The Butcher, The Baker and The Candlestick Maker
This week residents in the village of Winkleigh, Devon, were told that their village had been named as the best place in Britain to bring up children. Winkleigh came top of 2,400 postcodes analysed by financial experts using more than 60 sets of data.
It was a combination of low crime rate, good schools, affordable property and high earnings that earned it the title of the most desirable place to raise a family.
What was of particular interest to me was the fact that Winkleigh has a Post Office, a butcher, a fishmonger, a general store, a vet and a doctor's surgery, two pubs and a sports centre!
It maybe that the key to a successful community is to have a thriving range of independent businesses run and supported by local people. I do hope, for the sake of the happy residents of Winkleigh, that this accolade and it's publicity does not bring with it a whole load of interest from the retail giants who may want a piece of the (idyllic) action.
Last week, whilst visiting my elderly mother, we reminisced about her weekly trips into Bath (she hasn't been in to the city for a long time) and I realised that I was describing a place that was completely unfamiliar to her now.
She remembers MacFisheries, Owen&Owen (and Colmans), buying wool from a shop in The Corridor, morning coffee in The Hub, and getting weekend provisions from the wonderful deli in Jollys where, if she timed it right, she would purchase one of the beautiful pate dishes which made great casserole pots.
A trip into town would always end up at Evans Fish & Chips for lunch. There were many other places, now long gone.
I appreciate that Bath still has a wonderful mix of fabulous independents and that progress and change are of course inevitable. But I couldn't help feeling a little wistful when reading about Winkleigh and I certainly cannot imagine reminiscing in the same way about Bath with my children.
I am often asked to give directions to tourists in the City and find that more and more of my local landmarks (shops, pubs, cafes etc) are disappearing.
It is vital for the economy and community that our High Streets continue to thrive with a mixture of independents and nationals.
In the meantime, how does Moss of Winkleigh sound?