J&A Cameras: And Trumps For Barnstaple Again!
I don't know how I'd forgotten about this little camera shop until now as it was to there that I went to buy the spare camera battery on the shopping list on my intro page. This is yet another example of that mysterious shopper's relationship that Barnstaple and I have.
There I was in town with my shopping list and last on it was the battery - not any old battery but a very specific Li-ion for my Kodak and so in I went to J&A's to enquire. Showing the friendly guy who was serving the battery I needed, elicited the initial response:
"No, sorry, we don't carry those in stock, but, of course I can order one for you..............ah, no, wait-a-minute..." - a quick look through the battery display - "Ah, You ARE in luck, it just so happens that we DO have one, it was ordered for someone else a couple of months ago but they failed to pick it up and so here it is!"
J&A Cameras is yet another small independent Devon group with 2 other outlets in the county - at Bideford and Tiverton and if Barnstaple is anything to go by should be well worth a visit for your photography requirements.
PS Website also has an online shop.
What to buy: Cameras of course!! Plus accessories for them, printing and developing, etc. plus some odd items such as telescopes, binoculars and the latest addition - metal detectors.
What to pay: Whatever - from budget to full-blown pro models, they do have an excellent selection.
- Arts and Culture
The Bike Shed: Friendly Knowledgeable Service!
As befits it location on The Tarka Trail, Barnstaple has several bicycle sales and hire outlets including the National chain Halfords. The Bike Shed here however is part of a small Devon company with 3 outlets (Exeter and Crediton being nthe other 2) and prides itself on personal service and certainly lives up to expectations.
On dropping in to discuss buying a couple of bikes the sales guy - no that's wrong term, let's try "the guy who went through the options with me"? Hmmm, yep that's better - Martin took some time to ascertain exactly what I wanted and then presented me with various options price-wise but at no time pitching any particular option and explaining why certain identical seeming bikes had huge price differences. He was quite happy to guide me towards the upper end of the budget range explaining that for what I wanted something in that range would be ideal.
Having spent a good half-hour browsing I eventually settled on a pair of road bikes and then a few accessories - check out the snazzy cycle jackets on my PPP! Excellent service, reasonable price and free delivery (which did take a tad longer than expected admittedly but that wasn't their fault). Back-up service includes a free nuts and bolts check after a few weeks and of course a full repair service if required. Great bikes and great little shop, cheers, Martin :)
What to buy: BIKES OF COURSE!!! (and accessories).
What to pay: From whatever to whatever but follow the advice
Barum Arcade: Barnstaple Comes Up Trumps Yet Again!!
So there was Dee (the female half of my bosses) and I sitting in front of the fire back at the pub, having a late night drink and generally just shooting the bull as we do from time to time. The conversation ebbed and flowed as usual and at one stage we found ourselves discussing the pub layout and more specifically the furniture. "You know what would really go well at that front window?" she mused, "A nice big oval family-sized table, one that would sit about 8 people around it, maybe 10 at a push."
And so the conversation drifted on to other subjects, more drinks were drunk and the topic of furniture all but forgotten.
What to buy: Then I find myself a couple of days later in Barnstaple dropping my winter coat off at the dry-cleaners on Bear Street and happen to be passing the Barum Arcade - Yep, you guessed it!! Right at the front is dark wood oval table, perfect to seat 6, expandable to to take 8 and easily large enough to fit a family of 10!
Told you, Barnstaple and I have this sort of shopper's bond - truly amazing!!
What to pay: Not a fortune!
Barum Arcade: Barnstaple Comes Up Trumps!
Barnstaple never ceases to amaze me with its practicalness and this little arcade, with its oddball collection of antique and second-hand furniture shops, has played a starring role not just once but TWICE in a row over the past couple of months! It's almost as if the town has some sort of telepathic connection with me as whenever I need something very specific it just seems to appear as if whipped out of some magician's oversized top hat.
What to buy: A couple of months ago, not long after moving into the pub where I work, I had taken a day off to do my usual occasional shopping trip and so Barnstaple it was, armed with my little list of totally disparate items such as The 3 B's (Books, Bank and Booze - not necessarily in that order!!), toiletries, an electric connector for something, Yep, all the usual bits and bobs that have to be topped up from time to time. - so no problems there. However I also was looking for a new wardrobe, and not just any old wardrobe but specifically a compact plain wooden affair for my new little nest and I had in my mind's eye exactly what I needed.
Good old Barnstaple, there it was here in one of the Barum Arcades little shops, exactly what I was after and not hugely expensive either - AMAZING!!
What to pay: Depends what you are looking for!!
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The Pannier Market: Cheesey Socks!
This is a perfect example of the great British covered market with its eclectic mix of stalls ranging from local-produced cheese to everyday household items, with a second hand book stall thrown in amongst the fruit and veg guys. Some of the stalls are daily fixtures whilst others change use depending on the day.
I managed to buy both cheese AND thick socks from the same guy at the same time on adjoining stalls, perhaps the sock guy was out to lunch or perhaps the cheese guy had a particularly wicked sense of humour!
What to buy: Anything from electrical bits and bobs to local fruit and veg plus a lot more besides.
What to pay: Nothing is extortionate unless you go daft.
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