Tasty Willows Cafe – Daybrook Nottingham

My recent feature in the Nottingham Post

When it comes to our lunch preferences, generally in my experience there is a marked difference between men and women.

Men treat lunch a bit like their hair cut; avoiding any planning and going for spontaneity. Lunch; a bit like a haircut is something that you do when you have a few minutes to spare during the day, even if you happen to be somewhere unfamiliar.

Women, on the other hand, either plan it in advance or tend to choose somewhere that they can trust such as a supermarket. Depending on which supermarket is available will determine whether to go for the salad bar or the sandwich counter!

I admit to being a ‘grab a sandwich/haircut’ type of bloke and to take my chances.

I put this to the test recently whilst passing through Daybrook.

Opposite the Home Brewery offices and water tower, there is a row of about six shops. Both retain their 1930’s art-deco style. Historically the shops would have been a grocer, butcher and baker; all serving the residents and workers of the brewery and factories in that part of Arnold.

I noticed that the shop on the end of the row is now a Caribbean café named Tasty Willows.

My last visit here was, without doubt on 13th March 1996. It was a convenience store of some description and I had called in to ‘grab a sandwich’. I had realised it was the last shop on the A60 Mansfield Road as you leave the conurbation. I probably ate a pre-packed cob of some description. Whilst eating in my car the radio news was reporting the Dunblane school murders. That is how I know the date!

Home Brewery has since gone, replaced by a large Sainsburys supermarket and a MacDonalds Restaurant. Whilst I have the utmost respect for both of these fine companies, neither can satisfy my lunchtime ‘spontaneity’ like an independent trader.

And so it was Gary, the proprietor of Tasty Willows (now the last café on the A60), that got my custom on a damp and grey autumn morning.

The menu has a selection of standard Caribbean dishes, jacket potatoes or baguettes. The café is clean and tidy with a well-stocked counter plus seating for about 20 people. Comfort food was what I needed and it came in the form of a chicken stew in a large dumpling with a mug of tea. The chicken had been cooked in a rich mushroom gravy and encased in an oven cooked dumpling that was the biggest I’d ever seen!

A hugely satisfying meal, and prices so reasonable that I could have been back in 1996, but on a good news day this time! 

Coronation Buildings in Daybrook Nottingham

Coronation Buildings in Daybrook Nottingham


The silver teapot from the dawn of modernity

A great story about the finding of a historic artifact in Nottingham.


A few months back I did a favour for a pal who owns a curiosity shop. As a thank you, he highlighted an item in stock that I might like, and that I could have as payment for the favour. The item was a silver teapot. Anyone who knows me will realise that there would have to be more to the item than silveriness and teapottery to rouse my interest, and so it was. Embossed on the bottom of the teapot were the words, ‘Oriental Café, Nottingham, June 1922’.

The Oriental Café stood on Wheeler Gate, on the spot know occupied by the architecturally mundane Pearl Assurance House (formerly the home of Virgin, HMV, then Zavvi and now Poundland). The café was famously old school, and at one time incorporated a gentleman’s coffee and smoking room. It stood until around 1958 when it was demolished. One of the grand features of the café…

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Nottinghamshire History -Mapperley

Brickmaking. Brickmaking has for centuries been the staple industry of Mapperley, for in 1682-3 several persons were charged with digging clay upon “the Playnes,” and the Council ordered that their kills (kilns) and hovels should be pulled down, and although in 1688 Thos. Elliott supplied bricks to the Corporation, yet the year following he was fined 5/- “for a brick kilne upon the Plaines.” These kilns were probably on the south-eastern side of the road. It is usually thought that the lost art of brickmaking became considerably developed through the great fire of London in 1666 showing the danger of timbered buildings, but it had been used locally earlier than this. In any case for centuries bricks have been made at Mapperley, justifying the saying that “Nottingham once stood on Mapperley Hills,” and from that range of hills more than a thousand million bricks have been made, and many millions have gone to London, to build among other places St. Pancras Station. The bricks in the olden time were made of top clay only, trodden by children, or beaten with clubs by men; then came a grinding between rollers, turned by a horse going round a mill-race; then followed steam power, and revolving pan, and iron grinding mills, mixers, pug mills, wire cutting machines, heated floors, continuous kilns, etc. The Suburban Railway (1877) has been helpful to the trade.



Nottingham – National Water Sports Centre

Trent Bridge in Nottingham has international recognition due to the Test Cricket ground of the same name. Sport fans are also aware that within a mile of Trent Bridge are two professional football clubs, horse racing, dog racing, ice hockey, rugby union and a variety of water sports. The London Olympics of 2012 overlooked Nottingham’s sporting facilities; except for archery practice at Trent Bridge!
Three years on our National Water Sports Centre remains a sought after location.
Here are some terrific photographs to prove it.