What the locals really think of Hale
- Credit: Archant
Hale and Hale Barns mix an unusual village atmosphere with upmarket glamour as evening falls, writes Janet Reeder.
Hale and Hale Barns may be termed villages but in terms of their sophisticated pleasures they are distinctly metropolitan.
Being here is akin to finding that a London suburb has somehow shifted north along with an influx of celebrities and socialites.
It is also a location with two distinct vibes. During the daytime, it is very much a chilled out village and as it gets dark it becomes a nightlife destination.
Drive down Ashley Road on a warm evening and you’ll see the cream of Hale society enjoying food and laughter outside dining hotspots such as Piccolino, Hale Bar and Grill, or further towards the railway station, at Victor’s and Carluccio’s.
Karen Flavell who has taken over the popular Vicki Allen boutique on Ashley Road with partner Pam Hunt says: ‘During the day it has a country feel, while at night it’s buzzing. A lot of people come here just for a night out.
‘It has always been a very, very sociable place, the people who live here love to go out and of course they don’t have to get taxis home so there’s a great atmosphere. Over the years I have seen that the people coming into the village are significantly younger but it has still got a really nice feel. It’s not like a town.
‘And you don’t feel out of place if you go to Victor’s and are dressed up to the nines!’
Karen says the Vicki Allen boutique will be undergoing a facelift next year and they will be winning over more customers with client events and fashion shows to add even more glamour to Hale’s night life.
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Adi Joseph, proprietor of the Adi-Va boutique which sells women’s and children’ s clothes and luxury candles is another Hale resident who has noticed how the village changes during the daytime.
‘There’s a real village atmosphere; it feels like one big family with everyone knowing each other,’ she says.
‘But you do see it change at night, partly because of the visitors who come from the outside looking for a different experience.
‘ I prefer the company of the locals. For the evening I head to Victor’s and Piccolino and for lunch it’s The Gardens.
‘Of course, throughout the day it can be a glamorous place. There are a TV personalities, footballer, cricketers, rugby players and models living here and yes they do come into my shop - all the time - but I couldn’t say who they were - it would be unprofessional!’
Piling on the glamour is de rigueur for the cast of Real Housewives of Cheshire which is filmed here. Stars such as designer Seema Malhotra who lives locally can be seen shopping at the upmarket Booth’s supermarket while her co-star Ampika Pickston has her Opium salon in Hale Barns.
Not many villages have their own country club and spa, complete with champagne bar, but that’s what’s on offer at Hale Country Club.
And there certainly aren’t many villages that have their own branded merchandise either but at the local gift shop you can buy cushions, make-up-bags and cards bearing tongue in cheek slogans.
‘ I just came across a company that created personalised stuff and thought we should do that here,’ says Louise Duerr of Gift and Home on Ashley Road.
‘It’s been very successful and reflects the playful side of Hale.’
She also stocks irreverent posters by Eric Jackson including one about Hale that says ‘Climb the ladder to a better bruschetta in Hale. Only one rung below Bowdon.’
Louise added: ‘People here can see the funny side, they don’t take themselves too seriously’.
As if further proof were needed that Hale punches above its weight both day and night, there are art galleries, including Clark Art.
During the day owner Bill Clark opens his doors to visitors from all over the country and abroad, who can spend thousands of pounds buying first rate art.
Says Bill: ‘I sold a business and retired when I was 41 and started buying Lowrys and then selling them because I’d got bored.
‘ Then I took on an artist called John Thompson and he became so successful that hundreds of people kept coming to my home to buy John Thompson pictures. So I was getting a bit concerned because I had high value Lowrys in my house. So initially I took this gallery space to get away from people coming to my house. And from that very first show all our shows have been huge.’
The gallery, which celebrates 10 years in the village this month, specialises in the Northern school and more particularly in work by LS Lowry. It is enormously successful but it got off to an inauspicious start as Bill explains.
‘Our first show here was 19th September 2006 and after the opening we had the biggest theft of Lowrys - ever,’ he recalls.
‘Exactly one week after we opened. They took 16 paintings including half a dozen Lowrys, so we had live BBC broadcasts from here. I was on the midday news from the gallery, we had a full Crime Watch programme about the robbery... but none of it was ever returned.’
Shocking though this was, it eventually worked in Clark Art’s favour.
‘In the end people thought I’d planned the robbery myself,’ he says.
‘We had full pages on the Times, I was on Sky News, we had BBC Radio Four broadcasting from here, so we certainly got the publicity from it. And it’s funny, the insurance assessor said these high value well-known paintings are used by drugs gangs as collateral for trade against drugs.
But the paintings can never come onto the market because they are on every register in the world.’
Ever since that first opening, Clark Art has enhanced the night life in the village with its glamorous launch parties that usually end with guests moving onto the local bars the restaurants.
‘Our exhibitions are the biggest events in the village, so since that time we’ve done dozens of major exhibitions,’ explains Bill.