Ms X agreed to do the job for me this week. She and I went round Shrewsbury a few days ago. We didn’t just do shops. We did a bit of tourism too. Aware that this could end up costing me, we agreed that anything Miss X liked I’d photograph, and she could tell her mother about it afterwards.
Our trip started in SHREWSBURY ABBEY. Ms X spent a long time in the Abbey, trying out most [and I mean most] of its pews and singing Ba Ba Black Sheep very loudly in the choir stalls. We lit a candle. We got as close as we could manage to the altar without doing damage, and talked about how golden everything was.
The organ interested us, especially its pedals, which we didn’t touch. Nor did we touch the assortment of toys in one of the side aisles because Ms X reckoned they were baby toys, not for girls like her. Ms X was interested in finding knights. She’s into castles, princesses and fairies, and has a thing for knights. When we did find them, however, they turned out to be bigger than she’d expected and made of cold, grey stone, which made them look scary, so we bid a hasty retreat.
Before we left the Abbey, Ms X piled up kneelers on a pew so that she could sit up high and look around. We checked the candle to see if it was still alight. She said again about liking gold. She’d like to come again, she said. I said we could another day.
Next up were SWANS. Ms X was keen by now to get to the shops, but was riveted half way across the English Bridge by the sight of a swan on an island in the middle of the river, building its nest. She wanted me to photograph it, which I did. On the way back at the end of the day, she pointed out that two swans were on the river now.
INFINITY & BEYOND. Miss X was very disappointed indeed that this shop/cafe wasn’t open. She liked superheroes, she said. Looking through the window at all the framed superheroes on the walls, she became very animated. It was nice inside there, she said, but what a shame there weren’t any lights.
BELLINI’S ICE CREAM PARLOUR. There were lots of shopping opportunities on Wyle Cop, but we walked past them all in pursuit of ice cream. At Bellini’s we had to face the disappointment of no credit card machine, which meant tiny legs having to trail almost all the way to the Square to find a cash machine [and back]. But the journey was worth it in the end, Miss X showing a preference for strawberry ice-cream, which she chose to eat in a sundae glass. She ate very slowly with a tiny spoon, during which time it did not escape her attention that I managed an ice cream sundae AND a piece of cake. Ms X said she’d like to visit Bellini’s Ice Cream Parlour again.
THE ANTIQUE MARKET. Ms X had started out our day in Shrewsbury by saying let’s go and have adventures, so I suggested she might like to go downstairs into a secret cave underground where treasures were hidden. Ms X thought this was a good idea. We headed along Princess Street, then downstairs into another world. I’d worried slightly that Ms X might find this underground world scary, but not a bit of it. In a state of high excitement, she ran from stall to stall. It was as much as I could do to keep up. There were moments of panic when I thought I’d lost her, but then she’d pop up laughing behind a chest, a chair or a rack of frocks.
Every now and then Ms X stopped for me to take a photograph. Here’s the hand-painted German rocking cradle that she liked. Below’s a tin toadstool music box, complete with handle. Then there’s a lovely yellow dress with feathers. Then a flamenco dancing doll. Then an embroidered Chinese suit. Then here's the skateboard which Ms X would have been happy if I’d bought, and the vintage Mickey Mouse [which I nearly bought] and the paint box that I did buy [there’s only so much of seeing little people loving things that one can resist]. It was called ‘Treasure Trove’ and Ms X rewarded me for it with a nice big smile.
THE WORKS. After the Antique Market, Ms X and I crossed the Square and caught sight of another superhero lurking behind the window of [I think] Thompson’s Travel Agency. We then headed up Pride Hill, getting as far as THE WORKS where multi-coloured windmills on sticks, wrapped in shiny sellophane, caught Ms X’s eye.
We went in. Flying saucers caught our eye, but we didn’t buy. Haribo Strawbs caught our eye, but we didn’t buy. A fancy face mask caught our eye, but we didn’t buy. Some puzzle books and books on superheroes caught our eye, but instead I bought paint brushes to go with the paint-box from the Antique Market.
At the top of Pride Hill, we went into WAITROSE. Ms X selected pasta for our meal, and pasta sauce. Outside we stopped for a short tree hug, then it was back to mine and time to paint. Ms X had enough of secret shopping for one day. But she’d had a good time. At least, that’s what she told her mum when I took her home.