...and not a drop of alcohol in sight!
I've been 'running away' to the Antiques Arcade in Hungerford for well over twenty five years now. It's about twenty minutes drive from Autumn Cottage, and I always travel along the back roads, through beautiful countryside, via the village of Kintbury. Along with car boot sales, auction rooms and junk shops, I've visited many antiques emporia in my time, but I can honestly say that I still find the Arcade in Hungerford one of the nicest places to visit - and I'm not alone here, as it was voted 'Best Antiques Arcade of 2012' by readers of the BBC 'Homes and Antiques' magazine (see link below).
I still find, after all these years, that there is always a great deal to attract my attention. I learn a huge amount by just wandering around and looking, but there is also great diversity in the different units - really, there *is* something for everyone in the variety of items for sale. Every pocket is accommodated - I regularly find charming items for a pound or so in the Junk Shop, while other units offer more sophisticated and valuable antiques on which one could spend many thousands (if the pockets were deep enough!) - with very much available at all points in between.
A stack of interesting prints - for one pound each - dating from about 1880 (using the costumes depicted as a clue). In Martin Smith's 'Countryside Books' unit - my dear friend, bookdealer and maker of adventures!
Added to all these enticements, one of the most important features of the Arcade - in my book at least - is the welcome which I have always had there. The staff (especially Doug and Gail on the front desk) are unfailingly pleasant and polite, whether I'm spending one or many more pounds, and nothing is too much trouble for them. This makes a difference! and certainly ensures that I, along with all the others who voted for the Arcade, will continue visiting for many years to come. (Perhaps the only thing that they may consider offering which is not available at the moment is a self-storage rental facility for all the treasures that we visitors continue to find there!!)
NO affiliation to the Arcade, by the way - just gratitude for a welcoming smile and treasure around every corner. Lucky I am to have it almost on my doorstep. For those of you who are not so fortunate, here are just a few glimpses of what one of my favourite places to lift the spirits has in every nook and cranny - and below, an antique print mystery solved courtesy of a magnifying glass and Google!
The clue to the location of at least one of the prints from Martin - the timber framed building on the left of the picture above bears the name of the 'Falcon Tavern' and below it, a street name 'Scholars Lane'. I popped both of them into Google and hey, presto - this is almost certainly a street in Stratford Upon Avon! How could the print producers ever have guessed that such technology would help me to track down their image location?