Holiday 2012: Part 2–Day3 Touring Torquay

After the rather soggy Tuesday I was three quarter expecting the Wednesday to be a wash out as well. It started off overcast so I wasn’t entirely optimistic about the weather.

We had decided to have a trip over the Dart Moor and visit Widecome in the Moor where there is a haunted inn. I had this romantic image of Dartmoor. Rolling plains with Tors and rocks and ponies and goblins and ruined crofts and weirdness and Kate Bush and floaty types and a scary gothic foreboding Victorian prison and a sign saying “Abandon ye hope” and a solitary pub called “The Slaughtered Lamb”, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.

I guess I spent too much time in Yorkshire.

Sure we saw some ponies and some stones and some tors, but the lack of crofts, pubs and prisons almost outweighed the lack of Kate Bush prancing about in a floaty dress.

Anyway, we made our way across the moor and into the sleepy Yorkshiresque village of Widecome in the Moor. You might know Widecome from the folk song Widecome Fayre or you might not. Or you might know Widecome from the Great Storm of some time long ago where the Devil blew up the church. Or you might know Widecome in the Moor from page 7 of your 1976 AA Road Atlas. Either way it is a lovely place. It was there we had breakfast. Our second and last, Full English breakfast of the week. All that meat blocks your insides you know.

Widecome has loads of interesting things like the old church and ancient wells. The Old Inn in Widecome is a haunted inn from Marc Alexander’s Haunted Inns (1973).  The story goes that you can hear the cries of a child and possibly even see the spectre of a man. Bollocks or not? Who knows.

 

From Widecome we headed back into civilization and into Torquay.

I’m sorry but my next statement might upset some people.

Torquay is a dump.

There I’ve said it.

My mental image of Torquay is sandy beaches and long sweeping promenades lined with palm trees, cafés and a harbour full of luxury yachts.  Instead it was streets full of chavs, tattooed Tommys and indiscreet Escorts. Sure there were some palm trees and yes there were some yachts but the streets had handy information notices warning the residents that their excessive drinking threatens the safety of their children and their development. Not “It’s so Bracing” or “Buy our Rock” more like “Drinking makes your children into awful people like you” and “Chavviness is born through nurture not nature”.

IMAG0723We walked to the breakwater and bawked at the cost of entrance fee to the Sea Life centre – £11.75. So £23.50 better off in pocket, we decided to try and find some geocaches. Our searching took us to a little stony beach behind the Sea Life Centre which, incidentally, we could see inside from the outside. It was on the beach we were shortly joined by a dark haired woman in her late 40s walking her dogs. She was talking on her telephone giving the caller assurances that she was good looking and that he wouldn’t be disappointed and that she lived in a discrete house and discretion was her watchword for the price he would be paying.

We left.

Made our way back to the car via an amusement arcade where Zoe won me a gold £ on the tuppenny pushnshoves followed by a direct run to the car and a continuation of our journey southward.

The roads took us towards the misnamed Slapton Sands. Misnamed because Slapton Gravels doesn’t have the same ring to it. The weather had brightened and there were lots of people there enjoying the sun and sea. In such situations I crave ice cream so joy lightened my life when I was able to buy a 99 from the ice cream van there.

Now I was always of the opinion that the top five of miserable people doing jobs went something like this:

81 bus driver
Post office counter clerk
Surveyor
Surly Pot man in a dodgy pub
Mortician

But I now have to move Ice Cream Van Man at Slapton Bits of Stone Sands to the top. I actually felt like apologising for wanting to give him my money for his overpriced wares.

From there we went via Start Point (another overpriced place; £4 parking and another £5 for a look round the lighthouse) to Salcombe.

 

IMAG0731Salcombe is a bit like Torquay should have been only without all the posh wazzaks poncing about at the Regatta that was taking place there. It was a complete polar opposite to Torquay only with awful children instead of awful parents.

Hunger got the better of us so we made our way back to Plymouth searching for a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t full.

Haunted Inns

Royal Oak, Langsett

Many years back I created a website on the now defunct Geocities service. The site was intended to be a gazetteer of inns, pubs and hotels that were reputed to be haunted and used pre-researched information from a book called Haunted Inns by Marc Alexander.  This was during the early years of the internet and my little corner of the web attracted plenty of attention. I would often receive emails from journalists, people interested in visiting the inns and those fascinated by the bizarre and supernatural. I was even featured in newsletters and once on BBC local radio.

The Hop Bag Inn before demolition

As time passed I was amazed by the increasing volume of visitors to the site and took it upon myself to register the domain hauntedinns.co.uk. On the back of that, I developed the site further, but by the time I was finally satisfied with the design and the content, interest was waning and I found my time taken up with working more than driving round the country looking at pubs. Times and money got difficult and the registration of the site lapsed; regretfully I archived the site and forgot all about it.

Since then I have moved to the sunny West Midlands. I have the funds to journey too and fro, back and forth across the country. Occasionally I will find myself in a strange town, my brow furrowed with uncertainty as distant memories stir. “Wasn’t there a haunted inn here?” I’ll ask myself. The answer only arising when I return home and I am able to check Alexander’s book.

The Black Horse, Cirencester

This weekend I was in the delightful Roman town of Cirencester and once again I was certain that there was a pub in the area which appeared in Alexander’s book. After a bit of exploring I saw and photographed it, no longer for my website, more for my own records some examples of which you can see on this post. But it was upon return to Leamington Spa that I was struck by an idea.

Back in the day, Google was just a word you would use to misspell goggle. Map services in the early days of the web were a bit poo and Google’s Maps sounded more like a children’s book than a service that would be used every day to snoop on and stalk people and places. Of course, these days, Google Maps is a very powerful tool especially when used with the Street View function. Of course it is not the same as visiting the place personally but with the ability to locate the pub and mark it on a personal digital map that can be shared and even accessed on a mobile device, I think I will finally be able to tick a few more off the list.

Saltergate Inn - Appears to no longer be a pub.

On creating the points on the map I became more aware that over the past few years more and more village pubs have sadly closed, been demolished or even changed names. Out of the entire book of about 35 inns, 10 have closed or appear to have been wiped from the map in some way or other. Sad days. But at least I’ve managed to visit a few of them before they disappeared forever, their memories confined to pages of books, grainy photographs and blog posts….