Totnes and Tearooms

(said: tot-ness)

Last weekend I went home to Devon, which is in the Westcountry (South West peninsula) of England. What I love most about going home to Devon, apart from the coastline and rolling hills, are the snug country towns of which Totnes is characteristic. Totnes is beautiful: settled on a soaring hill with the main highstreet escalating it, it has a river curving round its base and a castle on its summit. It’s often referred to as something like ‘historic Totnes‘ or ‘a historic gem’ but what makes it really unique are its new age qualities. Some of the shops sell ‘real’ wands, and they even have a currency called the ‘Totnes Pound’. Totty has a ban on plastic bags and a plethora of whole-food shops, farmers’ markets (as in, the people who live just round the outskirts), and Saturday bread and good markets. The place is packed with artists and activists who wear hand-made shoes and eat millet. It’s not a wannabe hippie town, it just is. But alongside this attractive mother-nature-aspirational quality are the hallmarks of quaint old England – including the tearoom.

Most of the shops in Totty are small businesses, and you can finger the produce, browse and lounge for hours and chat easily with the shop keepers. I love the bookshop in particular and we never spend less than an hour and a half and £20 in there.

A characteristically home-grown bookshop

What with all the wonderful hemp made clothes, folksy bands and animal welfare activists collaring you, you need a good tearoom. And this one is the best. I don’t even know its name, it’s just ‘the one at the top’ (of the hill that is – so indulging in all the sugar is fair enough after THAT trek). Just look at the window:

So after buying an amazingly esoteric book on the food of the Pacific (following up on my 2 months in the Solomon Islands last summer) and stocking up on veg and meat, we all piled into the teashop and, after choosing from the 32 varieties of herbal tea offered (!?!?!?!?!!) I settled for a hot chocolate and a slice of this baby, not least because my slice would be the first slice from the coffee and walnut cake:

I’m sorry that we only had a mobile phone on us to take snaps, I promise next time I visit Totty I’ll have the best camera at my disposal with me. Soon we too will be living in the Westcountry and those small town charms will be more available to me.

3 responses to “Totnes and Tearooms

  1. Naomi Devlin April 18, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Totnes is lovely isn’t it? My mum lives there and I love having a rootle around in the vintage clothes shops, the fantastic deli and then finishing up in one of the many cafes.

    Having said that, Bridport (where I live) is also gorgeous. You should add it to your westcountry itinery.

    x x x

  2. Nilmandra March 1, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    The climbing to a good tea room reminds me of Lincoln. And look at all those cakes! Gorgeous.

  3. Elaine March 1, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Oh, foodie heaven! And as you said, after that climb, you earned it!

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