Upliftment: A visit to Torquay.

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Lift up thine eyes.  Making the most of a visit to modern-day Torquay.

Saturday morning – 7th May 2016 – while doing particularly nothing at my computer – I decided to watch a few favourite scenes from a couple of special dvds that I keep close at hand for such blissful, sedentary ‘moments’. Two stories both set around 1900 – the recent brilliant remake of my all time favourite film – ‘The Go-between’ – and ‘A Summer Story’ starring Imogen Stubbs and James Wilby – a love story set on Dartmoor – and in Torquay.

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." Opening line from 'The Go-Between' by LP Hartley.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”  Opening line from ‘The Go-Between’ by LP Hartley.

Once in a while – I like to travel back to genteel Edwardian England – to another lifetime and these films are the perfect vehicle to get me there…

A Summer Story

Sailing over the Moor to Torquay.  Still from ‘A Summer Story’

Come the afternoon an idea had been hatched for an impromptu trip to the ‘English Riviera’…

‘Sailing’ over the Moor to Torquay is a pleasant run – although once in South Devon things get noisier – much busier.  Aspects of Torquay today are just too in your face and brash for my liking – especially with flashing, gaudy ‘amusement’ arcades and signage like this on display – it’s all too much! Torquay - Stuff Your Face

Torquay struck me as a place of two halves – the haves and the have-nots; a century hasn’t changed that. Comfortable boat owners enjoying the freedom of the sea for fun and pleasure – and disadvantaged ‘landlubbers’ – landlocked by reduced income and high unemployment where there is nothing on the horizon and no realistic way out.  No escape through the open harbour bridge for them, just soulless shops on a dull Saturday with little or no money to spend.

Gateway to sea.

Gateway to freedom.  Torquay harbour bridge in operation.

Just off the High Street -

Degenerating buildings up a side road off the main shopping thoroughfare.

Too soon – I wanted to retreat northwards again along winding roads – over the rolling green hills of Dartmoor to my quiet backwater…

Of course my observances of Torquay are generalisation based on what I perceived during my ‘misspent’ afternoon – and although it is very pleasant along the palm-lined promenade and marine area – I found the town centre a depressing, run down place – a far cry from the elegance and grandeur of 1900. Whilst walking down the high street – an ill-mannered women with a gaggle of children and a pushchair – tossed aside her lit cigarette without so much as a backward glance as she disappeared with her irritable brood into a sports shop.  Meanwhile her discarded fag almost landed in my open pocket – catching my forearm in the process! With no desire for confrontation – I brushed the incident off with a simple resolve not to return to Torquay anytime soon – it only compounded my feelings of negativity about the place.  

Having said that, nowadays it’s ‘easy’ to witness bad manners and objectionable language and behaviour just about anywhere – and social and economic status are no parameters.  Walking around some of the shops – I was disgusted by the number of takeaway plastic coffee cups that were ‘just’ dumped on shop shelves. 

Torquay at street level was not my scene – although I did find that by raising my gaze there were uplifting highlights…

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Atop the grand ‘Pavilion’ on Torquay seafront. ‘Mercury’ messenger to the Gods.

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A shell-like stairwell.  Safe passage over the busy seafront road to Torre Abbey Gardens.

In the heart of a blaze of resplendent red and gold tulips in Torre Abbey Gardens – a group of black messenger birds had found refuge; unenterable by humans – the enclosed beds made for the most beautiful – and enviable spot in the whole of Torbay!  

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Torre Abbey Gardens Torquay - Something about Dartmoor

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Walk this way! A pair of ownerless flip-flops at a junction on the way back to the car park. Looking to the steeple on the horizon – they reminded me of the poem ‘Footprints in the Sand’.

Torquay; please God get me out of here!

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