With the crush of bodies infiltrating London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, residents and tourists alike will be looking for an easy escape from the frenzied city. Just a mere 20-minute train ride from Olympic Park at Stratford lies their respite: Romford, a vibrant suburban town in northeast London. Long recognized as a bedroom community of Greater London, Romford England is considered an ideal location due to its close proximity to either the countryside or the seacoast.
Whether you’re strolling down the quintessential chains of Tudor row houses, getting a taste of some traditional English food, or chatting up a local Brit in a neighborhood pub, Romford is a haven for those who are seeking a glimpse of the “true English lifestyle.”
1. To market, to market.
Open every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, the Romford Market, a colorful open-air street extravaganza, is one of the oldest markets in England, formed from a grant from King Henry III in 1247 A.D. More than 150 stalls hawking every kind of bargain – fresh produce, butchers and fishmongers, home-baked pasties, clothing, antiques, jewelry, flowers, music, and tech gadgets – you name it, it’s there. Look for the giant Union Jack flag on the Tollgate House building at the end of the market. For those who prefer traditional indoor shopping, adjacent to the market is the Liberty Shopping Centre, and within a short walk is the Brewery Shopping Centre.
2. Go Greyhound.
Spend a day at Romford Greyhound Stadium, winner of the 1998 and 2003 British Greyhound Racing Board’s “Racecourse of the Year” award, where you can simply be a spectator or place bets on the dogs as well as enjoy the various bars and restaurants. The stadium holds more than 4,300 people and includes a children’s play area where parents are also able to observe the races.
3. A pub and a pint.
Whether you’re thirsting for a pint or a Pimms, visiting a local pub is an absolute must. For something stronger, try the traditional grog made with water and rum; for something lighter, try a Shandy, a tangy, tasty cocktail made with a half pint of bitter and a half of lemonade. One popular way to sample several pubs in a short time is via a “pub crawl” which usually consists of a group of people walking to then drinking in multiple pubs in a single night. Tip: a good way to find the best pubs for your age group or other criteria is to ask your taxi driver.
4. Eat traditional English food.
Contrary to popular belief about English cuisine, taste bud blitz abounds in this town! Enjoy afternoon tea with a scone, jam, and clotted cream; lunch on baked Cornish pasty or a mincemeat pie in a relaxed outdoor cafe; sample sizzling steak and kidney pie, hearty bangers and mash, or the English traditional Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding at Table-Table in the Liberty Bell Inn; Fish and Chips, once an urban street food, have been widely adopted and the very best, drop-dead-delicious, can be found at the Mawney Fish Bar. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the stewed eels in “liquor” – a thick, glutinous but rather tasteless green gravy. And since nearly every English dish is served with peas, don’t forget to practice eating them the English way – with your knife!
5. Upminster WindmillThe rustic windmill looks like something you might see on a miniature golf course. But the recently restored Upminster Windmill is a real mill. Don’t miss a stop at this Instagram-worthy site!
6. Visit the former brewery museum.
The Havering Museum located on the site of the old Romford Brewery provides a look into the life and achievements of Romford’s rich past and long-standing connection to royalty. Spend an afternoon participating in an old-fashioned card-making class, or just meander the museum taking in the permanent and special temporary exhibits.
And if you should get caught in the characteristic short burst of rain, no need for despair because there is always the 16-screen multiplex cinema, the ice arena, or. . . Mayhem Paintball.
7. Valence HouseDating back to Medieval times, the Valence House is known to be one of the best local history museums in the London area. A moat and gardens surround the only surviving manor house in the area, and inside there are achieves where visitors can research their family history in their archives.
Romford is always bustling, busy, and friendly.
Romford, England first published by Women’s Toolbox.
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About the Author
Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning blog Luggage and Lipstick. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.” Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe.