After a long week preparing for Saturday Tests as Concord boarding students, what could be better than spending an afternoon away from books and tests with food and friends? Even for those who have been in Concord for several years, Saturday afternoons have always been a trip worth anticipating.
The rush of adrenaline begins with our test invigilators announcing, “You may leave the Sports Hall now,” after a stressful hour or two. We hurry out while grabbing our friends, discussing whether we ought to go Marks & Spencer or Asda first excitedly. Many of us then rush back to our residences to pack and jump on the town bus as soon as possible.
A pleasant sunshine with gushes of autumn breeze is always appreciated whenever we get off the bus on Wednesdays and Saturdays, especially in such fluctuating weather conditions like the UK. This week my friends and I chatted enthusiastically as we walked on our usual route across the English Bridge, then peeked into the diverse number of shops and bakeries on the way, discussing whether the latest released flavour of cranberry muffin is worth the buy. It is somehow funny but true that such a conversational escape of our academics has already been one of the most wondrous things of our trip. We’ve decided that instead of rushing to different stores for groceries today, we would rather sit down in the Italian restaurant Coté to enjoy a meal, acting as our grand “closing ceremony” after consecutive weeks of editing UCAS applications.
We were lucky to get seats right away and each ordered a main course and some sides. We shared an all-day breakfast, grilled salmon, beef cheeks etc. My friend described the beef cheeks as “super tender and flavourful, the potatoes and carrots on the side were also a perfect complement to the strong character from the beef. A thoroughly impressive dish.” It is pretty evident that to be able to fancy such scrumptious cuisines every week or two is actually an amazing stress reliever to us Concordians. In the end we each even enjoyed a chocolate fondant to sweeten up and conclude our fulfilling meal there.
We still had a bit of time so off we went to buy some groceries in Marks & Spencer and Asda, where I stopped by Roly’s Fudge Pantry to buy my all-time favourite sea salt flavoured fudge there. We caught the town bus back to school at 4:30 p.m. and called it a day with gratification and fulfilment. On a whole, although weekly town trips have become a normalized event happening in college, it still acts as an essential reminder for us to occasionally take breaks from school life, especially to the majority of boarders who often find it difficult to differentiate our working state of being from our relaxation times surrounded by the same environment every day. Going through restless school weeks from time to time, it highlights the importance for us to be thankful for the meticulous details in life’s ordinariness. Perhaps trying out a different restaurant this week, or taking a different route unlike your usual one to discover different parts of Shrewsbury, can already spice up our repetitive habits in life.
“Looking around the different shops, eating delicious food and desserts acted as a constant reminder for me that there is still a world outside school to be discovered and experienced.”
– a 6.2 student after her town trip
What can you do in Shrewsbury?
As the severity of COVID-19 subsided in the county of Shropshire, we are finally allowed to take weekly trips to the nearby town of Shrewsbury for the first time ever this year. Starting from 28th April every Wednesday, there would be coaches near the Main Hall at 1:15 which can bring over 100 students to town at the same time. Since more of you will have the opportunity to take more and more trips to town, I believe now would be the prime time for me to introduce the things you could do when you get to Shrewsbury. When you get to Shrewsbury, you can…
1: Buy some stuff
I’m sure most of you would agree that the ability to purchase various things from Shrewsbury is one of the biggest reasons why the resuming of town trips is so highly anticipated. However, as most of you may only have been to town for a couple times, you may not be familiar with most of the places where Concord students would go in town in previous years. In this case, I would like to answer the question here: “You can buy some stuff. But from where?”
One of the hot spots you can go to is Darwin Shopping Centre. There are quite a lot of stores there which sell a variety of goods that you might be interested in. Looking to buy some drinks and snacks for a low price? You can go to Poundland or Home Bargains. Planning on getting a new outfit to look nicer for the summer term? There’s a Primark and H&M waiting for you. You can even go to Marks & Spencers in the mall that acts as both a supermarket and clothing store… If you are trying to do both of these activities in one go!
There are some other places where you can go shopping in Shrewsbury, such as the ASDA supermarket, Market Hall and Parade shopping centre. One of the shops I recommend going to is Setonaikai, a store located in Parade. The shop sells a variety of Japanese food, ingredients, and condiments that you would most likely not be able to find elsewhere in the town!
2: Get a haircut
Did any of you miss out on the hairdresser in mid-April and are now stuck with reeaaally long hair, or alternatively want a new, flashier haircut that fits you better? Then rejoice! You can go to town and get yourself a haircut now! There are loads and loads of barber shops around town like Seven Salon and Hinces, where you can visit when you get the chance. Now that town trips are open again for the first time, maybe you can get the chance to visit one of the barbers for the next Wednesday!
3: Go for a walk
Shrewsbury is a beautiful town with lots of places to sightsee and visit, so why don’t you go for a walk around town when you have the time? There are a lot of structures in Shrewsbury like Shrewsbury Abbey, Saint Alkmunds Church and the Darwin Gate that are quite pretty to look at when you go around the town. There’s also a park in Shrewsbury called the Quarry, where you can reach when you go straight up the alleyway next to the Hong Kong City restaurant. As you walk around the park, you can feel the chill atmosphere of the green grass fields along the walkway. The path also extends to the area of the park that borders the River Severn, the river that nearly surrounds the Shrewsbury town centre, making the park one of the best places to sit down, relax and appreciate the scenery of the town.
4: Order takeaway
Right now, even though it is safe for us to go to town again, many of the COVID-19 restrictions are still in place for a lot of the restaurants there, so expect very few restaurants to offer dine-in services for anyone in town (sorry for you, foodies!). However, if you’re really intent on trying the wonderful food of Shrewsbury for yourself (like me!), you can order takeaway from some of the restaurants and collect them near the end of your town trip for you to enjoy back in Concord. Some of the restaurants, like Ask Italian or Dough & Oil, can offer takeaway services for any of you that want a tastier Wednesday supper. If you’d rather feel like eating fast food, there is a KFC and Subway for you as well. Personally, I would normally buy a toastie from Say Cheese for around 4 pounds most of the time I go to town. However, due to the pandemic, the shop has temporarily closed for now. At the time when COVID-19 no longer becomes a problem for us, we can finally dine-in at some of the loveliest restaurants in Shrewsbury, or maybe even try out the toasties I mentioned earlier (Trust me, they’re good)! At the end, there’s one more thing you can put in your bucket list on what to do after the pandemic.
Right here are some of the things you can do when you have the opportunity to go to Shrewsbury. The weekly town trips were once a staple of Concord life and I’m glad this tradition has finally returned at the end of this year. I hope this post could be helpful for any one of you new 6.1 students who are considering a trip to town soon. For those of you who are, stay safe, wear a mask, and last but not least, have fun!
Sacheel – 6.1
Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival
Shrewsbury’s Old Market Hall was transformed into a buzzing hive of creative expression on Saturday 21st April, when the annual Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival took place. Concordians were treated to a menagerie of assorted comedy, art styles and other inspirations as they completed the obligatory hike up Wyle Cop. People from numerous walks of life were browsing, taking inspiration from the town or working on their pieces with quiet, feverish brushstrokes on canvas. The pieces were all created on-site and there was even a workshop out front for anyone interested in picking up the craft. The ‘toons’ on display were reminiscent of newspaper funnies or the nostalgic Saturday morning television delights of yesteryear.
Plenty of other sites around town were also involved in the festivities and they could all be found listed in the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival brochure, distributed among various shopkeepers throughout the little borough. Similar events were advertised for the 27th as well but, sadly, most students could not be in town for these due to school responsibilities and happenings. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the festival, and it was a nice way to de-stress during this tense period that is exam season!
Jefferson – 6.1