Category Archives: Beach

The English Riviera

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside
I do like to be beside the sea!

Ah, take a deep breath in and smell that salty air, feel the spray tickle your cheek bones and hear the harsh screeching of the gulls riding the currents. Is there anywhere in the world I would rather have been at that moment? I think not.

Of course, those white horses crashing towards the beach were the product of a ‘refreshing’ (read bracing) wind that tousled our hair and chilled our finger tips but nothing could dampen my glee (I did point out that it was warmer than our beach outings during our Summer holiday!). My darling hubby grinned through it all, indulging my giddiness and refraining from commenting when we had to return to the apartment when it transpired that I had left my purse behind.

As I mentioned here, it was decided within minutes of arriving on the English Riviera it had been decided that we would be visiting Paignton. I cannot resist a good pier. Walking out into the middle of the sea gazing towards the horizon makes me forget the world around me.

Admittedly some of the romance faded when I entered the building and this sight met my eyes:

Amusement arcades do not really do anything for me. I cannot get excited about the idea of placing 2p into one slot in the hope that 4p comes out of another. I do not see the point. What is exciting about the idea of pressing a yellow button when you know that the computer will make the blue button win? Boring and what a waste of money!

There is one arcade game that I do enjoy and that is the Camel Derby where you have to roll the balls up the alley to make your camel win the race. At least you actually have to do something other than just gamble. A seasoned pro, I thrashed hubby and won 30 tickets. As this was the only game we played I quickly cashed them in to claim my prize!

Whoop whoop!

Much as we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll around Paignton, I have to say I feel that we saw all that we needed to see. I am not sure quite how I feel about our traditional piers being crammed with arcade games. I don’t mind the arcade itself so much but I wish they would leave the outdoor area free to enjoy and be at one with the sea. I have visited various seaside resorts around the country and I find the row of amusement arcade/fast food venue/amusement arcade/holiday camp that graces many an esplanade rather depressing. However, I did notice that the towns and villages of the English Riviera appear to be finding a balance. Yes, the  tackiness was all too evident in parts, but the hotels and guesthouses were well painted (in all manner of delightful colours!) and tidy, not displaying the financial difficulties that are plaguing many of our traditional (particularly Northern) seaside towns.

We left all of this behind as we moved onto our next destination.

Welcome to the utterly delightful Babbacombe, a district of Torquay. From the moment we entered this place I fell in love. It was quiet, quaint, tidy and enchanting.

I do like to stroll upon the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play:
“Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”

No brass bands on a Monday afternoon in November but there is something so romantic about strolling along a promenade, arm and arm with your beau, even if I was not exactly adorned in Edwardian finery and swinging a parasol. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, all was well with the world.

The views over the bay were breathtaking. The turquoise sea was incredibly vast, spread out in front of us, bordered by tree covered cliffs. Indeed, I seem to have spent so much time absorbing the view that I didn’t manage to photograph it properly. Take my word for it though, if you ever find yourself in South Devon, visit Babbacombe. Hubby and I both agreed that we shall return sometime and when we do we shall visit the Model Village and ride upon its famous Cliff Railway, unfortunately closed for maintenance on Monday.

Whilst in Babbacombe, it struck us that we required sustenance. The sea air does whet the appetite so, you know. Luckily, we spotted the magic words ‘cream tea’ on a little sign outside the rather inconspicuous ‘Angels Tea Room’.

We were rather taken aback when, as we entered, a lady asked if we had booked. Er, no, this is a cafe, isn’t it?! Well no, it appears this is not just any cafe, but a social hub of Torquay! If you are after a quiet, relaxing experience then you may have to choose your moment to visit carefully, but if you are looking for an indulgent afternoon tea then this is the place to find it.

Delicate? Not necessarily. Decadent? Definitely! Apologies for the awful photograph, I was attempting to restrain the Little Man who was making a grab for any food that he could lay his little mitts on.

So, what did this High Tea consist of? First of all, we chose sandwiches: Bacon and Brie on granary bread for me, Pesto and Mozerella for hubby. This was followed by some scrumptious slices of cinnamon toast. Why have I never had this before? Thickly sliced white bread toasted and spread with lashings of cinnamon butter. Amazing! Then we chose a cake to share – lemon drizzle, if you please. Finally, the pièce de résistance, the scone. Not just any scone.

This was my ginger scone with gooseberry jam and clotted cream. Wow. This is a scone that I have got to add to my repertoire. Expect to hear more about ginger scones around here soon!

Once we had eaten our fill (and packed some away for later, we’re not that greedy you know!) and absorbed as much sea and sunshine as we could cram in we set off again. As the weather was marvellous and this was only a short break we decided that the journey needed to be part of the holiday. Instead of whizzing up the main road we ambled along the coast road so as to keep the sea in sight for as long as possible.

Our final stop-off was at Teignmouth. I could not resist all of those cute little boats bobbing in the harbour.

As I have already waxed lyrical at great length about two beaches I have decided to change tack and offer you a few fascinating facts about the town of Teignmouth.

Fact one: There has been a ferry service across the Teign estuary since the 13th century. Still going strong, the present boat is reputed to be the oldest working ferryboat in the country.

Can you see that bridge spanning the water in the background? That is the Shaldon Bridge. When it opened as a wooden toll bridge in 1827 it was the longest bridge in the country. The present one replaced it in 1931 (fact two!).

Teignmouth is also the proud owner of a pier heading out majestically into the sea. Crammed with all manner of arcade games, this one was closed but we did get to admire it from the sand. I love the legs – they have a sort of sculptural quality.

Fact three: The Grand Pier was first constructed in 1865 and measured 700 feet in length. It was later extended with buildings for dances, concerts and steamer trips. It is now back to its original length but the tourist board claims that it ‘still provides great delight’.

Look at this adorable mini lighthouse.

It cost £300 to build in the 1840s to guide ships into the harbour (final!). I am not sure when the bicycle wheels were added but they’re awesome. They look like sweeties out of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

We left as the sun was beginning its descent below the horizon, the sky still a deep blue and the breeze barely causing a stir over the water.

So just let me be beside the seaside
I’ll be beside myself with glee

We only had to stop off once more before we arrived home for dinner and change for bed. Little Man was super as ever and even managed to eat in this ridiculous ‘high chair’ – it was low and had no tray. Where was his food meant to go?! Luckily he managed to cope with dipping his corn puffs in cabbage soup without too much mess. Bless.

It was an amazing little holiday. Only a short break but so much joy, so much laughter, so much tranquility. I hope you have not been too bored by my waffle but I wanted to record each moment of sun and sea air to look back on when I am feeling in need of a boost.

I am not pretending everything was perfect. The poor Little Man is still waiting for his top teeth to break through and screamed more on Saturday night/Sunday afternoon than he has done in the last month but we are loving our family holidays. Yes, they are a bit slower and the amount of stuff need is incredible but he is just so adorable.

Something different next time, be back soon! 🙂 xxxxxx

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A perfect day on the beach

In my last post I started to share with you some of my happy memories of our recent trip up North. I have been regularly visiting Edinburgh now for 7 years and if any of you are intending to travel there I have one piece of advice – visit Khublai Khans Mongolian Feast. This incredible buffet allows you to create dishes with the most phenomenal range of meats and spices, including springbok, zebra, camel and kangaroo. I cannot imagine a visit to my father-in-law without an evening here! 

Our next rendez vous was Stirling Castle. Unfortunately, the weather and my lack of photography skills have resulted in rather poor images of the castle itself, as it is quite difficult to see much of it at once. (By the look of it the creators of the website had a similar issue, which makes me feel a bit better!) It is an interesting place to visit, very different to Linlithgow. Whereas the splendour of Linlithgow was the sheer scale of the stone shell that survives, Stirling is a collection of buildings that have adapted to suit different functions over the centuries, most recently a military depot for the best part of a century until 1964.

 

Historic Scotland have since worked hard to restore and recreate many of the original features, including complete restoration of the Great Hall to its Stuart glory. Unfortunately, for me, this makes parts of it feel a bit too ‘new’. Instead, I think Stirling’s true splendour lies in its ramparts, which afford stunning views over the surrounding area.

The fire station reminded me of Fireman Sam!

I love the seaside. Living as far away from the sea as it is possible to be in the UK, the coast represents holidays to me. Whether it be industrial docks and harbours or miles of white sand, I revel in the magic of it all. We took a quick trip to South Queensferry to see the infamous bridge over the Firth of Forth and marvel at the sunlight glinting off the water.

 

Now for my favourite part of our holiday, the ‘perfect day’ that this post is named after. A few miles down from Edinburgh and we stopped off at North Berwick. I cannot remember a day that says blissful holiday more than this.

Glorious sunshine, walks on the beach, toes wiggling in the sand whilst quickly licking your ice cream as it dribbles down the cone. Perfect.

Stone skimming competition…I was the spectator!

Gotta love the Eiderduck bobbing on the waves!

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