|Beach Huts in Torquay|
This past weekend marked another English first for me - my first time visiting the English seaside. It is a trip that has been planned and postponed many times over the past few months for various reasons but finally it can be ticked off the list. The purpose of the trip was for me to meet Neil's parents, who moved down to Babbacombe in Devon some years ago, and whom Luke visited often as a child. I wasn't sure what to expect of Devon, which is often referred to as "the English Riviera". After visiting though, I can see why Devon has earned that reputation, certainly there are elements of the Cote d'Azur in the architecture of the town. There is one noticeable exception that makes the English Riviera different than the French - rain. While there were a few bouts of blue sky, for the most part it rained the whole weekend. It was that annoying light drizzle that makes an umbrella seem silly but without one leaves you covered in a fine mist. Of course, this weekend Devon is expected to have the best weather of the whole country. Not a drop of rain in sight. Isn't that always the way!
When we arrived in Torquay on the Friday, the first thing we did was head for a practice round of crazy golf. Crazy golf is a tradition of the English seaside, I just didn't realise how much of a tradition. I have never played so much crazy golf in such a short span of time, three games in one weekend! After our practice round, of which I came last of course, we headed to the arcade, another thing that Devon is abundant with, but not before a quick pit stop at Chandlers Chippy for what were quite possibly the best chips I ever had. At the arcade we amused ourselves on a series of racing games, the best being virtual motorbikes on which I won both games, no one wanted to play after that. I say they were terrified of my victories. However, everybody's favourite was an air hockey table, where we played rounds of boys vs. girls. There were a couple of close matches, and had we not run out of tokens I'm confident Nic and I could have beat the boys as they were getting too confident and careless. The arcade also boasted a "casino", and I use the word casino is the lightest sense. It only served as proof of how very different Vegas is from England.
The next day I met Neil's family which consisted of his dad and mum (Jack and Vivian), sister (Sharon), and her husband and young children (Paul, Matthew, and Francesca). All of whom were very nice and made me feel quite welcome. After cups of tea at Jack and Vivian's, we headed to Paignton's pirate-themed crazy golf course. One thing can be said for me as a golfer, I am very consistent... consistently rubbish. Of our little group, which consisted of Neil, Nic, Luke, Jack, and I, I came in last place. After crazy golf, we went to Paignton's Pier for some more arcade fun. Nicola and I amused ourselves in one of those photo booths and I got into a disagreement with a man who wouldn't let me on the giant slide. There was an age limit of fourteen but I told him I probably weighed less than some fourteen year-olds and to make my case pointed at the mammoth boy going down the slide. Probably not my greatest moment but I wanted to play! Then the four of us returned to our hotel to take advantage of the gym, swimming pool, and steam rooms. Then it was time to get ready for dinner with Jack and Vivian at the Marina Restaurant. The Marina Restaurant provided one of the worst, but in some ways best, part of the weekend. It was by far, the worst dining experience I've had in a very long time.
|Nic and I after we just arrived - still smiles!|
We had a table booked for eight o'clock but weren't seated at it until twenty-past nine. The staff for the most part ignored us, living drink unfilled and us very thirsty. Luke's and my main meals came out twenty minutes before the starters had even come out and were then placed under the warming oven to get a nice film over them. They completely forgot about Vivian's starter and we were still eating when they took our plates away. Everyone complained, it was utterly ridiculous. There was a couple in the restaurant who refused to pay their bill because of the experience. The manager called the police on them, and when the told the police the story the officers said fair enough and left them to it. The reason I say it was the best, is because it was so abysmal it was comical. I felt like I was in a farce and was just waiting for someone with a hidden camera to come out and tell his the game was up. So if you are reading this, and plan on spending any time in Torquay area, don't make the Marina Restaurant one of your stops.
The final day consisted of one last game of crazy golf in Torquay, I won't bother telling you how well I did, you already know. I did say I was consistent. After crazy golf, and a pick-me-up latte, we went to Babbacombe Beach. To get down to Babbacombe Beach, we had to take the funicular. This brought memories of Pau (where I lived/studied in France) back. Pau also boasted a funicular, which took you from the train station to Boulevard des Pyrénées. Luke and I combed the beach, we were hoping to find tide pools and little creatures in them. Unfortunately we did not, although we did find a tiny starfish in a small rock pool and a rather sizeable crab on the beach.
|Looking for creatures.|
I would say that my first trip to the English seaside was a great success, filled with lots of fun, laughs, and endless jokes about battered sausages.
|Mine! Mine! Mine!|
Quintessentially English's July entry for Happy Homemaker UK's Post of The Month Club.