There’s a perfect balance of town and country in Harpenden. Located between Luton and St Albans, its centre is known locally as the village and it has certainly retained its charm. Harpenden is well protected by being in a conservation area and one of its main features is the Church and High street greens that stretch all along from the common.

It’s hard to believe that I’m only 25 miles north west of London as I feel a million miles away. I meander into an independent bookshop packed with shelves full of well selected books neatly divided into sections, then its off to Caffe Nero perfectly located overlooking the wide open green spaces. I sip a cappuccino enjoying the peace and quiet as I look out onto the common.

The arrival of the railway system from 1860 connected Harpenden’s rural environment to London and apparently in 1913 the National children’s home, housing over 200 children, was moved from the East End to the fresh country air of Harpenden. After only a year it was reported that the general health of the children had improved in the new surroundings! I’m not at all surprised.

The parade of shops shaded by Beech and Maple trees include a variety of independent boutiques and a glossy Space.NK that has just arrived. I step into Threads a family-run gift shop, and enjoy their huge selection of cards, Easter decorations, pretty notebooks and Estella Bartlett jewellery.

I walk on to discover Thorns, a traditional sweet and tobacco shop, established in 1918 celebrating its centenary. The dim lighting, smell of sweet confectionary mixed with the mild scent of menthol tobacco is the first thing I take in as I close the door behind me.

Surrounded by hundreds of varieties of traditional chocolates and sweets I have a chat with the assistant who tells me that the shop was opened by a man who had returned home after fighting in the First World War making it the oldest shop in town. I look up and am greeted by portraits of Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria and can feel how deeply embedded this old confectioners is within its community.

The shelves are filled with boxes of orange and whiskey liquor chocolates. Behind the cash desk are paisley green tins of loose tobacco; on the other side are rows upon rows of old fashioned sweets in jars sold by the quarter from Cola Cubes to Aniseed Twists. I buy a packet of pear drops while my husband carefully selects some penny sweets for our daughter.

As we reach the cash register my husband points out a colouful box of Everlasting Gobstopppers and we smile at each other. I know exactly what he’s thinking and suggest that he doesn’t say a word!

I’ll be back for more sweeties and look forward to exploring the Farmer’s market held on the fourth Sunday of each month.