Emptying the nest.

Sunday 11 September 2016 – Torquay and Exeter, Devon.

I am an empty-nester yet again.

I don’t talk on here about my family that often , and even less so about El’s, so I am not going to go into much detail now as I do not want to intrude into their privacy.  El has two sons, Joe and Charlie. Joe has been away from home for four years, has completed a degree at Oxford and is starting his masters in Nottingham. Charlie finished his last term of school in July, got the excellent grades he was expecting and this weekend he too left for university, starting a history degree at Exeter.

Charlie is going down to Exeter with his dad and El and I are going to make our own way down and stay the night, slightly further into Devon, in Torquay. There is a music festival on in Exeter and with a lot of students turning up with their families to add the temporary population explosion there was no where to stay on Saturday night; and to be honest it is far nicer being by the sea!

We left Walthamstow about 8:30 on Saturday morning, I was expecting it to be a five hour drive, and I was not disappointed at all, or evenly pleasantly surprised. It took five and half hours to get to our hotel in Torquay.

We had a room with a view of the sea and down the coast path to Paington and Brixham;  fabulous. I love seeing the sea, only a blue sky over it would have made this better 🙂

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After unpacking we took to the roads and explored Torquay. It is an interesting town on the wider Torbay, and part of the ambitiously named ‘English Riviera’. I am guessing it is an old fishing town, that embraced tourism back in the 19th century. The port is full of private yachts and motor boats now. It is part faded glory and part modern tourist spot. It took a while to warm into it, but we really liked it in the end.

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I am not a big fan of the sight-seeing wheel that now seem to dominate the horizon in every town, though I liked the relationship this one had with the surrounding buildings and land.

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I think this photo shows the changing fortunes of many a seaside town. The good old pavilion, ‘THE’ place to hang out for many decades, shuttered and closed and the money is spent going (slowly) round the wheel.

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Though tourism has not quite fully replaced fishing – yet.

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We had not banked on Torquay being so busy. We went out to look for dinner at 8:00, thinking we would walk in to  anywhere we wanted, only to discover that most places were full. We ended up sparing no expense and having a small pizza each at Pizza Express, no complaints though, it was good pizza and the service was excellent. There appears to be lots of stag/hen type nights in town, lots of groups of blokes and women prowling the streets and filling the bars and restaurants, I think it is that sort of town now.

It does have a nice waterfront to walk along and the lights around the bay are lovely.

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We didn’t linger in the hotel on Sunday and were on the road soon after breakfast, heading off on the slow road into Exeter. it was very nice being by the sea, I really miss it, and just being near it again does give me a real lift.

Charlie is staying in halls for the first year and had an arrival slot of 12:30-13:00 to unload his stuff into his room. El and I wanted to have a look around Exeter, so parked up and had a walk around the centre of town. Starting down by the really nice quay.

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I have been here before, almost four years ago to the day, and explored all the historical places back then. Though we did pass a few on the way up to the cathedral, starting with the wonderful medieval bridge, crossing a piece of grass that is a hundred or so yards from the river.

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We stopped for a coffee in the square, the church behind the cafe is the last church Saxon Church in England, consecrated in 1065, the year before the Norman invasion.

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After coffee we walked up to the university area on the edge of town, I left El at Charlie’s home for the next year, to wait for his arrival and went off for a walk on my own.

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I walked up past the remains of the castle walls.

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A wonderful piece of street art, I am assuming by Vhils, it is in his unique style. He uses small amounts of explosive to blow out tiny sections of the wall, leaving behind a wonderful piece of art.

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Passed an ancient alms house.

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Ending up back at the cathedral again.

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Soon after arriving in Cathedral Green I had a call from El to let me know that Charlie was settled in, so I went back to the car and drove up to the uni for a look around his room, before we all went for a late lunch in a nearby pub.

This lovely day out was followed by a less than nice five and half hour drive back to London and home. We arrived knackered at 8:30 and didn’t stay up much beyond that!

For the next wee while, during term anyway, El and I will be empty nesters. A new chapter in our life.

2, 1….

Days 253/254, Thursday/Friday 13/14 September 2012, Exeter and Axmouth

I woke up with ringing ear drums and a need for some food. The room came with breakfast, but sadly not a large “Full English”, but muesli and toast seemed to fill the gap. I ordered a taxi for 10:45 and hung around in my room, editing photos from the night before. Naturally the taxi never showed so I started walking towards Brighton Pier in the hope I would find a taxi to take me to the station as I had left it too late to walk – and really I had no idea where it was! I am glad I did as when I did eventually get a cab the station was further away than I thought and I got there with ten minutes to spare before the train left.

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When I booked the train to Exeter which is on the same bit of coast as Brighton I expected a scenic route through all the coastal towns – how wrong was I, this train went all the way in Clapham Junction in south London, where I changed and then all the way back out to the coast. Apparently there are no trains across the south coast, oh well ! both train rides were fine, we left on time, the seats and carriages were comfortable and they sold coffee and snacks, I for one have no complaints so far about the standard of the trains – just the price, this was expensive.

I arrived in Exeter in the mid-afternoon and thanks to Google Maps found my hotel, The Georgian Lodge quite easily. I had chosen one that was walking distance to both the bus and train stations.

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I had a wee walk around Exeter, down past the old city walls to the River Exe, past the Quay and back up to the cathedral and castle areas before stopping for a pasta meal and a wine that was way too expensive – OK I had dessert as well : The light sucked for photography, overcast and quite glary so I didn’t take many photos.

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Friday morning I was up at a reasonable hour for a far better breakfast than Brighton, eggs, bacon, beans and hash browns -YUMBO ! coffee sucked mind : I left the hotel at kicking out time-10:30 but left my backpack there as the bus to Seaton was not until 2:45. The day was flat overcast again so I was not really feeling like wandering and photographing, and to be honest , Exeter was not overly exciting from a photographic perspective. I did walk the past the county prison.

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And paid a visit to the cathedral, which was interesting.

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I really liked the fact that a lot of the carvings on the outside of the cathedral have been left alone and not repaired, I guess they will all be done in time though.

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The roof is the longest vault in the UK and was completed in the early 1300s.

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The clock was first installed in the 1400s with the final look being completed in the 1700s, it is supposed to be the clock from the nursery rhyme ‘hickory dickory dock”.

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I loved all the hand knitted prayer stool covers under all the seats, a real labour of love.

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After the cathedral I wandered down to the remains of the old Roman bridge, the river has moved about a hundred metres in the last couple of thousand years!

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After lunch I visited the Exeter museum, which was full of children so I ran away !

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Before heading up to the bus station for the hour long ride to Seaton.

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I spent thirty minutes in Seaton Tescos buying food and drink for the big day tomorrow (gulp!) before Tom came and picked me up and we went to his place in the hamlet of Axmouth about five minutes away by car.

Tom and his wife Tash have kindly offered to put me up for the two nights before and after my big run 50km run tomorrow. Tom is also going to drive a car round and support me on the run which is just fabbo. I had a good evening with Tom and Tash and the kids, great home made pizza and an early night…

Tomorrow tomorrow, nervous as heck !