Image above: One way to ensure social distancing. Photograph Barbara Chandler
Barbara Chandler takes a walk along Chiswick High Rd to see how it’s doing
How’s the High Road faring, post lockdown? I was there at the weekend, including a charity shop crawl with my granddaughter, and popped back on Monday on a couple of errands. It’s fair to say that our beloved boulevard is struggling a bit with the new normal. But there’s a general feeling of joy to be out again – particularly when the sun shines – and the stalls for fruit, veg and flowers are busy enough. However many shops have cut back on opening times, closing at 4pm and/or on Mondays. Chiswick Cameras in Acton Lane is open Wednesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. Some have not opened at all. do check if you are making a special journey.
The market stalls in the alley by Sainsbury’s are still shuttered, including the flower stall, all rather dispiriting – though you can get key cutting/shoe mending at the kiosk at the far end, where the barber is also on parade. Hairdressers and nail bars were busy on Saturday, but many were empty on Monday, the assistants looking somewhat sad.
But we do have some new arrivals. Last Thursday, (as previously reported), and somewhat to the bewilderment of many residents, a cannabis boutique called Beleaf landed in the old Phase Eight at number 288, but hippies shouldn’t get too happy. This is “for all your CBD needs” – not that I knew I had them, or what the letters stood for. CBD is not psychoactive, meaning, it won’t change your state of mind or make you ‘high’”. But it could, it seems, relieve pain and anxiety and help you sleep, among many benefits. You can browse racks of drops, extracts, “edibles” and skincare, much of it derived from the brand’s own farms in Switzerland.
Near Gunnersbury, James Bennett has opened a vet practice with an impressive raft of specialist services, including emergency care on 0208 167 4477 (548-550 Chiswick High Road; www.wolfevets.co.uk). He’s an “advanced practitioner in small animal surgery” as recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Images above: Adventures in Furniture
The queues we saw when shops first re-opened have largely evaporated, though Waitrose is still busy. Eating out is by no means carefree – Chiswick Fire Station has a list of 15 regulations on a board outside the door. The Lamb pub has a pleasantly busy garden, but it’s preferable to book ahead. The Italians has jolly outdoor seating and something of the old atmosphere. Other snack bars and cafes have extra tables and chairs on the pavement, and it’s pretty easy to get a seat.
Snappy Snaps on the corner of Turnham Green Terrace is up and running for photo printing and framing. Chiswick Cobblers, ace for shoe/leather repairs, is open in Turnham Green Terrace, but the nearby haberdashery is still closed.
For the most part the charity shops are now in action, with lashings of sanitiser on entering – then you can browse fairly freely, though numbers are restricted. Stock is arriving all the while – though it goes into quarantine for 72 hours. Charities have suffered majorly during lockdown and need all the support they can get – even if only the purchase of our Zara miniskirt and retro skin-print top.
And there are sales and bargains absolutely everywhere, from mega deals at Robert Dyas to chunky discounts at prestige brands like John Lewis of Hungerford (kitchens) and CP Hart (bathrooms). Fashion stores are slashing prices by up to 70%. Adventures in Furniture (138 Chiswick High Road) has everything on sale until the first weekend in August, including their classy extending tables with ceramic tops, and super-comfy extra deep sofas. Sustainability is a core value here – they are even trialling an electric delivery van, and using a bike for small deliveries.
Images above: Cancer Research; The Lamb
Along the road, The Futon Company (102 Chiswick High Road) has a “buy one, get one half-price” promotion with mix and match for hundreds of products.
“People love it,” says director Robert Pearce. Indeed, all is rather jolly in the Chiswick store. ‘’It’s so nice to have all our friendly customers back, or at least a good number of them. We are not a supermarket and don’t do discount clothing, so managing the new regulations is not difficult. Occasionally a couple of people have to wait outside, but they don’t seem to mind – they can watch Tik Tok on their phones!”
Find futons, sofa beds, storage and desks with lots of neat notions for small space living.
Barbara Chandler is a Design writer for the Evening Standard’s Homes & Property section, who lives in Chiswick