By Barbara Chandler
The prezzie pressure is building up and it’s lovely, safest and most convenient to buy local. No problem here, as Chiswick is five-star for gifts. Over the weekend I did some feisty footwork on your behalf – and came back with a couple of carrier bags myself, which is about par for the course for this type of exercise.
I live at the “far end” of the High Road, getting on towards Gunnersbury, with wide pavements and big trees. But yes, there is life beyond Acton Lane with no crowds and pleasant service.
Images above: Cotswold, 323 – 327, Chiswick High Road
Cotswold is a huge emporium for everything outdoorsy – “but we do suffer from our location,” said the manager a little glumly. There is a jolly table just inside the door with lots of small and original present ideas. Get a kit to make a harmonica (£10) or upgrade to a ukulele (£30), or simply settle on some handsome slipper socks (£10). Nearby are the best woolly hats in Chiswick. Plus rack upon rack of serious clothing and other stuff for hiking, cycling, and climbing – or just a country jaunt – flaunting top logos.
323 – 327, Chiswick High Road; 020 3758 3312; www.cotswoldoutdoor.com
Images above: Neptune, 305-307 Chiswick High Road
By contrast Neptune interior design store is an oasis of indoor chic. It’s decked out beautifully with a pretty tree and sells gifts plus up-market baubles and wrapping paper. There are well-ordered shelves of classy china and glass, like a mini Peter Jones. “And it’s fine to be faux,” says the manageress firmly, showing heaps of exquisite wreaths and bouquets.
305-307 Chiswick High Road; 020 3814 1220; www.neptune.com
Images above: The Italians, 454-456 Chiswick High Road
Over the road, visit the Italians (for a taste of the holiday you didn’t have) and it’s full on fortissimo for festive foodies. There’s panettone galore– from minis at just £3 to posh decorated tins. Luxury hampers are £60 and £90 but you could just fill a sturdy paper carrier bag with some super goodies including first-season olive oil.
454-456 Chiswick High Road, 020 8061 9440; www.theitalians.co.uk
Images above: Majestic, 520-530 Chiswick High Rd
Majestic, vast selection as ever, has a load of price cuts running until Christmas Eve.
“People this year want good drinks for family celebrations not cheap stuff for large parties,” said the manager. “And we are doing free deliveries for over six bottles.” Craft beer is “hand-picked for flavour…”
520-530 Chiswick High Rd; 0208 742 8065; www.majestic.co.uk
Image above: Halfords
Halfords may seem unlikely for gifts, but a large space at the back has bikes, including childrens’, plus some jolly scooters. And lots of accessories for stocking fillers.
512-518, Chiswick High Road; 02087476110; www.halfords.com
Image above: Chiswick Cameras, 4 Chiswick Terrace, Acton Lane
Round the corner, professional photographers have got their gear for 54 years at Chiswick Cameras – myself for over 30. But Andy Sands (himself a successful photographer marvellously into macro) – treats all with kind advice. Useful gadgets for the snap-happy include lens and puffer cleaners, bags and a battery-powered LED light. They have plenty of good “first cameras” – a new Fujifilm X-T200 has £200 off: £549 (usually £749). Chiswick Cameras are also members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering a 10% discount off all camera accessories to Club Card holders.
4 Chiswick Terrace, Acton Lane; 020 8995 9114; www.chiswickcameras.co.uk
Images above: The market place outside Sainsbury’s; Pete at W4 Flowers
In the market outside Sainsbury’s, it’s great to find Pete back on his flower stall, which he opened up again just two weeks ago, after a spell of ill-health. The alley adjacent is flanked with trees on either side, with an on the whole friendly fir war between opposing sellers.
Images above: Ryman, 382-384 Chiswick High Road
Ryman, on the corner, so stalwart for stationery, has an excellent choice of board games, and well-priced wrapping papers, though rather cramped.
382-384 Chiswick High Road; 020 8742 3363; www.ryman.co.uk
Images above: Flying Tiger, 378 Chiswick High Road
Flying Tiger (usually) stays this side of good taste at ridiculously cheap prices – but then they are from Denmark after all. Here’s where I bought a handful of glass ornaments for a fiver. For a happy hipster, maybe a pack of baubles for his beard? Or maybe not.
378 Chiswick High Road, 020 8742 1872; www.flyingtiger.com
Images above: Book Case London, 268 Chiswick High Road
Book Case London
Book Case is bounteous for bibliophiles – and the lucky on their list. The new New Arrivals on the left has prices a little reduced. And then start the bargains, meticulously ranged under subjects. In Art were pricey Taschen treasures at half price or less, including Monet and Klimt. An eager browser was rifling through what looked like a huge stash of LPs (well, to this oldie anyway) but were actually illustrated calendars for £4.99 on every possible subject under the sun, from Elephants and Vietnam to Classic Movie Posters. I think she bought Ballet Class.
268 Chiswick High Road; 020 8742 3919; www.bookcaselondon.co.uk
Image above: M&S, 186 Chiswick High Road
M&S have a covered walkway for queues, or you can avoid the queue entirely with the new book and shop service – but only one person will be admitted. The Christmas Food to Order service is now closed – “due to high demand”. But fresh farm turkeys will be coming in on 18 December, and opening hours have been extended. Particularly luscious are the celebration cakes: they take several days to get ready, so browse on line and order now for collection in store . The flowers featured on line are gorgeous, too, with free delivery, and lots of creative bouquets and plants in store..
Images above: Borough Kitchen, 186 Chiswick High Road
Further along Borough Kitchen is for cookware almost too posh to use. Here enamel is gloriously thick and lustrous, iron is truly cast, and French pottery has a mesmeric crackle glaze.
186 Chiswick High Road; 020 3538; boroughkitchen.com
Images above: Snappy Snaps, 182 Chiswick High Road
On the corner Snappy Snaps, with its cheerful yellow shop front, has unfailingly helpful and knowledgeable staff to print out that special photo on the spot, advise on a mount, then pop into a frame. See The Chiswick Calendar’s feature on Snappy Snaps’ online framing service, conducted from the comfort of your living room. Snappy Snaps is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders a discount of 10% off everything they do.
182 Chiswick High Road; snappysnaps.co.uk/chiswick
Image above: Kitchen knife from the Japanese Knife Company, 171 Chiswick High Road
Japanese Knife Company
Crossing the road, The Japanese Knife Company does what it says on the tin. Just look at the blades sheltered in handsome showcases! Row upon row upon row. You have to spend mostly a hundred pounds or even much more – but you could get a masterpiece from a National Living Treasure, Takeshi Saji. In the meantime a rice straw hand brush is £12, a traditionally-patterned soap dish is £13, and a natural pastry brush set, is £12. I could not resist a huge sheet of paper hand-printed in Japan, though it cost £10. The Japanese Knife Company is also a member of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme, offering a free knife shave to Club Card holders.
171 Chiswick High Road; 020 7224 2422; japaneseknifecompany.com
Image above: Futon Company, 102 Chiswick High Road
A good step further down the road is the Futon Company – specialists in small space furniture but fruitful for small gifts. Big attraction is their “everything sale,” cutting prices across the board. I have to declare an interest: they stock my beautifully-packaged London Mono tea towels (see below) which many people have framed, as shown in the shop (£9). I also love their small ceramic butter dish (£7.50) and their trinket or snack trays with a rich thick glaze (£9). A neat little laptop table for use in bed or on your knee is £22.
102 Chiswick High Road, 020 8995 2271; futoncompany.co.uk
Images above: Decorexi, 58 Chiswick High Rd
Coming to the end of the High Road, the enticing windows of Decorexi corner store are crammed with pretty things, such as lamps and ginger jars. Inside, is a huge choice of furniture, much with an original twist. There are masses of mirrors and lamps. Smaller gifts include the cutest mice candle holders (£35 a pair) in white, gold or silver finish. A white clock-holding rabbit a la Alice is the same price, and wooden storage crates labelled Hogwarts are £8.00.
58 Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick, 020 7354 2112; www.decorexi.co.uk
Images above: Wheelers, Cato’s Yard, Turnham Green Terrace
Heading back, turn down the Terrace, to Wheelers, the niche garden centre alongside the tube station, with a somewhat hidden but uber-elegant Christmas room sparkling with decorations. Plus bowls of planted spring bulbs to bring pleasure through the darkest months.
Cato’s Yard, Turnham Green Terrace; 020 8747 9505; www.wheelersflowers.com
Image above: Turnham Arts & Crafts
Turnham Arts & Crafts
A few stops further, a specialist store will bring out anyone’s inner artist. It’s crammed with paints, brushes, canvases, papers, picture varnish, gilding and more, stashed along a fairly narrow corridor which opens into a generous room at the back. Brands include Winsor & Newton, Daler Romney, Faber Castelli, and Crayon d’Ache – and advice flows freely.
2 Bedford Park Corner, Turnham Green Terrace; 020 8995 2872 www.artistmaterial.co.uk
Images above: Greige, 1 Bedford Corner, South Parade
Over the road and round the corner, a mini-street of Danish tin houses have cut-out windows to show off fairy lights or candles within. These are my star attraction at Greige – indeed possibly in the whole of Chiswick.
1 Bedford Corner, South Parade; 020 3141 9030; www.greige.co.uk
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: How’s the High Rd faring, post lockdown?
See also: Design by appointment at Neptune
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