A SHOPKEEPER'S holiday suitcase has become a vital feature of her thriving business.

Christine Taylour regularly flies to the Costa del Sol, in Spain, and returns with pottery to sell in her Barnard Castle shop.

She has already travelled to Spain three times this year, and has two more trips booked in the near future, to ensure she has a steady supply of items.

Each time she visits markets in the Andalucia area to buy ornaments, vases, mugs, plates, clocks and kitchenware, which she packs into her suitcase.

Mrs Taylour, whose shop is called Andalucia, said: "I buy so much that the traders give me a good discount.

"I buy things I know my customers will like and can't get elsewhere in this area, and I am able to sell everything at reasonable prices."

She opened the shop mainly to offer work experience to ten adults with learning disabilities who live at a home she runs, and to others who attend a craft scheme.

Some of them have accompanied her to Spain where they have helped to choose pottery.

"They enjoy assisting me out there, and always give sound advice about which items they think will sell well," she said.