Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 17: Devon

I began the day at 6am with Cocoa Pops then we navigated nearby roadworks (which stymied an ambulance driven by a harried-looking woman) to arrive at London Paddington Overground Station. The seats were less cold than I remembered but the toilets were still staffed by watchful eyes, ensuring you paid the 30p required for relieving yourself.

We boarded what we thought was carriage D in our train to Devon, where my Internet friend Jon was awaiting us (or would be, at 10am). We sat in the right seat numbers, surrounded by noisy passengers including business people who were showing their laptops to their colleagues sitting across the passageway. One man was bashing the keys of his compter in a loud and rhythmic fashion.

It took a long trip to find a free bathroom for me to realise our reserved seats were in the genuine D carriage - relatively empty, quiet and with better wifi speeds. Seats that should have been filled were left bare - it seemed others had fallen into the same trap. We moved immediately, enjoying the lower bathroom-to-passenger ratio.

It was a long trip, but a picturesque one. I made sure not to miss the gorgeous water alongside the track on the way to our stop. Luckily no storms rose to batter our train.

Once the train pulled into our station, the passenger at the door did not seem to know how to open it so I, having read the instructions, put the window down and opened it using the handle on the outside. Then we were loaded into Jon’s hatchback, heading for the cliff tip railway at Oddicombe Downs. The rail was restored from its early 20th century self and provided a quick way down the hill to the beach below. The car stopped before finishing its journey, inching the rest of the way home before we were allowed off.

How quaint.

Oddicombe Downs was full of people eating, sitting on rented beach chairs and shopping at a kitschy stall that supplied buckets and rakes. There was even a trampoline vendor. There was no sand, only smooth small rocks underfoot. Returned to the top of the cliff.

It's worth going down to Oddicombe Downs. :D

We were early enough for seats at a decent tea place, so imbibed there while we waited for the nearby fish and chips shop to open. Ah, God, it was good to have loose leaf tea again.

We killed time walking along the cliff and laughing at the misfortune of the owner who bought a house on the Internet that fell from a red cliff down to Oddicombe Downs. A few spots of rain got us. They kept coming. Then it was really raining as we sprinted across the road to the restaurant section of the fish and chips place.

Torquay is just so photogenic :)

We sheltered there, among a mishmash of old stones, ancient wooden beams, bright newer wood slats and plaster. Our placemats showed cartoonish scenes of the area, though the Oddicombe Downs scene seemed to insist that in summer people wore bikinis there - we had seen none earlier!

My fiancé made chip buddies (chips on bread). Very British! The rain eased by now.

Next to Paignton Pier, famous for hosting Monty Python. The seafront was closed to cars, the lawns taken up with many fun rides - and foreign students enjoying the sun and fun of a beachside town. We waltzed down the pier, eating 99s and dodging the frantic gamblers vying for toys and tickets in the long, packed arcade. Jon seemed amused by the netted trampoline which was on the end of the pier. Perhaps a daring kid with too much bounce could end up in the water!

Popular with Pythons, children, gamblers and ice cream addicts. ;)

It was a nice view. We continued our walk back on land, avoiding the sandy beach and squalling baby seagulls chasing their mothers for food. The babies had completely different markings than grown-up ones - and black beaks instead of orange! At least the dusty feet were the same.

After dodging the amusement rides to get back to the car, we were off to Totnes Castle which sounded exciting, despite being only ruins. We spotted it on the hill. Excitement grew. Then we hit slow traffic squeezing through a roundabout. Undeterred, Jon followed the signs to the historic town centre. The steep road narrowed alarmingly and was thankfully one way, but the walls still closed in. Jon missed the turn off and we were spewed out onto a main road full of fleshy bodies compared to our steel one.

Jon had hit his tyre on the edge of the narrow road so I was panicked, freaking out, trapped in Totnes. Jon left the scary place only to re-enter at the bottom of the hill, beginning to reascend. The narrow street expunged us into a public parking area and we decided it would be best to walk, rather than risk the car arriving at a castle without parking spaces, making us circle back again.

The parking lot was small and on a steep gradient, but Jon persevered despite their being no spots - then we stopped dead. Blocking our passage was a car that appeared to be reversing - but it wasn’t. It was devoid of a driver and looked as though it had rolled out of its spot, abandoned by a handbrake. Nearby, people idly chatted at their cars, apparently unfazed.

By now I was in hysterics and laughed so much my eyes grew damp. I readily agreed to Jon taking us somewhere else, too relieved to be escaping the Torture of Totnes to be disappointed. What a nightmare. But a funny one. Totnes became a running joke that afternoon. I said solemnly, “The first rule about Totnes is you don’t talk about Totnes.”

“The second rule about Totnes,” Jon added, “is you definitely don’t want to talk about it and you don’t go there either.”

Jon took us to Berry Pomeroy Castle, an old friend of mine. The narrow road was bordered by shrubbery and passing places. The parking lot was a squeeze…but a blue sky reigned, delivering unto me a much better backdrop for my photos than last time!

We meet again, Berry Pomery...

The narrow steps in the towers were not slippery deathtraps, so unfortunately the screaming children outside were side. The gun slits make it easy to aim for them…

While my fiancé and I used the facilities, Jon was approached by the creepy ticket seller who’d had a sword hanging up behind him at the register. The man said sometimes the children made him wish he had a machine gun. Jon was perturbed by this. As we drove away, for the Argus Filch character (he resembled him in face and temperament) watched the children on the grass with narrowed eyes.

Next to Sainsbury’s for dinner for the train. We talked animatedly in the park there before heading over to “The Railway” pub at the station, drinking and chatting. Then it was time to depart from Platform 3.

I dozed on the way to London Paddington while my fiancé used his phone to become Facebook friends with Jon. There was an annoying couple playing pass-the-time games - the woman had a stupid voice and insulted her boyfriend a lot.

Remembered to message to Jon when we were safely back at hotel.

No comments:

Post a Comment