My favourite things
Rachel Johnstone is lucky lady. She has the dream job as home-finder extraordinaire at Stacks Property Search, so wouldn't we like to know a few of her favourite places and things to do in and around Northamptonshire? You bet we would...
I had a slight addiction to those house-hunting TV programmes in the ’90s, so can you imagine doing it as a real job?! Well Rachel does, lucky lady, because she’s a home-finder at Stacks Property Search. She goes out and about for clients in Northants and Bucks, so she’s been around our fair Shire quiiiiiite a lot! Here are her favourite places and things to do in and around Northamptonshire…
Remarkably Northamptonshire it is still a little known county for those outside its environs: with the beauty of Warwickshire, the character of Oxfordshire, the convenience of Buckinghamshire – and the price of Northamptonshire – I think it’s a county more people should get to know!
Originally a supply shop for the South Northants/Aston-le-Walls horsey set, they have branched out into a lovely shop with interesting and unusual gifts, often from local providers and a delicious café with homemade cakes and daily specials. The downside – Christmas shopping here is always a ‘1 for you, 1 for me’ affair!
This is where we get our Christmas Tree from in time for my birthday in early December, but all year, in addition to the lovely views from the café, there is hilarious chicken-watching to be had: at feeding time they stream up the hill from rooting amongst the Christmas trees in various stages of growth – I’m not sure why it is so funny, but babies to grandparents will be transfixed. Not only that, the café serves delicious food too. Always go for something including the literally ‘freshest eggs possible!’ There’s s also a growing play area and a packed farmshop to stock up in.
Eating and shopping – the A5 Corridor
The opportunity to eat and shop is never willingly passed up, so I could go on and on, however worth a particular mention if you’re in to antiques or vintage is the A5 corridor which has a panoply of places to explore. Weedon is heaving with independent antique shops right on crossroads with the A5; the Bell Plantation just outside Towcester has a variety of nice shops next to its garden centre as well as a great vintage store and Heart of the Shires is a cluster of boutiques perfect for a gentle mooch and catch up with friends.
Althorp Literary Festival
More cerebrally than eating and spending, plan now for the Althorp Literary Festival, it’s several lovely days in July (although they do have a food festival too). It is a great introduction to a literary festival, compact and organised beautifully both in the Hall and in marquees on the lawn. You can serenely waft from talk to talk, with plenty of time for a restorative cup of tea and cake in the courtyard or a wander in the gardens or through the art gallery. The speakers often stay with the Spencer family in the Hall the night before or after their talks, so you are mingling with veritable famous people too.
I’ll be preaching to the converted here, but I’m always busy extolling Northants as a convenient county for all types of sports and leisure activities – motor sports, racing, rugby, cricket to name the obvious, however I’d like to give a shout-out to Northants Netball supporting girls’ sport throughout the County. If you haven’t seen top flight netball in the flesh, it is a thrilling event and the stars are totally approachable and keen to encourage young girls and spend ages before and after matches chatting with fans, having photos taken and signing autographs. They do great work, and now Superleague Netball has become even more accessible for Northants players – we’ve always been able to nip along the motorway to Loughborough Lightning and Hertfordshire Mavericks to catch the elite level ladies doing their supernaturally athletic thing, but now Wasps Netball – based at The Ricoh Coventry, will be even closer for a large portion of the county. It is a great day out and guaranteed to inspire your daughters to get involved in sport.
Byfield Community Festival in the Park
The wishlist of my househunting clients always includes ‘a good community’ but of course this is such a nebulous and personal idea that I have to say to them that everywhere has nice people – you just have to put yourself out there and get involved in order to find ‘your tribe’. I will say however that active villages with events such as the Byfield Community Festival in the Park in September and the monthly Big Breakfasts in the village hall really do help provide occasions for mingling. I’m always interested to hear comments on our local villages and towns, so if you’d like to let your friendly neighbourhood Buying Agent know why your locale is such a great place to live – get in touch, it can’t hurt your house price!
You can find out more on the real life ‘Escape to the Country/Location Location Location’ service that Rachel and her colleagues at Stacks across the UK supply here: stacks.co.uk. Find her on your social media platforms as ‘Stacks Northants’ to keep her informed of your local news and understand the property market like a professional.