Y MOTHER is an addict. I have suspected it for a while but now I know for sure that she cannot live without Brent Cross. Over the years (and there have been quite a few) there has been a steady stream of essential items that she has had to buy and/or return for a refund and recently the incidence has grown to two or three times a week.
There is no doubt that the place is a symbol of leisure, pleasure and relaxation for her. And often shopping is not the main event. I can reliably predict that she will veer any lunch or coffee date towards a venue in Brent Cross. And if I offered to drive, some other shopping centre.
Not that I am complaining. She has coffeed and dined me at such gastro delights as Carluccio’s, where we relaxed into sofas and snacked something Italian. Sometimes it would be Leon, a healthy fast food joint or Lola’s cup cake café (next to Waitrose) where you get a free cupcake with coffee before 11am.
Other times she has combined a browse in John Lewis with their The Place to Eat restaurant, basically a space hemmed in by a myriad of food concessions. Then there was a time we noshed at Kanteen the only kosher (milky) restaurant because she was having her hair done at Toni and Guy next door.
Yet with all these distractions and 170 shops over two floors, Brent Cross is a midget compared to Westfield in Shepherds Bush.
With a whopping 150,000 sq m, packed with 265 shops and 25 restaurants, would the centre would prove a little daunting for my mum? Imagine the variety of stuff she could buy and return —
SUMMER 2013 especially from her favoured outlet, Marks & Spencer. At 18,580 sq m, it is even bigger than its Marble Arch branch. Fearing she would faint with fervour at the sight, when I went on a shopping spree there, I did it without her.
I took the opportunity to deplete my wallet and then catch a film at Westfield’s cinema, the UK’s biggest and most technologically advanced, fully digital, 17-screen multiplex cinema — seven screens of which are 3D.
The finale could have been dinner at Thai-Italian kosher restaurant Isola Bella, but there was a 50-per-cent-off deal at Real Greek that Wednesday, available by showing the cinema ticket. There are 20 other options too — Jamie Oliver has a branch of Jamie’s Italian, as does Pizza Express — and if I were a beer drinker I might have headed for the pub.
The centre is big, but it’s a midget compared to its sister in Stratford City.
Right by the Olympic park, it probably follows that this Westfield has Olympic proportions, making it is the largest shopping centre in Europe.
Three hundred shops, 70 restaurants, another 17-screen cinema currently showing cult-classics like Bonnie and Clyde, Trainspotting, Stand by Me and the groundbreaking A Clockwork Orange), a 14-lane bowling alley where waiters will bring you drinks while you play — incidentally, on a Monday you get two games for a tenner. On Father’s Day, you can bring a family photo and get a free game.Oh and there’s whopping great big casino — the largest in the UK as well three hotels for die-hard shoppers.
I am not sure if Stratford City is even on my mum’s radar, but if it was, I doubt I would ever see her again.