Christmas shopping in Rickmansworth
PUBLISHED: 12:30 09 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:30 09 December 2014
With its picturesque waterways and pretty streets, it's no surprise that Rickmansworth has been used as a location for film and TV. This month, on and around its attractive High Street, visitors will find plenty of unusual shops offering a wide range of Christmas gifts and goodies
Housed in a quaint 400-year-old building on Church Street, Cinnamon Square is a modern take on a bakery. Not only does it sell fresh bread, cakes and pastries but it also offers classes for those who wish to bake yummy cakes or the perfect croissant. Owner and master baker Paul Barker (above) says he enjoys being part of the community, ‘I love the interaction with customers and to be able to share my knowledge and hands-on skills, especially with the children. People always leave our courses inspired.’
The champagne was flowing this year when F L Dickins celebrated its 65th anniversary. The independent wine merchant, which stocks more than 150 different vintages, is in its third generation of Dickins ownership, with mum Betty working alongside her daughters Karen and Alison. The High Street business began life as a grocer, and the shop frontage has not much changed over the years. ‘When we were little we would come down and help in the shop over the summer holidays,’ Alison explains. ‘We have known some of our customers for years – they are like an extended family to us.’ The shop has focused on offering more local produce plus hampers, which are made to order so, Alison adds, ‘they can be of any value and as an independent we can pick and choose who we buy from’. Regular customer and local author Len Russell remembers coming to the shop as a child. ‘It has been built up on service and a magnificent cellar. I am a bit of a connoisseur and I would say that it is probably the best wine cellar in Hertfordshire,’ he says.’
Award-winning butcher Chris Blake will be busy this month, not only providing hundreds of turkeys but also selling the High Street shop’s Victorian and Cumberland sausages, which have been voted best in London and the south east. Nearby, traditional greengrocer Mark Fruits has an impressive display of fresh seasonal produce.
For those wanting the wow factor at a Christmas party, there are plenty of independent fashion outlets along the High Street. Zip Up is a small boutique run by former professional dancer and Play Your Cards Right ‘Dolly Dealer’ Lesley Beard. She says of the shop, ‘It’s small but a bit of a treasure trove.’ Also providing stylish clothes is the Edit Boutique which opened in March, while both Muse and the Block sell contemporary designer brands. Tucked round the corner in Station Road is the Love to Boutique. For bespoke men’s tailoring with Savile Row-style techniques, make an appointment at Rocha.
For that special present, established jeweller Robert Harris offers one-off designer brands such as Coeur de Lion as well as antique pieces.
Health and beauty
If the Christmas festivities prove a little too much, head to the Oasis Health Store for some artichoke supplements; owner Karim Ji recommends them for hangovers. The store also stocks organic beauty brands such as Dr Hauschka as well as organic food and drink. Across the road, the Riverside Pharmacy has a large perfume range,
Art and flowers
It is said a picture is worth a thousand words and Phil Dunster knows a thing or two about that. He has run Croxley Galleries for the past 20 years, framing anything and everything as well as selling art works – brightly-coloured abstract and graffiti art is the current trend. Last year, Phil added a photographic studio. Behind the High Street, Ryan Wicks at Love Flowers will be providing customers with imaginative bouquets and wreaths this Christmas. To have a go at festive flower arranging yourself, go to youtube.com/user/loveflowersuk for his table decoration tutorial.
There are a variety of places in the town to celebrate the season or have a quick lunch with friends, and most tastes are catered for. Go to Brown Sugar for freshly-made sandwiches and healthy shakes. Two pubs, the Feathers and Fox and Hounds, get good reviews. Dolce Café in Moneyhill Parade has steak nights on a Wednesday or, for a taste of Italy, try Buon Cibo or Robertos, which specialises in fish and seafood. For authentic Thai food, look no further than the Tamarind Thai Café.
Rickmansworth Chamber of Commerce chairman Nina Hosking says she loves the benefits of the town. ‘It’s fantastic. You are only 22 minutes from London but we have three lakes, rivers and the Grand Union Canal on our doorstep. People who live or work here have a real sense of belonging, in the sense of wanting the place to do well. One example is Cinnamon Square, which launched its Ricky Sticky Bun with a view to promoting the town. People want to trade here. Some of these little independents are the gems of our community. Like all towns, we have been through some pretty rough times but Rickmansworth always bounces back.’