. Tracey looked over and, with considerably more emotion than she’d showed all evening, said: “Oh my God!” and ran over to him. It was a passionate, painful reunion for them and I was suddenly the gooseberry of all gooseberries. Tracey looked back at me and gave me the briefest possible shrug/grimace to indicate I was dismissed. They went off and I realised I had missed my bus and had to walk home. And so ended Valentine’s Day 1979.
Peter Bradshaw

The card was from Dad

Bake potato with cheese
The food of love?

There is nothing about Valentine’s Day I don’t loathe. I loathe the sickly iconography; the restaurants full of the awkward or the in-heat, all about to be scalped in the name of love and a withering red rose; the fact that it just reminds me of all the ones I’ve loathed before. It has never delivered me anything other than disappointment: the card that turned out to be from my dad; the gift of “romantic” plastic Volvo crash test dummies; the chap who cooked me a seductive meal of cheese-stuffed baked potato, served in its original polystyrene container. St Valentine and all who sail in him can do one on a raft of cheap chocolate and forecourt flowers.
Marina O’Loughlin

Those boots weren’t made for walking

I went to the cinema with someone so physically perfect that I once involuntarily shielded my eyes. He didn’t fancy me, though. Then we watched other people shagging for an hour and a half. Some other guy was there. He didn’t fancy me either. I didn’t fancy him, but that didn’t help. Then we all went to this horrible bar full of Sloanes, and then walked home through this blasting arctic misery. I was dragging my feet because my boots were too tight, and they both said: “How can those boots be too tight, when they’re GINORMOUS?” And then they both laughed all the way home, which might have been 15 minutes of solid laughter. It’s possible that we were all stoned. I felt sick with despair and self-hate, but also really hungry and couldn’t stop thinking about yoghurt. That sucked.
Zoe Williams

Paging Cupid

Page R for Romance

I bought her a pager. It was the creepiest Valentine’s present in the history of mankind; a horrific, pre-mobile “now I will always know where you are” show of possessiveness. One that barely even got used after I realised that all my intimate messages of love had to be relayed via a bored-sounding Wolverhampton-based call centre worker who audibly hated his job, his life and me. In a hopelessly misjudged act of unwarranted maturity for a teenager, I’d also booked a table for us; me and my first serious girlfriend in one of those sterile fill-the-place-with-tables-for-two-and-charge-everyone-double places that spring up in small towns each February. Midway through the starter, one of my contact lenses began to violently reject my body. My left eye started to burn and swell. It hurt to even open it, so I ended up eating all three courses locked into a permanent teary wink. Incidentally, if you’re reading this, I don’t recommend the cry-wink as a method of seduction. It sends all sorts of mixed signals. I’ve got better at Valentine’s Day now; I don’t really acknowledge it. It seems safer that way.
Stuart Heritage

Guys reveal what they really want for Valentine’s Day

Guys reveal what they really want for Valentine’s Day

Lisa Fogarty

The truth about what men want on Valentine’s day

Another Valentine’s Day is about to come and go and you, faithful girlfriend or wife with your heart in the right place, are likely going to get your man something no man on earth wants.

Don’t beat yourself up — it’s not your fault. Take it from a woman whose recent Sega Genesis/Hozier concert ticket purchase was the opposite of a Christmas miracle. The truth is: Men don’t actually want anything that we would want if we were men. So that means: no jewelry, no bottles of cologne, no “adorable” stuffed animals engraved with your initials and — for the love of God — keep your thoughts on ties to yourself.

So just what do these mysterious, fascinating creatures we call men want on V-day? Well, according to a few brutally honest folks on Reddit, here’s the harsh truth.

1. Matching undergarments

“Make sure your undergarments match. We men have spent our lives looking at underwear models and we don’t expect you to match their body image at all, but it’s hard to kid ourselves when you uncloak a Walmart bra and some granny drawers. Just saying.”

2. Drink service

“Home-cooked meal and drink service all night. Keep ’em coming!”

3. Time together

“Experiences make the best gifts. I still remember every detail about my birthday dinner that my girlfriend took me to nearly three months ago. That night will probably stick with me forever. Physical gifts are nice, of course, but just getting dressed up and making the most of the evening is more than satisfactory.”

4. No distractions

“Your full undivided attention and company.”

5. Lingerie

“I honestly don’t want anything but my girl buying some nice lingerie and putting it on at the end of the night before sexy time.”

6. Nothing

“Nothing. It’s another day to celebrate blatant consumer rip-offs. Neither of us give a shit about it.”

7. Just food

“Home-cooked meal. But as she can’t even boil water without practically burning the entire street down, I’d settle for a takeaway.”

8. To share their hobbies

“A chick to smoke with, then lots of sexy stuff.”

9. Attitude adjustments

“Just don’t be a total bitch to me all day cause you’ve decided to not be satisfied with anything I do.”

10. And then there’s this…

Is all this romance making you well up inside? Hold that thought, because the number one Valentine’s Day gift men want (according to a select few random dudes who post on Reddit) was so popular, it deserved to be an a category all by itself.

Drum roll, please …


“Blowjob and steak.”

“Cinnamon hearts and blowjobs.”

“A blowjob accompanied with steak dinner.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, ladies!


6 Valentines Day ‘Balls Ups’ Men Make


Bad gift ideas, lack of plans and other Valentine’s Day mistakes men make.

Originally written by Piper Weiss, Shine Staff, for Shine

Memo to men: Valentine’s Day is on February 14. In years past, has noticed a spike in men searching for an answer to the question: “When is Valentine’s Day?” as the day fast approaches. Of all the holidays on the yearly calendar, the one designated for romance never fails to trip guys up. Blame mixed messages: While retailers consider the holiday worthy of diamonds, many women take the stance that it’s no big deal.

Don’t fall for any of it. Valentines Day is when a guy’s affection, compatibility, and commitment are put to the test. Forgetting the day is just the first mistake to avoid. There are six other common mistakes men make on February 14. Here’s a cheat sheet.

Mistake #1: Getting words of wisdom from your local drug store. There’s a time and a place for Hallmark poetry and it’s never on Valentine’s Day. No matter how cursive, heartfelt, and close-to-home the text, you still didn’t write it.
Why it’s bad: Women want to feel special. Giving a card that’s designed to cater to millions of women on Valentines Day sends the message that your love is a lot like everyone else’s. It also suggests you bought some Rite Guard in the next aisle while you were at it. Nobody wants to feel like one of two birds.
The fix: Cliché as it seems, the thought really does count. More than 75 percent of women claim to want nothing more than a heart-felt love letter on February 14. Relationship psychologist Dr. Terri Orbuch also suggests a personal note trumps even chocolate. “Which says ‘I love you’ more: a box of candy or a handwritten note telling your partner you’d still choose him/her if you had to do it all over again?” asks Orbuch. “Show your partner why he/she matters so much to you.”


Mistake #2: Letting a bear do your bidding.
Stuffed animal tricks are for kids. Giving your special lady a teddy bear holding a balloon with a pun like “I Yearn Fur You” is sweet if you’re both in junior high. But in a poll by ShopRunner, a women’s shopping site, members claimed teddy bears were the worst gift they had ever received on February 14. Flowers and chocolates (standard accompaniments to the stuffed animal) aren’t going to win her over either.
Why it’s bad: A stuffed animal not only suggests you don’t take your partner seriously, it’s also generic. Flowers, candy, and anything that’s stamped “buy this for Valentine’s Day” suggests limited thought went into the gift.
The fix: Don’t run to your nearest jeweller. It’s not about the money—besides, a dozen roses and a build-a-bear don’t come cheap. “In fact, depending on where a couple is in their relationship, extravagant gifts like expensive lingerie or fancy chocolates can seem overwhelming,” author and etiquette expert Leah Ingram tells “If you’ve just started dating, a big gift can imply more depth to the relationship than is really there. It can also be awkward if the guy splurges on a big Valentine’s gift, but the woman doesn’t do the same.” Instead, find a simple gift that shows you’ve been listening to your lady, like a DVD of her favourite series, or a book by an author she’s mentioned. Dr. Orbuch has a more direct approach: “Think of something your partner really needs,” she says. “Get the car detailed. Replace her tattered briefcase. It may not sound romantic, but thoughtfulness is a turn-on and shows you really care about your partner.”

Mistake #3: Declaring Valentine’s Day a ploy for consumers
No matter how you rationalise it, the holiday is not going away. Even if your partner trumps your own disdain for the day, the risk of going along with her is too great.
Why it’s bad: It feels like an excuse. Despite all the arguments against the day, it comes down to celebrating your relationship. “In the larger picture, cultural rituals like Valentine’s Day structure opportunities to do good things that we could do any day, but usually do not,” writes social scientist Bill Doherty in Psychology Today. “The year I took my wife to Subway on February 14 was the low point. Eventually I realised that the cost of minimising Valentine’s Day—the disappointment and the missed opportunity to connect—is greater than the benefits of maintaining my freedom to be spontaneously romantic on my own timetable.”
The fix: If if really pains you to observe the date, celebrate your valentine the day before. You can also keep it low-key. Dinner is optional. The most important thing is to set aside time to talk about things that aren’t “important.” “Have a 10-minute conversation with your partner about anything besides kids, work, money, or domestic responsibilities,” says Orbuch. “I found that the ’10 Minute Rule,’ practised daily, increases intimacy, bonding, and happiness.” Take a drive or rent the movie you watched on your first date: external triggers that don’t cause stress can help take you back to the way you were before your everyday lives trumped romance.

Mistake #4: Sharing the day with your BlackBerry
One in five guys will text their loving message on Valentine’s Day and one in ten will take to email. That doesn’t even factor Facebook and Twitter professions of love. As sweet as 140 characters can be, old-school letters are more romantic. One survey found the obvious: women would be disappointed by an electronic gesture of affection.
Why it’s bad: In terms of effort, it’s minimal. It also brings a third party into your affair: your P.D.A. (your Personal Digital Assistant, not public displays of affection). It should be a given to turn it off during your candlelit dinner, but using it to profess love is detached.
The fix: Buy a blank card or take a photo of the two of you and write a message on the back. It doesn’t have to be long, it can even be a quote from your favourite song. But in this technological world, handwriting holds a certain intimacy. If words just aren’t your thing, make a mix CD and write out the songs in pen. Your music choices will do the talking.

Mistake #5: Expecting her to make the plans
In the United States, 64 percent of men do not make V-day plans in advance. That can be a problem when at least 30 percent of women expect guys to map out the entire evening, according to Women’s Health. Who’s right? Who cares. To avoid conflict, just make a plan.
Why it’s bad: Making plans is a sign of commitment, even if they’re not exactly what your partner had in mind. The task of putting forethought into your time together suggests you see a future together. It may sound like a leap, but on Valentine’s Day, it’s nothing to take lightly.
The fix: Even if you’re strapped for cash or shut out from overbooked restaurants on what might be the busiest day for reservations, there’s still hope. Preparing a meal she’ll love or simply plating a prepared meal on a candle-lit table will do the job. Providing dessert and a little wine will suggest you’ve really put thought into the night, even if you just went to the supermarket.

Mistake #6: Under-dressing
Don’t wear jeans. No matter how well they fit, denims are not invited to your romantic evening for two.
Why it’s bad: It suggests the day isn’t as important to you as it it may be to her. Plus, getting a little dressed up adds an element of excitement that breaks the casual routine you may share on a standard date night. And excitement boosts oxytocin, the bonding hormone released during new, exciting activities that brings couples together.
The fix: Whether you’re staying in or partying like a rock star, let Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, be your style muse, says men’s fashion site Dappered. For a night in, try casual khakis and a crisp white shirt, like Craig wore during a scene in an Italian villa in Quantum of Solace. For a red carpet look, try a skinny tie, or a slim-lined gray suit, like Craig has donned at premieres.