A trip into town

It’s a bank holiday weekend here – last of the summer. I did a food shop on Friday to see us through till Tuesday as I don’t want to be caught in tourist traffic.

That title sounds so quaint, doesn’t it: like something you’d read in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book (‘Pa and Ma had been planning for weeks during winter to take us into town for supplies as soon as the weather cleared. We were as excited as jack rabbits coming out of their burrows for the first time after the snow cleared.’).


I went into town last week – to exchange a shirt with my son (‘that’s not green. How can they label that green???’) and get a haircut. And try a new concealer as my under-eye area is in need of assistance.

It was incredibly muggy and close, and I simply didn’t have the oomph to drive. So, took the train. It was sort of exciting to see the new houses going up on the estuary front in the village, the plots bought for close to a million pounds where the old house is knocked down and then whoever owns the land has a new Grand Designs structure built for another million or so while living in rental property for the couple of years it all takes.

But I digress.

It was actually nice being ‘in town’ in some ways. It made a change. I got to get a hot chocolate from the place that makes it without sugar (ie, it’s heavy duty, with chocolate shavings and steamed milk, and that’s it). It has this wonderful viscous texture and tastes outstanding. I sat on the cathedral (yes, the town has a proper cathedral) green drinking my chocolate watching the world go by.

The hairdresser told me all about her recent wedding on a Greek island. I should have had my wedding on a Greek island rather than in Brooklyn Boro Hall.

I had planned to visit the remaining local department store (there used to be three in a town of 130k people – no wonder two closed) to do some sniffing. But when I got inside and checked out the offer I lost my enthusiasm. The place used to have a lot more including mainstream stuff. Now, things are just sort of pedestrian.

After that, I wandered before the hair appointment and took some pictures (on my phone) of things that stood out. Like the new bakery called Cake or Death and the experience place called Locked in a Room (uh, no, thank you).


I wanted to take a pic of the window of a chain pastry shop called Patisserie Valerie (which used to be ubiquitous on UK high streets until the finance guy cooked the books …) but there were too many people in the way. It’s not a place I would go now. The window cakes and pastries look gorgeous. Problem is they taste like those magnificent cakes you see in US diners – the five layer chocolate cakes, the foot tall lemon meringue pies – that make you drool but taste like cardboard or soap suds.

So, no cake and no perfume.

At least the hairdresser used the wonderful smelling Aveda Light Elements Texturizing Crème on me as a last step. It’s got all kinds of beautifully stinky aromachemicals (eg, cinnamon, lemon, and even barley!) and I got wafts every once in a while until the next day when I washed my hair and used the also wonderful smelling Malin & Goetz Sage Styling Cream (travel sized tube) which smells of sage and mint and perhaps a bit of thyme.

Was there something fun or weird or beautiful you observed this past week?

(featured pic is Wiki of ‘town’ in the late 1800s; others I took)

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon
    Went to my first pick your fish & slice sushimi restaurant with Jin and his family in Sokcho, Soith Korea. It was very confronting and I’m glad they didn’t get an octopus.
    Otherwise all fine and dandy
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the holiday. I am not too squeamish and certainly eat things in theory I should be able to kill but that sounds a bit … out there?

  • Dina C. says:

    Loved your reference to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Cinnamon. Her books were childhood favorites. If you ever want to read about the stark reality of her actual life I recommend: “Prairie Fires” by Caroline Fraser. Man, she had a hard life. Your trip to town sounds very nice. The trip to the salon especially. It’s been very quiet around my house. On Saturday I weeded the backyard in the oppressive heat and humidity, so today my muscles are screaming at me. We need rain.

    • cinnamon says:

      I don’t know how many times I re-read the LIW books. Will look up the Caroline Fraser book. Sending you good wishes for rain. This is rain country (40% more rain than London) and during our heatwaves, nothing. It was awful.

  • March says:

    What a lovely trip! Getting out of the house / routine for a bit is so restorative, in my opinion. I’d have loved some drinking chocolate, so rich and thick. A trip “into town” to see what’s new sounds like a lot of fun. This upcoming weekend is Fiestas which for me marks the unofficial end to the main tourist season here; it’s very small-town and I love it.

    • cinnamon says:

      I think we have another week at least of tourist season. Doesn’t look like schools go back till mid next week. I love proper hot chocolate that tastes of chocolate rather than sugar and milk solids. What happens during Fiestas?

      • March says:

        There’s a parade with kids and their pets; another couple of parades; and the burning of Zozobra (a giant puppet, symbolizing gloom) on Friday night!

        • cinnamon says:

          oooh. are you anywhere the Burning Man festival? I’ve read about that which sounds both interesting and really weird.

  • Alityke says:

    Hi Cinnamon
    Wonder how safe from flooding those estuarial houses will be in 10 or 20 years?

    • cinnamon says:

      that’s a hard question. this area is on the might flood in 30 years list. however, those houses are all set quite far back from the road and the railway line on big plots. so, they could be fine.

  • Tom says:

    Oooh bad cake and pie should be punishable by jail time. I went to our local discount supermarket (Smart & Final) and bought a box of ginger snaps, not expecting much. Lordy, were they good! Crispy on the outside but gorgeously chewy inside and crammed with ginger, so much so they were actually a bit hot. Now I have to forget they exist since I ate the whole box in record time.

    Fun and weird was the gargantuan new Rolls I saw tooling through BH. It was either wrapped or had custom paint: two-toned butterscotch over cream, with all the chrome done in body color, including the wheels. It was the SUV one and looked like some enormous rolling dessert. It was at the light opposite me and when I saw it I burst out laughing, which visibly annoyed the driver. Sorry dude, you spent $300k to drive a giant rolling flan.

    But I’d bet his AC is arctic.

    • cinnamon says:

      oh, that car. money doesn’t buy taste. there are at least five Ferraris in this village: 1 metallic blue, 1 black, 2 red, and 1 that is ridiculous: bright red with racing stripes, like a teenage boy would buy for his first car. it’s pathetic. those ginger cookies sound incredible.

  • Musette says:

    those cardboard-tasting pastries are the worst, aren’t they? Love the idea of Cake or Death. I’ll take Cake!


  • ElizaC says:

    I would definitely buy a piece of cake from Cake or Death (thank you Eddie Izzard!). In Tacoma (about 30 minutes from Seattle) there is a charcuterie/cheese/sandwich restaurant called Stink. Makes me laugh every time I drive by the restaurant! Besides the obvious, the name is also an intentional riff off the very well known “Tacoma Aroma”, the industrial smell that used to visit Tacoma from local industries including paper mills.

    • cinnamon says:

      ‘Tacoma Aroma’ … ok. we have the smell of silage — muck spread on fields prior to planting. it’s not a ‘used to’ smell — happens every year spring and autumn.

      • Alityke says:

        Shouldn’t laugh but I feel your nasal pain from muck spreading! At the top of our hill there are a number of farms. The prevailing breezes in spring blow over the arable fields, picking up particles from the spreading. The farmer spreads just before rain is forecast so the muck gets into the soil faster.
        This means that every spring the rural villages, council estates & the town centre get cow poop scented rain. We were holding a bbq on one occasion & a light shower meant all the food had to be thrown away as it had been seasoned by the rain. Bleugh!
        An expensive Chinese takeaway was ordered instead!

        Is your local town the one with the famous “house that moved”?

        • cinnamon says:

          ack, it’s muck spreading time down here too. beautiful morning, but at around 11 AM suddenly the world smelled awful. I actually went outside to make sure it was that rather than the dog perfuming the air. not the dog’s fault.

    • Tom says:

      I have older friends who are long time Beverly Hills residents who remember when there was the Wonder Bread factory in the “industrial triangle” near my old place. They remember waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread every morning wafting north into the neighborhood. Wish that was still there..

  • Tara C says:

    I love that sort of hot chocolate and there are a couple of places in Montréal I go to enjoy it, yum. And we have bakeries where the cakes taste as good as they look, although I enjoy baking my own too. My hair is in dire need of a cut and I’m thinking about some wild streaks of color. We shall see.

    • cinnamon says:

      oh, my, yes on the chocolate. they have a menu — around 8 different chocolates with different percentages of choc vs sugar. I sometimes go down to 70% if I want the sugar but that’s rare. Streaks of colour sounds great.