Thursday 1 December 2011

Dulverton by Starlight

Photo by Number Seven
Commercial break/brake

'Where do you do your Christmas shopping?' asked the lovely Emma Britton on BBC Somerset radio.  'High Street or Internet?'
I don't do a whole lot of Christmas shopping, truth be told, but what I do do I do in Dulverton. I do, I do.
Why?  Because it's lovely.  We're spoiled here, really - there are all the everyday shops you need but also a fine and dandy sprinkling of all the ones you really don't need; full of things you really really don't need but that I suspect many of you would want.  It's big enough to offer a bit of choice (but not too much because, seriously, too much choice is stressful -I don't know much but trust me on this one, okay?) but not too big that your feet ache.
What else? I like supporting small shops. I like supporting local people. I don't like the push and shove of the High Street.  I love the feel of Dulverton in the run up to Christmas. Truly, it's magical.

This Sunday is even more special.  If you don't know Dulverton and you live within kicking distance of this small Exmoor town (in Somerset, but you're nobbut a hop and a jump from Devon), could I invite you to come over for Dulverton by Starlight.  The roads will be open (yes, I know, those pesky road works have been a pain but the nice guys from South Wales promise me).  The shops will be open late and most put on mince pies, mulled wine and so on. There's all the usual malarkey (Father Christmas, church fair, horse and carriage trips, a display of cribs) but mainly it's just rather lovely and bustly and twinkly.  The pubs are buzzing, the parking is free and it all ends with a delicious  firework display over the church.
Let's take a walk around town...

Number Seven. Just gorgeous ceramics, arty things, tasteful children's toys and a carefully mind-picked selection of books (very strong on children's fiction plus an eclectic mix of literature, cookery and countryside delicacies).
Carole King. Lousy photo (my fault). No, she doesn't sell pheasants - but gorgeous shoes (yeah, my Miss Whiplash riding boots came from here), a few clothes, handbags, throws and gifts - serious pamper shop with a sense of humour. Across the road is a gallery and also a really bizarre shop that sells vintage crockery, glassware, nappery and the like.
The bookshop. Second-hand and antiquarian - the real deal, over two floors with that musty scent of foxed paper. Sofas and chairs to slump into; even a few ancient toys to amuse ancient children. A few prints and dodgy oils.  Across the road is a lovely antique shop.  Not remotely pretentious or up its arse.
Brimblecombe. Sigh. Total gorgeousness. Owner Jane has a brilliant eye for design yet also keeps a firm touch on reality (prices to suit all). Homeware, skincare, accessories, lovely things by the armload. Oh, and you have to go through the courtyard to her Christmas barn - a fairyland grotto of sparkle.
Number Seven again. Picture really doesn't do it justice (the green of that cabinet is EDIBLE). Forgot to say that they also have THE best selection of cards and gorgeous wrapping paper. One year I bought a bunch and made uber-stylish paperchains.  They usually crack open a huge tin of sweets for Starlight - just saying.
Acorn Antiques - yes really.  This bunch always get my 'best traditional' award - sheer class this place. Again, a seriously good eye at work. Actually two pairs - Peter sources the antiques and paintings (which are beyond covetable) while Maggie is the interior design maven (if you fancy traditional country style with a twist, talk to her).
Lance Nicholson. The country shop. If you're into walking, fishing, shooting or you're just a country poseur (or know those who'd like to be), this is the place to get your Barbours, shooting socks, boots, knives, rat traps or whatever turns you on. Nice people who really know their stuff.
The cake shop. A frisson of excitement ran through Dulverton when this came into town (it used to hide on the outskirts). A pie emporium as well as an everyday baker. And yes, that's a Christmas cake in the corner, not a hat.  We also have a farm shop, a delicatessen and the Tantivy (the paper shop come cafe come gift shop) also has a host of locally sourced foodie treats.
The camera and photography shop. Yeah, really.  This used to be the absolutely daft but fabulous shoe shop but that folded.  Not too surprising as the prices were as sky high as the heels. Now we have this which, if photography is your 'thing', will delight.
The Wardrobe. One of two women's clothes shops in Dulverton. This, annoyingly, isn't their best window but they keep selling the stuff in the window.  Unusual clothes for the whimsical, adventurous dresser. Plus lovely accessories and vintage style jewellery. The other shop, next door, is more classic with a twist.

Woods - from the outside looking in
What else? Umm...there are two riding shops, two charity shops, another interiors place, a lighting and electrical shop, a hardware shop, three estate agents (should you fancy buying houses for your nearest and dearest), a butcher's, a Co-op (some nice offers on right now), a rather dear needlework and handicraft shop, a post office, the National Park centre (which sells Exmoory things), a greengrocers, a beauty/spa place...heck, think that's it but bet I've missed out something.

What can't you buy?  Umm... Music. We don't have a music shop. No trashy teen stuff or mainstream toys (you gotta brave the High Street for that).  We're poor on porn and damn it, there's no weirdy beardy witchy emporium.  But anyway. You don't even have to buy anything really. Just come along for the craic. And, if you see me (probably lurking in a corner at Woods or going oooh and aaaah at the fireworks), say hello.


Jelley said...

The rich choice of our little town even surprised me Jane! Thank you.

Exmoorjane said...

Have I missed anything? Hey, don't know if you know but James and Adrian are in your pic of Woods. :) I wonder where I was?

Jelley said...

Oh yes! I did wonder if that was your mop of fine red hair on the front right?

Exmoorjane said...

I wondered that but I'm not sure. If so, to whom am I talking??? My usual spot is the next table over to the left, hiding in the corner. :)

Exmoorjane said...

Nah, it's not me. :) Val Sherwin, maybe?

Rachel Selby said...

I think I want to live in Dulverton...

Jake Barton said...

Jane, would you do the same for Paris next, please. If it's no trouble. Very well presented view of a lovely place by the resident media darling. Missed her on the radio this week, may yet catch it on Points of View. I'm shocked at the rabid response to your broadcast, Jane, or was that Jeremy Clarkson? You're both tall and controversial, aren't you?

Tattieweasle said...

OK so hurtling down for an Xmas shop from Suffolk...or shall I just go online???

Alison Cross said...

We've got NOTHING like that here, although I WILL try to get presents locally this year.

I always try to get books locally :-)

F said...

Looks lovely. We've got a lovely music store that sells vintage vinyl (with a predilection for classic jazz) along with the typical current stuff. (I know you and your loathing for jazz, but I'm loving me some Miles Davis right now. That's a man with a dark side there.)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I think I may have to move to your neck of the woods - Dulverton looks divine!

Anonymous said...

Considering my town has over 60k people, we are not anywhere near so well served in so compact a space. I did love Dulverton when we came.
I'd love to be there...we almost set off last night, Nigel suggested it, and I did think about it, but turning up at your home at about 1am might not have been a welcome move.
lovely lovely lovely place.

D.J.Kirkbu said...

Amazing... I want to go shopping in your town!

rachel said...

I was there! With visiting friends and two damp odorous dogs who were tormented by the tantalising smells from the food stalls.

(But we didn't spot you - we went to Lewis's tea rooms, not Woods; maybe next time.....)