Spring Shopping in Banbury

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There are many signs of Spring in Banbury. The sun shines more often, daffodils are swaying in the breeze, a few bees start buzzing around. It all brought me out to shop and browse.

Then there’s the plant and garden stall at the Banbury Market.

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A veritable RIOT of colour.

Been strolling through town a lot this week. Good weather has that effect. On Market Day, I made a point as I always do of browsing among the stalls. While there, I saw Nick at Curds & Whey. It’s my 1 year black truffle cheese anniversary (which I raved about at the time) so we had a nice chat about cheese.

That same day, I had lunch at Little Amsterdam. Speaking of which, they’ve recently won a Good Food Award. They pointed out that they are the first in Banbury, the first Dutch restaurant, and the first pancake house to win one. Congrats to all! Anyway, lunch was quite tasty and I got to hear about several long standing Banbury businesses. When I say long, I mean, fifth generation family businesses. Impressive.

The day before, I’d had an afternoon snack at Old Town Cafe and Gallery – which has fab sandwiches (had the chicken and chorizo one the week before – so good!) and sweet treats as well. The chocolate shortbread thing I had this week was absolutely scrumptious. Couldn’t help but noticed the pizza looked quite tasty as well. Maybe next time. The other thing that I like about Old Town is the decor – dancing a delicate line between eclectic and jumbled and doing it beautifully. It’s both cosy and comfortable without feeling crowded. Amazing when you consider how much art is on the walls and how much stuff in on the shelves (including a book swap shelf). And if art is your thing, the space is shared by our local art centre – The Artery. They have workshops, shows, supplies, the works.

Speaking of local eateries, was also delighted to FINALLY have a chance to stop and look at the painting on the side of Naomis Café & Art Bar.

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Gorgeous! And I love the way it pops off the blocks of bright blue!

It’s generated quite a lot of discussion locally – as art often does. Some folks miss the previous piece but I have to say, I think this one is pretty awesome. Naomi has done so much to her corner of Banbury – community garden, a cafe that’s really a community hub. And as it’s a corner that greets visitors just coming off the train, coming into the town centre or getting off the bus – the changes she has made have had quite an impact.

It wasn’t all food this week however. I also did a bit of shopping at BlueBird (which, again, I have gone on and on about previously) where I did my part for the local economy by buying the handbag I’d been thinking about since I saw it the day before. My old pink bag had finally reached a stage of utter uselessness. I did ask the local shoe repair place if they could do something with the straps (which had basically fallen to bits) but I knew it was a long shot. And so, a new pink bag was needed. Happily the other bag I took in for repair – my favourite every day bag – was in better shape to begin with so they were able to sort that for me.

While also noting the most recent additions to the town’s indie shops line up (another women’s accessories shop, a men’s clothing store, a tapas bar and a soon to be open donut shop), I noticed our local Shakespeare “shout outs.” Not surprising to that it’s on my mind, really. It’s almost April 23 and this year is the 400 anniversary of the Bard’s demise. First I noticed the bust of Shakespeare reference looking bright and sharp. He used to greet visitors to the Shakespeare Inn (1871-1891, I believe).

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Used to be the Shakespeare Inn many (many, many) moons ago.

Then wandering through White Lion Walk, I saw that Books and Ink (one of my local sources of used books) had this window set up.

Insert your favourite Shakespeare quote here

Insert your favourite Shakespeare quote here

Before wrapping up in town, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to consign old pink bag to the handbag dustbin quite yet so I popped into the Banbury Sewing Center (where they have ever type of pin you could imagine and every conceivable size safety pin you could ever need). I bought a few sturdy safety pins and used them with great abandon to strategically hold the bag together. Tried to make them more a feature than a problem. Not sure I succeeded.

On the way home, I paused to take in the local wildlife along the canal. I very nearly disturbed these two but they took my nearby stride in their … stride.

The ducks of Banbury are pretty chill.

So, clearly as the weather improves, my propensity for browsing and buying increases. This is great for the local economy and a bit hard on my wallet. But only a bit since I have to say – Banbury’s independent shops did right by me this week. From the handbags, to the repair, to the pins – bargains all around

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