As in the previous two posts, this is not a post about living, driving, breathing, working in Doha. It's about how Doha residents might choose to live, drive, and breathe when they leave the harsh summer desert climate for a short vacation.
Invigorated by the day’s 5 mile hike (not km; we were in England remember) and plenty of fresh air and Vitamin D, we decided to head South West to explore England’s sandy beaches and resorts town. Our first stop in Torquay redefined our naive take on ‘resort’.
Expecting to arrive in a peaceful seaside village to find a B&B on the coast, waves gently lapping on the shore just beyond our doorstep, and captains’ cottages with widows’ peaks at every turn, we could only stare wide-eyed as we drove into a carny’s paradise, reminiscent of circa 1970’s Coney Island and The Warriors, only in broad daylight and with gangstas ranging in age from 16 to 84.
Dilapidated hotel fronts, a 1980’s carnival set up next to the pier, reddened, blistered and peeling bosoms and torsos, staggering tourists, and a general air of old, funky, seaside debaucherie. No disrespect to the town; we might have enjoyed it in our twenties, but as middle-aged parents it just wasn't our 'thang'.
We decided to carry on further down the coast.
The next coastal town gave no hint of anything better, so we decided to make our way to Dartmouth on our quest for local charm.
Smilin’ Vic spotted a sign for the Normandy Arms along the way, smack dab in the middle of nothing, somewhere in county Devon. We followed the markers down a maze-like bike track to the quaint village of Blackawton, awarded the cleanest village in England in 2008(?).
Though the Normandy Arms had no more rooms available, we continued down the village’s main thoroughfare (i.e. single lane carriageway) to a public house called The George.
It was tiny and quirky and everything country we'd been looking for. We decided to stay the night.
While there, we discovered that the George was renown for hosting an Annual Worm Charming Contest.
Though we initially scoffed at the concept, we googled the sport and found that it actually has a following in Canada as well, most particularly in the town of Shelburne, Ontario, where worm charmers gather from near and far to tantalise night crawlers to the earth's surface.
Though the food was somewhat akin to a kitchen experiment (Smilin’ Vic compared it to an army buddy deciding to ‘try something out’), the hospitality and the cleanliness of the very basic accommodations were worthy of mention.
We truly enjoyed our evening; had a glass of wine on the back terrace before heading up to bed, and even though Smilin’ Vic and Kiddo managed to tune in to the end of Forrest Gump, I was once again out like a light before my head even hit the pillow …
The next morning, we enjoyed the second of way too many English breakfasts, and sipped on steaming cups of coffee on the back terrace, enjoying the feel and the sound of a cool morning breeze rustling through the field behind the public house.
We took a few minutes to visit the town's church grounds and cemetery, and before we knew it, it was time to pay up and continue on our journey ... (to be continued).