Window Shopping...: Small marrows, big marrows, and even a touch of the Harvey Nicks

Nicole Veash visits... Billericay High Street, Essex
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Billericay is home to rebel Tory MP Teresa Gorman and well-to- do Essex types. But is it a retail heaven, Window Shopper asks.

Goodspeed: This traditional fishmonger has a glistening display of seafood which tempts all passers-by. As there is no glass dividing the front of the shop from the pavement, Window Shopper can get really close and have a good snoop. Squid, sea bass, slabs of shark? Not today; instead stock fantasy shopping basket with soft herring roe, pounds 2.60 per lb and jellied eels pounds 1.70 per lb.

Billericay Fruit and Veg Shop: Independent grocers trump supermarket chains every time. This shop has a quirky assortment of produce. Window Shopper spied shiny star fruit, knobbly fresh lychees, squash, marrows, baby marrows, (there's a difference) and sturdy Jack-and-the-Beanstalk- like green beans.

Window Shopper also enjoys exploring at the back of the store where lurk packets of sugar-frosted continental biscuits and tins of fat, oily olives.

Decide to play safe today. Choose a pound of bananas, 49p, and bottle of fizzy water 59p. Get tempted by late summer blooms lying by the window, pounds 1.50.

Alexander's Bakery: Window Shopper is unable to peer through the bottle- thick porthole windows of the old bakery. Instead, hover at the entrance and spy a forlorn gingerbread teddy bear for 30p. Add him to the virtual shopping basket.

Clinton Cards: Yawn, this is your basic cardshop. Pooh Bear, Hallmark, lots of pink. And they still do those ghastly "Forever Friends" cards (pounds 1.20-ish). Well, always need something in the drawer for relatives. Buy one and move swiftly on.

Roseby's Curtain and Linen shop: Window Shopper thought the concept of having "linen" died with 1950s-style housewifery. Obviously not. Reluctantly purchase two packs of red and white tea towels (pounds 2.99).

N. Shelley: Billericay's answer to Harvey Nicks. Since buying the tea towels has depressed Window Shopper, decide to be extravagant, impractical and a real floozy all at once. Choose teensy tortoiseshell embossed handbag at pounds 36.50.

Total cost of Window Shopper's basket: pounds 47.87

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