Go north, young woman:: Harrogate, England pt. 2

Shops You Can’t Find Everywhere

For serious collectors to those “just looking, thanks,” Harrogate, the “Antiques Centre of the North” offers a choice of shopping styles ranging from antique fairs and auction halls to specialty arcades. In the mood for something a little more contemporary? The town is jam packed with tempting art galleries, indie-designer boutiques and classy gift shops.

A few of our eclectic faves:

Woods of Harrogate: this family owned supplier of luxe linens (large Frette selection) first opened in 1895. Not only is the store gorgeous, but it’s worth stopping in just to see what real service is all about– purchases are still wrapped in brown paper and string, and carried out to your car.

Weeton’s: One of the world’s spiffiest “supermarket” this specialty food store/deli/butchers/greengrocers/ stocks well over 1,000 lines of the finest in Yorkshire products, as well as exclusive international treats. Stop in their bustling café for a glass of wine and a hand-made cottage pie or troll the aisles for unique food prezzies, perhaps a jar of Ginger Preserves with Melon Liqueur?

Caroline Charles boutique: Snap up a tailored herringbone jacket to pair with velvet jeans for a hot date at this celeb British designer’s outpost.

Farrah’s famous toffee: established in 1840 by John Farrah,The Original Harrogate Toffee was designed to clear the pallet of the putrid taste of Harrogate’s Sulphur Water, famous in the 19th century for it’s healing properties. ( TMI? Regardless of the reason, their toffee is out of this world.)

Festival Faves:

We just happened to be visiting during the Harrogate International Festival.This annual summer event runs for two weeks and offers a wide range of talented artists from around the world, performing all music genres. We unknowingly selected whatever was playing the next two nights and struck gold. After hearing local cabaret diva, Clair Teal, it immediately became apparent why she won “Jazz Vocalist of the Year” three years in a row, plus we got to enjoy her performance in the beautifully restored Royal Hall Theatre (formerly called the Kursaal) now all glammed up with gemstones and bushels of real goldleaf. The next night had us in hysterics, watching the witty antics of three sassy British comediennes in “Fascinating Aida.”

This festival could easily provide all your entertainment needs, although we were sorry to have just missed the quirky sounding Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival where “killer” authors come together for a harrowing weekend of murder and mayhem. The perfect digs for this festival would be a stay at the historic, ivy-clad Old Swan Hotel, once the secret retreat of the famous author, Agatha Christie, when she mysteriously disappeared for 10 days in 1926.

Another afternoon we hopped the local jitney to go check out the Great Yorkshire Agricultural Show, where we sampled homemade baked and canned goods while scrutinizing the horses, cattle, sheep and pigs (in darling variations of stripes and spots) circling the grandstand, vying for their blue ribbons.

But the highlight of our afternoon was when we wandered into one tent and bumped into the real Calendar Girls,in the picture above, hawking this year’s goods. This fantastic group of feisty women is still “baring all” to raise money for charity.

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