Howard Franklin's Christmas Past and Presents...
PUBLISHED: 10:49 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:26 20 February 2013
Howard Franklin goes hunting for gifts in Shrewsbury and recalls childhood celebrations.
Great Britain is famously a nation of shopkeepers, and of course, shoppers and December is the month when I move into top gear and launch with gusto into my Christmas shopping. This year I braved the county town of Shrewsbury on a cold wet Friday for what I hoped would be a satisfying Christmas shopping foray. Parking the car is always a problem, but luck was on my side with a space on the forecourt of St Chads Church for a four hour stay. Parking there is a very civilised, with a polite attendant in charge who always has a cheery word, even though on this occasion the heavens were descending on us.
I headed straight for The Market Hall which was busy and looking festive; purchases were made from Mr Corbett the Game Merchant who sells excellent venison, wild duck and plump freerange chickens. I savoured the atmosphere of this traditional scene and admired a stall with buckets of dark bronze chrysanthemums and other local grown produce. There is nowhere better to shop for food items than The Market Hall in Shrewsbury, it certainly has the bounty of the county.
I visited two wonderful emporiums for gift buying: firstly Juliet Chilton at Tudor Galleries, 69, Wyle Cop, where I found stunning gold and pink, and silver and grey, curtain tie-backs, trimmed with glass beads which would add real glamour to a pair of plain curtains and at 13.75, a snip buy. I discovered Victorian-style trumpet vases in gilt with white porcelain flowers entwined on the bases which were 22.50 each; a mohair throw in a beautiful shade of soft green or lavender at 40 and a sunburst gilt wall clock for a hallway or dining room at 60; also a perfect stocking filler in a cardinal red faux lizard skin baggage tag for 12.50.Tel:01743 358699. www.julietchilton.co.uk
Next, to Cookingmarvellous, the cookware specialists at the top of Wyle Cop. I asked about gifts for children interested in cookery and was shown a range of child-friendly, brightly coloured gadgets by Kinder Kitchen. There were pastry cutters, safety knives, whisks and aprons, a range of 30 items priced from 2.99 to 6.99. I also liked the Grow Your Own Herbs kits by Pocket Garden priced from 3.95. Evidently the must have kitchen gadgets for men this Christmas are the Garlic Zoom, a chopper on wheels for 7.99 and the Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker, a gold and black designer mixer which comes with its own recipe book for 19.99 A great stocking filler is the motorised, battery operated Spinning Spaghetti Fork, a fun and easy way to eat difficult noodles or pasta, for 5.99. Tel: 01743 368199 www.cookingmarvellous.co.uk
I visited a lovely shop called Panash at 23, Princess Street and was shown the perfect in-style accessories for Christmas for any stylish lady Italian leather bangles designed by Antonio Ben Chimol which complement any outfit. There are several designs. I liked the snake-twist in pewter, gold, silver, two shades of green, cerise or orange; so stylish for 59. There was also the magnetic clasp bangle in similar colours for 22 or the more intricate Alina Bracelet for 127. Tel: 01743 236244.
For fine jewels there is nowhere better than Fabricius Green at 1, High Street. Adam Green told me the signature colour this Christmas is blue and they have a wonderful selection of precious gemstones which can be designed into a very special gift. I loved a pear-shaped aquamarine from Brazil, set with a swirl of diamonds in white gold, also the beautiful tanzanite and sapphires which seemed affordable for a special gift from 400; even more beautiful was the magical kyanite, a lovely shade of cornflower blue on a white gold chain for 645. I love the colour green and Peter Green showed me the most glorious step-cut tourmaline, which is just waiting for someone to have made into a ring for Christmas. Tel: 01743 244194 www.fabriciusgreen.com
Pockets at 30/31 Princess Street provides a modern, up-beat look for gentlemen. I really liked Paul Smiths designs for multi-stripped shirts at 115; cufflinks and miniature cars from 29 and socks at 14. Also Duchamp ties, shirts and cufflinks using geometric and paisley designs in lilac, blue and magenta colours which are the fashionable tones for this winter. Tel: 01743 242080 www.pockets.co.uk
I returned to my car loaded with packages and an empty wallet. Wishing all our readers a very Happy Christmas.