The scone survey is over. Researchers travelled the area, going near to Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and Bath.

Reports were varied. Several trends emerged.

Firstly many fine scones were found in our garden centres.

Department stores also produced high quality products, with Marks & Spencer at Swindon Orbital being especially favoured.

Researchers were basically monitoring cream teas.

Barnsley House Hotel near Cirencester produced the winner.

This is the haunt of the great and the good, not for the financially challenged but a visit that involves consuming a scone does not break the bank.

Almondsbury Garden Centre was warmly recommended and tops the list of garden centre contestants.

Whilst the best traditional café/tea room is that found in The New Brewery Arts Centre, Cirencester.

This was especially favoured by researchers who hail from north of the border, or to be more accurate Clyde side but of course standards there may not be the highest so they would find anything above average impressive.

My researchers enjoyed the task so I am setting them another interesting challenge.

It is to please locate the best village shops.

These provide a vital service to many village dwellers and this column intends to take a close look at these rural assets. Readers, your opinions would be most welcome.

One urban asset in Cirencester has closed.

I refer to Whiddett’s in Dollar Street.

We were regular customers.

Working at the parish church or visiting the nearby parish office, often with a tight timetable the Rev Penny often popped in, relishing a tuna roll.

Regularly (once every two years) she would buy me a piece of lardy cake.

This is another example of a loved local institution closing.

The message ‘use them or lose them’ is all to true.

Whether you lament the loss of this much-loved bakery or not, you cannot welcome another empty shop window. The irreversible trend continues.

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