Exeter is in the midst of a hipster rejuvenation. You can see it if you peer hard enough, past the slumping high street and the Hollister and Jack Wills behemoths, arrived just in time to capitalise on the rich university droves. For once it’s not Gandy Street the bearded, geek-chic vintage lovers are headed for, but Fore Street, a forgotten time-warp of the lower half of the city which for years has been one of the areas you’d deem to avoid (with the exception of the McCoys arcade).
On Saturday I spent the day with my bestie fawning over fabrics and beads in the haberdasheries of Exeter, of which sadly there are few, but for the bead and craft stores it’s a different story. Any crafter worth their buttons will probably have heard of Bunyip Beads, a craft and jewellery making shop formally hidden away in the aforementioned McCoys Arcade. If you haven’t now really is your time because Bunyip has opened up shop smack in the middle of Fore Street, and in comparison to its last location it’s enormous. I’ve always liked the staff in Bunyip, always on hand to give tips to beginners like me, but with the new store comes a new outlook, And the solid oak table placed between the buttons and thread isn’t just for decoration. The first Saturday of every month Bunyip opens it’s doors to crafters who want to work on their projects with other like minded folk (cue the hipsters) sipping tea and getting clip-happy with the beguiling collection of jewels, buttons, fastenings and ribbons on offer here. There are also classes available to book for beginners and the intermediate where you can learnt from jewellery making experts the techniques to get set up on your own (Christmas pressie idea?)
After getting lost for what felt like a happy eternity we headed further down Fore Street along with the bearded denim cut-off toting brigade (do hipsters not feel the cold?) towards refreshment at the newly established Hidden Treasure Tea Rooms. It’s worth noting that on route we spotted three new vintage stores on Fore Street plus an independent haberdashery (yay!) called Arrietty . This new store run by theatre and TV costume maker Laurel Coxon and Daniel Haynes offers classes of the sewing and screen print variety by expert tutors in the field (including a millinery tutor who previously made hats for Kylie Minogue!) Like Bunyip they have sewing ‘surgeries’ every Thursday evening, where you can come with your projects to get advice or meet other floral-frock wearing sewers. Arrietty handily have Christmas craft sessions planned throughout December too, so check out the website above.
But anyway, time for some tea! The Hidden Treasure Tea Rooms has only been open for a few weeks but already seems to have secured its place here. Located next to Otto’s Vintage Store (yup, another one) the tea room has about 8 tables and serves (as expected) a variety of teas and coffees as well as a changing menu of home-made cakes and sweets. I had an Earle Grey, which poured satisfyingly through a proper strainer into a floral bone china teacup. To accompany it a slice of oozy and spectacularly yellow lemon polenta cake. My bestie had a hand-ground coffee and a perfectly-shaped meringue ball filled with a light lemon toffee. The room is all doilies and 50s lampshades, the music happily doo-woppy and the staff in their vintage frocks welcoming and friendly. With a quirky idea like this I don’t think this tea room will stay hidden for long, even in Exeter, and if the events blackboard is anything to go by (Christmas carol signing on Thursdays throughout December) it’s sure to be frequented by Exeter’s new attaché of hipsters too.