I couldn't wait to visit, but when I eventually did the whole experience was totally amazing, just like entering another world! "Behind Tesco", were the directions I was issued with, but eventually a passing postman had to direct me there. Next door but one to Tesco, between Thomas Cook's and the craft shop, is what I thought was just a side entrance; however, when you go through, you leave the hustle and bustle of modern life behind and are plunged into Dickensian Ulverston ... I really wouldn't have been surprised if Fagan himself had approached me!
And there in all her glory is Violet and the Peadod! The story behind this lovely name is poignantly beautiful ... Violets were the first flower Kris's Dad bought her Mum when they were courting, and Kris loves all things violets ... the flower, the colour, scent, Parma Violets ... The peapod comes from the fact that Kris is the youngest of eight children and all were like peas in a pod. The name is a tribute to her lovely parents and family.
Kris and I met at junior school, aged about 7 or 8 and were inseparable for years. We walked home from school together, dilly-dallying through the park, spent our weekends together, baking (dolly-mixture cakes were our speciality), playing with our dolls and baptising them under the drainpipe!
Those were the days of the eleven-plus and sadly in the September when we were both 11 we went our separate ways to different secondary schools, and lost touch through the fickleness of youth, new friends and life's circumstances. Last summer I was doing a stall at a vintage fair and Kris waltzed in as a customer, and the years just fell away as we reminisced about those precious childhood years.
My dream has always been to own my own vintage shop, and I discovered that this was Kris's dream too, so I'm so glad that one of us has realised it!
There are lovely twinkly lights above the door and a welcoming sign inviting you in ...
The feeling that you get when you walk through the door is like you're entering someone's home, and not a business premises. It is so warm and welcoming, and Kris and her sister Rose (whom I worked with many years ago when we were both shorthand-typists in a shipbuilding company) are excellent hostesses, inviting you in, asking you to make yourself at home, look around, sit where you like and have tea and cake ... and more cake, and another fill-up ... excellent, I could have sat there all day long!
There are vintage scales full of sweets and Parma Violets, of course! Displays of vintage china are on every surface, in drawers, cupboards and on the tables, gorgeous dresses hang on the walls just waiting to be tried on. A sewing machine and balls of wool sit side by side on a wide windowsill, creating a delightful crafty corner.
Happy customers who are welcome to stay there all day, if they so wish ...
Display of vintage violet hats sit amongst the shop's name ...
The dresser is groaning with home-made cakes, all made by Kris and Rose on the premises ... I greedily chose the orange cake, top right of the picture, followed an hour later by the Dotty Cake, named after their Aunty Dot. Both were very delicious with lots of tea from vintage china. The lime cake had already sold out, as had the scones, and the shop had only been opened for an hour when I arrived!
Everything is tastefully displayed, but it doesn't have the effect of being in a shop ... it feels like Violet's home ... and you've been invited in.
A beautiful Mary Quant scarf peeps out of a set of drawers, while vintage magazines are placed in a rack for you to peruse whilst taking your refreshments. Each little corner is a vision of loveliness and it was a delight to photograph. The bathroom has lots of little finishing touches such as fragranced soap and hand cream, vintage mirrors and a pot plant from a well-wisher.
I stayed for a couple of hours but could have stayed longer ... I had to pack my car for today's Fair, I'll tell you more about that later.
So don't forget my lovelies, if ever you happen to be in the little market town of Ulverston in Cumbria, a warm welcome will always await you at Violet's ... next door but one to Tesco! Oh, it's open 10am - 4pm, Thursday, Friday, Saturday ... and Tuesdays up until Christmas!
See you soon,
Love Claire xxx