If you are heading to Hampshire I can recommend some good places to shop and eat in Alresford, the home of the Watercress Steam Line.
We are just back from a lightning pre-Christmas parents-in law visitation, staying with sister-in-law in the very pretty village of Chawton ; where none other than Jane Austin ( whose birthday it is today) was born. Jane Austens House Museum, where she lived and wrote is open to the public all year.
Nearby is the lovely Georgian market town of Alresford, choc-full of elegant pastel -painted houses and gorgeous shops, so very easy to come home laden with goodies as we have done.
Have supper at The Globe Inn, which is traditional pub on the river with open log fires, wandering dogs, cool, live music, and delicious gastro-pubby food.
On the outskirts of town is The Long Barn , a stunning two storey barn surrounded by lavender fields. They are growers and distillers of organic lavender. They sell delicious and distinctly un-granny-ish lavender products, stylish home wares, plants . Christmas Trees and wreaths-huge boughs of mistletoe( we lugged one home) and a fab café .They also have various courses there upstairs to take a peek at the website.
The other shops that are a must-visit are Sole Butchers-their windows full of yummy Game at the moment, Roxtons-very tweedy/county/shooting and polo kit/trad shop and the perfect place for posh outdoor clothing, and presents for all.
The Alresford Linen Company, which sells quirky home wares , a bit like Graham and Green, and also a nice selection of cashmere for men.
We always have lunch at Caracoli, a colourful food store/Café with great coffee and delicious food. Their enormous cheese straws , smoked bacon on sourdough toast, and their home-made scotch eggs are always a favourite.
Alresford is the perfect place to while away a couple of hours and you surely wont come home empty-handed! It was all very Christmassy and a rather jolly start to the festive period.
Lastly do make a detour five minutes up the road to Alton and visit the oh-so-stylish Gilded Cabinet. A former pub that has had a glamourous make-over and now houses an interiors design studio and shop selling gorgeous home wares , furniture and a smattering of vintage finds.