Unless you’re a seasoned sailor I’m not sure that you would venture into Cowes on the Isle of Wight on a particularly wet November afternoon. Not so! Finding myself with time to kill having arrived in East Cowes on Saturday I decided this was too good an opportunity to miss. Leaving the Southampton to East Cowes ferry I zig-zagged along the roads to arrive at the chain ferry in no time at all. Here the “floating bridge” was waiting for vehicles and foot passengers to board, and in no time at all I arrived in Cowes. To my astonishment I found that parking on the road was really easy, and what’s more, was free for up to two hours.
Umbrella in hand I headed towards the pedestrianised streets and arrived in Shooters Hill. My first stop was Staples & Green where, much to my surprise, I was immediately offered a glass of Prosecco and mince pie to enjoy whilst I browsed their lovely selection of smart furniture, accessories, and lifestyle products.
Christmas spirit now firmly instilled I wandered along the cobbled streets absorbing the atmosphere created by a huge variety of independent vendors who far outweighed the one or two well know brands. As I strolled past a vast selection of pubs, cafés, and artisan food shops, I could only imagine how busy they must be during the heady summer months when the yachties descend.
Arriving in the High Street my next stop was Shoreline, a gift and stationary shop which also offered an engraving and picture framing service. I was particularly struck by their lovely collection of greetings cards and children’s toys.
Another retailer which specliased in children’s toys, games, and gifts, was Live Like This which turned out to have a shop on either side of the street. Whilst one was purely aimed at children the other stocked the most amazing collection of decorative accessories. My favourites were the quirky lamps and the vast array of Christmas decorations.
Leaving the High Street and heading down Bath Road towards the waters edge I had cause to stop at Chocolate Mad Cowes purely because I couldn’t resist the name! Here I bought two sachets of their plain and milk chocolate buttons with which to make myself a very indulgent hot chocolate drink.
Laden with gifts, and an immense feeling of satisfaction having made a start on my Christmas shopping, I headed back towards the car. My last port of call was a barbers shop, which you may think a little strange. In fact, their window had caught my eye as it was full of gifts and signs which would make ideal stocking fillers. Catching them just as they were closing up I made a couple of small purchases which completed my shopping for the day. Returning to the car within the two hour time allocation I felt that I had had an extremely pleasant and rewarding afternoon, so much so that I may well be tempted to return in the summer.
What a fantastic insight to Cowes……. who’d have thought there would be such lovely shops just across the water:)
I think I was very lucky to visit Cowes in the low season as I was able to appreciate the low-key atmosphere and geniality. Come the summer months I’ve heard that it is place full of live music and bustling activity which I’m sure is equally as pleasant but perhaps not quite so relaxing! I’m sure the shops are fab all year round tho’.
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