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Thursday, September 23, 2004

A different perspective of Taunton

Over at Crescat Waddling Thunder posted the email of someone defending Taunton, by current abode. It's interesting to read, but unlike Waddling Thunder's correspondent, OJ Wooding from Dayorama I have no such love of the place. I quote the following line:

Taunton is a beautiful market town with a pleasant train station, a decent mix between large and small shops (including one of the best butchers in the world, the other being in Tavistock) and a delightful cricket ground.

Now I can't speak of the butcher, but a pleasant train station? What's so pleasant about the train station. It's a station. It's not the most grimy station I've seen, but it's nothing special. Trains come, trains go. The most interesting announcement I ever heard on the station, incidentally while I was waiting for Waddling Thunder's train to arrive when he visited was "May the young gentleman about to relieve himself in the bin on Platform 5 please note that CCTV cameras are in use in this station, and the public conveniences are located on Platform 2". As for beautiful market town - Taunton's not bad, but hardly beautful. I think most people think a large number of tress = beautiful. But it doesn't, not where towns are considered. Towns (and cities) should not be judged solely, or mostly, on their greenery but by their buildings, and Taunton is particularly uninspiring in that regard. Besides, I think to call it a market town is an insult to all those towns that still have a proper market. Though I don't disagree about the cricket ground - but it's a shame the team isn't so good. He continues:

But one can still be on a train or drunk (but preferably not both) in Taunton and marvel at its beauty.

Personally I think one would have to be drunk to consider Taunton beautiful. Oh, maybe its beautiful compared to someplace like, I don't know, Hull, but as will be seen below I have perhaps been rather spoiled for beauty. He continues on about food. IMO the Castle, which he mentions, is a place in which you pay for the pretensiousness and little more. More importantly from my perspective is that Taunton does not have a single decent curry-house. Its bars are mostly turning themselves into "trendy" sets which are, to be blunt, rubbish. The shops that used to make shopping here different from say, Bristol, are now disappearing.

However, I must be honest in my dislikes. I was raised in a village on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor. When I think of beautiful towns I think of places like Fowey or Bude, or of villages like Minions or Blisland. Basically Taunton just isn't in the same league, few places are. My basic problem with Taunton is that it doesn't feel like "home". When I move from Taunton I won't miss anything. I still miss Cornwall, and that move is now eight years or so behind me. I still miss the first village we lived in, and that move is about 12 and a half years behind me. No, I can't wait for the time when I get out of Taunton.

Incidentally, to keep a sort of food flavour the very best cream teas served in the world are done at the Hurlers Halt. You will find no finer. Cream teas, by the way, is a very high-calorie way to have a cup of tea. High calorie because, along with the tea, you have scones over which you apply liberal amounts of clotted cream and jam. There is some debate over whether one applies the jam or cream first. Not to be had either way when on a diet.

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