I grew up on the edge of Prestwich in Greater Manchester, in a modest, semi-detached house in a cul-de-sac near one of the entrances to Heaton Park. Everyday shopping was done on foot in one of two small parades of shops – one at each end of the bigger road the cul-de-sac adjoined. Between them they supported a butcher, grocer, greengrocer, hardware shop, haberdashery, newsagent, chemist, post office and a bank. ‘Going to Town’ was a trip to Manchester itself. A major, day long expedition planned by my mother with military precision. ‘The list’ which had been growing as she noticed things she needed, was re-written according to the shop where she expected to find things and in the correct order to visit them. Since being out all day meant having a mid-day meal in a cafe the route had to deliver us to a suitable one early enough to beat the rush but late enough for them to be serving meals rather than just morning coffee. When we went on the bus we had to go after the rush hour but once we had a car we left earlier to get a parking place (always on the street in those days) before the commuters filled them all. , meaning of course that we arrived before the shops opened and so started at the furthest point from where we parked to use the time. Definitely not an outing to be undertaken lightly or often!
I still use local shops as much as possible and am lucky enough to have a choice of independent butchers, market gardens and small supermarkets within a few miles. ‘Going to Town’ means Carmarthen, Cardigan which are about the same distance (20 miles) from home or Haverfordwest which is slightly further, with occasional forays to Newcastle Emlyn or Narberth. Mostly I go to Cardigan which has fewer chain-stores and more independent shops and where there is a fantastic haberdashery in the lower market – a must for someone like me who knits, crochets and sews. It is also where the Welsh class I go to is located meaning I can combine journeys.
Its Welsh name, Aberteifi, describes it – the mouth of the River Teifi and it was once an important port. The railway line which used to serve the town closed a long time ago but the route is now a footpath that runs next to the river through the Teifi Marshes Nature reserve and on to the village of Cilgerran. From there other pathways continue along the river, past the disused slate quarries and eventually to Llechryd.
If I fancy a view of the sea rather than the river a short drive through the village of St Dogmaels brings me to the long sandy beach and dune system at Poppit. Either turns a shopping trip from a chore into a treat for me and the dogs. It beats Manchester any day!