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Exploring Nairn Museum, Community Arts Centre and High Street.

Earlier this week I visited Nairn, primarily to attend a workshop by an illustrator that I admire, she had returned to the area as part of the Nairn Book and Arts festival.

It has been longer than I care to admit since I visited this lovely seaside town, I had high hopes for a lovely day by the sea, with a little retail therapy and a meal before the evening workshop.

The day began nicely, the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze, ideal weather for a leisurely stroll. I and my artist friend Theresa arrived a little after two, we parked up, (free parking at the Community and Arts Centre) and headed off to the museum. The museum is housed in an old town house, a handsome building which has served various purposes over the years, after a modest beginning in two upper rooms; the museum has now grown to encompass the whole building! I had noticed in the Nairn Book and Arts festival brochure there was an Automata – Mechanical Wonders Brought to Life exhibition, it was a show I had missed at several events previously and given my love for history and especially the weird and wonderful a definite on my ‘must-see’ list! Unfortunately the demonstration day fell later on in the festival (Saturday 13th August at 11.30am) but none-the-less we were able to spend a good half an hour milling around, pressing buttons and pulling levers, feeling both in awe and a little unlevered by some of the curiosities on show. After a brief chat with one of the staff  we then explored the rest of the building which is mainly set up to remind or inform visitors of Nairn’s history, from links to the World Wars to imports from foreign climbs to past  school days (pre-computers!). All was taken in with a sense of nostalgia, though we are both too young to recall many of the items on display! The building is full of interesting facts and artefacts and well worth a visit.

We then left the museum and took a short walk down to the high street. Unfortunately many of the shops I remembered from previous visits have gone! As on many high streets across the UK there were many empty units, separated by food outlets, a few charity shops and the odd clothing shop.

My friend had submitted some work for the “Off the PEG” exhibition, which involves unframed works of art being displayed in various shop windows for the length of the festival. We found Theresa’s pieces displayed in a lovely florist, and after a browse inside (and a few pounds lighter) we continued our route towards the beach. Towards the bottom of the High Street we discovered a couple of lovely little boutique style gift shops….Unfortunately both closed on a Monday! So we headed to the beach front.

If you haven’t been to Nairn (and have small children) it is well worth a visit just to experience the beach. You will discover several beach areas all with white sand and clear water, there are many facilities, including a play-area and cafe.

By now the weather had began to turn and a cool breeze was coming in bringing with it darker clouds. We decided to find somewhere nice to eat.

Overlooking the beach you will come across the Bandstand Restaurant, it looked pleasant enough so we ventured in. It was a pretty quiet day therefore we didn’t have to wait to be served, food arrived very quickly, both of us opting for a super food salad with brioche and goats cheese, it was delicious, we finished our meal with a pot of tea for two and headed off with full bellies in the direction of the Nairn Community and Arts Centre.

This bright, modern, adaptable building with excellent conference & art facilities has become a vital part of the community.

Along with the community centre services, this venue also provides information on the local area, things to see and do in Nairn, places to visit, places to eat and other literature as Nairn’s Tourist Information Point. The building itself is modern and easy to navigate around with the manned reception to your right as you walk in the main entrance. Once there all we had to do was wait until the room was prepared, the off we went to meet Kate Leiper, where we spent an enjoyable hour learning and taking participating in the idea processes behind illustration work.

So, maybe Nairn is not the destination for a bit of retail therapy but there are plenty of other attractions to keep you entertained, why not follow our suit and head off to Nairn today!

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