A Postcard from Torquay

I spent an hour in Torquay today. It’s never been a favourite place but I try sometimes to like it, after all thousands of tourists arrive each year so it must be okay mustn’t it? The pedestrianised town has some of the usual chains and an awful lot of hideous souvenir shops, selling the same tat they sold when I was a child. Do people really want to buy plastic dinosaur ornaments with Torquay emblazoned? Along the sea front sits a theatre where the annual pantomime  is performed by F listed soap stars and in the next few months, The Dreamboys full frontal tour – spare me, and the Grimethorpe Colliery band – probably the most talented of the bunch! The beach itself is narrow, but nice for winter sunsets when you can’t see the kiss me quickers.

Tourist ‘attractions’ include a model village (very clever and a bit twee) and Kents cavern (beautiful prehistoric caves) which is listed as a wedding venue, presumably for those of us who would like to re-enact the Flintstones. Between lovely parkland and the esplanade there is a large balloon thingy that allows you to rise directly above the bay, for the views, while remaining tethered to the ground. The hotel used for filming Fawlty towers is somewhere in Torquay, can’t think of anywhere more appropriate.

Torquay has a darker side and I don’t just mean the troublesome night clubs. It’s the drug capital of the South West, filled with dealers who moved down from places like Nottingham and Liverpool, having spent their childhood holidays in the caravan parks. Until they become OAP’s (if they’re spared) and sit in deck chairs on the seafront, with their heads under tabloid newspapers, they will happily prey on the users they have hooked. These dealers have a hierarchy; very, very evident today were the scruffy, jeans sliding down, yobs in small huddles just off the main streets. More worrying are the big boys in their own sleazy underworld. Torquay has a very busy drug and alcohol service and there are hostels in what were once tourist hotels and are now crumbling dives. I found it interesting today to see one of the town councils attempts to deal with the problems, public toilets where 20 pence is charged to help them keep them clean and safe for ‘us’, no doubt it also helps to pay for the sharps disposal container provided inside.

My visit was brief this time. I didn’t stroll beside the marina with its berths full of very expensive yachts, or drive along the exclusive Ilsham Marine Drive, dreaming of a lottery win. Instead I came back, thankful that Exeter (though not perfect) with its clean streets, history and culture is home. It seems that a journalist in the Independent thinks so too http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/sick-of-the-south-east-then-emigrate-to-exeter-6282484.html?fb_action_ids=10150443679332742&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_source=other_multiline but I really wish he didn’t, maybe he could big up Torquay instead.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Winter

Dido and Daisy aren’t too keen on snow!

Also have a look at these great interpretations of winter:-

http://jobryantnz.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/weekly-photo-challenge-winter/

http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/winter-cold-fighters/

http://creativityaroused.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/weekly-photo-challenge-winter/

http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/weekly-photo-challenge-winter/

http://hurtlingtowards60.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/weekly-photo-challenge-winter/

 

Rough Sleeping Season, a reprise

Some of you may be wondering about our ‘rough sleeper of the copse’. I met friend for post Christmas lunch today, swapped pressies (a nice scarf and some smellies) and got an update. Ten days before Christmas there had been one very cold night – for some reason it’s always several degrees colder in the empty but beautiful countryside east of Exeter – so friend and husband were quite concerned. Rough sleeper hadn’t been seen since the original meet. In fact friend was glad that husband had seen the tents, to confirm that he hadn’t been a figment of her crumpet-stupored-post-work-sofa-snooze, uh, sit down, particularly as the police hadn’t been able to find him.

News came that the hunt were meeting. Friend has had her garden trampled several times by arrogant pink jacketed t*****s, and their packs of hounds, so knew there was a fair chance they would bulldoze their way through the copse as well. Rough sleeper’s camp wouldn’t stand a chance, so they strolled across to check and warn him.

Beside the camp there were a couple of bikes which explained why he hadn’t been seen, obviously quick ins and outs were possible. They were greeted by a young man in his early twenties, but a different one, equally friendly and happy to chat. One of the tents was firmly zipped shut, presumably containing rough sleeper number one.  Number two was grateful for the information and said they were about to move on anyway. A bit later they were seen wheeling their bikes and backpacks across the motorway bridge, off to pastures new.

Questions still remain. Who are they and why they choose to live/travel as they do? It’s a lot less appealing than biking around France picking grapes or backpacking in some tropical beach paradise. If you are homeless but have company, perhaps the countryside is a safer choice than the inner city. It could be some sort of self imposed endurance test, a rite of passage. They could have rode off to join the Occupy people, https://lucidgypsy.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/occupy-st-peters/

I much prefer to think of them spending Christmas in the bosom of their families, but at least we know they are okay.

Christmas Blackberries!

Today is Boxing day and feeling too stuffed with too much rich food, it was the day for a good walk along the canal path. The weather has been  mild as the weather people keep telling us so I’m forced to use their cliche – unseasonably! The buddleia bushes have thrown up fresh, silver green leaves, instead of the mouldy brown you would expect in late December.  Umbelliferous plants have buds on stems remaining from summer and new shoots bursting from the undergrowth – boy do they have a shock to come, unless we really are going to skip winter this year.

It was a very pale pink flower that drew me really close though

Yes I really did take this photo today in Devon!

As well as this one,

I decided against harvesting them, hopefully they will provide some smaller beastie with a treat for supper. Apart from anything else, legend has it that Old Nick himself pees on any blackberries after the tenth of October. I expect it’s an old wives tale started to protect children from the tiny worms that commonly infest hedgerow fruit at the end of the season.

They were still a delight to see!

Rough Sleeping Season?

I can’t help wondering about him. There was a knock on a friend’s door a couple of weeks ago, quite a rare occurrence as she lives out in the boondocks, eight miles from the city centre with just a very light sprinkling of other cottages around. There was enough light left to see the shape, not large enough to be worrying, of a man through the half glass door that she opened.

‘You left your keys in the door.’ he said handing them to her with an open faced smile.

It could have been a bluff but she took it as a sign that he was okay-ish as he hadn’t just barged in, attacked her with a blunt instrument and left with the family treasure. He held out two large containers and asked for some water ‘for the dogs, we’ve been for a long walk and forgot to bring them a drink.’ Friend looked behind him and there were no dogs to be seen, but thought there should have been at least a hunts worth of beagles to need that much water.

‘They’re down the lane in the car with my mum,’ he was quick to read her thoughts. ‘Of course you can have water,’ and grabbing a torch, she led him to the garden tap as he chatted, with a pleasant educated voice. He looked a bit untidy, dishevelled, but not dirty. She was more puzzled than anxious as he said goodbye and once he was out of sight she followed him down the drive, about sixty feet into the hedged lane. There was no dog filled car nor was there a mother, young man or a single soul to be seen in either direction. Mystified and wondering if her post work crumpets by the fire had sent her to sleep, she ‘phoned her husband who told her to give the neighbours just along the lane a call. Brian, a retired police officer put his investigating hat on and with friends responses deduced that the water carrier was possibly a rough sleeper who could be bunking down in the copse across the road.

Slightly less retired local community police were called and apparently came out to shine a few lights into the copse but found no-one.  Friend made sure that her keys were on the right side of the locked door for the next couple of nights. She couldn’t forget the young man though, it wasn’t particularly cold but there had been quite heavy rain.

The weekend came and friend and husband decided to walk over to the copse to check. It’s not a place that gets visited, it’s too small to be a woodland walk but they go in the spring when it’s carpeted with bluebells. Their lack of faith in the local police investigation was confirmed when a couple of hundred yards in they found water carriers lair. Just two pop up tents, a washing line tied between the trees and not enough belongings to be a mess, but no one at home.

They didn’t linger, it felt intrusive somehow to be looking at his hidden world. But they were concerned about his well being. They thought about returning with some hot food, but in the end decided that unless they could keep it up for the entire winter, it was best not started. When he’d knocked on the door requesting water she had told him ‘No problem anytime’ but there were no further visits so he may have moved on. The weather remains mild, 10-12 degrees, no frost but quite a lot of rain since he was there. But who was he? And what brought him there? It’s Christmas, would you want to be in his shoes?

I can’t help wondering about him.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

My photo this week is of the Bosphorus.  Between Asia and Europe, the twenty mile stretch of water links the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, at Istanbul. It’s a lovely place for an afternoon or evening cruise with drinks, nibbles or dinner. On both sides the architecture is outstanding,  palaces, hotels, colleges and homes of the Istanbullu glitterati. Europe is to the left and Asia to the right.

 

By Rail Through Somerset

 

country gulls flushed by the 10.53

arrow  from fields with frosty periphery

like yuletide tinsel under threadbare trees

 

lamb filled ewes  felted and jacketed

join blanketed ponies to nibble on nothing

awaiting a ride or a jar of mint sauce

 

depart the Levels undulating uphill

where railway huts stand derelict lonesome

the sizzle of pylons shoot towards ozone

 

old man’s beard helplessly clings to dense hide

of hedge where Roe stags lurk in dank

acres furrowed and ready  for spring

 

spires crack the  mist near burst  banks

where Saturday shoals of angling young men

stand fishing

and wishing

 

Awards Update Part Two

Well it’s like waiting for a bus because I’m thrilled to say that I have two more nominations, this time for ‘The Versatile Blogger’ award.

First of all from http://photosfromtheloonybin.wordpress.com/ fabulous photos and a real source of inspiration that gave me the idea for a post about detail photos. Visit and envy!

Next, http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ Jake is a graphic artist with real talent. He takes part in the weekly photo challenge and his is the post  await with most anticipation.

Thanks so much to you both or thinking of me, I’m really touched!

Here are the rules:

  1. Nominate 10-15 fellow bloggers
  2. Inform the bloggers of their nomination
  3. Share 7 random things about yourself
  4. Thank the blogger who nominated you
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award Pic on your blog post.

So, 7 random things about myself:

I’m very shy and fond of my own company but very gregarious

I’m a fidget

I’ve had it with rain forest (well the bugs at least)

I believe that every moment spent being miserable is wasted

I’m possibly one of the last practical people you could meet

I love techy toys

I will talk to anyone and enjoy the challenge of making people talk to me

My nominations for Versatile Blogger are:

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/

http://isobelandcat.wordpress.com/

http://dadirridreaming.wordpress.com/

http://mizzrainbow.wordpress.com/

http://implicado.wordpress.com/

http://cardinalguzman.wordpress.com/

http://likeitiz.wordpress.com/

http://northernnarratives.wordpress.com/

http://2011onthebench.wordpress.com/

http://rachelcarter.me/

I’ve decided to stop here for now. I  know that some of you won’t want to accept the award or take part and that’s fine, at least you know that you’re appreciated. There are many more that I love to visit and think very worthy, some of who already have many awards so I won’t add to them for now. I hope you check some of these blogs and that in doing so you find some different treasures!