Neil Williams

One thing from every shop on the Crystal Palace triangle 

This post kicks off a series. The plan is: I’ll visit every shop on the Crystal Palace triangle, buy one item, write something (reasonably) interesting about it, which you will (sometimes) read. Deal?

OK fine but why?

Because, in no particular order: Russell’s DO book made me do it; it’s a fun side quest in the real world; I fucking love buying things; I’d been sitting on the idea for a while; SE19 has the best eclectic shops; “life moves pretty fast”; it’s good to support local bricks and mortar businesses; and I wanna make memories1 of my time living in this lovely bit of London (cos if I ever move away I’ll wish I had).

But mostly the bit about buying things.

The Crystal Palace whatnow? 

Triangle. 

As in Bermuda, Dairylea, or isosceles. But made of streets instead of brine, cheese or maths, each with a far higher proportion of quirky independent shops, bars and restaurants2 than your average homogeneous high street.

In fact – many of them are exactly the kinds of shops in which you might come across a real life Mogwai, an old soggy cloth cat, a raspberry beret or an Audrey II.

For some folks, Crystal Palace means the transmitter, football club, site of the Great Exhibition, or the park full of wrong dinosaurs. But for me it’s the ever-changing, constantly charming triangle.

Say more words!

Let me give you a quick orientation. 

  • Like most triangles, this one has 3 sides: Westow Hill, Westow Street3 and Church Road. 
  • Unlike most triangles, I’m also counting some fronds that jut off of it with shops on them – Haynes Lane, Crystal Palace Parade, Jasper Road, Belvedere Road and the top bit of Central Hill.
  • It sits on the top of the hill. The views of the central London skyline (some way in the distance, to be fair) are ridiculously good. 

Stop talking. Show me!

Here is a map, courtesy of Shop SE19. You can click to see it bigger.

Are there rules?

Of course.

“Rules control the fun”

Monica off of Friends in the nineties

Here’s how we’re going to do this:

  • I will try to visit them all
  • Yes, including Sainsbury’s and Iceland
  • But I might need to skip just one or two (looking at you, Love Bridal!)
  • I will do them in any order I feel like
  • It will take as long as it takes (mostly to spread the cost)
  • This is about goods, not services (nobody wants 750 words about me getting the same haircut from 10+ hairdressers and the dog groomers)
  • Nothing expensive unless it’s something I need (aka “the wife rule”)
  • ESTATE AGENTS ARE NOT SHOPS
  • One item only, on the visit I am writing about

For each one I will write about: 

  • The shop itself
  • The people in the shop, depending on how extroverted I feel at the time 
  • My history with that shop, what I’ve bought there before if anything
  • What thing I chose, why I chose it, and how much I paid
  • The thing in its new home

Exciting isn’t it?! No, but we’re doing it anyway. Your participation – if a little abrasive so far – is hugely appreciated.

  1. Which for me means writing them in this online journal cos I can’t actually make memories, as banged on about previously (and about and on which I shall continue to bang). ↩︎
  2. A companion series on cafés, bars and restaurants is inevitable.  ↩︎
  3. Nobody can remember which Westow monikered road is which, I’ve tried for a decade and it’s impossible. ↩︎

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