Gillian and Peter Maclean Arnold open Rockpool Cheese in Milford
SINCE moving to Milford eight years ago in pursuit of a lifestyle change for their young family, Gillian and Peter Maclean Arnold have been dreaming of opening their own cheese shop.
Now that ambition has finally been realised with the launch of Rockpool Cheese, stocking “unusual and amazing cheeses” from across the British Isles.
Located on High Street, the boutique shop sells artisan and farmhouse cheeses sourced direct from local suppliers and makers, but the couple ultimately hope to produce their own cheese and crackers as part of the range.
It currently opens Thursday to Sunday with plans to increase the operating days during the summer months.
Peter said: “It has been a dream of ours for quite some time. We both really love cheese and Milford is such a wonderful foodie village it seemed like the perfect location.”
Peter, who works in marketing, and Gillian, the former head of operations at an American bank, are parents to six children aged between seven and 20.
They were drawn to move to the south coast from their previous home in Cheshire in pursuit of a slower pace of life.
Gillian said: “We love Milford and only really wanted to open a cheese shop in the village, so we were just waiting for the right opportunity to come up.”
Last summer the couple, who are both part-time teachers at the New Forest Paddle Sport Company, learned that the firm was vacating its High Street shop at the end of the season to relocate to Keyhaven.
Peter recalled: “Suddenly we realised it was the perfect opportunity and we just had to go for it.
“We spent the whole summer researching cheese before taking over the shop in November.
“We made a decision to focus the business on selling some really unusual and special cheeses – that’s not to say local cheeses aren’t wonderful but they are available at other businesses, so we wanted to do something a bit different.”
One of the best sellers is Somerset-made Pitchfork Cheddar, which Peter and Gillian buy direct from the multi-award-winning Trethowan Brothers.
Made with raw milk and aged for 18 months, this organic full-flavoured cheese recently won a gold award in the mature cheese category of the World Cheese Awards.
Another favourite with customers is Sparkenhoe, England’s only raw milk Red Leicester, which is produced using a traditional recipe dating back over 200 years by the Leicestershire Handmade Cheese Company, run by dairy farmers David and Jo Clarke.
British raw milk Brie Baron Bigod, handmade at Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, is also popular, along with Gorwydd Caerphilly cheese which is also made by the Trethowan brothers in Somerset.
Gillian said: “In the two months since we opened we have built up a good number of regular customers who come in and know exactly what they want.
“But we are always here to advise as well, so if customers aren’t sure we can let them sample the cheeses.
“We have also helped our customers put together cheese boards for dinner parties and special events and we can create cheese wedding cakes or supply cheese and cheese boards for larger events.”
Rockpool Cheese is at 46 High Street, Milford. For more information visit www.rockpoolcheese.co.uk