Peebles is one of those towns that, for the most part, has managed to avoid the curse of the high street - an influx of chain stores and charity shops which drive out independent retailers.
There's an old-fashioned ironmongers, with the stacks of brooms and crammed shelves just like the ones you remember from childhood, and plenty of gift shops with their scent of candles and lavender soap wafting onto the pavement. But it has to be said Peebles is more of a food lover's than a style lover's town. There's a small food market on a Saturday, fresh food shops such as Peebles institution WTS Forsyth and Sons, which is both a butchers and a bakery, and the place to go when stocking up on sausage rolls and fruit slices for a picnic.
Peebles prospered on the back of wool production for fabrics, with mills building up on the River Tweed throughout the Borders. Sadly CaerleeMill in Innerleithen, dating from 1788,wasn't able to beat the economic downturn and was closed last year. However, Robert Noble cloth still produces tweeds and tartans from their mill on March Street.
My picks of the places to visit in Peebles:
The therapeutic waters from nearby St Ronan's Well supplied the lightly salted water for Peebles Hotel Hydropathic, which opened in 1881 as a place for rich Victorians to sooth their nerves with electro-therapy, sulphur and peat baths. Treatments are less bristling nowadays, and also very reasonably priced for individual spa treatments and special spa packages.
(To make an appointment contact Lynsay on 07825666051 or visit Bustle on Facebook.)
Bustle has a collection of vintage dresses from the 1940s to the 1980s, available for viewing on request at a boutique room in Cardrona, three miles from Peebles. Owner Lynsay, an avid vintage collector, personally hand-picks dresses in great condition, in particular couture house dresses which were made in the UK before mass-manufacturing took over. It's a great opportunity to find something rare and unusual for a special occasion, and with one-to-one advice.
Inis is a fashion boutique that sells clothing inspired by the Hebrides, but with labels includingFrench Connection, Avoca, Great Plains, NoaNoa, and Hobbs. The selection reflects the slower way of life of country-living, with a muted palette rather than being overly fashion-forward. There are three Inis boutiques across the Borders - as well as Peebles, there are branches in Hawick and Galashiels. You can also order online via www.inisonline.com
Tiger Lily Gifts
61 High Street
Tiger Lily looks like a card shop from the front, but in the back of the shop is an extensive range of Sheila Fleet jewellery. The Orkney designer creates delicate pieces inspired by the landscape of the islands - ancient rocks, ripples in sand, wild grass and pebbles.
William Lockie Knitwear Store
Old Corn Exchange, High Street
William Lockie, a traditional Hawick producer, have been making knitwear in their mill on the banks of the Teviot since 1874. The little shop on Peebles High Street sells 100 % cashmere and lambs wool sweaters in a range of colours and design, along with other knitted accessories including socks and scarves.
7 Newby Court, School Brae
Located in a peaceful courtyard, between a deli and a woodworks shop, is Lynn Tindalejewellery. The designer can customise one-off pieces utilising silver, gold and freshwater pearls, and specialises in Pictish and Celtic designs. She also sells beautiful and intricately textured silver leaf jewellery by Rory Tindale.
40 Northgate (by appointment only, firstname.lastname@example.org)
This bridal shop specialises in sourcing from around the world that perfect one-off vintage wedding from 1920s to 1980s, which can be adapted to fit. There are also new made to measure dresses from £500 to £2000 and a collection of accessories such as veils, shoes and tiaras.
And for after…
3 Cuddy Bridge
I couldn't mention a trip to Peebles without Cocoa Black, a chocolate school and café that creates and sellsbeautifully crafted patisserie such as opera and chocolate financiers, hand-crafted chocolates, and jars of chocolate cherries, brazils and ginger. Founded by Ruth Hinks, the UK World Chocolate master, you can sign up to classes on developing chocolatier or pastry skills, to learn how to make your own traditional French patisserie.