I’ve ended up in Redhill, Surrey, for the moment. It’s a railway town, with predominantly Victorian housing stock, and a town centre that was rebuilt during the 1980s. It reminds me a lot of a large Australian country town like Bathurst, combined with the rural north-west of Sydney where I grew up. It’s probably a combination of surroundings, climate and demographic.
I’ve made some additional tools for this post, an annotated googlemap, and a Flickr set which you may find interesting.
Redhill is about half hour by train from London. It’s just outside the M25 that rings London, and is essentially a satellite town for the nearby city of Reigate, as well as a commuter town for London. There are a number of finance businesses located here, so the centre of town is bustling at lunch, and therefore supports a number of eateries and retail shops. That being said, there’s no stand-out place to eat or to socialise in except the pubs which means it’s a good place to live, but not an outstanding place. I’ve taken to getting my morning coffee from the local Costa, which is a chain maybe a few steps above Starbucks. At least they have soy milk, actually know what a macchiato is, and offer fair-trade at no extra charge.
The centre of town has grown up along two cross streets, which have been converted into pedestrian only spaces. A line of trees planted down the south arm of the cross have had circular solid benches built around them, a pleasant place to sit and wait for certain men to go on their lunch break. The north arm is under a glass arched cover, with small black benches to sit on. This end is closer to the local Sainsburys.
To my eye the town seems to be divided between these two spaces, in terms of where you will wait for a friend, or eat lunch. The north arm seems to be more chavs (bogans in Australian parlance), whereas the south arm seems to be more porfessional. This split exemplifies the town in general, with both groups existing, but not necessarily mixing.
There are a number of pubs. Our ‘local’ is the Junction, right in the middle of town, which has frequently been referred to as a pub attempting to be a wine bar. This does mean it’s quieter and a bit trendier than other pubs in the area. Seems fine to me.
One of the things I notice about the area (and England in general) are the gardens and greenery. Gardens of all sizes, in almost any available space. Colour and greenery. Some of which have been there for years and grown into a lovely, but pretty mess. Some of which you know was recently purchased and bought to bring a shot of spring colour into a landscape that was recently wintery and grey.
There’s a local market here every Thursday and Saturday, which means there’s a butcher, fishmonger and fruit and veg stall which I can visit on a regular basis in an attempt to maintain seasonally based eating. To compliment this there’s a Delicatessen and fine food store on the hill behind the house, which sells the other small items I need for my cooking, and they do a decent coffee, although there’s nowhere to sit and enjoy it.
I’m sure there’ll be more to say about the town as time progresses, but this is enough for a introduction and backgrounder.
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