|Six Little Minster St, Winchester|
Walking the cobbled lanes in Winchester, trying to see everything before I left for Southampton to catch a ship, I found Carol Darby's hat shop. In the USA you often do not see hat shops any longer. Yes specialty store in high tourist areas but years ago hats were common for Sunday's and to go to 'town'.
So I had to smile when I saw Free Spirit, a compact corner store with windows full of HATS! The owner Carol Darby was inside working on a fabric or felt hat that would become a treasured piece of 'art' for a special occasion.
I hesitated to enter and bother the owner late on a rainy afternoon, but if you don't speak to people on the road, you may as well stay home and read about other countries in a book. I was warmly welcomed and soon learned that Carol has been creating hats and jewelry for more than 20 years.
No two hats in the shop were alike and Carol told me 'designs the hat to suit the wearer'. There are many special events in the UK that require a hat.
Commissions include engagement, wedding, Ascot perhaps and for members of the Royal family.
Carol had some wonderful stories to tell and I took more of her time than was polite but it was hard to leave. She shared with me that she didn't bother with face book or email but would check for my post when she visited a friend..................I hope to visit again and perhaps even try on a few of the most popular styles.
Travel is not only visiting museums, photographing monuments but also meeting the locals and learning about life in their town. Oh and this is the best part of travel.