Do members, if they return to places that were visited another “lifetime” ago, find they are disappointed and somewhat disillusioned? We found the opposite. We returned in June from a 2 week holiday in Devon. Firstly a week in Torquay, last visited in 1965 What a beautiful town it is. Very similar to Cannes which we visited for a day several years ago (in pouring rain) Definitely Torquay is the “English Riviera” Maybe being so much older now we appreciated it more for it’s quirkiness and sometimes eccentricity
50 years ago we stayed in Babbacombe, now such a lovely little town with so much to do. Much nicer than I had remembered. The Bygones museum in the town was interesting and informative. Another day was spent travelling down the cliff on the funicular railway to Oddicombe beach where, a short while ago, a million pound house had fallen down the cliff,, into the sea and 2 more cliff houses will be doing the same in a year or 2. A 20 min walk from there along a little coastal path with waterfalls and springs trickling down the cliffs took us to Babbacombe beach where a very pleasant 2/3 hours were spent on the lovely terrace of the Carey Arms with the most magnificent views across Lyme Bay towards Teignmouth. Then there was a Sunday lunch at the Livermeade House Hotel in Torquay. it happened to be VE weekend and the veterans were out in force. The waiters were superb in bow tie and tails. Pulling out the chairs for the customers and placing the napkins on our laps. A pianist playing the old WW2 songs and a brilliant 3 course lunch with coffee in the comfortable lounge all for £16.95 a head. It was like a scene from 60/70 years ago. .
We had an evening of laughter and enjoyment in the Babbacombe theatre where their summer show was in full swing.
Whilst in Babbacombe we found a leaflet advertising the pretty little village of Maidencombe. We drove out to it one sunny afternoon and found very little there, BUT what we did pass was a sign to Orescombe Manor Hotel. This was a quite spectacular hotel, privately owned and again with lovely views from the outside terrace. 2 nights after we had our cream tea there they were having a 3 course dinner with a theatrical company putting on a Fawlty Towers evening to amuse and abuse the customers. We managed to get the last table. For less than the price of a West End theatre ticket we had one of the best evenings ever for our last night in South Devon.
We then travelled up to Croyde in North Devon for our second week stopping at Buckfast Abbey on the way, where the Brent singers were rehearsing for a Requem that evening. It was such a peaceful 30 mins to just sit and listen and take in the atmosphere of this beautiful place. Followed by a super lunch in the Abbey restaurant. A detour through a wild and windy Dartmoor to once again see Princetown (the one place where I wish I hadn’t bothered)
The highlights for me of North Devon was the very quaint little Lee Bay where as a child I scrambled over rocks to get to the sandy beach around the cliff, very exciting as it would be cut off by the tide and also there is a large cave at the back. I got part of the way this time but wasn’t nimble enough to complete the scramble. Still the most beautiful of coastal villages, but what a pity there are very few facilities. One inadequate tea room with no loos.
Then of course there was the very lovely Ilfracombe where the start of one of the most beautiful walks in England begins, an approx. 3 mile walk across the Torrs to Lee Bay with grand views of Lundy and the Welsh coast beyond that.
I had heard some dire tales of Ilfracombe “it’s gone downhill” It’s full of druggies!”
If you ignore the 2 very ugly monstrosities built with some ill conceived pride above the tourist office & theatre that have been likened to kilns or even “Maddona’s breasts” then Ilfracombe is as lovely as ever. We found some great art galleries and cafes. There is the lovely and lonesome statue of a young girl high up on Capstone Hill to commemorate a tragic accident. There is also the bizarre and somewhat grotesque figure that is Damien Hurst’s offering to the town. (fortunately he’s taking it back after 20 years!) Viewed from the back and one side is not so bad. View from her right side at your peril. Designed as most of Hurst’s offerings to shock.
The little harbour with it’s yachts and boats is so pretty. I spent many holidays here as a child. It was a holiday that exceeded my expectations.
There is no place like England even when the weather is, as it was, less than perfect.