Separated from the main shopping area by a main road, on a small stretch heading to the river, I stumbled upon the Rivergate Arcade. Curiousity, as well as the possibility of finding lunch, drew me inside.
Central to the arcade is Rico's, a cafe/restaurant. The sort of down to earth place that used to be prevalent across the UK but is increasingly rare. Full English. Tea. Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick. I took lunch there, an easy decision.
The arcade exists in parallel to Queensgate, an alternative to the frenetic, serious, choice anxious shopping trip of the large mall. Few 'big brands', unless you count The British Heart Foundation, but instead curious smaller shops. I didn't feel I was obliged to consume and felt drawn to just potter about.
Walter Benjamin in his Arcades Project saw the Paris Arcades, particularly as they declined, became dilapidated and occupied by 'fringe' businesses, as a natural environment for the Flaneur. Alternative places away from mainstream commerce and 'spectacle'. Whilst in Rivergate Arcade there were no dandies walking with diamond encrusted tortoises on leads, just a bloke with a cord jacket and a Fulton umbrella, I felt there was a certain connection.