Saturday, 4 February 2012

Neighbourhood news

Our local residential streets
Park Road

Since moving to our new neighbourhood, we've had the privilege of being able to walk to our local, well, everything. We have a supermarket, bank, post office, and hardware store within a mile of our house, not to mention a cake shop, garden centre, greetings card store, and pizza place in the same shopping centre. Along the road to the right of the shopping centre are about five bars and restaurants, a Starbucks, a Taco Bell, a Ben & Jerry's café (yes, really), Chick-Fil-A, a sushi place, a deli... the list goes on. Add to that the fact that we've had gorgeous and unseasonably warm weather, and you have the perfect recipe for a going out mood, so below is a brief summary of the goings on since moving to the Madison Park region of Charlotte.


Just can't lose my stride
Yes, I may have mentioned this before. And definitely once already in this post...

One of the main advantages of our new area, other than being gorgeous and peaceful. is that we have both quiet lanes and bustling shops within walking distance. I know I go on (and on) about it, but it makes me feel liberated and satisfied to be able to walk. Maybe it's being British, both because we're much more inclined to walk places (a combination of things being less spread out and the significant reduction in alcohol intake if choosing to drive, I imagine) and because I can't bear to "waste" sunny days, but I am loving being able to meander along a 20-minute route to all manner of fun and/or useful things, or meander aimlessly and just enjoy the seemingly endless residential spider web. It's an absolute joy and I am so happy to have this pleasure back.

Sleepy Poet Antique Mall

Cassie and Brad (left, sporting some "antique" Hulk hands) introduced me to the brilliance that is the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall on South Boulevard. It is, to quote the website, "55,000 square foot of shopping fun". They're not wrong! It's got antique everything, from furniture to vintage clothing, from cameras to socket covers, from statues to railway announcement boards. There's also some more modern stuff, like an art gallery and one particular stall that sells gorgeous hats that I can't afford but covet nevertheless. There's also free popcorn to all browsers! It's amazing, and you could spend hours in there. The shop is divided into booths, and it reminds me a little of the Department of Mysteries in the Harry Potter series: seemingly never-ending and interconnected in all manner of unexpected ways! I highly recommend a visit.

Duckworth's Grill and Taphouse

This was one of the first places I went to in the area, with my beloved neld (our totally appropriate word for a new/old friend; although we've not known each other long, it feels like it's been a very happy lifetime of friendship already) friend Christine. It's a bustling place with a great vibe of people chilling out and catching up, with what seemed like a regular Friday night crowd. I also had my first Philly cheesesteak, which was another delicious discovery!


 I am pretty sure that I have mentioned this place in previous, as it does tasty pizza by the slice (that you can buy by the slice, ha ha - actually one of their slogans), and because Kate (the other intern at Studio1212) and I frequent the Plaza Midwood branch more often than is probably healthy. Happily, there is a Fuel local to us, so root beer and cheese pizza may now abound.

Family dinner

A couple of weekends after we moved in, we had Ben's folks and siblings round for a big lasagne dinner and various desserts (cake, pecan pie, and shortbread - oh dear!). It is such a pleasure to be able to have people we love over to dinner at our place, and to share time and food and fun with them all.

Family dinner #2

We also had the pleasure of the company of Ben's cousin and his fiancé (and also hair stylist of wonderfulness) Johnny last week. Ben made a delicious creamy chicken pasta, and Charles and Johnny brought possibly the most decadent gelati I've tasted outside of Italy, in pistachio and chocolate flavours, along with brownies for dessert. A fantastic time was had by all!

Bill Spoon's BBQ

Traditional eastern-style BBQ pork and chicken. It's not quite the perception of BBQ that a Brit might have, as it's quite sharp and made with vinegar (not the sticky sweet sauce we've come to use), but it's absolutely delicious. If you come to NC and don't try pulled pork and hush puppies at least once, you're missing out!

Sir Edmond Halley's

This would be what I would class as a "proper" pub. Yes, it's a restaurant too, and has an excellent kitchen, but it's a freehouse with a proper bar, low lighting, and they know how to pour a pint of Guinness correctly. Winning in my book!

The food here is absolutely top notch. I've had Irish stew with julienne vegetables and mash, and it's to die for. Ben's tried a turkey burger (very good) and we've shared an incredible starter of goat's cheese fritters with apple and cabernet jus. Just lovely. There is a great variety of cooking styles and dishes from a worldwide menu, as well as some great veggie selection. It's becoming a weekly ritual to eat here, and I'm not going to stop it any time soon. On Sunday and Wednesday nights they have half price bottles of wine (on ALL wine), trivia on Monday nights, and on Friday nights there do pints of Stella and Harpoon IPA for $4 a pop. There's a lot more for us still to try here, in several senses...

More walking

Okay, it might sound daft, and I am pretty sure that I didn't crave walking quite some much back home, but I reckon it's because a) it was always available and b) the weather was often horrible. But it's gorgeous here, and we have walking opportunities. So we've walked some more.

The Flying Biscuit

This is a café in Park Road Shopping Centre, and is a relatively new discovery (we had breakfast there for the first time yesterday), though it comes highly recommended by word-of-mouth. It's a big place, with high ceilings and lots of activity. The service is polite and efficient, and the coffee is endless. Always good for an early breakfast! The food is very good; I had blueberry pancakes (served with a biscuit (essentially a scone), which was a bit weird as an accompaniment to what is essentially flatter dough, but I guess that's the food they're famous for), and Ben had eggs and turkey on rosemary potatoes. We will be back!

More walking!

That about sums up our 2.5 weeks of adventures here so far. We will of course be doing some more walking soon. Really. It's spring already!


  1. Having amenities within walking distance is a big plus point in my opinion and something that many Europeans take for granted. Most Americans outside of the big cities are car-reliant, which is a pain in the backside for Brits like me who are used to walking everywhere! I must confess to being a little jealous of you! :-)

  2. It really is; I wouldn't be half as happy without them, so it actually became a deal-breaking criterion when we were house-hunting. It is rather lovely. :)

    Do you think many Europeans take it for granted? I always really appreciated it when I was home, but maybe that's unusual, I don't know. As for the big cities, Charlotte's pretty big, and everyone here seems to be just as car-reliant as you say the non-city folk are! Honestly, whenever I've mentioned catching a bus, it's like I suggested licking a road sign or something equally wrong!


Thanks for taking the time to write! I try to reply to everyone, and I love to read your comments.