I just returned from a long, wonderfully exhausting trip to Europe with my husband. All along the way I faithfully jotted down interesting locations, names and legends in my Book O’ Names – hoping to include a few in one of my future books. I fell in love with shop names like, Thistle Do Nicely and A Spinkle of Kiltness and enjoyed meeting interesting people like Killian the kilt maker and Hamish the sweater weaver.
Throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Norway we met charming, welcoming people all happy to share their stories. Beautiful old ghost filled castles and open green fields filled with cattle, sheep and Shetland ponies made the trip even better. And, of course, a trip down Strawberry Lane was just too cool to pass up.
Near the end of our travels we came upon the quaint village of Hoswick, Scotland. Venturing down the exceptionally narrow main street, we parked in the one spot big enough to house our massive tour bus; a bus that was half the length of the main street.
The town of Hoswick was tiny but beautiful, situated near a body of clear blue water with rock filled shorelines and lush hills of green. Although I hadn’t noticed it when we drove in, I soon discovered that the village consisted of only two shops and a neighborhood Welcome Center. A dozen or so houses were clustered nearby. Clothes freely flapped on yard clotheslines and the town taxi cab driver chatted up visitors as she waited for her next fare.
We visited the two shops that sold beautiful hand knit sweaters. Although the sweaters were quite lovely, they were made for cold Scottish winters and were far too heavy for either of us to wear on the beaches of California, so we decided to take a walk.
It was in this small Scottish village that I came upon an unexpected tiny treasure; a shop the likes of which I had never experienced before.
Adjacent to the Welcome Center a petite hand painted sign directed us towards Emma’s Cake Corner. As both my husband and I love cake, we couldn’t pass up the possibility of enjoying a late afternoon sweet treat before returning to our ship. Following the sign, we walked up a stone pathway, that ended unexpectedly at a private driveway. I was certain that we had missed the cake shop, although I wasn’t sure how.
Disappointed, we turned around to retrace our steps and stumbled upon a turquoise and yellow painted shed with a sign Emma’s Cake Corner tacked to the front of it. We had not discovered a traditional bakery at all, but rather something quite different. As I tentatively reached to open the shed door, I heard a child’s voice yell, “Mum, there’s someone in the Honesty Box!”
Not discouraged by the warning, my husband opened the turquoise doors and was surprised to find a plethora of treats. Cupcakes, brownies, cookies and more were all individually wrapped just waiting to be discovered. And on the bottom shelf were all sorts of tantalizing local candies. A simple hand scripted sign thanked visitors for coming to Emma’s, encouraged them to help themselves and asked shoppers to please write down what they took and the cost. There was a metal box to place coins in and a plastic container that held any change that might be needed. The Honesty Box held the most incredible looking treats ever and all that was asked in return was for us to be honest and pay the required coins.
We were the first to discover Emma’s but certainly not the last. Before long, it looked like our entire tour bus was loading up on the sweets, happy to pay the very reasonable fare. My husband and I had started a trend and one that seemed to make at least one very small child happy. We could still hear her giggling as we headed back towards the bus.
Since coming home, I have shared our discovery with my friends only to learn that Honesty Boxes are nothing new. They can be found just about everywhere. While baked delights might not be as common, eggs, fruit and vegetables are apparently available in countryside Honesty Boxes throughout the U.S.
I share my story with you because Honesty Boxes were new to me and just might be new to you too. I thought you might like to create your own Honesty Box or maybe even include one in one of your own upcoming stories – that’s what I plan to do!
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