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Water flowing underground
same as it ever was
What happened to my town while I was away? 
4th-Aug-2004 01:57 pm
pissed off
I live in a market town, about 30minutes train ride north of London. One of its charms is that it still has sole traders; Halseys the grocer’s (MWNN and I named it The Sin Shop when we first moved to the town from South London, over 20 years’ ago) Allingham’s, the game butcher’s, Bliss, the baker’s, and, of course, the market three times a week. Before we went away at the end of April, M&S opened a M&S Just Food that competed with the purveyors of lunchtime goodies, such as Hampers. No problem, I thought, there’s room for competition. I know now that I was wrong, it was the beginning of the rot.

I went into town to collect my repeat prescription and decided to do a little shopping. Oh, look, there’s a new Waitrose supermarket, and an Italian Coffee House next to Café Rouge. I tried to buy a new pair of Stonefly boots ( because mine were damaged during one of the hairier moments on the boat ) from Mr Pomfrit but was told that he no longer stocks them. I decided to have a consolling cuppa in my favourite tea shop The Tea and Coffee House. Hitchin once boasted three tea shops; Mrs Miller’s, St Mary’s Tea Rooms, and The Tea and Coffee House. We lost the first two over the course of about ten years as they changed hands and then changed their nature to just another provider of lunches and snacks. I couldn’t believe my eyes, jennylyle, when I entered the market square (the market no longer takes place there so it’s a bit of a mis-noma). There, on the corner, oppposite Halseys was Starbucks. The Tea and Coffee House has gone.

An English market town with no English tea shop? It’s not possible. I’m miffed.

And I'm missing MWNN already. Once I stopped worrying about his plane flying through the storm and knew he'd landed safely,but late,in Dublin last night, I started missing him.
4th-Aug-2004 07:55 am (UTC)
I love tea! I prefer English tea over coffee anyway. Starbucks is over-rated. *Kicks* silly little town for you!
4th-Aug-2004 08:03 am (UTC)
Coffee just doesn't cut the mustard when it comes to needing a pick-me-up. In times of crisis, the English make a nice cup of tea.

I talked to the lady in the Cookshop (I was looking for a steam milk frother - long story) about the loss of the Tea and Coffee House. She told me that the owner ( a woman who started out small, selling tea and coffee in much smaller premises, then opened a tea house in even smaller premises opposite the first shop, and then moved into the prime site in Market Square) had been made an offer she couldn't refuse for the lease (6 figures) by Starbucks. She hadn't even put it onto the market.

And what is a tin pot little town like this doing with a Starbucks, anyway? I thought the chain was big city only. All the character is disappearing from the town. We could be any town in England now, all the big chains are here.
4th-Aug-2004 08:19 am (UTC)
It's happening everywhere, unfortunately. There is no indvidual flair, if you been to one small town you been to them all.
4th-Aug-2004 09:40 am (UTC)
Why is it when a town loses all it's individuality and diversity, that's it's considered to be on the up? I haven't been to H in a good while, do they still have any hippy shops?

I could draw parallels with what's happening to Camden. Rape by gentrification. But that's a whole other rant.
4th-Aug-2004 09:55 am (UTC)
No hippy shops as such. There is an alternative therapy shop. I know all about the
gentrification of Camden. I worked at Parly Hill for Girls during the time the Comedy Store was still relatively new. It was the likes of Dawn French (who taught with me for a year) and Jennifer Saunders who started the whole renovation of the terraces and the encouragement of trendy shops and bistros etc. The only good thing that came out of it was that they re-opened the railway station at Kentish town. Pity it came too late for me, I had to make that journey by rail/tube/tube/rail/long walk.
4th-Aug-2004 11:04 am (UTC)
Now all the tendy shops are making way for generic high street ones and the market to a shopping mall (so I hear). I fear it'll go the way of Carnaby Street.
4th-Aug-2004 09:56 am (UTC)
Is that where you're working now, Camden?
4th-Aug-2004 11:06 am (UTC)
I should be so lucky! No, I work in Hemel. I used to hang out in Camden when I was a student, when it was the height of cool during Britpop.
(Deleted comment)
4th-Aug-2004 11:08 am (UTC)
If Starbucks did move in I would be very sad.

Give it time.
4th-Aug-2004 04:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, we were surprised to see a Starbucks in your town but were unaware that it was new. I went into a Starbucks once and when I found out that they served coffee in MUGS and not a cup and saucer I left - I HATE mugs. J.
5th-Aug-2004 03:40 am (UTC)
So you never got to see The Tea and Coffee House? It's where I got the beautiful one-person teapots I bought for MWNN's Ma and irishnoodles. They were bone china with such lovely old-fashione English flower designs on them.
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