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What do you love about Ilfracombe?

Something marvellous has happened

Visit a multi-storey shopping complex and the whole culture is different. There is a feeling of not being attended to in detail. Robots in action, or at least that is how most assistants respond to the crowded surge of the modern shopping world. The experience is supervised by computers with the finger of a controller on the button of a machine, but the real emergency is when the machine breaks down, leaving the assistant in the same mode.

Something marvellous has happened and I stand with admiration in front of it.

It is this: My recent visit to Ilfracombe, was horizontal rain and gale force winds. Occasionally the sky breathed in and I joined an outburst of shoppers weaving in both directions along the High Street like animated puppets on invisible strings. I glanced at the shopping list. "Pasties" I mumbled. I stood at the counter in the butcher's shop and there was a feeling I was a friend. Conversation was relaxed, meaningful with a code of respect. I entered the gift shop and what I requested was out of stock. The assistant asked me to return the following day and would do what she could to help. I returned to learn that the assistant herself had called into the warehouse early that same day and had brought the item to the shop for me to collect. An angel in action.

Then there's the shop with collectable miniature road transport and aeroplanes on display, a shop with ripples of courtesy within its four walls, there are more.

Perhaps it has something to do with the Devonshire pace of life, perhaps it has not. There is a maintained cultivation with Ilfracombe's High Street traders, an intensity of colour, where strength comes not from the bloom, but from the seeds.

Rod Doherty. Rochdale

Created 10/2/99