Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

We Venture Across the Border

I spent the last few days in Devon with my mum, who was 80 this year but still very spry with all her marbles.

I didn't take J. My view is, if a husband's natural habitat is not a garden centre or tearoom, it will only cause misery to inflict it on them. Plus I would hate to be in one of those joined-at-the-hip couples. As would J. 

When I'm staying with Mum, or Giz, there's a certain ritual to our day trips. We like tradition and continuity. The most popular are:
1) Otter Nurseries for plant buying and lunch followed by either Endsleigh garden centre  (to find  something Otter didn't have) or Buckfast Abbey, where you can get a very fine treacle pudding;
2) Exmouth and Sidmouth and maybe Budleigh Salterton. I lived near the seafront in Exmouth for a short time and love the unspoilt splendour of the beach and the ramshackle nature of the town;
3) Roadford Lake, on the Devon/Cornwall border, preceded by a visit to the Devon Paperweight Centre at the superbly named Leg O'Mutton Corner, Yelverton;
4) Goodrington, Paignton, where we spent many summer days on the red sands, watching the steam train go by (the driver was straight out of Central Casting with a flowing red beard and cheery wave);
5) Totnes for a mooch around gentrified shops selling organic this and that, and strange shops full of arty tourist tat/tut.

But this year, reader, we threw something different into the mix. A coach trip! Now Giz does these quite often. She has a social life that would put Prince Andrew to shame.When I was a teenager we often did coach trips because it was impossible to get Stamps to take us anywhere. There were two memorable trips to Newquay where we didn't even get out of the car because he couldn't find anywhere to park. He refused to pay to go in a car park so unless we could find street parking.

The coach trip was to Boscastle, Tintagel and Padstow.My first time at all three!

It took about an hour to do all the pick ups around Plymouth. Interminable, thanks to roadworks at Laira. Giz and I were the first to board. By the time we got to Boscastle, ostensibly for coffee, the fellow travellers were straining for pasties and many were indulging before we had chance to get our bearings.
Giz feeling the nip

It was very cold. Very very cold. A few people had been caught out and were wearing only short sleeves.

Boscastle was fairly brief. Just fifteen minutes later we were in Tintagel, for an hour and half. We had a below average, "give the emmets any old rubbish, they won't come back" type of lunch in a shabby restaurant and then wandered round trying to find a sheltered spot. Giz inevitably got talking to some of the people on the coach, including a bloke on his own - we named him "Pasty Pete," with a huge stomach and a short sleeved top. He'd been on 12 coach trips last year, he told us, and Badger's Holt for Christmas lunch can't be beaten.

Everyone was back on board with minutes to spare; a reflection on the charms of Tintagel. I've never seen a castle so bashful or so many shops full of useless "tut:" piskeys, fairies, things connected with King Arthur, etc.

Thence to Padstow, or as it is now known, Padstein. The influence of the TV chef hangs heavy. As you arrive, sweeping into an unprepossessing car park with views of diggers and trucks, you walk past three buildings forming part of the Rick Stein empire: a wet fish shop, fish and chip shop and deli. The unsuspecting emmet is lured into buying unnecessary jars of chutney, cookery books and things labelled with the name Chalkie, the chef's late dog.

Padstow itself is a harbour with a cluster of shops, mostly selling pasties, fish and chips and tut. On a sunny day it would be glorious to sit and watch boats and people. On a cold, windy day, with two and a half hours to spare, it was teeth clenchingly awful.

Pasty Pete had his third pasty of the day. I had my first  (had to be done). We both had a pleasingly large bakewell tart in a cafe which failed the old fat test.

Back on the coach and Pasty Pete's luck had changed by the time we reached Plymstock. He had struck up conversation with a woman at the back. Regaling her with his 12 coach trips last year and the splendours of Badger's Holt, she remarked that they ought to go on trips together. "Oh yes, I am single," he declared, before adding suspiciously, "But aren't you married?"  "Yes but we don't get on," she said dismissively, before sweeping off the coach with her entourage and leaving us all dangling as to the outcome. Will there be tinsel and turkey for the two of them? A pasty a deux at Mevagissey? I don't think we'll ever know, because Giz has decided her coach trip days are behind her.



Anonymous said...

Sorry you didn't enjoy Padstow - a walk up out of the town over towards Stepper Point is stuff for the soul - and there are some very fine non-Stein eateries too...

BUT enough of that... I want to know wll it be back to the old routine next time or will you be joining Pasty Pete and his new lady friend for another west country coach jaunt?

the REAL Anonymous.

Bull Blunt said...

"He refused to pay to go in a car park". A man after my own heart. In the immortal words of George Costanza, "Parking ... is like going to a prostitute. Why pay for it when you can apply yourself, and then may be you can get it for free."

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