Although shopping is now one of the chief leisure activities of the English, it can be a rather soulless experience. High streets up and down the country feature the same bland chain-stores selling similar ranges of mass-produced items. Nonetheless it is still possible to track down neighbourhoods, stores and the occasional oddity that make for a more enjoyable retail experience.
Particular districts and towns specialize in certain items – Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter for silver and gold, for example, or Hay-on-Wye (see p.508) for books. Antiques feature strongly everywhere – and in Cotswold villages in particular.