In Gerrards Cross we’re no longer in Metroland, but it’s certainly commuter belt: essentially a large village, the quick rail link with Marylebone means that Gerrards Cross and the surrounding villages (mostly Chalfonts of some variety) are easily accessible from (and to) London.
Which is perfect for my purposes. Gerrards Cross is small, but well-endowed: the number of boutiques and specialist shops testify to the money in the area, and the picturesque village green and beautiful Chiltern setting do nothing to detract from that impression. Even the Big British Castle agree with me, and in 2004 they reported that Gerrards Cross was (outside of London, presumably) the most expensive place to live in the country. Wikipedia also claims celebrities and peers, but as so often, citation is needed. Thus, while there’s only the three charity shops here, they’re all worth a visit.
We approached from the M40, which means schlepping up to Beaconsfield and back round – coming from London, you’re better off taking the old A40 instead, thus avoiding the Orbital altogether. Either route will bring you past the wooded common, and then it’s up Packhorse Road into the main drag itself. Don’t be fooled by the promise of Gerrard’s Cross High Street – this is actually in the bordering Chalfont St Peter, of which more another time.
Parking on Packhorse Street then, the first port of call is Oxfam. As was being discussed by various customers at the weekend, Oxfam is overpriced for a charity shop. This we knew already. Once this is accepted, we can get on with the actual perusal, and what do you know, it’s a perfectly servicable shop with some bizarre ‘homeware’ (read, tat) and a decent spread of books and clothes. In evidence here, as elsewhere in the village, is a large selection of unwanted hip hop, Nas, Fiddy and the like. The disaffected youth hanging around the Costa are evidence that hip hop is no longer a viable interest in these parts – insufficiently lank hair, lack of striped t-shirts in rapping role models, etc.
Over the road, the Shaw Trust runs a boutiquey setup (although its existence appears to be denied on the Trust‘s own site) which yielded a number of interesting looking bargains, not least some Camper mary-janes for my companion – a tempting £8 down from whatever exorbitant new price they’d be. After Gerrards Cross we hit Amersham and between the Red Cross there, and Oxfam and Shaw here, several complete and accessorised outfits were purchased (including a Lule bag we estimate to have been purchased at marginally over 5% of its original price).
Finally Barnardos’ offers an excellent selection of books (I agonised over an incomplete Lion box set of the Chronicles of Narnia), as well as some fine selections in other departments. While there’s only these three here, there’s more in Chalfont St Peter and actually, the high street has more than enough to make a nice little mooch with some interesting looking cook shops, a chocolate-themed cafe, and an Art Deco shop.
Find: Gerrards Cross on Google Maps
Transport: Gerrards Cross station, on Chiltern Railways
Consume with: Coffee and biscuits at Costa
Visit: In Hot Fuzz style, the world’s oldest model village
Overall rating: four copies of Pamela Stephenson’s Billy