Sunday, 31 August 2014

Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Whilst Wilmslow can be a bit chav-bling-tastic, Alderley Edge is like its classier cousin. It's the  Posh Spice to Ginger Spice.  Funnily enough Victoria Beckham lived in Alderley Edge back in the day when David played for Manchester United.

Yes - Alderley Edge is very much a part of the 'footballers and new rich' set.  In Cheshire, Alderley Edge is locally known as being a part of the golden triangle, which includes Hale Barnes and Knutsford.  Much of the wealth is concentrated here and it's no wonder it's considered one of the wealthiest areas in the UK.

Getting to Alderley Edge is relatively straightforward if you come from Wilmslow as you just go down the Alderley Road onto the A535 and then on the B5087.  Or if you are coming from Manchester - M60, exit junction 3 onto the A34, then pick up the A535 and B5087.  It's probably quicker using the latter route as you can use the Handforth bypass.
Parking is relatively straightforward as there is a little pay and display car park we tend to use behind the main shops.  However last time we went it did have some terrible pot holes.  Actually you might be better using the car park at the little Waitrose on the main road.  

Our car seemed conspicuously out of place amongst all the flash cars with personalised number plates.  For some people in Alderley, they park where they like and there was one woman who was unconcerned that her 4x4 had received a parking ticket.  It sure would be nice not to worry about such "trivialities".  

If you are stopping at Alderley Edge it does make a good afternoon lunch location as it has loads of bars and restaurants to choose from.  We'd already eaten beforehand, but I quite liked the look of the Botanist.  I couldn't help but notice many places offered your standard pub menu, but with a twist and fancy presentation.  If you have the right connections, you could seriously clean up here if you opened a bar/restaurant.  Instead we went to Costa for a cold drink as it was really hot and sticky that day, so much so I felt like I was having a hot flush.
Costa was fairly busy, caffeinating the neighbourhood.  One lady was nursing her coffee, scrolling through her smart phone, whilst another was on her laptop trying to type through the racket made by the neighbouring large family.  The family looked like visiting walkers having a break.  Just above Alderley is a National Trust site called the Edge.  Essentially it's an escarpment where you can get a great view of the Cheshire Plains and beyond on a good day.  It's also known as a supernatural attraction and there are plenty of legends about the place including the Wizard of the Edge.  It's just off the Macclesfield Road out of the village.  You can either follow the signs or stop where you see loads of cars on the side of the road.  We weren't feeling that adventurous on a hot summer's day, so we stayed in the village.

The village has a long history and goes back to the bronze age.  There are some lovely buildings in the town.  I particularly like the stone built building which houses a branch of Barclays Bank.  Further up is the 19th century tudor style building, which is home to the De Trafford pub, part of the Chef and Brewer chain.  I do keep meaning to try this place out as the Chef and Brewer food is generally pretty good.
Now when it come to charity shops, Alderley Edge is in the premier division.  If you are a size 8 to 10 go to Barnardos and bring your credit card.  Seriously it's the best charity shop for designer women's clothes I've seen.  The shop was naturally packed, but Neil was waiting outside as it doesn't do vinyl records. 

There are a number of charity shops in Alderley Edge, but the newest edition is an Oxfam.  We'd noticed the Oxfam in Wilmslow wasn't as good as it used to be and the book section was no longer as extensive.  It seems with the opening of the branch in Alderley Edge, the book section has transferred to here.  I liked it and so did Neil as he managed to pick up some vinyl records.  I think it was the first time he found anything here as I've always equated posh towns and villages to crap music taste.  Nantwich being an exception, but I do think that was a one-off-someone-died donation.

As you go on the charity shop trail in towns, you  recognise other people on the same trail.  This time it wasn't a person I recognised, but a lovely beagle dog whose owner traipsed from shop to shop hanging outside each shop waiting for his wife who was busily trawling through the shops.

The majority of Alderley shops are independently owned and reflect the demographic of the place.  There was a cheese shop, running shop and a rash of estate agents.  Nothing is just a simple shop - a home wear shop is an interior design shop. A kitchen shop was described as selling "exquisite bespoke kitchens".  Even the local bakery was serving up some lovely looking baked goods I've never seen in a local bakery.  You can't help but admire the spin they do to make things classier than they are.
Alderley Edge is clearly classier than its neighbouring town Wilmslow.  It's more low key, with dashes of designer style.  I couldn't help noticing the locals were promenading down the street in their high class smart casual clothes holding the designer bag of the moment.  I'm sure there's an internal social politics that would be interesting to unpick here, but that's for another time.  I can also imagine Alderley Edge does draw wannabe WAGS who stop over at the Premier Inn in the hope of picking up a Premiership footballer in a local bar.  Not that I would recognise a footballer if I bumped into one.  Seriously football is an overrated sport and has completely jumped the shark in terms of respectability and integrity.  I've been to two football matches in my life, once to Manchester City and the other time to Manchester United.  The only reason was to accompany my brother who had no one else to go with - he was desperate and I considered it a charitable act.

Alderley Edge is a lovely part of the world, far enough from the hustle and bustle of Manchester, but handily on a quick rail route to the city.  You can quite easily see why it has become the desirable neighbourhood of choice for the wealthy.  However I'm in no doubt there is a local snobbery and obsession with conspicuous consumption, which taints this lovely place.