We went to the Market Hall, an indoor market in the centre of town for I know how to treat a woman. Seriously, indoor markets are potentially such a great thing, and we've been to some wonderful ones all across Europe, latterly when boating down the Canal du Midi, where we stocked up at the one in Narbonne, spending unimaginable sums on the best food and drink you could imagine.
But let's be honest, English indoor markets, not so much. They tend towards the, um, poor and run down. A great place to get some dish-cloths, sundry knick-knacks and some dog treats. Not overflowing with fresh produce, smoked fish, charcuterie, spit-roast chicken or cheese. And not great places to eat unless you want a very cheap full English. Or tripe. Now. don't get me wrong, I like these places and cheap tupperware as much as the next Englishman, but I'll be honest they do not make my heart soar as an eagle.
Shrewsbury, as is the case with much of this understated and underrated town, managed to include all of the original features (including a balcony full of second hand books) but also had more than enough of a whiff of the new potential. A potential which I've no doubt even the hopelessly rundown Tooting Indoor Markets have embraced since our departure – DVD stores mutating into pop-up Mexican restaurants, in my mind's eye at least. And whilst that would make me slightly sad in Tooting, in Shrewsbury it makes me sing a little.
And, anyway, as far as I'm aware, Shrewsbury got there before you Tooting. For we could have had tapas at the Spanish-ish place, or we could have had a seafood platter at the Waterfront-ish place, or indeed we could have had a full English, twice. But we didn't. We chose the small Thai café where they had a specials board and, when you placed your order, they walked along to the grocers next door, bought your ingredients and cooked it in front of you.
At indoor market prices. Beautiful. Oof Tooting! Take that Sadiq!