One of the best railway journeys in the UK (well the bit when you are in Devon).
The railway line hugs the coast offering some stunning views of Devon, Exeter, the River Exe, Starcross, Teignmouth, Dawlish Warren, the River Plym and of course Plymouth.
I recorded this when I visited my parents recently as I have such fond memories of this wonderful journey.
If you are in the UK or ever visiting you should try to do this journey at least once.
I write this as I head back to Colchester following a weekend to see how my mum is doing following her surgery and as usual the time has gone by far too quickly.
Mum is looking remarkably bright considering she has had heart surgery and is out of bed. She is still sore and bruised following the operation though so I believe it will take a couple of weeks for her to get back to normal. Just hope she does spend the time convalescing and doesn't try to do too much too soon.
Typically the weather en route was nice but yesterday (my only full day), was pretty grim. That said I didn't go home to sight see.
Still I spent the day with my parents and Richards sister popped over with our niece, husband and Richards eldest nephew. This was a nice break in the day as mum has not see baby Freya since her christening. It was lovely to have a house full of guests. Some other people for mum to talk too and it helped animate the house and my parents.
We had a late fish and chip supper before turning in and I left early this morning to catch my train back to Colchester (via London).
I am pleased I have been to see mum and dad and am happy with my mums progress and how my dad is coping with everything.
I have this scenic journey (well the bit through Devon) to get through, a week of work and then Richard and I can head off to the sun for a much needed rest.
Please let this week be quiet and uneventful!
So it's certainly been an odd week. One I didn't see coming and one where I never imagined I would be writing a blog entry on the train heading down to Devon.
As you may know both Richard and my mum have been unwell and I am currently en route to see my mum post heart surgery.
I cannot remember the last time I took the train home and its kind of odd. I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties taking the train to London to see the sights and to experience what the big city had to offer.
It was these trips that lead me to make the decision to leave the south west and find something bigger and better. I knew that Plymouth had had its hay day and knew that I would find what I was searching for in London.
I also knew (by the time I left) that I was gay and that the manner and opinions at home were not conducive to me living a happy independent life
That was thirteen years ago and I have not looked back.
I of course miss my parents but being an only child do not feel committed to the large extended family we have. I made the choice to move away, find my self, enjoy my life but ensure that mum and dad were always cared for. That's what I have done and I am proud and surprised at what I have achieved since I left Plymouth all that time ago.
I cannot condone people for wanting to stay where they grew up but I have to say it saddens me when so many people I went to school or worked with are still there. Same locations. Same lives.
Don't get me wrong many others have gone much further than I and some are tied due to commitments etc but I find it a shame that people stay put. I guess it's comfortable. I guess now I am comfortable too.
I am sure there are other places like Plymouth (or maybe Devon or Cornwall) where you could be born and raised and think you were living a million miles from anywhere.
That mentality still exists and I have taken years to break this mindset that everything is miles away from where I live. I commute 70 miles each way every day and to most people at home, they wouldn't travel that far to go to an airport on holiday.
Family and friends constantly insist we live in London. We don't. It's where we work, where we tune our careers and where we socialise. We live in Colchester and we love it there. It's taken us further away from Plymouth and that's why I have a six hour journey under way but you know what, if you want to do it you make the time. You make the effort. You get off your ass and you do it.
It may sound like I am knocking people – I am not. I made a choice and I am glad I did. I just find it sad some people never even get to that initial decision. Or maybe they regret not doing it later in life…
I fear for the generation growing up at home, there's no airport, no major road links and the local economy is declining faster than anywhere else. All government support (as always) heads up north (no it doesn't make it to London event though it feels like it) and the south west is left to suffer.
But then again the NIMBIES in the area need to stop complaining and be more proactive. If the people of Plymouth saw the value in a motorway, their airport or investing in big business and trade, the place wouldn't be in such a state as it is now.
I often spend these train journeys thinking about things. Mulling things over and I find it incredible that I can now pen these thoughts and store them for myself and anyone who cares to read them. Technology has opened these barriers. Could I have ever imagined such a device as an iPad or iPhone to allow me to do this when I first embarked on my journeys to the big smoke?
I was blogging back then but had to wait to get home to put finger to key…
This is purely my opinion but I love going home. I love this journey and I love my folks. I also love the fact that I made the decision years ago to move away and get a life. I simply hope all the grand children, nieces, nephews and friends kids at home wake up and do the same (before its too late).
I obviously love my husband and miss B and will miss them terribly whilst I am away. I am only gone for two days though and soon Richard and I jet off to the sun for some much needed r and r.
Oh… The duffle coat reference? That's Paddingtons fault. I loved Paddington Bear as a child but could never have imagined how many memories and feelings that little lost bear from Peru would evoke.
I wonder if he has reverted back to marmalade sandwiches following his brief dabbling with marmite?
Its our final evening (proper) in Spain and I write this whilst enjoying the peace and quiet. It’s a cool evening with little activity except for the lapping of the waves and the odd cricket.
This just about sums up our holiday. I’ve never known it so quiet down here but after the chaos at home it’s exactly what we needed.
The weather had been lovely, hot and clear for afternoons on the beach but cool enough to go for gentle strolls and drives along the coast.
Sunday we ended up at Almuñécar which was a contrast from Torrox, I am sure it’s quite a party location once it gets going. The climb to the top of the hill and the illuminated cross was worth it for the views.
We enjoyed a stroll into El Morche where we encountered a friendly chap from Bristol before heading to the local garden centre to marvel at all the exotic species.
We also found a few new restaurants during this trip ensuring our tummies were full (look out for my reviews on Qype).
Today was hazey so we drove down to Marbella and had a browse around La Cañada which proved a bit of a knock on my wallet. Still I do like to purchase clothes here as they always seem to be brighter and nicer than the standard boring clothes you get in the UK.
I won’t post this till we return but we have one more full day as we have a 2230 flight home.
Tomorrow promises more of the same, shopping, a walk to the lighthouse up the coast, lunch and a quiet afternoon before the drive back to Malaga airport.
I’m so glad the ash abated and we got to come away. My tan isn’t perfect but I have colour in my cheeks and the bags under my eyes have receeded. A truly relaxing week in the sun as planned.
What’s that you ask? What about the Spanish hunks? There wasn’t much this trip – well none caught on camera. I will say we did both do a fair bit of window shopping. Lol.
Not sure our next trip here will be as quiet as it’ll be full season and accompanied by Richards family(!).
(More photos to come later )
I wrote this brief hints and tips mail for a friend of mine regarding things to do in Paris. It turned out not to be so brief and I could have written much more. Anyway it received great feedback from him (and the people I sent it to) so I thought I’d share it with you.
I cannot guarantee my information is 100% accurate but for a starting guide I think it could help the Parisian newbie.
Paris hints and tips
On arrival don’t buy a travel card for the metro – buy a carnet, which is a collection of 10 single journey tickets (each can be used once)
Carnet tickets are cheaper and you may find you spend more time walking around Paris rather than being underground
For an interesting view of Paris pop over to the Tour Montparnasse, which is in the Montparnasse, district. You cannot miss it as it’s the only high-rise – from the observation deck (or the heli pad if you’re feeling brave) you get fantastic views of Paris looking toward the city and higher than the Eiffel Tower http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_Montparnasse
A little clichéd but to get a great idea of the geography jump on the Batobus (http://www.batobus.com/) which takes you on a tour around the river
If you see one church it has to be Notre Dame!
If you want to see a great church with great views, wonderful restaurants and get a real Parisian vibe then visit the Sacré-Cœur http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_du_Sacré-Cœur,_Paris
If you go to the Lourve go early as you can spend weeks in here – it’s a mile long. Remember to check where the Mona Lisa is on the map and if you’re early proceed quickly – you’ll be amazed how small she is!
For an alternative museum experience check out the Musee d’Orsay http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html
It’s a converted railway station; a fantastic building housing famous French modern art including Monet, Manet, Toulouse Lautrec as well as rooms lifted from the most exquisite Art Nouveau homes
If people watching check out the Le Marais – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Marais Traditionally Jewish/Gay it’s a great place to watch the chic Parisian go about their business and there are lots of small boutiques selling gorgeous things as well as wonderful café’s and restaurants (which are of high quality and medium price range)
Tuileries Gardens make for a relaxing afternoon in Paris and are a hop and a skip away from the Lourve – they also have one of the original city big wheels
Jardin du Luxemborg is another great park and it’s very ornate – it’s great for chilling out as you can relax in the free deck chairs around the large central fountain (it’s really close to Montparnasse)
For an alternative park experience visit the Parc Andre Citroen which sits on the site of the old Citroen factory – completely contemporary and angular – it’s well situated for the Montparnasse and the Bois du Boulogne
Bois du Boulogne is a huge park akin to Central Park in NYC and just like NYC it has the original statue of liberty – be warned the park is massive and include it’s own racecourse!
Le Café du Commerce is one of our favourite restaurants in Paris and it’s a fantastic place to eat as well as soak up the real Paris. It’s an art nouveau building and if lucky on hot days, the roof opens up – bring a guide-book though as it’s off the beaten track and menu’s are usually only in French
Our favourite restaurant in le Maris is the Equinox – it looks like a wine cellar inside (street level) but the menu is French Canadian, which makes for some interesting contrasts
Hotel des Gobelins – Last year we stayed in the Latin Quarter and is close to the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower. – I have not mentioned these above because although I enjoyed them I want you to discover some bits yourself ;0) Nice hotel – some shabby rooms some nice ones (typical Paris)
Hotel Costes – the ultimate in contemporary chic – defined the contemporary hotel
Hotel Costes is achingly cool – As well as being a wonderfully hip hotel it also boasts its own fragrance line and various commissioned French House albums that French DJ Stéphane Pompougnac has created – simply to play in the hotel lobby!
Guys as I write this I can come up with hundreds of things to do – honestly Paris has so much to offer. I highly recommend you explore (best on foot) to get the best feel of the city.
When it’s windy the wind is cold coming down the Sienne. When it’s hot it’s baking!
We like to spend an hour or so watching the world go by – you really can do this in Paris – a personal favourite of mine is to wander around the florists and pet stores neat the Lourve – it’s an experience!
Useful links (and some my reviews online)