Forty-two members assembled at their chosen pick-up points for a weekend
in Torquay. Our Chairman and trip organiser Brian Leith, with his wife
Yvonne greeted us as we got on the coach with the information that the
Tour Manager would not be joining us until we arrived in Torquay and
introduced us to our driver Alan who was accompanied by his daughter
Hayley. Soon after starting a vote was taken as to which way we should
travel - scenic route or mainly motorway, which resulted in the motorway
route being chosen. By this time we had crossed the Elizabeth II bridge
leaving Alan with the unenviable task of travelling round the south side
of the M25 before joining up with the M4/M5.
first comfort break was at 11.30 at Reading West Services on the A4,
with lunch at around 13.40 at Gordano Service. After an hour’s break we
were back on the M5 towards Taunton and Torquay via the A38 and A380. At
16.40 we arrived at the Richmond Hotel, Torquay to be greeted by another
Brian (Brian Robertson, the Tour Manager). Over tea and coffee he gave a
comprehensive account of the weekend plans. Whilst this was going on the
luggage was taken to the rooms and members quickly discovered that
finding their rooms was not an easy task with the difficulties expanded
by the fact that for most rooms a lift was not available and the access
staircases to the various levels for some proved very difficult. The
hotel layout resembled a rabbit warren of corridors and staircases with
fire break doors in abundance.
accommodation was clean and adequate but generally the hotel lacked some
much needed TLC. The hand basin in my bathroom had a warning notice
“Beware Extreme Hot Water” which was funny because it took an age to run
hot and then only as a trickle.
dinner in the very pleasant dining room, offered a choice of meals.
Accepting that it is a budget hotel the meal was rather tasteless and
barely warm. Adjourning to the lounge for coffee and mints, the
evening’s entertainer was a more than useful vocalist who serenaded his
audience with hits from the 60’s and 70’s with backing tracks that
brought more than a few memories back to that time. By 22.00 most eyes
were becoming weary and bed called for most people. Though some ladies
hit the dance floor for some tricky steps.
morning started with a heavy overcast sky, with us all hoping it would
stay dry, but a downpour was forecast. Breakfast was taken at 08.30
which consisted of the usual hotel buffet style of fruit juices, fresh
fruit, yoghurt and cereals followed by a selection of tasty cooked
breakfasts plus toast, tea or coffee.
departed the hotel at 09.30 in the coach in a light drizzle to pick up
the steam train at Paignton Station that took us along the coastline
eventually to Kingswear on the River Dart. By the time we entered the
station the drizzle had turned into blustery rain and in walking the
length of the station to our appointed carriage all arrived well
trains have a special attraction to many, but on a wet dismal day with
condensation on the windows and the steam trailing back along the
coaches it was such a shame the beautiful surrounding scenery could not
be viewed adequately. On arrival at Kingswear, our organiser, Bran, had
the tour party ticket which now required us to cross the River Dart by
pedestrian ferry to Darmouth in just a matter of minutes.
Dartmouth is an idyllic seafaring town, quaint and quite well preserved
in most places and definitely a bustlng holiday resort with many
restaurants, cafes and watering holes to choose from. We had a hour and
half before we reassembled for the river trip up to Totnes where we
would be met by the coach and
transported back to the hotel. Our choice of sustenance was taken at the
‘Singing Kettle’ an almost hidden beautiful small, cosy cafe with an
appetising lunch snack menu and a staff/management desire to please.
example was the writer’s choice of ‘Welsh Rarebit’ which was a mixture
of scrambled egg and mature cheddar cheese, seasoned with Lee & Perrins
Worcester sauce, on a generous slice of toast accompanied by a
beautifully presented excellent side salad. After this delicious snack a
pot of tea was required and along came a pot of boiling water containing
loose tea leaves together with a tea strainer, egg timer and milk and
sugar. The egg timer gave the precise time for the leaves to brew and it
tasted absolutely delicious. When in Dartmouth you need not look any
further than the ‘Singing Kettle’ to satisfy your taste buds and is
highly recommended and is less than five minutes from the harbour.
our organiser, had us queue down to the jetty to board the boat ‘Cardiff
Castle’ for the trip up-river. On a beautiful, dry, sunny day it is no
doubt an enchanting voyage with wonderful scenery to view, but, today
the weather had really let us down with the viewing windows steamed up,
raindrops drenching the outside, so we had to use a lot of imagination.
Fortunately the boat had a sound system and a running commentary by a
seafaring crewman who had a marvellous sense of humour made the whole
journey more enjoyable. We had an hour or so before linking up with our
coach which was spent it in a delightful riverside cafe, warm and dry
with nice tea and cakes to savour.
Guide Brian Robertson, who had stayed with the coach with those members
who chose not to take the river trip, duly met us and he continued with
his wit and frivolity where the boat’s crewman had left off. His
infectious laughter and observations of all that surrounds him had most
of the party in hysterics and is definitely a man for all seasons and
tasks way beyond his courier duties. These included bartending, waiting
on tables and general troubleshooter. He definitely gets full marks on
the tour company’s questionnaire.
Saturday’s evening meal was an improvement on the previous evening but
all thought there was still room to improve. Again we assembled in the
lounge where an entertainer, Dave K, another male vocalist, provided a
slightly different version of hits of yesteryear and more pleasing than
just a background sound.
morning we started our trip to Looe and Plymouth and along the A38 we
took the usual comfort stop of 30 minutes at Endsleigh in a huge Wyevale
browsing a very heavy rain and hail storm erupted that on the high
vaulted metal roof of the centre began as a pitter-patter of rain then
suddenly into a rapid deafening sound of machine gun fire of the
hailstones lasting around 8 or 10 minutes eventually extending our stay
by a few minutes as we could not get back to the coach. On our way we
entered Cornwall and arrived at Looe around midday and was given an hour
and half to browse the quaint harbour and get some lunch with the
weather now unbelievably sunny and hot. Alan our driver drove
excellently on the narrow Cornish roads and lanes to return to Plymouth
where we were dropped off at the bus station near the Drake Centre
Shopping Mall. The majority wanted to view Plymouth Hoe. The coach
returned at 15.45 to pick us up to return to Torquay.
apart from the historical running commentary given by our courier, Brian
Robertson, through the entire weekend, the spirit on the coach was kept
high by his continual banter of all he surveyed and his dubious
quizzes. Brian, a born comedian, needs very little encouragement to make
anyone laugh no matter what the situation and he certainly made up for
the weather we unfortunately encountered.
Following our evening meal we adjourned to the lounge for coffee and
mints and another Brian R’s quiz which had most members baffled being a
list of TV Presenters whose names were in anagram format and it was
eventually won with a total of seven out of ten being correct.
good things come to an end, Monday morning arrived. After fond farewells
to the staff at hotel, and particularly Brian, our Tour Manager, we left
Torquay at 09.45 to head home via the quickest route with our first
comfort call at Bridgewater Services for 30 minutes around 11.00 to be
followed by lunch at Membury Services on the M4 around 13.10. Before
restarting our journey Brian, our Chairman requested a group photograph
alongside the coach for inclusion in the web site and the next monthly
Newsletter. Up to this point our journey was without any traffic of note
which had allowed Alan to continue at an even pace right through to the
approaches M4 to M25 approaches.
given for our Chairman Brian for all the hard work and effort he had put
in ensuring that another successful weekend trip was achieved.
Well done Brian!
(Report Richard Marson, photos: