Our Travel blog
They do like a literal place name around here. Great Tree, White Rock and the rather splendid Windy Corner to take three examples that form a little triangle West of Paignton. I'm assuming nearby Garden Centre is a more modern addition. I suppose if a way marker on your journey is a great big tree the name sticks. "Turn right at the great big tree for White Rock Bob, you can't miss it, its a great big tree...come to think of it you'll know when you get to White Rock too..."
Nearby Tweenaways sounds like a 1970's children's TV programme about young scoundrels on an estate who nevertheless solve mysteries and help old ladies across the road, Glampton like a resort full of pine camping pods, and the good Burghers of Dittisham clearly got bored so settled on Dittisham, Higher Dittisham and Lower Dittisham with what looks on the map to be commendable accuracy if not imagination. Just North of where we are staying at the resplendently named Stoke Gabriel its so bereft of population the map even names individual barns. We passed Millcombe Barn on our walk yesterday and thanks to OS map OL20 it proved a handy navigation point. More so than if we were looking for Ham Barn as there are two marked on the map a 1/2 mile or so apart, separated by Ham Copse. My favourite though has to be the local tradition of naming individual clusters of trees. So we have Rypen Clump, which sounds like a member of the Dutch football team circa 1978 and the decidedly less than enigmatic Windmill Hill Clump.
And so, having exhausted all the fun of local place-names we boarded the Number 25 bus into Paignton. This gave rise to today's mention in despatches for the driver who cheerfully steered us around the snug retirement bungalow strewn outskirts of Paignton with ease, slaloming her way around parked cars, road works and loose children. She was also the friendliest soul aboard. She even stopped to let little old ladies burdened with shopping off as near as she could to their destination, disregarding the official bus stops in the name of doing the right thing. This cheered us immensely.
Paignton Harbour was twee and strangely remote from the town it serves but busy with industry nonetheless. The promenade filled up slowly with people who've reached the age where man made fabrics in pastel shades become appealing. Walking into the town itself we ran the gauntlet of countless amusement arcades where the one thing missing seemed to be amusement. Nobody in these places looked happy, they all shared a fixed, expressionless look of defeat. Set between the amusements were various snack and drink outlets where the customers all sat with similar grim expressions, sharing tables
with their significant others but not communicating, just staring numbly ahead as if salvation from holiday purgatory could be found in the pound shops and rock emporiums on the opposite side of the street.
Still we picnicked overlooking the sea, were mildly diverted by two amorous seagulls, strolled on the beach and wandered the promenade where they were painting over the winters rust and replacing bulbs in the illuminations in preparation for the summer season. Back at the harbour we were gratified to get the same driver home and took great comfort in her cheery demeanour, more so than the drivers behind her no doubt who had to repeatedly wait as she stopped to exchange pleasantries with locals and dropped people willy-nilly around Paignton's suburbs. Bless her.
We arrived back to the news that friend and great musician Phil Burdett will be having a transtibial amputation (below the knee) this Friday morning on one leg. Phil has played two Queensland Live sets for us and is a shamefully underrated singer/songwriter. So prolific and talented that last year he released two albums simultaneously - which probably won't win him any marketing awards but if this was a just world it would at least bring him wealth and comfort. Of the two Humble Ardour Refrains is a particular favourite of ours. There are shades of Gil Scot-Heron, Dylan and Tom Waits along with some of the best, subtle, playing from him and his band. There is a link here. Do please check him out.
We finished the day in the company of our friend Rachel with a meal at the Church House Inn at Stoke Gabriel which would have been perfect if it weren't for the mummified cat on display in the bar.
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