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So much to choose from and all Hann-made in the Lake District!

In June this year Dan and I visited my beloved Lake District for a few days and it was a welcome opportunity to see my step-mum Gil and my step-sister Annabel, as well do some sightseeing and to visit my father’s grave, for the first time since the Pandemic.

The weather during most of our trip was warm and sunny and on our last day in the area Dan and I chose to take an “AA Short Walk” around the boundary of Staveley’s Mill Yard and Craggy Woods, four miles in a two-hour stretch which was very pleasant especially along the pathways shaded by trees.

We returned to our starting point and after a sandwich lunch and coffee in a local cafe we decided to have a mooch around the Mill Yard as we had heard there was a chocolate shop there – and I am never one to pass up a chocolate opportunity!

The Blind Chocolatier is on the right-hand side inside the main entrance to Staveley Mill Yard and is a cute little shop with neat rows of delectable artisan chocolates and chocolate bars attractively and clearly displayed for easier choosing, although in practice choice may be something of a novelty when everything on offer appears scrumptious and irresistible.

Whilst deliberating, we chatted to the chocolatier himself to find out more about he and his craft. A pastry chef and member of a multiple-award winning team since 2007, in July 2015 local man Stuart was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), a rare eye condition characterised by loss of vision which is often the only symptom. LHON is a mitochondrial inherited (transferred from mother to child) degeneration of retinal ganglion cells and their axons that leads to an acute or subacute loss of central vision and typically affects young males. It is only transferred through the mother as it is primarily due to mutations in the mitochondrial, rather than nuclear, genome and only the egg contributes mitochondria to the embryo which means that men cannot pass the disease on to their offspring. Although registered legally blind, Stuart has not only continued to maintain his role in a 2 Rosette Standard kitchen but has finally achieved a long-held dream of having a chocolate shop in Staveley, where his business has flourished.

Stuart told us that Christmas trade last year was very successful and hoped that despite the Cost of Living Crisis those healthy sales would be repeated as he had just invested in new tempering equipment. I said that I am sure he will continue do well; after all, who doesn’t love chocolate?!

Dan and I eventually chose two chocolates each, including cherry and blackberry varieties which Stuart put in a little box to take out, although we assured him they wouldn’t last 5 minutes and of course they didn’t; we were barely outside the door before we got stuck in and they were scrumptious and flavourful with a smooth, velvety texture. I could have eaten two or three times the quantity without any help at all from Dan!

Heaven in a box!

The Blind Chocolatier has a page on both Facebook and Instagram, sometimes showcasing new flavours in production or activities going on behind the scenes such as new product development, sneak-peaks at Christmas confectionery or making a special batch of wedding favours, as well as a website at http://www.theblindchocolatier.co.uk with an online shop offering both delivery and collection services. Choose from a wide variety of tempting and beautifully-wrapped artisan chocolate bars for £3.20 each, including Dark Chocolate with Pistachio and Almond for ‘nutty’ moments, Vegan Oat Milk and Dark Chocolate and Ginger; or what about a 6 Selection Box of Chocolates for £6, a Milk or White Chocolate 12 box or a 12 box All Rounder for £11.50 each? Postage and packing costs £6 for delivery within 1-2 days so I ordered a box of the Chef’s Selection containing 25 chocolates for £23 to send straight to my stepmother for her birthday, along with a note, and she was thrilled to receive them especially as they were made locally. I shall certainly be ordering more in the future.

If you are planning a trip to the English Lake District, why not put Staveley Mill Yard on your ‘to visit’ list? The Blind Chocolatier and his neighbours look forward to welcoming you soon.

The Blind Chocolatier is open Monday – Saturday 10 am to 5pm and on Sunday 10 am – 4 pm.

Happy eating!

Catherine