Oxfordshire is about as scenically (did I just adverb a word? did I just verb adverb?) England as you could imagine: undulating countryside, market towns with squares and churches, the upper reaches of the Thames lazily wending its way through peculiarly English-sounding villages and towns: Abingdon, Sutton Courtenay, Goring, Shipton Under Wychwood. The Thames doesn’t meander as widely as the elevated Didcot and instead the bucolic idyll is replaced with the significantly less pastoral cooling towers of the iconic power station, and the sizeable railway junction and station complex.
The lack of beauty is evident within the town centre as well, or what there is of it. On approach to the town, one circles around a huge, cubic building which turns out to be a hangar-like shopping/entertainment centre. A mall, for want of a more English word. Alongside this runs a peculiar one-sided high street, the Broadway: one side a rag-tag selection of charity shops, video rentals and cafs, the other council-built semi-detached homes from the 1980s.
As it turns out, the place has a deserted, windswept air. Maybe it’s more alive on a Saturday but even during a half-term weekday afternoon there’s just no-one here. We were in and out of the charity shops in record time, despite there being a substantial quantity. Action for Children in Conflict and Oxfam were sadly closed, and an Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary was a little too far out to warrant the rush. So we popped in and out of the remaining four, but left with nothing to buy.
A Shaw Trust, a British Heart Foundation, a Cancer Research and a Help The Aged all left me underwhelmed, and I won’t be coming back in a hurry – whilst there’s numerous charity shops here, the place itself is a detour too far for me.
Find: Didcot @ Google Maps
Transport: the infamous Didcot Parkway
Consume with: No! Get out of Dodge! (there’s probably a Greggs if you’re peckish…)
Visit: Didcot A? Didcot Railway Centre?
Overall Rating: two lame DVD boxsets