ZAHRA'S COLUMN

Why I Love Rochester High Street

Zahra Barri

1 May 2022

Our columnist Zahra Barri pays tribute to her favourite Medway location: Rochester High Street.

I fell in love with Rochester High Street the moment I stepped off the train from London Town for my new life in the Country. (I define ‘country’ as any location where it takes over four minutes to call an uber). Let’s face it Rochester’s High Street is an absolute gem. What’s not to like? You’ve got the Cathedral, the Castle, the teashops, the cafes, the restaurants… not to mention THAT iconic rare bookshop where the books are so kooky it feels like Waterstones’ Crazy Aunt.


Rochester High Street is regal, rural, romantic. And the romantic in me sees it as the epitome of that quintessential Englishness that Hollywood adores. For there’s something oh so very Hugh Grant about Rochester High Street. I can easily envision him frantically late for a succession of weddings at the Cathedral for instance or bumbling about in Baggins Bookshop bumping into Julia Roberts, or chasing a Peruvian bear around Boar Lane Carpark, after a particularly debaucherous night at Casino. (Nothing a Kent Kebab can’t pacify).


So, this month I thought I’d share with Love Medway readers my itinerary for that perfect day on Rochester High Street:



First Thing…


Start with a morning Yoga Class at Seven Chakras where you can choose from Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyenga, Yastenga or Kundalini (which I found out the hard way, is NOT a type of pasta).



Coffee…


Next, grab a Coffee at Rochester Coffee. This cafe has such great vibes: great people, great service, great coffee, and great dogs. In fact, you’ll often see a yellow smiling Labrador and his owner, sat on the tables outside, lapping up the sun while sipping a cup of the black stuff. (The owner not the Labrador. FYI dogs prefer tea). You can also pick up a copy of Love Medway Mag while you wait for the barista to serve you your skinny no foam latte soy coconut wheat free mocha choca latte. If you sing the last bit to them like your Christina Aguilera in the Lady Marmalade video, they give you an extra stamp on your reward card, (so I’m told).



Brunch…


You’ve worked up an appetite by now from the yoga and from reading the thought provoking articles in Love Medway Mag. So, you head to brunch with the girls at Nucleus Café. Now Nucleus café is the perfect place for a girlie brunch. Mainly because it’s so instagrammaable. In fact, the stunning interior (art deco downstairs/ plant emporium meets exquisite dining hall upstairs) is matched only by the food. And according to Milly64C from Trip Advisor it has the ‘best vegan brunch’ in the ME1 vicinity. I agree with Milly64C! My friend Tiffany said the vegan sausage was possibly the best sausage she has ever put in her mouth and that’s the greatest compliment because she is infamous for sampling a lot of sausage. The smashed avocado on toast is another big vegan favourite on their menu. And as we all know if your brunch doesn’t consist of this iconic green fruit, is it really going on the ‘Gram?

After you’ve stuffed yourself silly, head down to the toilets to relieve yourself. There, while you do your business, take in the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter to you while you have a whizz. All public toilets should play this, (no one will ever be constipated again).



Next, Shopping!


No, I don’t mean shopping at Next. This is Rochester High Street; chain clothes shops are replaced with something much more ethical…Charity!!

With the brunch girls still intact, it’s time to do some serious damage with some plastic. (My credit card is definitely not single use so don’t enviro shame me, ok?) Except you don’t actually ever overspend because your favourite spot is Demelza which has all the style of one of those retro vintage places in Dalston but none of the overpriced garments or hipster men with waxed moustaches. Instead, all the beautiful second-hand clothes, shoes and handbags are not only wonderfully affordable but go to helping sick children. I mean you’re basically Malala. So you totally deserve to…



Relax and unwind…


,,,at Well Being Rochester. They’ve won awards and stuff. I can’t deny I went and had a massage there post breakup and came out feeling like Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I was like Breakup? What Breakup?



Drinks and Nibbles…


Sit at The Cheese Room with a glass of fizz and get the table overlooking the Castle. Feels like you’ve hopped on the Eurostar and gone to a forgotten European city; café culture plus stunning historic architecture = holidays before Corona and Brexit. You’re peckish for cheese or if your vegan like me peckish for something that has all the fat and taste of cheese but none of the calcium. It’s the weekend why not!



Culture Vulture…


Walk off that cheese while taking in the breath-taking iconic castle and if that’s not enough historic culture for you, pop into the cathedral to soak up some religious architecture. Don’t go in too sozzled from your fizz though, if you’re not drunk on the blood of Jesus they don’t approve.



Evening Dining…


Now it’s time for a new perspective. Climb to the top of the Castle and look down at your city and feel proper smug that you live in such a beautiful historic town. While you take in the panoramic sights pick your spot for dinner tonight. Decipher between Mamma Mia (Italian), Fish at 55 (Japanese), the Cumin Club (Indian), Rico Sabor (Spanish) and many, many other geographically varied gastronomically grand, delicious dining destinations.


Round off your night with a night cap or three at Oliver’s Wine Bar.


Now, that’s Why I Heart Rochester High Street.




For more funny talk, stand-up videos and photos, follow Zahra Barri on Instagram: @zahra.barri.comedy and on Twitter @zahrabarri1