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The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Life At Leisure -

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.

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