"Just a short drive from Central London is the home and haven of Swedish household goods, IKEA Croydon. And the expedition – whether undertaken with childlike delight at the thought of filling the boot with flat pack furniture, or a touch of mild anxiety about spending an afternoon trawling around an aircraft hanger mispronouncing umlauted Swedish bookcases – is undoubtedly best approached with Zipvan Henrik in tow," Tremayne from London city guide HG2 tells me. Read on to reveal Croydon's secrets.
"But once your mission is complete, why not spend an extra hour or two within a couple of miles of IKEA and make a day of it? Since you’re out and about it would be a shame to miss out on some of the more amusing things Croydon has to offer…
Take a stroll around Beddington Park © Bods
A drive of a mere two miles will take you to the beautiful Beddington Park (entrances from Church Road, Beddington, Surrey and London Road, Wallington. www.friendsofbeddingtonpark.co.uk), perfect for a peaceful stroll in the fresh air around the grounds of the manor house. Formerly home to the Carew family, and once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh’s in-laws by a somewhat scandalous marriage to Elizabeth I’s maid of honour, the place is bursting with history. You can even take a trip down Queen Elizabeth’s walk, a short trail through woodland which, local legend has it, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Queen used to walk together.
After your exertions, stop off for a spot of lunch at Albert’s Table (49c Southend, Croydon CR0 1BF. Tel: 020 8680 2010 - www.albertstable.co.uk), a modern British restaurant just a short drive from Beddington Park. The brainchild of Joby Wells – who has worked his way up the restaurant ladder and completed stints at The Square, Zafferano’s and La Trompette before opening Albert’s Table – this is a great place to sample local seasonal produce crafted into delicious dishes. And besides, there’s an incredibly reasonable set lunch menu on offer.
Stop off for some lunch at Albert’s Table
Next on the agenda – we’d recommend letting off some steam (either for yourself or the children) at Traq Motor Racing (Jessops Way, Croydon, CR0 4TS. Tel: 020 8665 0222 - www.quadbikeracing.com). Instead of taking it out on poor old ed, take the wheel in a Go Kart, Quad or Minimoto and tear up the track for an hour or two. Experiences are on offer to all ages, and there’s no need to book thanks to their ‘Arrive and Drive’ sessions.
Modern British cuisine at Albert’s Table
Or for a more relaxing activity, a round of golf on Mitcham Common (Mitcham Golf Club, Carshalton Road, Mitcham Junction, CR4 4HN. Tel: 0208 640 4280 - www.mitchamgolfclub.co.uk) is never a bad option – once one of the most exclusive courses in the country but now, thankfully, open to the public. Leave the car to cool down and tackle the 18 holes in the footsteps and swings of the famous members of Parliament who have been known to escape the woes of Whitehall by immersing themselves in this oasis of calm, just 12 miles out of town.
A short drive from Mitcham Common, and perfect for a rest stop on the way back into the city, lies Morden Hall Park (Morden Hall Road, SM4 5JD. Tel: 020 8545 6850 - www.nationaltrust.org.uk/morden-hall-park),
a National Trust Heritage site where visitors to this countryside retreat can witness the wildlife and agricultural heritage of England firsthand. For a dose of culture, there are also permanent and temporary exhibitions on show in one of the estate buildings, as well as workshops courtesy of local craftspeople and artisans. For a mid-afternoon snack, there are also two cafés on site – one that sits right beside the River Wandle – the perfect place to enjoy a slice of homemade cake. And perhaps another, for the road. Now who said Croydon couldn’t be exciting."
Have you been to the IKEA in Croydon, did you just shop and go or did you stop for lunch nearby? Are there any other things to do in Croydon that you’d recommend to Zipcar members?