When you think of Lewes in November you think of Bonfire. But now that the torches have been burnt and more fireworks than you have ever seen have been let off my mind always turns towards the festive season.
This year I am trying to be more considerate when it comes to Christmas presents. I want to try and support independent makers and small business. I want to shop local. Internet shopping is very convenient but postage costs add up and I just love that feeling of going to shop after shop, getting laden with bags and getting everything done at once. Lewes at times isn’t that great for the day to day practical side of shopping but if there is one thing that it does well it is gifts. From the many antique and flea markets to many little shops just bursting at the seams with lovely items for your nearest and dearest.
Here are my five favourite shops that are brilliant for presents for the small people in your life. And the young at heart.
Mary’s Sweet Shop – home to the work of designer maker Mary Fellows this newly opened shop in the Needlemakers is my favourite place in the whole of Lewes. From her wonderful prints and other items (I want so many of them) to the collection of little wonderful things all over the shop I just love everything about it. The walls are lined with sweets in jars and the shelves with interesting little items that would make perfect stocking fillers. There is a selection of unusual liquorice for the braver among us and some truly stunning prints, tea towels, mugs and trays. The staff are always very friendly and the floor is painted yellow. It is basically heaven.
Bag of Books – the only thing that beats an independent book store in my book is an independent children’s bookstore. Right at the end of Cliffe High Street on South Street you will find Bag of Books with it’s charming corner position and windows making it look like the perfect book store. Inside there is something for children of all ages. You can follow them on facebook and they often have events in store which always look fascinating. So far my children are a bit too young but I will definitely be taking them in future. I am a giver of books, especially to children. Although as I write that I remember that as a child the best present I could be given was a book token, I just loved being able to choose for myself. So go and have a look, and if you can’t decide get them a book token instead.
Wickle – Wickle (halfway up the high street on the left hand side) is very ‘Lewes’. I do love it so. Ever changing, with a cafe at the back (which has just got bigger and better). Very child friendly and stocked with some really lovely things as presents. I love how the shop is set up in different areas such as dressing up, construction, etc. No gender specific anything here and I love that. They stock a few clothes and things like pyjamas for small children – brands like Hatlety for the children and People Tree for the adults. They sell their own teas and toiletries and will happily gift wrap anything you buy in their own wrapping paper. Perfect for a browse and a cup of tea and a slice of delicious cake. There are toys and books for the children to play with while you sit back and enjoy a quick break.
Clarkes and Lorimers – my kids love a toy shop and so we were so pleased when one opened upstairs in Clarkes in Cliffe precinct. Downstairs sells greetings cards, gifts, stationery and a range of other items. Upstairs, past the giant playmobil man (named Chad I believe) is a lovely shop selling items for children of all ages. My favourite part is the well stocked board games and jigsaw puzzles but there is everything from Lego to Barbie and everything in between. If you are looking for something more mainstream then this is the shop for you. I definitely have my eye on Uno for the Christmas stockings this year and I think I will start getting us a game we can all play together.
Fun Learning Shop – open and bright this is a shopping dream. Near the top of the high street by the war memorial, Fun + learning = brilliant. We have already purchased quite a few birthday presents from this shop and the go to present for most of Piran’s friends has been the hatching dinosaur egg. The staff are great, they are friendly, give away free stickers to the kids and they are always happy to help. They make great suggestions and the service has always been impeccable when I have been in. You can shop with them online but that spoils the fun.
I have a shopping date with a friend next week – I am on a deadline, a visit from my mum in just over a week means that if I can get my presents bought and wrapped I can avoid the postage – she can take them to Cornwall for me! These shops are definitely on my list along with a lot more. I do love choosing presents for people. My problem is always seeing things I want for me too.
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