I spent a year at college in Totnes. Too busy trying to cut classes and sneak down to the train station cafe (affectionately nick-named ‘Scabby Caff’ by my friends and I) for a plate of chips (being a veggie at the time, I avoided the All Day Breakfasts never imagining the possibility that the chips were fried in some form of animal fat), I completely missed Totnes’ charm. Not this time. No, sir. I couldn’t get enough of the winding streets, period buildings, independent shops, all-round hippiness (yes, I know I made that word up) and community feel.
Totnes has always had a reputation for being a hippy kinda town. Or if you lived in Brixham in the 1990s, as I did, then a weirdo kinda town. It still is kinda both – and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible. There is an air of pseudo-hippiness (I’m adopting that word now) which comes with a considerable price tag – it is neither cheap to visit or live in Totnes – but it’s just so darn lovely I failed to care!
I told you.
On the day we visited there was a little flea market which only added to the undeniable charm. We missed the Farmer’s Market (3rd Sunday of every month) but will definitely catch it when we next visit. The weather was freezing but we distracted ourselves with chats with the fruit ‘n’ veg man and a couple of folk singers as well as counting the number of beards we could spot. There are a lot of bearded men in Totnes – we didn’t come across any bearded ladies – which I’m sure adds more kindling to the hippy fire but none could compete with ‘The Beard’. As we weaved in and out of the market stalls we spied a particularly beautiful bearded man. He was so beautiful that we speculated he must be swooned over by the a majority of the town and he could have no other name than ‘The Beard’. We imagined women, and men, muttering to their friends ‘Here comes ‘The Beard’ adjusting their hair and smiling their most alluring yet nonchalant smiles as he walked by. I didn’t get any photos of ‘The Beard’ – I could barely look him in the face let alone shove my camera lens there. Alas, have a look at some cabbage instead.
By a long way the best part of the day was discovering a small play area just off the high street. A structure made of giant beams, acting like some sort of fort, served as a great source of play. I’m all for swings and slides but after a few pushes I’m all swung out and the girls soon tire (although never soon enough for me). This play area was so simple in design yet we couldn’t get enough! We imagined it was a pirate ship, an island, a castle – anything that could be surrounded by water – and we drew our own treasure maps in the sand.
If you ever find yourself in South Devon – or there abouts – take a trip into Totnes and enjoy all its off-beat charm. You may even see ‘The Beard’ and that will make it a worthwhile trip indeed.