Why is it that whatever shops you have on your own doorstep, everything seems better when you go somewhere else? C would say this is just typical Rosie greed and that I am never satisfied. He may have a point. The grass always seems quite green across the fence. But I think it's about novelty as much as about dissatisfaction. You take for granted what you have at home, so the prospect of different experiences is always stimulating. Living in Edinbugh, we do not lack for shops. Within 5 minutes walk, there are the chic shops and boutiques of Bruntsfield and Morningside, or in the other direction, the food shops of Marchmont - independent butchers, fishmonger, middle-eastern grocers, designer flower shops, delis etc . Within 20 minutes walk there are all the city centre shops. So no, I don't lack for shops at home. You would think I would go on holiday to get away from shops (yeah, right!). It's so pleasant browsing in all the little independent shops you get in small towns, all of them no more than a minute or two's walk from each other. I am a sucker for market towns. Even when there's no market on, there's a bustling, self-sufficient quality about a small market town. When we are on holiday in England, we always check out the market days for towns in the area. In the Dales, and Cumbria, there are weekly markets still in even small villages. I'm not talking about Farmer's Markets, just old fashioned markets, selling everything from sweets, meat, fruit and veg, to all the tat you get on market stalls - cheap clothes and shoes, mass-produced pottery and household goods. And there always has to be a stall selling CDs for a local musician. It's usually a country musician even in deepest middle england, their unlikely twang wailing out across the market from tinny speakers.
Anyway, here's a quick rundown of the nice shops I saw on my hols - or at least the ones I remembered to take photos of.
This is Reeth Market. A grand total of 5 stalls selling veg, meat, cheese, shoes and sheepskin products. A wet, cold day, and a village with a population of 750 but people queueing up to buy! Not bad. (And yes, it was as dull and miserable as the photo suggests).
Elijah Allen and Son in Hawes, in Wensleydale. A family run business, founded in 1860. How can you resist a shop that claims to sell 'provisions'! It's half-way between a corner shop and a deli. Presumably this sort of shop can only survive because the nearest Tesco is at least 25 miles away.
Elijah Allen's window display of local flours, jams, beer and the red-labelled bottles of Hendersons Spicy Yorkshire Relish. It's the sort of shop that sells about 100 varieties of jam. In fact, jam was a bit of a theme in our holiday shopping. The result of 'farm diversification' schemes I suspect.
Here's the window of the sweet shop in Hawes. Tempting .....
And while I'm on the sweet shop theme, I spotted this shop in Masham.
And no, I didn't buy anything!
On a very rainy day, we were just tootling about, trying to find some blue sky, along the back roads of Wensleydale, when we spotted a sign to 'Stalling Busk only'. C can never resist a sign that goes to somewhere 'only', so we crawled up into the misty, low cloud, to the very end of the road, and discovered a hamlet of about 4 houses, and Raydale Preserves. The shop was deserted, relying entirely on the honesty of punters popping round to the 'Jam Kitchen' to pay for their purchases. Mind you, I don't suppose there will be that many opportunistic jam thieves roaming the back roads of Wensleydale. Probably a wonderful spot to visit in the summer. They have put together a really interesting little local history display and a set of leaflets for walks starting from Stalling Busk - clearly a labour of love. There is the promise of coffee and cake in high season ......
I bought a jar of 'Fiery Farmer' chilli jam. I think I was hoping it would warm me up.
Ray Davies, the owner and ceramicist.
A blogland discovery - Milkchurn Cottage in Hawes, which I'd discovered on-line via Karen, the owner's blog and sought out (you can see her sitting at the back of the shop). A really eclectic, personal collection of crafts and housewares, many made locally. Like going into someone's frontroom. There's a fire crackling in the grate.
As a contrast - we saw this wonderfully old-fashioned shop in Ripon. 'Ladies World'. Presumably boasting everything for the Ripon Lady (d'un certain age I suspect): "Quality Footwear and Leather Goods; Cane Furniture and Basketware; Coffee Lounge". What else do you need?
Haul for the week: a vintage mixing bowl from 'RE' in Corbridge, to replace the one I inherited from my mother, which got broken on the move up to Edinburgh; a ceramic colander and some damson cheese; a wooden christmas decoration and a bar of soap from Hawes; 5 jars of jam and 3 jars of chutney. Excellent. All completely unnecessary purchases, for which I have no cupboard space, but I do like to support local traders (well that's my story!).