Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published December 8th 2013
Gadgets for Geeks, Games for Kids, Grub for Tummies
Colliers Wood is a handy place to shop; it has two supermarkets, a market place with independent craft shops, and two retail squares, all of which offer free parking.
Just a stone's throw away from each other, the Priory Retail Park and Tandem Centre have stores geared towards children, parents, gadget geeks, fashion enthusiasts, and sport-a-holics. There are also several places to cure your hunger pangs, or just sit back and relax by the river.
Pickle Ditch is such a quaint little name, isn't it? It Sounds more like a place in a fairytale village than a busy residential district in the south west of London, and I definitely would not have guessed to find it in a retail park.
But Pickle Ditch has been around a lot longer than the big businesses currently occupying the land. Since Saxon times, the residents of Merton have relied heavily on the River Wandle for water, and the section called Pickle Ditch has marked the boundaries between the parishes of west and east Merton since the tenth century.
Take a closer look at Pickle Ditch and you'll understand the name. This is where the Wandle river runs out of tap water and becomes more of the Wandle trickle. It is a shallow, and fairly muddy patch, but still attractive in its own right. There are a couple of benches dotted around the outskirts of the carpark, where you can take the weight off your feet and enjoy the view.
The land between the Priory and the channel is protected by the National Trust. In Saxon times, this area was called 'pigthle', which means a 'small parcel of land'. This can be read in an engraving on one of the bench walls. A few letter changes brought about its modern name.
Priory Retail Park
Maybe it was destined to be that a place called Pickle Ditch should end up the location of a fast food joint. How many people actually like pickled gherkins in their buns? I know I always used to take mine out. With or without gherkins, Burger King serves up some mighty Big Whoppers, which you can eat in, or takeaway at the drive-thru.
Kiss Me Hardy
If you want burgers that might score better marks on the nutrition scale, Kiss Me Hardy is a family friendly pub with a children's Wacky Warehouse upstairs. For £3.75 kids can rough and tumble in the soft play area, which has slides, a ball pool, and climbing equipment. Food in the downstairs pub is served from 12pm.
Toys R Us
If the kids aren't tired out by then, they'll probably be dragging you into Toys R Us. If you are not blinded by the primary colour explosion, then you'll see them running down the isles, rushing to to play with whatever they can get theirs hands on.
Tactile children will love the selection of soft toys, which include fold-up animals that transform into pillows, and snuggly Mickey and Mini Mouse slippers. Other Disney toys include the My First Disney Princess collection, which has recently released the latest princess from Frozen.
Future construction workers are going to be more enticed by the long shelves of Lego sets, which at the moment have a Star Wars Theme.
For those rainy days you can't go wrong with a good old fashioned family board game. There were several versions of Monopoly, including kind of 3D version where you have to earn your way up to the top floor of a skyscraper.
They have bikes for toddlers and big kids.
It may not seem like it now, but not everyday is going to be cold and miserable. When the sun comes knocking, get the kids outdoors for some exercise. From water guns and frisbees to bikes and scooters, they'll be able to have fun in the garden, the park and even on transit.
Although the name does nothing to elicit confidence in the firm's spelling ability, Toys R Us, also have a lot of educational toys and books. VTech and LeapFrog make child friendly tablets for virtual learning.
If your children have not yet reached the reading stage - or even walking stage, then Babies R Us will provide everything you need to make sure your little ones get off to a great start. There are cots, prams, play sets, and clothing.
For a wider selection of clothes, pop next door to Mothercare, which cater from newborn to age eight, and also sell maternity wear.
Forgetting about the kids for a while, now its time to think about you. If you're keen on all the latest gadgetry and technology, then Curry's is your port of call.
Whatever you are looking for, the staff are very helpful and well informed. You don't even need to bother asking - or finding - assistance. There are several employees manning the floor, three of which came up to me and asked if I needed any help. I was looking at tablets, and just testing out the different operating systems. Although I am not interested in getting anything at the moment, I wanted to get a feel for them, so I am more informed about what might suit me in the future, if I ever wanted one. Curry's had many varieties on display, which you could pick up nd practice with.
Drop off your old clothes.
Answering the old age question as to why the chicken crossed the road, the Tandem centre is a mere two minutes walk and set of traffic lights away. While this is mostly a place to do shopping, you can also drop off any old, unwanted clothes at a booth in the car park. The clothes go to charity, and you get a small payment based on the weight of your donation.
Knitted jumper anyone?
There are plenty of fashion shops to help fill your wardrobe. Go to T.K. Maxx for accessories, Clarks for shoes, and Next for that notorious knitted jumper. Mamma & Pappa's is another shop for children's clothing.
For the more mundane, but necessary practical items, you can complete a few errands at WHSmith stationer's or Boots pharmacy. If you are an outdoorsy sort of person or love to keep active, then SportsDirect.com is your offline cyber shop. They usually have big discounts on.
If the food at the Priory Retail Park was not your thing, you have your choice of restaurants here too. Pick from Nandos, Frankie & Benny's, or a Starbucks Coffee.