I think of London as lots of villages close together. Each village has a lot going for it and from time to time, it’s nice to go to another village. For each village has different shops, different pubs and different restaurants. Depending on where you go, it’s not just exploring another part of London.
Well. Maybe that was true ten years ago or so.
Before the chains moved in.
Now, each village has the same shops and the same restaurants. And so there is almost no need to go to another village. What you’ll find there is what your village offers.
Which is sad.
And the same can be said for other towns in the UK. The only difference is what type of chains you get: posh or not-so-posh. And so, towns get talked about. Yep, it’s worth going there. Avoid it, there is no need to go there.
And Woking, it has to be said, is a town that belongs to the latter category. People laughed when I told them I was going there. They pitied me.
A walk around the town centre and I understood why. There is very little there, apart from not-so-posh chains. And you can come across jewels like the Singer Sewing Centre… a remnant of the fifties.
But I had heard a rumour that Woking has the first mosque to be built in the UK and Northern Europe. The Shah Jahan Mosque.
Who would have thought.
It’s a little out of town and I got lost on the way (I misunderstood the directions I’d been given). I was about to give up (it couldn’t possibly be further away, could it?) when I spotted the street sign. The mosque is set back from the main road, sandwiched between a residential area and an industrial estate.
I couldn’t go in unfortunately as the time of my visit coincided with prayers. But I didn’t mind. The building is architecturally stunning. The garden is beautiful.
And that day, the sun was shining.
So maybe, just maybe, not everywhere is the same after all… you just need to look for the out of the ordinary.