Ottery St Mary, Devon
Ottery St Mary (known as Ottery round these parts) is much like a lot of small rural towns in that somehow it's managed to remain uncommercial, other than the supermarket. The shops, cafes, pubs and businesses are mostly independent, owned and run by local people, and that's nice because it has all the feels of a proper community where the townsfolk know each other and look out for one another.
There's not a huge amount at Ottery but it's not a bad place for a wander round when you're staying in your Devon holiday cottage at Stonehayes Farm. For starters, the church is very impressive for such a small town; large and architecturally ornate, it was modelled on Exeter Cathedral, complete with a 14th century anatomical clock, a minstrels gallery, and what's thought to be the oldest weathercock in Europe. Another claim to fame the town has is that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, was born here in 1772. And Ottery is also well known for a couple of the strange events held here every year - Tar Barrels in November, when people run through the streets with blazing tar barrels aloft on their shoulders, and Pixie Day in June, when children from the local Guides and Scouts groups run through the streets dressed as pixies. Both events have their origins in legend, and let's hope they survive because traditions like that are what gives a place its character.
Ottery St Mary gets its name from the river that flows through the town - the Otter; you can stroll along its banks to the rare Tumbling Weir, or if you really want to stretch your legs, carry on to Tipton St John and stop off for lunch in the pub there. If you come over all peckish when you're in town, well, Rusty Pig is very good, as is the cafe at Coldharbour Farm Shop, but for unadulterated old-fashionedness and actually, a decent bite to eat, go to Seasons Tea Rooms.
All information correct at the time of writing