Spud-gun is an amusing epithet underutilised as much as the Shambles often is in ol’ Devizes town, in my honest opinion. Spudgun, best describes the far removed from reality councillor who suggested a mezzanine floor is what’s needed to ensure the longevity of The Shambles. Is there even room for a second floor? I gazed upward to answer my own question, with a sigh of possibility, but would enough traders come and fill new units, if they did would it compensate for the cost of adding a second floor, and would shoppers even accend it to explore? Not forgoing lessening the aesthetic value of the building’s glorious height, it sounds like an impractical soultion focussed only on unachievable profit.
Having a feast in the Shambles casted a whole new perspective on the hidden beauty of this building, for me, and its possible usages too. SoupChick hosted a knockout supper there last night for near-on forty guests, celebrating owner Anya’s Georgian roots with an inspiring presentation from her artist mother, followed by a banquet of Georgian cuisine, but somehow, in that wonderfully tall hall, akin to a feast in the great hall of Vaulhalla!
I haven’t enough flowery shirts to be Jay Rayner, but I know what I like, and this was an experience my tastebuds will love me forevermore for! Pampered with a consistent stream of wine and gorgeous dishes, no expense was spared to show off the skills of Anya and her team in a unit the size of a bedsit kitchenette, and confirmed SoupChick is about as close to dishing out a mug of Cup-a-Soup as a daytrip to Canvey Island constituents a tropical holiday!
I feel for you if you missed this exclusive dinner, but keep abreast of their Facebook page or posters, as this was inaugural with future events planned, a Greek one, followed by an Italian, Anya’s partner Marc informed me.
Aside the continuing Devizes Food & Drink Festival, which coincidentally kicked off yesterday too, we’re somewhat limited for world cuisine here, like many rural areas, so this is a welcomed additional option, and just like the art show they organised back in November, it goes a long way in making perfect use of The Shambles.
Proof, I believe, that surely we should keep our feet on the ground, concentrate on what we have got? Starter whinge for ten, the entrance from the Market Place is hardly whetting the appetite, hardly screams come in here and take a look around; just some tables and chairs in a dank hall, occasionally occupied by a trader or two on market days. I accept an open space is practical and convenient, but this needs to occupy the rear end of it while those fantastic units in the middle and rear-end should greet passers-by at the beginning, much less it needs a lick of paint and some decoration.
Vibrant market halls of yore send me on a memory bliss, of sauntering Camden Lock, or the Lanes of Brighton. But this isn’t the nineties, and it’s Devizes, certainly not Brighton or Camden. And with that a chilling thought comes to me, of a couple of weeks ago, decending into the once bustling indoor market in Trowbridge town centre, to find it 99.9% desolate, my daughter reminding me it’s the after effects of the pandemic. By comparison with this, and not a bustling bygone city market, The Shambles is a wonderful market hall, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.
I’m guilty myself, I rush through it on my way elsewhere, but to add lively communal events, to welcome, as it once did, community groups like Devizes Living Room, and the addition of a piano were real positive moves. I’d like to suggest extending this, to welcome buskers, put some acoustic musicians in there, Devizes has plenty to offer.
I say they should encourage a flow of foot traffic through the Shambles by concentrating on adding arts, entertainment and street food, make it colourful and lively, add events such as book or record fairs, the possibilities are endless, let’s have a self-publishing zine convention with affordable tables, let’s have a creche, play area, and things to do for our younger generations, let’s go for it, and visting folk will bookmark Devizes as an even more fantastic day out than previously anticipated.
But hey, you know me, just a thought! For the best part of this is to thank SoupChick for a wonderful meal, it was interesting and an experience, I know now about Georgia, it’s culture and art, and certainly had the best possible taste of its food. All in good company, here’s a local event with a difference, truly tantalising the tastebuds, so much so I took to donning my modest gladrags, much to the shock of regulars at the Southgate, where I bee-lined afterwards for the contrasting headbanging thunder of Plan of Action!
The band were fantastic, though I wasn’t there for long enough to fairly justify a fuller review this time, mentioning it here it is only a method of expressing what a wonderfully diverse calendar of events we have in Devizes, and after last weekend’s gig excursion to Swindon, it was great to return. If buildings like the Shambles can be used as an addition for events, I believe we should make full use of it, diversify and celebrate the talent we have here inside it; go figure, miss-firing spudgun!