Monday, 10 December 2007

Christmas in Royal Leamington Spa

This is the view from the bottom of The Parade, looking north. On the right is the Town Hall with good Queen Victoria on her plinth.

Royal Leamington Spa is a spa town built mainly during the 19th century. The town was visited by Queen Victoria in 1838, and was given the "Royal" status.

Leamington's main architectural characterisitic is it's wide main streets, with elegant Georgian, Regency and Victorian buildings, many lined with trees.

Well, I have been looking for images of Christmas lights in my town and this is the best I can find. Not wonderful, but then the rest of the lights are not wonderful either. This is the usual Christmas tree outside the Town Hall. My favourite lights are the very simple strings of white lights, randomly threaded through some of the trees at the bottom of the main shopping street, The Parade, but alas, no photos! Maybe I should have a go at taking some!

In the few weeks before Christmas most of The Parade is closed off on Sundays for the Christmas market. This is very popular and well worth a visit for the variety of craft stalls with unusual gifts as well as the Greek stall with a huge range of olives and feta, and some interesting clothes stalls.

My first visit of the year was yesterday and it was a wash-out! The wind and rain had kept many of the stallholders away and my two large bags stayed empty except for a small pack of hand-made gift cards.

I haven't had a great deal of luck with my shopping this week in general. The Japanese web site, from which I wanted to buy a watch, was sold out of the one I wanted. After trawling deep into Google, where the sites are all in foreign, I spotted a link with the words, "Votre panier est vide." So, I thought, "Aha! A site that is selling the watches, not just doing a review of them." After navigating through the French, I got as far as the checkout and my card wasn't one of those listed! Drat!

Then there was Wellesbourne market on Saturday. This is a huge open-air market on an airfield and at this time of year it is usually heaving with people and the stalls are bulging with Christmas goodies. Well, that was a wash-out too! Where there should have been stalls there were huge empty areas with sodden rubbish blowing across the tarmac of the airfield runways. I narrowly missed a collision with a large green wheelie bin that was doing eccentric wheelies through the rubbish and headed back to my car after just ten minutes of holding a soggy hat to my head and desperately looking for something interesting on the few stalls which were there.

Two more shopping weekends 'til Christmas! For anyone living in the Warickshire area, I hear there is a late night Christmas market in Stratford-Upon-Avon each Thursday until Christmas. I guess I'd better get there! I hate those smug people who are telling me they've got all their Christmas shopping done!