Friday, 29 April 2016

We visit The Shops At Dartington and find Totnes Community Bookshop

Dave was intrigued when he saw The Shops marked on the
Upcycled figure at The Shops 
map at nearby Dartington. Normally towns don't bother to announce their retail district so proudly so he investigated further. It turns out that The Shops At Dartington are part of something a bit special. The estate was purchased by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst in 1925 and they 'embarked on what they called the Dartington Experiment to regenerate a rural community.' The Elmhirsts welcomed people who were interested in social change and reform - artists, economists, horticulturalists - and the estate is still very much a social enterprise today, ploughing any commercial profit back into local projects. There is a full calendar of musical, artistic, culinary and literary events as well as an arthouse cinema, beautiful gardens, restaurants and the eponymous Shops. Parking is pretty cheap and we also spotted a Sustrans cycle / walking route from Totnes.

We began wandering around outside this pretty venue
The Sustrans route leading away from the bridge 
which is all old stone and flowers. Lots of the trees were in full blossom and there are interesting details like the above upcycled figure near to the Restore shop. Restore is a voluntary enterprise, part of Refurnish Devon, which brings people together to learn how to repair and restore their existing furniture as well as upcycling individual pieces for the shop. Right now there's a nice gateleg table there!

We managed not to allow ourselves into the very tempting food shop and also bypassed another business selling fire bowls, outdoor pizza ovens and the like. A homewares shop had Christy towels at half price, but we don't have the space! Instead we spent our time (and money) in a greeting card shop which has a fabulous range of cards - special occasions, humorous, and arty. I especially appreciated their support of local artists and liked designs by Kerry Tremlett from Exeter and Sally Anderson from
Sally Anderson greeting cards 
Teignmouth. Our final discovery was a branch of the vegetarian Cranks Restaurant which Dave remembers as the first veggie eaterie in London. He even ate there in 1967 and we are planning to treat me to a birthday lunch at the Dartington establishment (on Tuesday, just as a by the way!) so I will review it next week. I think if we do find our perfect abode in Torquay, we will be visiting Dartington fairly frequently!

Another town we would be visiting frequently would be Totnes. We have already stopped by once and loved its hippy vibe. This time we hoped for another good DVD, but couldn't find anything promising that we hadn't already seen. My other aim was to find a cafe with a book exchange shelf because I thought Totnes looked a likely place. I wasn't able to google one either there or in Torquay - so if you know better, please let me know. But in the meantime, we made the wonderful discovery of the Totnes Community Bookshop in Castle Street. It officially became a community enterprise in March and hosts events such as open mic poetry evenings, author visits and acoustic music. I think all the books are second hand, but are in good condition and there's an excellent selection. Most of the paperbacks that caught my eye were £2 each so we chose five between us and, best of all, I got a £1 trade-in each on the three I had hoped to exchange. So if you want to read Daughter Of The Killing Fields, Fermat's Last Theorem (review blogged tomorrow) or The Amateur Marriage, my copies are now all at the Totnes Community Bookshop. Go take a look!

Photo from Totnes Community Bookshop FB page

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