Banbury’s Independent (Shop) Spirit

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The weather was too nice to stay inside today so I went out along the canal into town – took some pics, made some purchases along the way.

One of the things we like best about Banbury is that while it is well-supplied with the usual big name chains, there are also a great many independent shops – and offering a wide range of goods. What this means is that yes, I can go and pick up my contacts at Boots, or check out the sales at Debenhams but I can also treat myself (and others) to “won’t see everywhere else” handbags, toys, gifts and books, etc.

One of the other things we love about where we live? The fact that I can follow the canal from very near home all the way into town.

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One a day like today (it was gorgeous out – far too nice to stay indoors), the walk is delightful. Later on in the summer, the walk is also awash in blackberries so it is delightful AND delicious.

Town, once I arrived, was looking bright and crisp.

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And the bunting has gone up in prep for the Old Town Spring Party (May 2 for those who’d like to check it out).

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One of the places I never miss during a stroll around town is White Lion Shopping Walk – home to two of my favourite shops, Books and Ink Bookstore and Frogabilia. It is also home, as one might guess from the name, a white lion.

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The best thing about the white lion? The pink tongue.

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But I was going to talk about shops wasn’t I? Specifically a couple of independents I tend to frequent and one brand-spanking new one where I scored some awesome scarves. First, there is Books and Ink Bookshop and there are few things in life that make me happier than a bookstore. As it happens, Banbury has a few but I am partial to used bookstores and this is a great one. Today what delighted me most was actually in the window.

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Poor Tubby, my heart goes out to him. But he’ll show them. He’ll end up an internet billionaire, buy up all their businesses and have the last laugh. Go forth, Tubby and conquer.

The other shop with windows that are a frequent delight is (also delightfully named) Frogabilia, right across from Books and Ink. These are art deco, vintage finds that haven’t ever seen the inside of a big name chain shop. These are from a time when objects were expected to be useful and beautiful. Today, the object that stopped me dead in my tracks was this:

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I’ve always adored Alice in Wonderland chess sets so when I saw this at Frogabilia I was WAY TOO EXCITED. Then I saw that it was reserved already and that was very sad. Is it any surprise then that I needed something to cheer myself up? A little retail therapy, as it were. And so I went off to see the newest shop in town – BlueBird! BlueBird is the new women’s accessories shop (from the same people who run Fifth Corner around – well, around the corner from BlueBird. In any case, now that BlueBird has opened, it’s going to tax my willpower a lot.

Here a scarf, there a scarf ...

Here a scarf, there a scarf …

I am a scarf fanatic, the handbags are gorgeous and best of all, not the same ones you see just everywhere. There’s a real effort at curating a unique collection and it shows.

Handbags galore!

Handbags galore!

And in case you were wondering, I did manage to cheer myself up – I scored two fantastic scarves that I will doubtless wear so often during Spring and Summer that everyone in town will be sick of the sight of them. But tough. I love them!

So pleased with my purchase

So pleased with my purchase

Eventually I had to go home and get some work done – but as the weather improves and I can make my strolls along the canal more frequent (I used to walk along the East River and the Hudson 4 or 5 times a week all Spring and Summer when I lived in Manhattan), I’ll make sure to highlight some of the other shops and restaurants that contribute to Banbury’s independent (shops) spirit.

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