Sunday, 20 September 2015

Impressions of Axminster and Honiton in Devon

We spent about an hour each in the Devon towns of Axminster and
The Trafalgar Way 
Honiton on Friday afternoon and I thought I would share my impressions of each with you. We learned that the two towns are not just linked by the A35, but also by the historic Trafalgar Way - a 271 mile journey from Falmouth to London covered in just 37 hours by post chaise in 1805 as Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere carried the news of the English victory against Napoleon Bonaparte and the death in action of Admiral Lord Nelson. Honiton proudly proclaims itself the 8th post-horse change on the commemorative plaque pictured below. I don't think that this route isn't actually a recognised walk or cycleway (yet!), but there is a new cycling sportive event coming up on the 17th October called Ride The Trafalgar Way which comprises of team and solo challenges along all or some of the distance. More details are on the Ride The Trafalgar Way website if you'd like to get involved or cheer the riders along.

Expert craftsmanship is another common theme with Honiton known for
Tiled lace maker mural in Honiton 
its lace making since the mid-1500s and Axminster being synonymous with luxury carpets since 1755. We didn't see carpet shops everywhere and in fact Axminster does seem need to need some TLC as there were empty shopfronts and a high proportion of nearly new, bric a brac and charity shops. One of these did impress us though - a nearly new furniture shop called Waste Not which was offering leather three piece suites for very reasonable prices and most looked practically unused! I also really loved the Apple Tree Gift Shop which is a gallery for over seventy amazingly varied local artists and craftspeople. There are superb embroidered pictures here as well as wooden items, textiles, paintings and enough designs of greetings card that, if I was local, I would regularly be popping in to browse!

Honiton had a more vibrant High Street with lots of independent arty and homewares shops. We counted three butchers, but didn't find a greengrocer. The Ganesha Wholefoods shops are a local chain and we saw them in Axminster, Honiton and will also spot a branch in Sidmouth. They don't have fresh vegetables and are quite light and airy compared to the Aladdin's den feel of Llandovery's Iechyd Da or Lancaster's Single Step, but we found yet another new-to-us brand of tofu to try. This time it's Taifan Smoked Tofu with Almonds and Sesame Seeds.

Flower display in Axminster 

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