As a former resident of PG, this North London nook has been on my list to write up for some time now. The epitome to many of leafy suburbia, Palmers is really a ‘burb of two halfs – south of the A406 North Circular it lives up to its ‘Palmers Greek’ nickname, with the majority of shops catering to the largest Cypriot community outside of Cyprus, while further up Green Lanes is the main shopping centre, station and local hub.
Aside from the Greek food shops and Meat Land butchers, there’s actually little of interest in the southern part of Palmers Green. Around the North you have a far more pleasant environment with Broomfield Park with its eponymous house (as featured on BBC2’sRestoration) and overlooking villas. There’s avenues and streets of tree-lined Edwardiana, all grand terraces and long gardens. There’s the New River, and quiet residential roads (formerly home to the disparate like of Joe Strummer and Stevie Smith) stretching all the way to the A10, the effectual border with the considerably less idyllic Edmonton; to Southgate, or Winchmore Hill, or Arnos Grove, across speed-humped road and parks overseen by the Piccadilly line. Here’s also where the charity shops lie, as well as a few of the usual suspects: Starbucks, M&S, McDonalds and the like: steer clear, there’s perfectly good alternatives on Green Lanes.
Scope is a small, functional start to the trip, but things really pick up in Oxfam. While not cheap, as usual, this Oxfam isn’t as bad as some, and an almost new paperback here (a novel by the caped internet evangelist himself, Cory Doctorow) was £1.99 – could be worse.
Cross Green Lanes for the British Heart Foundation, a standard affair, then onto the double whammy of British Red Cross shops – one normal charity shop full of clothes and homewares at reasonable prices, one excellently stocked bookshop, maybe my favourite in the area. Now, sadly, it suffers from the same blight as Oxfam and you’re unlikely to get a genuine bargain in here – prices reflect actual value very accurately – but what you will find is some unique bound sets, antiques and first editions (we saw a nice hardback Brautigan first ed.); a classics section as comprehensive as most new bookshops; dedicated sections for crime, thrillers, teen fiction, childrens; local history; textbooks; an excellent philosophy and religion sector and a whole bunch of things you wouldn’t imagine. Expect to pay at least £2 for a paperback.
We finish up with a slightly cavernous-feeling North London Hospice (it’s not that big…) with some furniture and a decent Cancer Research. Palmers Green is best visited in the sunny months – that way best use can be made of the lovely park and some of the numerous coffee shops have outdoor seat. By necessity then, a winter trip is a fairly short, but densely packed one, and it’s always, but always, worth a poke.
Find: Palmers Green @ Google Maps
Transport: Palmers Green Rail, between Finsbury Park and Enfield.
Consume with: something from Caffe Di Nero, or sheftalia from Lemon Tree
Visit: Broomfield Park with its duckponds, boating lake, formal gardens and ramshackle house.
Overall Rating: four t-shirts for cycling in