I warn you now, Harpenden is not going to be totally fairly covered, for several reasons. We found Harpenden through our logic that where money > sense, charity shops will be good; Harpenden is one of the most expensive parts of the country, and therefore the charity shopping must be excellent. Correct?
Equation fail. There’s just the four here. And to make matters worse, our visit was somewhat truncated because on the way there, we got stuck behind the hunt. That’s right, not 10 miles from London the barbarism begins – or at least, some sort of bizarre ritual which includes rich people chasing something along where I want to be driving.
Which means that we got to Harpenden lateish, and therefore didn’t make it to all the charity shops (which all seemed to close at 4:30pm). I can run you through the couple I went in (Cancer Research was a pretty big shop with some fairly nice clothes, and as usual in a poshish place, some decent books. I left with Round The World Again in 80 Days by Jean Cocteau, but declined the amateurish, but large set of Lord of the Rings themed paintings. Help The Aged was a fairly standard shop, next to the station – it didn’t seem as good as the Oxfam nextdoor). A schlep up the High Street brought us to Marie Curie… which was closing.
So, an unsuccessful jaunt. I should come back. But I probably won’t. Why? Harpenden has all the trappings of success and beauty: village green; Caffe Nero for gossip; expensive houses; fast train to London; there’s really nothing of substance to the place. As you promenade the High Street, it reads like an upmarket version of Green Lanes. Instead of greengrocer/kebab shop/gold shop/repeat, it’s hairdressers/interior design/estate agent/repeat. It’s a little frightening the sheer volume of hair salons, beauticians, etc. I didn’t find the people of Harpenden to be sufficiently attractive as to prove this is a good thing. It’s a little depressing that people aspire to this kind of lifestyle though. Where’s the vim and vigour? Where’s the variety? Where’s the life?
Find: Harpenden on Google Maps
Transport: Harpenden Station, on the City Thameslink line
Consume with: I don’t recommend the Caffe Nero (worst. service. ever.) but the chocolate shop looked nice: DeAngelis Chocolates
Visit: Get out, and have a gander at St Albans cathedral
Overall rating: two ugly cufflink