Porthmadog – A Tale of 2 Shops & a Hairdresser’s

I do go on as you know, this was meant to be a short thank you but when was I anything but long?

Since living for a year in Borth y Guest near Porthmadog back in 2011 Porthmadog has been my weekly shop ever since (normally on a Monday in between a weekend shift at the Cafe & my preference to have a day-off before doing it’s paperwork on a Tuesday). As banks closed my weekly visit to Tesco & the recycling bin with a fortnightly haircut (sometimes this turned into a frightening three week cut) a visit to cash up at the HSBC bank was added to my ‘shopping’ chores.

As years passed one day upon exiting the HSBC my eyes noticed a book shop, a very notable experience for a Bookworm. There had been a book I needed (second part of a trilogy). I walked in saw it stare me in the face & was paying the surprised owner within 30 seconds flat. She had a bemused look so I simply proffered something like ‘I don’t usually choose books that quickly’ & left with a touch of embarrassment. Over the years to come I became a regular & they began to order book after book for me, for me at least a far more rewarding experience than turning to the modern Amazon ‘God’.

Time moved on & a few years later my eyes noticed a new Fishmonger had opened up, what a pleasant ‘backward’ step in our Globalised world. I walked in, my favourite was surrounded in ice, Monkfish on the menu & a new pleasing relationship started to form. Fish every Monday although my choice was limited by the Monday dictat.

Two more years passed, Lockdown arrived, the Bookshop closed, the Fishmonger remained open, the Tesco experience turned into my version of hell, but we have to eat & look at empty toilet roll shelves don’t we. But traditions had to change for my mental well-being.

I changed my Tesco shopping to a Sunday thereby avoiding a 50 metre socially distancing queue outside the store, this worked but the Fishmonger was deservedly closed on Sunday’s. Now I am not normally a rule breaker whether I believe in our Laws or not but the decision to still support the Fishmonger who was fighting for survival whilst introducing a delivery service to help customers in Lockdown was to me a no-brainer & in truth I got something out of it which I could justify as food shop. With the Cafe being closed I could now visit him on Tuesday, market day, the already good quality & freshness leapt higher. We would talk about the state of Lockdown, the why’s & wherefore, I would look forward to our mutual updates & discussions. Weeks later & finding out he was doing deliveries to Dolgellau every Saturday I said I live near there, we belated exchanged names, ‘I’m Paul’, ‘I’m Simon’, a long overdue exchange. Simon delivered to me each Saturday until our Cafe fully re-opened.

As to the Bookworm in me I was lucky, pre-lockdown I had amassed quite a shelf of ‘books to read’, 30 plus I believe. A few were Mountaineering classics reserved for Advanced Base camp in the Karokorum. As the books remaining dwindled & the Karokorum climb not yet officially off I began to eye these classics more intently & then gambled & gobbled them up. Thankfully the trip was duly cancelled (meaning I could focus on supporting the Cafe in it’s dire needs to re-open). I turned to Amazon ‘God’ (well Dorina did it for this Luddite) & ordered recommendations from John & Iain but then learned from Dorina that the Bookshop had introduced (or improved) it’s on-line ordering & was doing well. This coincided with me reading a long list of translated modern classics Saturady Newspaper, I circled 9 Books & as only a Luddite could sent them an almost ‘modern’ e-mail order. More orders have followed, I’ve picked up 11 Books with face to face contact & have saved a mountain of cardboard whilst supporting a shop & it’s people as best I can. The Bookshops on-line sales had done well, Sian told me, but post lockdown was turning bleak, a minor organisational re-furbishment was turning into a semi-rebuild, the shop cannot open for weeks. It’s post-lockdown on-line sales have fallen away, it needs the local communities help so lets do what we can & visit it on line or ping them an e-mail.

So my thanks for your service over several years, Lockdown & post-Lockdown go to:-

Browser’s Bookstore, www.browsers-bookshop.co.uk, ben.cowper@btinternet.com, Sian, Ben & their friendly & very helpful team.

Blas y Mor, www.blasymor.co.uk, sg.herbert@btinternet.com, Simon Herbert, a Gentleman with an eye for good fish.

My thanks for adding good experience to my weekly routine.

Now belatedly back to the Hairdressers, Ellis’, here I have an apology to make as I have not made an appointment since they re-opened. This is not their fault or I believe due to the fact that Dorina has been cutting my hair really well over the last 4 months or so. It is simply that I am very much against the de-humanising affect I feel facemasks create, we can all have different opinions & should be allowed to react to Covid 19 in a respectful & respected way. Having to wear a Facemask would have a devastating impact on my Mental Health. Ellis’ will be complying with Government Regulations & Guidance, I wish you well & will definitely return when it is safe for me to do so, in the meantime I wish you every success in recovering from the Lockdown.

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