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We're glad you're here. Reading this. We are going to write down and explain why Clarendon Park is so darn spectacular.

There are numerous community things happening in Clarendon Park all year round, but the ultimate seasonal gathering just so happened on Saturday 6th December. The Clarendon Park Christmas Fair. A glorious set up of stalls from all the local, independent shops along Queens and Clarendon Park Road. Atmospheric and high spirited individuals, accompanied by live music and at times, Christmas carolers helped bring everyone together for this wonderful annual event.

With the ZigZag photography studio being just around the corner on Portland Road, taking the chance to mingle and interact with all the other independent places was a real treat for myself and for Leicester Lo-Fi. During the fair, the Lo-Fi team and I got to work and really took advantage of this opportunity to add content to our Shelf Life photography project (as mentioned in our previous blog post). Shelf Life focuses on the astonishingly quirky businesses in and around Leicestershire. Coinciding nicely with the fair, plenty of shops happily took part in the project!

A special thank you to Lo-Fi's first port of call; Labels DA, located on Clarendon Park Road. Labels is a uniquely fashionable designer dress agency. The shop boasts Armani, D&G, Karen Millen, Prada and other top fancy labels. Carol, the owner of Labels was charming and graceful, a perfect representation of what she was selling in her lovely shop. Carol definitely seemed up for being photographed with the medium format Bronica we were armed with. We hit the jackpot with Carol, she's a very stylish and classy lady who represented her elegant shop beautifully.

The top two are of Carol in her shop, the one below is of Mrs Bridge's Tea Room in town! The prints were made on Tuesday evening in Leicester Lo-Fi's darkroom located in the Manor House just off Haddenham Road, Narborough Road. It's where the rest of the prints will be made next Tuesday too! Care to join us??

Lo-Fi and I are very happy to have Carol and Label DA on board Shelf Life. Suggestions of other unusual shops close by were rather helpful, Carol really helped find the next gem. It was no other than Elizabeth James Gifts only a door or two down from Labels!

Elizabeth James Gifts is an exquisite shop that makes it their job to personalise everything around you, from elaborate frames, quality handmade decorations to the material you hang your baubles from. Not only do you want and need to buy everything for your house from this shop, but if you're keen on keeping your garden quirky - they've got stuff for you there too! To fully experience Elizabeth James, just go to them and see for yourself. We only wished we had large format instead of medium, there simply was so much to look at! *Thank you for the amazing homemade broccoli and Stilton cheese soup too!*

Eskimo Blue Pottery Studio, is somewhere, where I have not (shamefully) been before. Tucked away just off Clarendon Park Road, near Avenue Primary School, it was the quintessential place we were all searching for. Absolutely everything had a charm to it, even the door before you stepped in. The Lo-Fi team and I were extremely careful transporting the camera equipment, tripod, suitcases and all things that could potentially break the beautiful pottery designs in Eskimo Blue. Downstairs was beautiful and the natural winter light was seeping in which seemed to reflect off of everything, however, upstairs is where it was happening.

Not happening for Betty, but as soon as we got upstairs to the pottery studio where we found Charlotte, the owner of Eskimo Blue, she was radiating a friendly atmosphere and serving mulled wine! We fell in love with the place immediately. As we set up the camera, Charlotte warning us of the dusty floor, Betty the kitty came and joined Charlotte on her lap! Resulting in our first real animal to be involved in the Shelf Life project!

Just as the heavens opened, we had to change film so we sought refuge in the ZigZag studio. Light was becoming scarce and we only had a 400 ISO film so we quickly got moving to All About Daisy! Michelle is the owner, and if you've walked by her shop, just on Montague Road, you may sometimes spot a little doggy called Alfie in the window! And that's what we loved about the place, it was so relaxed and Michelle's attitude was simply wonderful. The first time I went in to buy a birthday present, I wondered around and saw that everything was 100% recycled! Like.... everything! Book shelves made from bicycle chains, coasters made from wallpaper, flowers from paper; and we're pretty sure her second dog was made from Alfie's left over fur! If you're interested in her shop name, all you have to do is ask! It's really quite quirky.

Right next door to All About Daisy was Vintage Utopia. It is full of knick knacks for your garden, bedroom, spare room, kitchen, every room of the house really, and possibly your allotment. The things they have displayed have a real rustic feel, and most days, they have their stuff on display outside to attract you all in! And it works! Not only do they have vases, retro tin cans, huge wall pieces and outdoor statues for sale, right at the back of the shop there's an immense record collection! We were incredibly lucky to even get an image with Richard and Ruth, Vintage Utopia was absolutely packed!! Your images will be made in the darkroom on Tuesday evening, can't wait!

The last two places we visited was My Prettiez, just down a side street on Queens Road, and then Salvador Deli <-- which is thee best name for a deli in the history of ever. Two amazing places on the grandest street in Leicester, these fine businesses deserve every attention you give them. They, as well as every single place we went and photographed, drank in, met up in and even changed our films in; they are the absolute reason why Clarendon Park is the wonderful way it is.

Shelf Life will continue to collect all kinds of unusual businesses and their owners. We're hoping for exhibitions soon enough and you'll all be invited to them! Special amazing thank yous to All About Daisy, My Prettiez, Christopher James Deli, Vintage Utopia, Eskimo Blue, Labels DA, Elizabeth James and thank you for the atmospheric meeting place at Fingerprints, and also Northern Cobbler for the tea refill we all needed.

Thank you for reading! And if you've made it this far, please watch our video to see why Clarendon Park is just the best to work and shop here!

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