In our continued exploration of areas in, and around, greater London, to buy our first property, this time we visited Hitchin. And, it must be said, we came away quite smitten!
First off, lets talk travel to/from Hitchin. It's not great. The train we needed to take left out of King's Cross Station, and it runs every 30min on weekends. Travel time itself was around 40min, and the train just blasts down the tracks. There are tunnel sections that get quite annoying, if your ears don't like sudden pressure changes (like mine). Some of the crowds we saw on the train were also all kinds of... interesting.
Once there, we decided to walk to town. We could look, that way, at both residentials and the main town market. So we did this. We walked the short, more direct way into town, and then took the longer way back to the station.
On our way into town, we went past a nice church, and a great furniture store. I know, that sounds boring, but it's of great interest to us. When we do buy our place, we have quite specific ideas about how to fit out the living room, and this place was the first we found that actually was quite close to our ideal. We'll be visiting again.
When we were close enough to town, we saw the main pay-and-display parking lot (one of several). The town obviously accommodates people driving in from surrounding areas, leaving their cars, and walking in to do their business.
The town itself is, relatively, pretty large, with a variety of businesses. We visited a great restaurant for lunch, and walked around town. Of direct interest to us, we noticed a M&S Simply Food, an ASDA, and plenty of seemingly interesting restaurants (one side of town has the proper restaurants, another has the takeaways). We also saw a truly surprising number of hair/nail salons and barbers.
The people overall seemed wonderful. Everyone seemed friendly and relaxed. The local drivers seemed quite calm as well (although a BMW guy made it a point to reinforce the cliché of the brand later in the day). Later in the day the town did go quiet. On the plus side, we noticed local teens about being entirely normal and civilised (we've seen some truly feral crowds at times).
Overall the place had us in a very good mood. As a result, we kept pushing our exploration, and ended up walking a total of nearly 9 miles into and out of town. We even jumped into a local pub ("The Cock") for a cocktail.
Once the weather started turning, and fatigue was taking over, we figured we'd get a ride back to the station. This was probably the only downside. Google only gave us a single bus that could take us back, and the next one was listed as in 40min. Über wasn't really an option because the nearest cars were ~15min away, at the time. So we walked it. Still, not a problem, as it gave us a chance to see the other side of town.
Overall, we really liked Hitchin. If transport didn't seem so poor (at least on weekends?), we would be very enthusiastic. Especially seeing as local property seems to be reasonably priced, we're even more motivated to like it.
As things stand, it's high in our list, on par with Woking (arguably polar opposites), under St. Albans.
Photography: All shots from a Fujifilm X-T2 with a Fujinon 16-55/2.8. All the B&Ws are in-camera customised Acros film simulations. Some of the color shots are in-camera customised Provia/Velvia/ProNeg film simulations, others processed in LR, most with VSCO's Velvia simulation (come on, Fujifilm, add this to the camera already!). See my initial thoughts on the X-T2 by clicking here.