I love living in the country, couldn't imagine myself living anywhere else, and never have. But it has its drawbacks... for me, one of these is not being near a decent craftshop, or a craftshop of any kind, nor a bookshop! I rely heavily on the internet for my shopping in these two areas, but once in a while, we have a blowout. Maybe only a couple of times a year, but it's so lovely to go into a big craft shop, marvel at all the lovely things you can buy these days. It may not be anything like the haberdashers of old, which were generally rather dark places, with interesting drawers of 'things' and a smell all their own, but if you are starved of a shop like this, it matters not.
I gazed in wonder at all the buttons (even though I have found a brilliant place on the internet), at the trimmings, the fabrics, the notions, all the kits for embroidery, cross stitch, tapestry, the cubbyholes full of the most glorious wool. Now this is definitely where the shop wins over the web, because you can feel the wool, pick it up and roll it around in your hand, rub it against your cheek, marvel at the true colours and texture which you simply don't get online. I dipped my hands into bargain buckets of wool, the odd couple of balls of this one, that one... ideal for cozies, fingerless gloves, the odd small lacy scarf, a hottie cover. I hummed and hah'd over the soft, expensive wool, knowing I wanted it, but not knowing what I would do with it exactly. At one time I would have bought it, but that way lies a cupboardful of wool, unused, many years later, and I promised myself would be more restrained in the future, only buy small quantities of wool I KNEW would be used up within the next six months or so.
I spent ages wandering around the fabrics, and in the end bought many fat quarters as I intend taking up quilting again. I bought some white with red stripes, with green stripes, with red dots, with green dots, with ebullient red roses, and together with a plain scarlet and plain leaf green, these will make my first small quilt in years. I also bought some rather retro/60s looking, deep blue background with stylised purple, green, orange, yellow flowers, and some plains to match, plus a striped navy and white, which will also all go together.
Then a wander over to the paper crafts side, and here I filled my hands with packs of stickers, with some Christmassy ones for quick and easy cards... just a small square card, sticker placed on a contrasting, smaller piece and fixed with a sticky dot, cost no more than a few pence to make, and are one offs, each of them. Other people may have the same idea, but the chances of them using exactly the same combination of cards is unlikely. I bought some peel off MERRY CHRISTMAS stickers in silver to add to my special friends cards. I looked at the punches for cut outs, at the fabulous cards and papers, at all the scrapbooking materials, and even though I do love some of the creations I have seen, this is one craft I haven't tried, and don't really think it's for me somehow. I do have scrapbooks, but these are of the old-fashioned kind, the slightly thicker card outer cover, and the pages of different coloured blotting-type paper inside, filled with photos, cards, mementoes of holidays (bus tickets, entry tickets to museums, menus and such like). These modern day creations are truly works of art and admire anyone who has the patience to create them... a wonderful heirloom for your children and grandchildren, if they are the types who would appreciate something like that.
My husband patiently walks around with me.. I always smile to myself because whenever we go there are always several cars in the car park occupied by a lone male behind the wheel, snoozing or reading the paper, having a crafty cigarette, whilst their spouses are inside having a fabulous time. Occasionally you see a husband accompanying his wife, always you see mine, who walks along carrying the basket, or goes off to look at something that has caught his eye perhaps. And he pays at the end too!!
We then went to another emporium, a place selling old pine furniture, but also lots of fancy things, storage boxes by the hundreds, in various shapes and sizes and styles and every colour imaginable. Candles and pot pourri, beautiful hand made cards amongst the more common mass-produced. Gorgeous hand-thrown ceramic bowls, a particular weakness of mine. Scarves in a rainbow of colours hang from mannequins, old iron lamps, bird feeders. Bags, embroidered, felted, leather, suede, patchwork... another weakness. Colourful cutlery and storage tins and jars, fat bellied teapots that cry out for a knitted cozy and afternoon tea in the garden under the apple tree when we get home. Cake stands to fill with pretty fairy cakes and walnut shortbread when friends come to have morning coffee. Candlesticks... not another one? he says. It's true, I can't resist a pressed glass candlestick. Nor a fat little jug to add to the dozens that already dangle from hooks along the edge of shelves in the kitchen at home.
This is another of our treaty day out shops... but alas, it had suffered a major power outage and many of the areas of the old buildings were barricaded off for safety, and the cafe which sells delicious home made soups and pasties, gooey cakes and sandwiches oozing with savoury fillings, could only sell cold drinks and the left over cakes on display. And they could only accept cheques (we had no cheque book with us, so many places won't even take them these days we never think to have it with us in the case of emergency like this, yet we should really, electricity liable to go off at any time for any reason these days it seems), and not enough cash to buy more than a few storage boxes. These are to keep stationery items like pens and cartridges, sticky tape too, and one like a little suitcase with a gorgeous rose-patterned paper exterior and jazzy black and white stripe interior with silvery handle which is for sewing threads. I do have a beautiful sewing box, but the lid is stiff and the box unweildy, another of my impulse buys that I later regretted. And the other box I bought simply because I loved the lime green bottom and the star-covered lid... I know I shall find a use for it, after all, a woman can't have enough storage boxes, or pressed glass candlesticks, colourful bowls and chubby jugs, can she?