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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Humor & Whimsy in Clovelly

The picturesque English village of Clovelly, along the northwest coast of Devon, is a tourist trap in the best sense of the word. Although they provide a parking lot, and you can park as long as you want for free (Yes, Parking really is totally free!), you then enter a visitor center where you must pay an admission fee. Along with a large gift shop, the visitor center boasts a cafe where you can buy lunch, drinks, or enjoy your afternoon tea. The best part of the visitor's center is a movie room, which is decorated on all sides by human-sized dioramas illustrating all aspects of life in the village. Then the room darkens, and the movie tells you more about Clovelly's past and present.

Upon leaving the visitor center, you walk down the main (Or should I say only?) street of Clovelly. It's a steep descent, and you need to watch your footing on the cobblestones. But at least you don't have to worry about cars, trucks, motorcycles, or even bicycles passing you. Unlike most modern English towns and villages, Clovelly is still ruled by the family that has lived for generations in the nearby manor. They may not be the Cary family, as depicted in Charles Kingsley's novel Westward Ho! But they've decided to preserve the historic appeal of their village by ruling that only humans and animals shall walk the streets (Sorry, the street) of Clovelly.

I wonder how they feel about pogo sticks?

Sleds like this are a common sight. They help shop owners, residents, and donkey's carry items up and down the hill, and help the milk man deliver everyone's daily pint, yogurt, and clotted cream.

Yum, clotted cream...

Of course, that doesn't mean that folks in Clovelly don't get tired of walking up and down that hill. (Especially after having tea and scones with that delicious clotted cream). Visitors likewise revel in making those steep descents and ascents. So local businesses thoughtfully provide visitors with no end of shops offering homemade fudge, ice cream, and all other sorts of goodies. I'm not sure if all that refreshment makes walking easier or more difficult, but it's their attempt to help keep everyone's spirits up. 

In Clovelly, there's no distinction between residents and visitors. It's everyone against the hill. So residents decorate the fronts of their homes with flowers, whimsical displays, and humorous mottos. 

Signs such as these read:
Please: No Singing, No Dancing, No Swearing.
This is a respectable house.

Happiness is being owned by a cat.

I can only please one person per day.
Today's not your day,
and tomorrow doesn't look good either.

After all, complaining just drags every one's spirits down, right? And no one ever wants to get dragged down, especially not in historic, picturesque, clinging-to-the-side-of-the-hill Clovelly.

Dragon Dave

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