A Taste of Portugal…In Andover!
Posted on November 8, 2021
I had to go into Andover today. It’s not the most attractive of towns but my friend John had told me about this little place (pictured). It’s a Portuguese bar, café, and shop, selling produce only from Portugal. It even had Portuguese TV on the screen on the wall. You can get a nice coffee, a glass of wine, or a pint of Sagres.
I wish there were more little places like this. It can, albeit briefly, make you feel like you are on holiday. Of course, when you exit the bar, Andover is like so many of these small towns. Charity shops, bookies and boarded up windows reminding you of the death of the High Street, accelerated by Covid-19.
Ingenuity is required to reshape these places. Cheaper rates and support for these little cafes could bring people with money in their pocket back into town. Free parking would also help. Small towns could be somewhere worth visiting if they were taken back by independent stores and restaurants with a bit of character.
It is noticeable that the few places that are thriving in Andover are not bland High Street chains but independent DIY stores, international food stores and Turkish barbers. Wouldn’t it be great if that was the future of the High Street? A row of several different restaurants and bars from around the globe.
The brutal reality is that prosperity feels fanciful and apart from wealthy towns like Winchester, everywhere else feels a bit more doomed the further west you drift. Get into Dorset and Somerset and it is like visiting death. The trickle-down economy does just that. It trickles down from London and apart from the odd pocket of chocolate box village prosperity, it doesn’t get much further than the Test Valley.
I hope this Portuguese chap does well. He was friendly and showed us around the place with infectious enthusiasm. Whether he can attract enough interest to make it worth functioning, is debatable. It wasn’t busy, but I guess it was Monday.
Whatever the case, that brief little feeling of being in a Portuguese back street, made a grey November Monday feel that bit cheerier. I will keep using it on the rare occasions we do go into town. Every bit of custom helps but it will take more than John and me, to keep it going.
The rest of the people in town looked more interested in killing pedestrians with their mobility scooters than supporting a Portuguese cafe.