I turn the street corner, and walk into a yard towards the entrance of the Fleetville Vintage Emporium. I feel as if I’ve entered a De Chirico painting as I approach a collection of half-assembled mannequins and an arrangement of old Singer sewing machines.

I am greeted by a sales assistant as I step into the emporium. Several movie and pop art prints decorate the wall behind her. The radio is playing an Elvis tune taking me right back to the seventies. Suddenly the colour dial seems to have turned up a few notches, and there before me is a vast and wonderfully eclectic collection of vintage accessories, clothing, books, vinyl and art.

I almost feel disconnected from the 21st century, as if caught in a time warp, bombarded by random pieces of furniture, doll’s houses, glass cabinets filled with crystal-cut champagne glasses chock-full with costume jewellery.

There are over 50 vendors in this space and given the vast quantity of paraphernalia, each unit is a little topsy-turvy and merges into the other;

I enjoy having to rummage around and look closely to find things of interest.

There is something for everybody and among my favourite collectables are: manual typewriters, vintage 35mm cameras and sequined clutch handbags; I try on a pair of silver strappy sandals, but alas, they’re too small!

I flick through a book on fashion illustration and start chatting with a trader who is busy tidying; he tells me about his apprenticeship in men’s tailoring in his younger days. It’s a pleasure to listen to some of his anecdotes about learning his craft in London in the late sixties. His clothing is neatly arranged around a huge spiral stand in the middle of his unit, full with colourful shirts, jackets and ties.

Toward the back is a huge selection of vinyl records stored in cardboard boxes, above them hang black and white photos of music legends; an unusual one of Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten jamming together catches my eye.

As I leave, I spot a cylindrical mustard and white lampshade with orange patterns running across it straight out of 1978! I smile, relieved that some things are destined to stay in the past!

I love that September feeling when the children are back at school, and everything goes a little quieter. This week I have been enjoying Herts Open Studios, a wonderful collection of mini art exhibitions across St Albans and Hertfordshire, now in its 30th year.

The first gallery on my list is Nude Tin Can Gallery. I open the door, step onto a dark wooden floor and into a white studio. I look up at the contrasting artwork neatly displayed on the walls, from oil paintings on large canvases to small watercolour portraits and framed original prints

A small portrait catches my eye. I gaze into it. The artist is setting up and notices me lingering so we start chatting; he explains the inspiration behind it.

I then wander around; I peer into a glass cabinet and observe some limited edition sculptures cast in bronze smooth feminine shapes reminiscent of Henry Moore.

Afterwards I head to another local gallery, a ten minute walk in the other direction. I climb the stairs and step into an attic. I start chatting with an artist who shows me around. I can’t take my eyes off a large acrylic on canvas of abstract dolphins, an oceanic piece that instantly transports me to a far away place. I enter the seascape and feel absorbed by it while managing to sustain a conversation.

In the other room, I fall in love with a collection of miniature linocuts of sunflowers. I’m fascinated by the way the artist has honed in on sections of the flower and added fluorescent colours to her detailed composition. The artist has succeeded in conveying the flower’s captivating beauty. I’ve often felt that when sunflowers are in full bloom they have an otherworldly feel about them that never fails to capture my attention.

It’s fun being around so much art and taking in the vibrant colours and textures. I’m amazed by the wealth of talent to be found just meandering along these few streets and as I walk home, ponder on the fact that this has been an education; I now feel as if I know more about art mediums, methods and materials that artists adopt to express their imaginations. Fortunately these exhibitions continue until the end of the month, so there’s time to see plenty more.

I begin my walk into Romeland and wander down Fishpool Street towards St Michael’s Village; its elevated pavements and numerous former coaching inns remind me that it was originally a stop on the mediaeval route from London to Chester.

According to antique maps, St. Albans originally grew up around the north, east, and west sides of the Abbey extending around the Market Place, along St. Peter’s Street, Holywell Street, High Street, and Fishpool Street, all of which apparently existed by the eleventh century.

This historic district is very picturesque, and even on a cloudy day, the red brick and flower baskets that hang from the timber frames make it feel warm. I absorb the old world charm of the rows of snug cottages, only two floors high and freshly painted in white; their front doors are brightly decorated in unique colours with shiny door knockers and letter boxes, each one exuding its own distinctive character.

With such a long and varied history, I’m not at all surprised that this city is a source of pride and enjoyment to its residents and attracts so many visitors. There were once as many as fourteen pubs alone in this street, offering home cooked pub food and a welcoming atmosphere.

The Lower red lion pub, the only remaining pub on the street, sells real ale, holds weekly quiz nights and even offers bed and breakfast; its main building dates back to the seventeenth century. Mmm I wouldn’t mind waking up in this location and looking out onto the magnificence of the Abbey while enjoying breakfast in bed!

Further down the street is St Michaels Manor Hotel, a stately manor house dating back to 1530, with five acres of beautifully manicured gardens and overlooking a tranquil lake. The perfect location for a wedding, or to impress your house guests with an afternoon tea.

I’d love to go on an historic city tour guide to find out more about the scandals and sinister events that took place over the centuries within these old streets; Mind you, I don’t think I’d like to meander home at night, all alone, after a pint or two through this apparently haunted thoroughfare!

I love to take a leisurely stroll down to Clarence Park, enjoying its twenty-five acres of wide-open space. It is quiet here today and there’s a sense of privacy as Summer slowly turns to Autumn. This Victorian park is well kept and it feels calming to get away from the city streets. I walk across the vibrant field of grass; the branches of the huge trees swishing over my head.

As I turn a corner, I see a bed of brilliant daisies in bloom, under the dusty glow of the late summer sun. The trellises stand tall and full with soft peach and pink climbing roses. Further ahead, the bandstand and a granite drinking fountain remind me that this park was built in the 1800s and maintains many of its original features. The clouds move swiftly across the bright sky. I close my eyes and face the summer sun drifting into September. A dragonfly momentarily hovers before me then swiftly flies off lost in the sunlight.

The path winds around the vast lawn. The fresh air cleans and restores. The sun comes and goes, warming the breeze and relaxing my senses with light and warmth; I feel merged with the elements. This park, situated right in the middle of the City and gifted to St Albans in 1894 by Sir John Blundell is a treasure for our community and had been potentially under threat from big city developers in recent years. Losing this park would undoubtedly have been a tragedy and would have disturbed our sense of balance and connection with the local natural environment.

Rich leafy hydrangeas in full bloom are emerging beside the park gates, catching the sunlight and shade, their luminous blue clusters vivid and part of the rich tapestry as the late summer harvest approaches. Squeals of delight can be heard from across the field as the children take to the swings. The park clouds over, a dog barks; a frantic squirrel dashes along the branches of a fir tree. It’s time to head home.