Saturday, 4 April 2015

Totnes, Devon, England

Even on a grey Good Friday, Totnes is rather jolly. Although it does have a Morrison's, a Co-op and a Superdrug, on the whole, the shops are one-offs, well-informed by the (now-ageing) hippy-ish folk who seem to have landed here some time ago. So there are plenty of men in those fabrc Fez-type hats with bushy ponytails and women of a certain age in layers of purple with sheepskin coats and long, loose hair, but they give the place a more relaxed vibe than some English towns, which can feel as if they're made up of one part retired stockbrokers and their wives and the other part slightly disgruntled townies, who'd probably prefer if you didn't stop and clog up the streets gawping at the buildings they don't even notice, though they're quite happy to take your money, thank you very much
There's a guildhall, which has been here for hundreds and hundreds of years, next to the churchyard that makes for the ubiquitous spot youths lurk to smoke weed which, ever since US states starting making legal, somehow seems to have taken the edge of danger off these skulkers.

There's also a very mooch-aroundable market on Fridays and Saturdays, with plenty of artisan bread and baked goods, organic vegetables, vintage clothing and old tools stalls.

You can park for up to 2 hours in the Morrison's carpark – free if you buy at least £5 worth of stuff from them and, also, free on Bank Holidays, of which Good Friday is one. That's plenty of time to wander up Fore Street, check out the charity-shop rails, buy clasps in the bead shop, postcards in the newsagents, hum and haw over the West Country sheepskin rugs in the market, buy a date slice and wander back again. It's also almost next door to the tourist information office, where you can pick up local walking maps, find out where the Dartmouth ferry leaves from (and when) and plan your stay.

Especially nice are the various narrow alleyways leading off Fore Street, giving glimpses back to a time before cars and the droopy-faced dog helping to hold up a half-timbered house.

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