Try a home-grown shopping holiday

So inured am I to the normality of that reality that I didn't realise how low my expectations of the British shopping experience had sunk.

That hit me in a tiny sports shop in Ivybridge last week. I'd forgotten my trainers and went in anticipating the least - a cheapo stop-gap pair, perhaps. But I was greeted by a chap who would not let me leave until he'd measured my feet, checked my running gait, fitted me, given me advice (and socks) to prevent blisters, and passed on the knowledge that Nike trainers are "plastic rubbish that don't fit" (a suspicion that I've always had, but how nice to have it confirmed by an honest expert).

I know that you can get such attention in some obscure places in London, but I've never found them. Thanks to Mr Ivybridge, I now have the best running shoes I've ever owned.