Grocery Shopping and Markets in Croydon: A Diverse Experience

My family moved to West Croydon when I was two, so when I decided to move out a few years ago I saw it as my chance to escape the area.

Call it Stockholm syndrome, but I couldn’t leave.

I’m a suburban girl and I’ve got a lot of memories here.

Finding My Home Near Thornton Heath

Two years ago, I bought a two-bedroom flat in a block near Thornton Heath station, which is almost like a suburb of Croydon. I’m five minutes from my little sister, 15 from my parents, and a short bus ride from my best friend.

Croydon’s Changing Landscape

Growing up, my parents would worry if I went to Brixton or Peckham, but now those areas are gentrified, which is a double-edged sword.

Croydon feels like how all of south London used to 15 years ago.

Sometimes I think it’s ungentrifiable. It’s holding out.

Eating and Drinking in the Neighborhood

Chicken shops and greasy spoons dominate the high street, but on Brigstock Road you’ve got Fireaway Pizza, Patty Palace for really good Jamaican food and Smacks, who do fantastic burgers.

There’s also Jaluice for healthy juices and jerk bagels. They’re all next to each other, so that’s where I’ll go to treat myself.

Culinary Adventures

For jollof rice and ayamase, it’s Tasty African Food, which is a Nigerian chain.

Blue & Orange is a great Mediterranean restaurant, but if I’m meeting friends on a Sunday, it’s always at The Store in Croydon for a roast.

Exploring the Local Fitness Scene

Sports aren’t my forte, but during lockdown I ran a lot in Thornton Heath Recreation Ground, which for some reason has about three different names locally.

I’ve also been swimming a few times at Thornton Heath Leisure Centre, but I haven’t tried the gym yet.

Embracing Nature in Croydon

I live between the recreation ground and Trumble Gardens, which is nice but tiny.

I went to the same school as Kate Moss in Purley, and I’d see deer and cows on the 15-minute journey.

I’ve been to the Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve a few times and I’m also a founding member of Birch Selsdon, which has amazing grounds.

Cultural Pursuits

There’s not much in the immediate area, but Croydon has Fairfield Halls for theatre and a Vue cinema.

There’s also a gallery called First Floor Space.

Grocery Shopping and Markets

Thornton Heath is the land of corner shops.

At uni I really struggled with the lack of ethnic-specific foods and seasonings, but there are big Caribbean, African, and Asian populations around here so you can get everything.

I’ll happily pop up the road in my pyjamas. There’s a big Tesco in Thornton Heath, and Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer in the Whitgift Centre.

Croydon also has Surrey Street Market for fruit and veg.

We’re still hanging in there for Westfield.

Getting Around

I’ll get the train into London Victoria or Balham and the Tube from there.

Going into London was an event growing up, and I’ve kept that mentality.

In central Croydon I’ll get the trams. I love them.

Dream Street in Purley

All my dream streets would be in Purley.

There are some really big houses in the Webb Estate.

I find the characterisation of Croydon really interesting because once you get out to Purley and Selsdon it’s pretty posh.

Unique Local Characters

Bernard, the Reggae King, is a legend.

He dances outside the shopping centre. There was an article saying he’d passed away and they had to do another one to tell everyone he was actually fine.

Challenges and Concerns

The council is bankrupt and I’d be lying if I said you didn’t notice it, particularly in the parks.

I feel safe in Croydon, but I might be slightly more on edge if I wasn’t raised here.

It’s less petty crime and more tensions between young people, which is really sad.

In Three Words

Capital of South.

The List (HarperCollins, £14.99) is out now.

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