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Southampton: Shopping

West Quay Retail Park, the first phase of Southampton's ţ250-million ($475-million) Esplanade development, has become a major hub for shoppers from the surrounding areas. The central shopping area is pedestrian-only, and tree- and shrub-filled planters provide a backdrop for summer flowers and hanging baskets. You can sit and listen to the buskers (street entertainers). For a vast array of shops, try the Town Quay (tel. 023/8023-4397) or Southampton Market (no phone), but there may be little here to interest the international traveler.

Better shopping on the outskirts is at the Whitchurch Silk Mill, 28 Winchester St., Whitchurch (tel. 01256/892065; Admission is ţ3.50 ($6.65) for adults, ţ3 ($5.70) for students and seniors, ţ1.75 ($3.35) for children 4 to 16, and ţ8.75 ($17) for a family ticket. Visitors flock to this working mill, located in colorful surroundings on the River Test. The gift shop sells silk on the roll, ties, scarves, handkerchiefs, jewelry, and souvenirs. Hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30am to 5pm.

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