Bellcourt Books, Hamilton

Having visited the Byaduk Caves and found ourselves only 20 minutes drive from Hamilton, we decided to head into town for a late lunch and a bit of shopping. 

All of a sudden, a day of exploring the countryside turned into another episode of “I’m Going On A Book Hunt”. I had heard of a great bookstore in Hamilton, and this was my opportunity to visit. 

Bellcourt Books is an independently owned and operated store that offers a very good range of new, secondhand, and vintage books. 

The store is airy and clean, and really nicely laid out. The sections are clearly labelled, so it’s easy to find your favourite genre and see what’s available. 

And, at the end of a visit, how lovely it is to be able to take your books home in environmentally friendly packaging with a great message!

Bellcourt Books is at 63 Gray St, Hamilton. 
Website: bellcourtbooks.com.au

The Cow Lick Bookshop

Yesterday I was granted an opportunity I’ve been waiting for: I visited the Cow Lick Bookshop in Colac, Victoria. which I had discovered and followed on Facebook about a month ago. 

Colac is in the Western District of Victoria, in the middle of God’s own dairy farming country.  It’s about half an hour’s drive from where I live, but in the opposite direction to where I work, so I don’t get there often.

When I lived on a dairy farm at Princetown and visited Colac regularly, there was no bookstore, so I am super happy that there is such a great one there now. 

Neal, the owner, is very friendly and knowledgeable. The shop is really well set up, and has a refreshingly quirky, welcoming vibe. The store has books on a wide range of subjects, with an excellent range of kids’ books, and Young Adult and general fiction. In addition to all the fabulous books, there are lots of interesting book and pop culture related items, board and card games, and some fabulous gift ideas. 

I could definitely have spent a lot more time and a lot more money there, and I absolutely want to go back. Supporting local businesses and Indie shops is something I value greatly,  so I’m just going to have to call in again and buy a few more books. I like to think of it as a sacrifice I’m willing to make for the greater good. 

If you’re ever in the area or passing through Colac on your way to somewhere else, this is a place you should definitely visit. Feel free to tell Neal I sent you. 

You can find the Cow Lick Bookshop at 90 Murray St, Colac, Victoria, 3250.

You can also check out the website and Facebook page.

Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Occasionally, I like to throw caution to the wind and do something dangerous. Intrepid and adventurous, that’s me. Completely aware of the perils ahead, I put my sassy pants on and set out for an adventure that has long been on the bucket list for this holiday. 

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company makes hand-crafted, fully customisable teddy bears that are unbearably adorable.

   
 
The bears all carry the trademark labels and eyes which distinguish them from other bears. The eyes have “Born in Vermont” imprinted in the iris. Too cute. Being from Vermont, the Bears all have a chubby tummy that is known at the company as “the belly that Ben & Jerry’s built”. 

   
   
There are hundreds of different outfits that can be purchased for the 15″ bears, reflecting seasons, occupations, sports and significant life events. Most of the bears have brown eyes, but can be customised with blue, green or hazel eyes. Paws and outfits can be customised with embroidery. 

   
   
The factory tour is fun and entertaining for all ages. I was really pleased to see the tour being led by a delightful guy who has a disability but is obviously living joyfully despite it. 

The bears are very reasonably priced in comparison to other top-quality, hand-crafted collectible bears, such as the Charlie Bears which I also collect. 

All in all, I had a wonderful day here. I made the experience complete by adopting a 15″ Maple Bear with blue eyes. It’s fair to say that he had a pretty good day, too. 

Niagara Falls: Canada v America. 

When. I posted some of my pictures from the Clifton Hill entertainment area near Niagara Falls, Ontario, one of my American relatives posted a response saying that he really appreciated the American decision to make the area surrounding the falls a national park so that the area would not become commercialised, as the Canadian side of the falls had done. 

I agreed with him. It’s lovely that there is parkland surrounding the falls area, and that people are encouraged to enjoy the natural beauty of the falls. There is a small wooded area where one cat watch the squirrels and chipmunks play, and monuments to various historical events and figures that are significant to the area. It’s really very nice indeed. 

On reflection, though, the two sides are not so different. On both sides, people can enjoy the scenery without directly encountering any kind of commercialism. There is parkland for sitting, having a picnic, or just taking some time out. On both sides, without walking too far, people can find a gift shop, a casino, and various other opportunities for dining and retail therapy. Both casinos and their advertising are quite visible from the falls. Both sides have a Hard Rock Cafe, and I have visited and eaten in each of them. Both are excellent. Both sides run a cruise on the river that takes people right up close to the falls to witness their power and grandeur face to face. Both sides are fantastic, and I encourage everyone to visit both so that their experience of Niagara Falls is complete. 

 Clifton Hill is actually several blocks’ walk from the falls themselves, and doesn’t overwhelm one’s perception of Niagara Falls as one of the world’s natural wonders at all. You can visit Niagara Falls, CA, without going anywhere near there. There is lots of fun to be had at Clifton Hill if one is so inclined, and it’s also possible to enjoy the sights and sounds of the area without spending any extra money. Yes, it’s commercialised to a greater degree than the area surrounding the falls in New York State, but there is commercialism on both sides. 

When it all boils down about which “side” is better, my decision isn’t based on opportunities for dining, gambling or any other entertainment. It’s quite simple, really. The view from the American side is impressive, but nowhere near as stunning as it is on the Canadian side. Even the American side of the falls looks better from Canada.  

 

  

I declare Canada the winner, eh. 

Oh No, You Didnt!

For some time, LMC has been saying things she’s heard on American tween TV shows. 

One of her favourite phrases is “Oh no, you didn’t!” when someone says or something she doesn’t like. 

Today I was browsing in a shop when I heard stuff land on the floor and an employee say “Oh no, you didn’t!” in exactly the same way and with an accent that LMC had perfected far better than I had previously realised. 

It made me smile.
Even more than that, it made me miss my girl. 

Larry.

I just met a great guy named Larry who runs a store called Clothes Encounters in Farmington, a suburb of Detroit. 

I’ve met lots of friendly people here, but Larry is just that bit nicer, funnier, and sweeter than most. We chatted, talked about politics and the state of the world, we joked and laughed, and then I walked out of the store feeling great. I think Larry is the sort of guy who has a gift for making the day better for everyone he meets. 

If you’re ever in Detroit, pop down to Clothes Encounters in Farmington and tell Larry I sent you. Maybe we can make his day great, too.