I met my friend Hazel for coffee the other day in Tynemouth, at the Land of Green Ginger. Well, it used to be called that and I still think of it that way - apparently it is now the 'Green Ginger Arcade'. Anyhow, it was built in 1869 as a Congregationalist church. Now it is a mini-shopping mall, with beautiful arches and stained glass windows. You can see the steeple in this photo, there beyond the village green.
Also a very dangerous place for me. The cafe where we met, Gingersnaps, is full of wonderful fattening food. There are a number of vintage shops with things like old bevelled mirrors, nightstand lamps, fur coats (for less than £50) and leather gloves.
Another place specialises in all things Celtic, which is very like art nouveau style and so I've always been quite susceptible. Best not to go in there, you see.
There is a sweets shop which is lovely to look at, but to which I'm largely immune.
Another shop specialises in cake making supplies. I'm not bothered about cakes either, but they have a display of ribbons that makes me itch to buy some major yardage. I have to remind myself that I already have boxes of the stuff at home.
The most lethal of the shops are downstairs: a shop called A Passion for Shoes unfortunately carries size 3 (that's about a 5 1/2 in American). I've yet to succumb, but there will come a day I'm sure. The really awful place is the antiques shop.
I bought my wardrobe there years ago (must show it to you sometime, it's quaint) and I've never gone in that I didn't see something I wouldn't love: standard lamps, chandeliers, mirrors and secretaries from the 1920s. Really bad news, that place is, for someone who already has a house full. I have however made a list of things in my house I could bear to part with, just a few. That would be my reward, wouldn't it, to go shopping for new things - I mean old things - in the Land of Green Ginger?
It was good to see Hazel. We spent a good couple of hours sat on the couches there at the back, sipping tea and munching fruit cake. The cafe was lovely and quiet. I was thinking I might have to go back sometime and enjoy having it practically all to myself. If a church can't be a church anymore, at least it can still be a very pleasant place.