TRAVEL: Target . . . Nottingham; Living in a City Means You Rarely Visit Its Tourist Attractions, but Does That Mean You're Missing out? Caroline Foulkes Returns to Her Former Stomping Ground of Nottingham

The Birmingham Post (England), April 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

TRAVEL: Target . . . Nottingham; Living in a City Means You Rarely Visit Its Tourist Attractions, but Does That Mean You're Missing out? Caroline Foulkes Returns to Her Former Stomping Ground of Nottingham


Byline: Caroline Foulkes

My roots are showing. We've not been in Nottingham more than half an hour before I find myself picking up the local accent again.

It's something Him Indoors has always found somewhat amusing - my accent is so ungovernable that I've been asked whether I hail from anywhere from Liverpool to Leeds. That's what comes of living in Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and now the West Midlands during my 30 years.

But given that one of my parents is from Derbyshire and the other from Nottinghamshire, and that I've spent a fairly large portion of time surrounded by people for whom ``midduck'' is the standard way to terminate a sentence, it's hardly surprising I find myself slipping back into colloquialisms, much as a I try to stop myself.

Although I was born in Derby, having lived on the Notts-Derby border as a nipper and then spent three years living in Nottingham itself, I've always sort of seen it as my real hometown - my dad being a Forest fan probably had some bearing on it, too. Yet although I could tell you plenty about ``No-To'', as one of my Nottingham chums has recently restyled it, in the New York manner, I can't claim to have ever visited its greatest attractions.

There's nothing unusual in this - after all, I lived in Stoke for a good many years and barely went near a pottery - but after Him Indoors introduced me to the hidden gems of his hometown (Glasgow) last year, I felt it was high time for a re-match.

So we packed the bags and hiked off up the M42. Now, I know I said that this was all about me and Him discovering the parts that other trips to Nottingham hadn't reached, but I will confess the first thing we did after dropping off the bags at our hotel was to hit the shops.

For me, Nottingham has always been a great place to shop - many a school holiday has been punctuated by a trip here - partly because, unlike so many other cities, there's still a high proportion of individual, independent shops nestling down its twisty-turny ginnels (that's alleys to you lot). Sure, all the usual suspects are here - your Gaps, TopShops, Marks 'n' Sparks - and there's a couple of large shopping centres, too - The Victoria Centre and The Broadmarsh.

But my personal favourites lie just off the main drags. Top of the list is undoubtedly the rather fabulous Celia's Vintage Clothing on Derby Road, a street lined with all manner of curios from antique shops (Top Hat) to designer furniture outlets (Nash Interiors). Celia's sells clothes and accessories from just about every era, and is reasonably priced compared to many ``vintage'' stores.

Just down the road on Parliament Street is the Bead Shop, for those who prefer to craft their own accessories. Those looking for silver andgold should head for Carolyn Codd's wee shop tucked away on Trinity Walk - it can more than hold a candle to anything in the Jewellery Quarter.

Suffice to say, I didn't make Him Indoors traipse around these little gems with me - once installed in local indiekid favourite Selectadisc on Market Street, he was more than happy to part company for a while.

We reconvened for a stroll down Bridlesmith Gate, which has been dubbed the most fashionable (and expensive) street in town. Paul Smith's first shop opened just off here on Byard Lane in 1970. Then the lane was just a shabby back alley, the shop rent was 50p a week and the first week's takings were pounds 52. Today Byard Lane is one of the most trendy parts of Bridlesmith Gate, and Paul Smith has just opened a flagship store down the road at Willoughby House on Low Pavement.

We headed into boho Hockley for lunch at the Broadway Media Centre on Broad Street, the cineaste's favourite hangout. Food here is reasonably priced and very tasty - Him Indoors was very impressed with the range of international brews on offer to wash it all down, too.

From there we sauntered back to the hotel via Market Square, betterknown to me since childhood as Slab Square. …

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