Amersham can be forgiven for feeling a touch schitzophrenic about itself. On arrival in the town’s vicinity, the visitor is presented with signs to Amersham-on-the-Hill, or Amersham Old Town. Being a fan of Eastern European city breaks, the choice was all but foregone, and though I didn’t find any medieval Bohemianarchitecture or shops selling bearskin hats and Russian dolls, Amersham does indeed have an Old Town. It’s a Georgian looking sort of a location. You’d easily imagine a troop of Bennetts wandering through to find the soldiers, or some such Austen-worthy scene – a wide high street with expensive boutiques and grand looking coaching inns. As it turns out, it’s very pretty indeed.
Sadly for my purposes, no charity shops make the old town their home, so off we trundled up said hill to the alternative – and, it has to be said, a touch less classy – settlement on this Chiltern rise. That’s not to say it’s grotty: far from it, in actual fact Amersham-on-the-hill is a very satisfactory and pleasant location to while away some time
When we were here, Christmas was around the corner, and fuelled by Costa’s tart mince pies, we hit the shops. First up was Help The Aged, staffed by a slightly baffling selection of individuals but nonetheless a decent shop. A very pleasant coat was ummed and aahed over – even just a few weeks later, I can’t remember if it was eventually bought, but sometimes that’s not what sticks.
Shortly after, a large and ramshackle hospice shop (St. Luke’s, I believe), and around the corner, the RSPCA kept a similarly ramshackle but considerably smaller outfit. Some curious nicknacks indeed, but nothing bought.
Over the road, Cancer Research proved the highlight of the afternoon, offering up Eels’ Beautiful Freak and 12″s by Stevie Wonder and Elvis Costello, as well as a goodly selection of crockery and serving/mixing dishes that were very nearly bought simply to save finding a place for them to put them back on the shelf. A not half bad Oxfam completed the set.
Amersham then, this split town, is worth visiting on two levels. The hilltop high street, altogether more bustling and more bargainous makes for a good ‘poking’ destination; the more sedate Old Town may well see our return to scope out the January sales, and lunch at an olde publick house.
Find: Amersham at Google Maps
Transport: Amersham tube, Metropolitan Line
Consume with: next time I might visit The Crown for lunch
Visit: the Amersham Museum
Overall rating: four copies of Five People You Meet In Heaven