I am the first to admit that when the pavements freeze to polished ice and an arctic wind nips the nose, it is very easy to drive into a shopping center and wander in the bright, warm and dry "streets".
However, when looking for something special, unusual or unique rather than the ordinary and mass-produced, then, the places to look are the small independent shops which are not found in shopping centers.
At this time of the year, it is so easy, for me, to walk or cycle to the center of our little town where the shop displays spill out onto the pavements.
Or, take a ferry across the river and wander the cobbled streets in the Old Town and search out hand-made glass, ceramics, chocolates and jewellery. There's also olive oil from Greece, chairs from Milan accessories in modern country style and fashion shops with that little extra.
These shops are all privately-run. So, there's not a chain-store in sight and there's always a friendly welcome.
On a sunny day, the town and the Old Town attract lots of shoppers. However, when the storm clouds gather and the rain bounces off the pavements, the streets and the shops become empty.
So, guess where everyone goes: the shopping centers, of course.
Many of these Good Weather Shops struggle to stay open. So, the best way to make sure that in the future there will still be an alternative to shopping centers, is to brave the weather and support the local shops.
Anyway, this is what I bought:
Zinc baskets and flowers.