It us the 11th December and Christmas is approaching at a speed. And, surprisingly I have a quiet weekend ahead. Taking care of mundane chores this morning, then spending the rest of the day focusing on friendship and relaxation.

I am meeting up with my friend Lisa, and we shall go in search of a country pub complete with roaring fire, buckets of ambience and good food. (No, not yet decided on somewhere that fits the description exactly.)

Before I go, I have found myself wandering through Altrincham where I have 2 hours to kill. And how pleasantly surprised was I to find that some Christmas markets have come to town. They seem mostly French, and as I adore all things French, I was very disappointed that I had a fridge full of food at home – the result of an unplanned grocery delivery this week. (I forgot to amend my weekly auto-order!) But I digress. It was really lovely to have the markets here. It reminds me of what Altrincham could be. It is so sad that the town has one of the highest shop vacancies in the country. Here are my thoughts about the plight of the town:
– The town is clearly competing with the Trafford Centre, a big shopping centre 20 minutes away.
– Small shops have been driven out by the big supermarkets.

What could be done?
1. The local council should consider council tax breaks for smaller traders
2. People need to be lured back into the town. Make parking easy and accessible. (Trafford Centre is free)
3. Close off Goose Green and encourage bars and restaurants to spill out onto the square. Altrincham has no pavements wide enough to have al fresco eating elsewhere
4. Allow empty shops to be used as display areas for local artists (without having to pay council tax!) until they are filled
5. Redevelop Alty Market. Convert at least one area into a food hall, perhaps an Organic Food Market like they have in Nantwich
6. Encourage more events like the Beer Festival, Food festival etc. They are always so successful!
7. Prettify the pedestrian roads. Make them look inviting.

I find it so distressing watching the high street being taken over by budget brands and low-end retailers. Altrincham is quite an exclusive residential area, and it’s shopping streets just don’t reflect that. Let’s model it on somewhere people might actually want to go … like Knutsford.
On that note, I had better get off my soap box, return to my life and go and fetch my car!