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October 12, 2018
I grew up in a place called Beeston and my mam still has the same house I lived in.
To be honest it hasn’t felt like 'home' for a long time and each time I go back more has changed inside the house and in the area. It's special to bring Francesca to see 'Granny' and I get to have a bath in peace and walk up town. Even if it feels less and less like the place I played rounders in the street and got caught picking daffodils from the University garden.
More and more Coffee shops and cafes are opening up but Beeston has never had that vibe for me. Last time I felt like a fraud trying to do Suburbia in Beeston.
But now when I go home to visit my mam it gives me something different. I like to walk up the town and see what’s changed and visit my favourite shops.
First the sewing shop that backs onto our garden which I remember being built. Then across the road to look in the window of the coffee Shop but I don't have time to stop today. I remember when it used to be a hat shop with stock as old as the old woman behind the counter but I loved looking at her vintage jewellery through the cracked window. But this was one of the first 'coffee shops' and the start of a turning tide for the the town that has brought more coffee shops in waves. And many shop seem to chage each time I visit which I suppose reflect the large transient student population that has always been here. I remember as a child seeing my first Chinese person renting a room next door and sitting with window open and his legs folded. Needless to say we tried it but when our mam walked in and saw us, well let's just say that was the end of that.
I cross over into the paint a pot shop. They have been there a long time and although not one of my childhood shops I love to go in and talk techniques and always get loads of great tips. I passed the bakery, one of the few places that hadn’t changed since I grew up and I'm very sad to see it and the bike shop closed until further notice from a fire.
I surf the charity shops and see what I can find. My favorite is the Sue Ryder full of vintage, my kind of stuff. I pop into Boots that still has the same tired feel despite being on the doorstep of the Head Office as it stands in an ever more volatile retail environment. John Menzies, Superdrug, even the main post office, all of them now confined to my memory. Even the McDonnalds where I stopped with my dad in his wheelchair with a leg in plaster for a milkshake all one summer now gone. Tesco has opened up the small alley that we used to be too scared to go down.
I pass Hallam’s, another one of the old independent shops from my childhood, and loop around hoping to call into the Vintage Tea Room but like so many other businesses it’s closed its doors. However, it’s not a wasted detour as I stumble on a small shoe shop selling kids and ladies shoes. I browse in there and then start on the final and favourite part.
I hit the Fairtrade Shop and look for new things to bring to Belmullet. I can’t help but smile when I pass by Papa Pizza, run by actual Italians, who give us five different toppings on the same pizza when we couldn’t agree for our Friday night pizza chips and beans.
Then my absolute favourite, local craft shop and studio, Two Little Magpies. I love to have a chat with the owner, Lucy (sorry if that's not right!). I always leave feeling a bit nostalgic for Nottingham and energised to get home and put some ideas into practice.
And finally then the furniture painting shop that sells the other brand of paint. I’m sad to see it’s closing and hopefully one with the wonderful Autentico will open in it's place.
As I’m walking home pondering over the changes I realised that I go to the same shops each time because they give me the best thing of all, inspiration. I get new ideas, tips from the owners and just a jolly good chat with like minded business people. In a town the size of Belmullet I need a bit of each of these to survive and that's why I love Lúnasa...it's so much more than a store.
Now if only I had enough hours in the day to put all these new ideas into action!
A shout out to the shops that give me inspiration and I hope the bakery and it's neighbours are back soon for the next 40 years x x
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