Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Taking the High Road - Touring Tuesday

I do not mean metaphorically.  

I mean literally.

The High Road is a vital part of most boroughs in London.  It is where residents go for daily necessities and social gatherings.  Each one has its own vibe that's akin to the neighborhood.  I've found that High Roads in boroughs like ours tend to have a similar collection stores and cafes mixed with some bespoke (British for original, one of a kind) shops such as stationers and framers.  

What is the best way to describe the High Road?  It's like the road/plaza where you find Target, Walgreens, Starbucks, Goodwill, and Ace Hardware in the United States.  The big difference is that you don't need a car for the High Road because all of the shops are close together, and it's a pain in the arse to park.

I am on the High Road everyday since it's on the way to the kids' school.  For practical purposes, the road is around one mile in length. Get your walking shoes on, and come along with me for a tour!  

The High Road has several produce stands.  The selection is beautiful, and the prices are typically the same or better than the grocery store.  Plus, it's a great way to see produce that is not a part of the typical grocery fare.  The people that work at the stalls have an endearing gruff personality that can quickly change to sweet and helpful, depending on the customer.  Thankfully I get the sweet and helpful guys that call me "Darling."   

I was surprised to see that we have a high quantity of charity shops (British for Goodwill & Salvation Army).  These aren't your typical shops where you have to really dig through the racks to find something good.  These charity shops are filled with quality merchandise that's in great condition, and I've heard that you can often find designer goods.  I am a big fan of the charity book shop where I've found books that are still on the best seller list.

We have three regular grocery stores dispersed on our High Road.  One is a higher end, not quite Whole Foods but slightly snooty.  It even has a funny Facebook page of the ridiculous things overheard at the store.  "Do we need fresh parmesan at our city and country house?"  The second, and my favorite, is more like a Trader Joes.  Almost all of the products are private label.  They have a nice niche market for ready to cook meals.  The final grocery reminds me of the typical suburban grocery store like Jewel or Publix.  It has everything, it's always busy, the produce isn't the best all the time, but it gets the job done.  I opt for home delivery of basics from this store since I have a difficult time carting everything home in my roller bag.  Then I go to the other two for fruits and fresh meat. 

Next along our walk are the chain shops that are on every High Road.  Not much to say about these, other than they are known brands to the general population.  We have many mobile phone shops, clothing shops, and UK sit down chain restaurants.

No High Road would be complete without coffee shops and bakeries.  Ours has many.  Some even have two locations on the same road, and all have their own personality.  The culture in the coffee shops is certainly relaxed.  Tables line the sidewalk all year, and on nice days they throw open the bi-fold doors to blur the line between inside and out.  The bakeries have delicious pain au chocolate, almond croissants, flaky croissants, scones, and sandwiches to go.  Of course Starbucks is represented twice.  The crumbs in the photo below are what was left of a chocolate croissant.  It was delicious.  

Yes, we have plenty of pubs and bars.  Like the coffee shops, the pubs have their own personalities.     

Finally, there are the niche shops that makes our High Road uniquely ours.  There is an American-owned cafe/bakery that I visit quite often.  It's where I can procure favorite American ingredients (marshmallows!), eat delicious desserts, and have a good conversation with the American owners.    

Thank you for going on this walk with me.     

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