Tag Archives: debra


Leominster Old Market Hall, under creative commons by sally-parishmouse. Click pic for link.

Leominster Old Market Hall, under creative commons by sally_parishmouse. Click pic for link.

There’s a segment of the west country that sits across the borders of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, that’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite parts of the country. When I look on the map I come to the conclusion that its borders would be difficult to define: certainly it incorporates the Teme valley through Ludlow and Tenbury, the Clee Hills and down to the Severn below Worcester. It would also stretch north to the Longmynd and Church Stretton, and probably as far up as Shrewsbury. If I go that far I’d have to include Bridgnorth, oh, and Ironbridge, then down the Severn valley through Bewdley with a detour to the Kinver/Clent area, taking in Stourport, then right down to Upton and back west to Great Malvern and Ledbury. The problem is, every time we find a town/hill/river/misc. scenery that fits just outside that area, we’d have to push the envelope until most of those three counties are included.

Leominster does fall squarely in this lovely part of the world, though, on the A44 between Hereford and Ludlow – Welsh mountains to one side, lush Elgar country on the other. Towns around here are pretty well-heeled, with plenty of local produce markets, antiques shops (Leominster is very well-stocked on this front) and the like. There’s an Aldi here, but the Cooperative is bigger. Nevertheless, the usual image of charity shops being the last desperate resort of tatty town centres is far from true here – no less than nine charity shops nestle alongside antiques markets and secondhand shops, making Leominster a bit of a destination for vintage-seekers.

We visited for a second time this past Saturday afternoon, in the pouring rain. St Michael’s Hospice and another unnamed animal shelter shop were as closed as they were last time we visited, but a pile of others were open. The bulk of charity shops cluster around the high street, which splits into two narrow roads. Here you’ll find large Debra and YMCA shops, both of which include some furniture (although not much). There’s also Tenovus and British Red Cross on this stretch, then it’s just a matter of nipping along one of the side streets into Corn Square where you find Oxfam and British Heart Foundation.

Down the hill is Broad Street, which is pretty much that – a wide street with a barometer shop, rows of antiques markets and the ubiquitous shabby chic reclaimed furniture stores, who will quite cheerfully ask £85 for a decoupaged G-plan bedside table that would cost you £5 to reclaim and make for yourself. The antiques centres are pretty good mind – we’ve bought beautiful rugs from here before now, and even in this Age Of Austerity I could have bought a pile of records. As it turned out, I came out with just a Dubliners album – but After The Goldrush was cheaper here, too, than it was in Keswick Oxfam.

Back up and along West Street there’s a fairly nondescript Sue Ryder, and one of the more tempting shops of the town, Utter Clutter (which, if I overheard correctly, is closing soon, so get at those half-price vinyls). I came out of there with more Bruce Springsteen vinyls at reasonable cost.

There aren’t any spectacular charity shops in Leominster, but there’s certainly a decent enough volume. It’s a lovely little town though, in a lovely setting, so I can cheerfully recommend your visit.

Find: Leominster Google Maps
Get there: Leominster station is a little outside the town centre, but not too far.
Consume with: Savery’s is a nice little caff, with some mega cakes.
Visit: Leominster’s in the heart of the Lugg valley – small and very pleasant, and near to much of olde worlde Herefordshire.
Overall rating: four melamine bowls



Filed under 4/5, Herefordshire


English landscape: Pennine foothills Glossop England

English landscape: Pennine foothills Glossop England

Traditionally, a weekend away for the wife away involves a significant amount of precipitation, and so it was an unsurprisingly grey and damp Saturday when we found ourselves in Glossop, on the top edge of the Peak District national park. Whatever the delights of the town, there’s little argument that what makes Glossop so exciting is its location. Head 15 miles East and you’re in the centre of Manchester; the same distance South and you pass along the high Hayfield Road to the spa delights of Buxton. Due North and you’re into the disputed trans-Pennine territory that is partly in Greater Manchester but, with placenames like Slaithwaite, Tintwistle and Mytholmroyd will be forever Yorkshire. This way lies the infamous and bleak Saddleworth Moor, famous for all sorts of wrong reasons. Head East and you’re in really dramatic territory, and one of the reasons I wanted to explore this region – it’s traffic report territory. You can keep your Forth road bridge and your Scotch Corner, I’ve always wanted to drive along the Woodhead and Snake passes. They’re the first to get snowed in, the first to cause massive delays between Manchester and Sheffield, and in the latter case, maybe the best name of any geographical feature ever. So head slightly North-East and you’re up on the smooth, high tarmac of the Woodhead Pass towards Penistone and Barnsley. Slightly South-East and you’re in the craggy ridges and looming hills of the Snake Pass, emerging at the Western edge of Sheffield. These are wonderfully barren, isolated places, and give charity shop shopping a run for its money in the tourism stakes.

However: a sniffly nose and a soggy day do not great Peak walking make. So we toured by car and stopped for coffee and a poke in Glossop. We got in into Costa just in time before the rain started again, and before the crush started in the small shop. From here we could look out onto the Norfolk Square with what I presume to be the Town Hall opposite. The main shopping area extends along the High Street, up and East, and down and West of here, and can be cheerfully covered in an hour.

On the square itself you’ll find twin Oxfams next door to each other, one standard, one for books. You’ll also find AgeUK, Debra, and Cancer Research along the main drag – while none of these are revelations, it’s a fair haul for charity shops. There’s also a miscellaneous style shop with some young staff utterly enthralled by a robotic dog, and possibly a furniture shop housed in an old Connexions branch. There may be others, but these weren’t apparent.

Glossop itself isn’t a particularly exciting town, compared to the likes of Manchester or Buxton nearby. But it’s a decent stop-off and, given a bit of time to explore its industrial history and gorgeous surroundings, you wouldn’t regret a visit.

Find: Glossop Google Maps
Get there: Glossop is very well connected from Manchester, though if you can, come in through the mountains somehow.
Consume with: Costa is a safe bet, can’t really elaborate I’m afraid.
Visit: get walking – head up Kinder Scout for an authorised trespass.
Overall rating: three silver spoons

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Filed under 3/5, Derbyshire


Ramsgate, used under Creative Commons, by Adrian Baxter. Click Pic for Link.

Ramsgate, used under Creative Commons, by Adrian Baxter. Click Pic for Link.

“Thanet is an island in the Ocean in the Gallic channel, separated from Britannia by a narrow estuary, with fruitful fields and rich soil. It is name Thanet (tanatos) from the death of serpents. Although the island itself is unacquainted with serpents, if soil from it is carried away and brought to any other nation, it kills snakes there.”

That’s flipping brilliant that is. Imagine the soil where you live being capable of killing snakes. It beggars belief and fairly so, being the fanciful suggestion of one St Isidore of Seville. In fact, the whole description falls short these days: the Isle of Thanet (home to Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs) is in fact no such thing, the river Wantsum having receded in the last 500 years or so. Slightly more recently, the area was hamlets and villages and arable land, characterised by “people dirty, poor-looking, but particularly dirty” (so said William Cobbett). That all changed starting in 1749 when construction began on Britain’s only Royal Harbour – being the closest port to Europe, Ramsgate became a favoured departure point for grand tours and the like, and became particularly prominent when Napoleon was sticking his diddy French head above the parapet. When the Harbour was finally completed in 1850 the whole Northern Kent coastline became the great Victorian coastal destination, whether for convalescence (as in the huge sea-bathing hospital in Margate) or general tourism. Ramsgate’s beaches, harbour and railway became a magnet for hotels, magnificent Regency crescents and well-to-do Victorian types.

Today, the town is less select than once it was, though by no means run down. We stayed overnight looking out over the harbour at a disneyfied pirate ship and tinkling pleasure cruisers, then attacked the charity shops in the morning. The shopping district has taken on a less impressive air than the rest of the town would seem to suggest: while the backstreets are quaint, winding, narrow harbourside affairs with windowboxes and difficult parking, the pedestrianised high street is dominated by a windswept market and big, red-brick Wilkinsons-type shops.

Nevertheless: charity shops are here in abundance, and the first evidence is in the market itself, where a raggedy Cats in Crisis stall stands cheerfully between Debra and a large British Red Cross shop. These are located just off the central crossroads of Harbour, High, King and Queen Streets – on Harbour you’ll also find a small-ish Kidney Research Trust shop (when we entered, Dark Side of the Moon was bursting out of the little stereo – it’s fairly disconcerting to be greeted by the wobbly psychedelia of On The Run) and a vast British Heart Foundation that the wife had spotted the night before, filled with all sorts of tat over two shops worth of stuff. We got a shoe expander thing which looks like a medieval torture device.

Head up Queen Street, meanwhile, and you’ll find a Cancer Research discount store, no less (sadly, lacking in anything worth buying), then as you progress up the hill a plethora of tatty little shops: Sense, Shelter, an actual, physical Cats in Crisis shop which is the most hilariously tatty place in the town, and a big RSPCA. That’s… nine and a market stall? Not bad going.

Find: Ramsgate @ Google Maps
Get there: Ramsgate station
Consume with: pie and chips from Pete’s Fish Factory
Visit: a wander around the Harbour or to the beach is a good idea, or get out to Tracy Emin territory – Margate’s just up the road.
Overall rating: four wee teapots


Filed under 4/5, Kent