In our latest ‘keeping it local’ article, we take advantage of a visit from relatives and have a wander around the market at Bangor.
It was the end of June, and my parents were coming up from Essex for a nice long weekend visit. As usual, they came on the Thursday and weren’t leaving until Monday, so we had three full days of activities planned.
Usually when my parents visit, we have at least one day of walking around one of the local town centres (you may recall that we took them to Porthmadog on a previous visit, and we almost always go to Caernarfon too).
This time, I wanted to take them to Bangor on the Friday, because that’s market day and it would be a bit of a change from visiting on a Saturday and mostly shopping in the larger stores.
Don’t get me wrong – as a family, oddly we all enjoy shopping at Debenhams! But this time I wanted the emphasis to be more on shopping locally, so I explained my motives (that is, writing up our ‘buy local’ experiences for the blog) and everyone was happy to comply, so off we went.
Thankfully, it was a gorgeous day. Mum usually brings several thick layers of clothing with her when she visits, as the weather can usually be relied upon to be… erm… unreliable! But as you can see from my photos, on this occasion the sun was out and we were all able to wear short sleeves for a change. See, mum – we do get nice weather sometimes!
It takes a while to get two carloads of people organised and out of the house (my daughter, son in law and grandchildren came out too), so it was lunchtime when we arrived at Bangor. Our first stop – because my husband is quite famously unable to do anything at all if he doesn’t have his lunch at precisely midday – was lunch. But where to eat?
Normally we’d go somewhere big and cheap, like Wetherspoons. But on this occasion I wanted everyone to try out one of my favourite Bangor eateries, namely the Kyffin Cafe. This is Bangor’s only vegetarian cafe, which is perfect for me as I don’t eat meat (and a bit of an education for everyone else in our group, because they all do). Kyffin’s serve the best salads I’ve ever tasted, and they make beautiful soups, flans and other vegetarian and vegan delights. The atmosphere is lovely too – very laid-back and comfortable – and it’s a really fascinating place to be, thanks to the wonderful selection of speciality tea leaves and coffee beans that you can take home with you for a really special brew.
With husband’s tummy full, he was now able to summon up enough strength to walk around the city centre, so off we went to check out the market.
I needed to stock up on fruit and veg, so the greengrocer’s stall was my first port of call. What I love most about buying fruit and veg from a market, compared to a supermarket, is the ‘honesty’ of the produce. None of this polished, uniformly-shaped malarkey you’d find at the supermarket; here, the produce is wonky and dirty, just as it should be! There’s a certain pleasure to be had in scrubbing muddy carrots, believe it or not! Buying fruit and veg from a market stall takes me back to my 1970s London childhood, when mum would buy almost everything locally. We had a Tesco near us, but only used it for buying non-perishables. Meat always came from Barnard’s the Butcher on Plender Street, and veg from the stall opposite. Ah, the nostalgia!
Exploring the market further, my daughter couldn’t resist a necklace from a little stall selling unusual jewellery. She told me it’s one of her favourite places to buy little treats for herself, so it looks like the shopping locally bug is getting to us all!
Some bedding plants for the garden next; there’s a good stall at Bangor market for buying plants, so I was glad to be able to give them my business that day. Having said that, I do actually live halfway between two excellent garden centres (Tyddyn Sachau in one direction and Fron Goch in the other) so I’m rather spoilt for choice locally when it comes to buying for the home and garden!
Our visit to Bangor that day wasn’t a very long one; only a couple of hours, really. So there wasn’t much time to look around the big shops as we had other plans. But that is very much a good thing! It made a great change to see more of what the local small businesses can offer, and I think my parents were pretty impressed.
But even so, as a special treat we let them have a quick look round Debenhams before we left Bangor. Compromise is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?!