Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Cold Wind form the North

For the last week we have had some really glorious weather down here in Torquay, calm, sunny and perfect for just sitting on the harbour side watching the world go by. Now I have loads of photos taken at ground level of the harbour and the area around but an opportunity came up last week to take some shots from a little higher up. Everything looks different even if it is viewed form only 20 metres higher up.

> This marina extension is full and making lots of money for Torbay Council, by the way.

Sunday the Under 11s (sponsored by Taxi Fast and Stagecoach Devon) played in two matches, the first against Kingsbridge the lost 14 points to 7 in an exciting match that could have gone either way. Kingsbridge were just that bit sharper with their passing. The second game was against a team from Wellington, not a team they play normally so an unknown quantity. An other exciting match, neither side did much passing but Torquay just came out that bit stronger and won 22 to 15.

Iceland and Morrisons have both expressed interest in opening shops in Torquay and at long last someone, a clothes shop I think are moving into the old Dixons site in Union Street so three empty shops opening up again. Just when the rats thought it was safe to desert Torquay it is coming to life again. Also the council have come up with a neat little idea, £1 parking fee for the weekend in their Fleet Street car park. So come on motorists, pay your pound and spend, spend, spend.

An other council idea is the baning of handing out printed material in the town centre. Some times walking down Fleet Street one can spend more time shaking one's head than looking in the shop windows. Many people take these flyers, advertising something it turns out they are not interested in. Spam emails can be got rid of by pressing 'Delete' but a piece of cardboard with the words, 'Diet Coke 2for1 @ Blogs emporium.' is going to end up in a Land Fill site and it doesn't matter if it gets there via a litter bin or the street sweeper, it still isn't needed in the land fill.

Talking of litter bins, this poster is stuck on a bin up near the Pavilion, Some one from Holland is looking for a couple he met here in 1963. So if you met a Dutch couple in the sixties left click on the picture for the telephone number.

And last, I went into the Cider Press, probably the best pub in Torquay, and this bunch of flowers lay on the floor.

Not what I though, no one had died at his favorite drinking hole. It was Mother's Day and some one's son had just nipped to the loo.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Scaffolding Still There

Couple of days ago I went down Fleet Street and some one was up on the scaffolding with a spanner. It looked like it was either being taken down or it was going to be completed so the repairs to the buildings could be done and the scaffold removed some time before the summer season starts. Then yesterday I went down and it still there, just as it was two weeks ago. That is, nothing happening.
Meanwhile round in Victoria Parade a different company ISCA, are quickly erecting scaffolding round possibly the ugliest building on the Harbourside. A quick word with the man from ISCA, "Are they going to pull it down?" No sorry, it wasn't coming down, just repairs and maintainance.

Which is a shame because this building is twice as tall as all the other buildings in Victoria Parade and the windows are too big and it has an unpainted stone front, unlike the other buildings on the block which are all painted a bright colour and it sticks out like a carbuncle on the face of poor old Torquay.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Don't do this at home boys and girls.

Video Clip

The above clip is a Devon & Cornwall Police video and shows a motorcyclist travelling at speeds approaching 150 mph on a section of the main road between Exeter and Newton Abbot before turning off and heading for Teignmouth. The motorcyclist got a ten month jail sentence for dangerous driving.

And while you are there I got this error message up on the screen a couple of days ago. It's the second time it been visiting. Nothing seems to happen when I press OK except the message goes away. I put it on Google and got 4 links, all to web sites that help with computer problems. All had the same error message but no answers as to what it is. So far no one has come back and said his computer exploded in flames in the middle of the night but if you know what this thing is please let me know. Do I buy a new computer or what?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Paignton Bus Station

I read in the paper yesterday that the bus station in Paignton had been given a face lift as part of Torbay's ' Grot busting' scheme. Paignton bus station was grotty, crumbling concrete, pealing paint and no public toilets. The concrete has been cleaned up and repainted but there still aren't any public toilets and as you can see from the photo not exactly many places to sit while waiting for your bus.
The big yellow posts in the bus bays are there to protect the travelling public should a driver misjudge his speed, or much less likely, the brakes fail. In the 10 years I drove in and out of Paignton I only heard of the previous, grey painted barriers being hit on three occasions and I was standing waiting for a bus when one of the incidents happened. Since the new barriers have been erected they haven't been hit. Unlike the garage behind the bus bays which seems to get hit all the time judging by it's comprehensively bent state. Shame some of the reported £100 000 didn't go on public toilets though. If a driver is standing around doing nothing on the bus station and is approached by a passenger with an enquiry, the most likely destination he is asked for are the toilets. Out the bus station, cross the road at the pelican crossing, turn left, over the level crossing and first left, toilets at the end of the street on the left, takes about 3 minutes to get there, "What time does your bus go?" 3 minutes back. "I rush if I were you."

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Nick Bye says," Burn them all down."

Well. OK not quiet. But the opposition party are acting as if he did. What he did say was,"It's sad to see you have to set fire to a hotel for a planning application to get through and move forward." This follows the fire, reported here, a few days ago the left the derelict Dorchester Hotel without much of a roof and even less chance of ever opening it's doors again as a hotel. An opposition councillor accused Mr Bye of advocating arson, personally I think he was suggesting a slightly more flexible planing department.
Torbay Council have these Local Plan areas, which seek to resist holiday accommodation being converted to residential use. To name but 3 incidents where the Planning Department have resisted have been the Clarence Hotel which stood on the main road at Torr, on the way into Torquay. Holiday makers would see this derelict hotel, what a first impression, which the owner wanted to turn into Housing Association flats but the planning department didn't want, " to lose hotel beds in the Bay." The only people sleeping in the Clarence were sleeping there for free and not adding much to the Bay's economy. Over 5 years it stood there, now it is a neat block of affordable apartments. Then there is the Queens Hotel. Derelict for at least 10 years. It's down on the Strand right in the centre of town, just the right place to put an eyesore you would think. Now adays you can't see it. Last year in a bid to make it look a bit more presentable the Council covered it with plastic sheets. Behind those plastic sheets work has just started to turn the building it to 8 high grade apartments. Which is what the owner wanted to do 10 years ago but someone kept saying "No." before eventually saying, "Well alright then." Why wait 10 years. Does some one want us to have this dump right in the centre of town just where visitors can see it and say, "I remember when Torquay had some class." Come back John Cleese, all is forgiven.
Then the Dorchester Hotel, derelict for donkeys years, owner wants to turn the place into flats. Planning department say no. So it stands empty until someones nerve cracks. Or a couple of squatters feel cold, light a fire which gets out of control so squatters, not having a fire extinguisher handy wander off, and the hotel burns down.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rock Walk

If you drive or walk along the sea front between the Pavilion and Belgrave Road you would be hard pressed not to notice the Big Blue Wall. Probably by now you don't really notice it, I mean it's been there so long now you are beginning to think it has always been there. Well just to remind you why its there, and for any newcomers who probably think its some thing we do in Devon for no good reason; its there to stop rocks that might fall down the cliff hitting unsuspecting passersby. Well not for much longer. A company called Vertical Technology, at the request of Torbay Council are making the cliff face stable. A few bolts here and there, Frankenstein style, to hold a few big slabs in place, a bit of netting here and there and a small amount, a few square metres, of concrete in the worst sections. By the time it's all done in June and the safety barrier comes down you won't notice the nets, or the concrete or bolts, only one or two, well maybe a few more, OK, there could be a couple of thousand of them but I'm sure you won't notice them. And the nets, If vegetation grows through it will cover the nets. However there are nets going over bare rock, what's going to grow over that netting? Still you probably won't notice. Not if you keep your eyes shut any way. When I went down there yesterday a distorted line from a speech by Winston Churchill sprang to mind. "From the Pavilion in the East to the Palm Court Hotel in the West a Metal Curtain has come down across Torquay." And it will look awful.

All along the path at the top of the cliff are rolls of netting like this. Why not just knock the loose bits away and let the cliff crumble gracefully to bits. Since before the Dinosaurs got roasted it's what cliffs the world over have been doing , why should we stand in their way? Never mind walkways and such, no one every uses them anyway. Lets be able to stand back and think,"Oh look. A pretty cliff." Not, "Sorry not all that keen on Modern Art, don't you know?"

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Scaffolding in Fleet Street

I took this photo (above) on the 9 Jan just before I went away. I was slightly surprised when I got home and found the scaffolding wasn't complete. But maybe the snow, the wind, the rain, the ice, the winter had held up work some what.

These two photos were taken in Fleet Street one today and one 8 days ago. Not much has change in this short time span, which to my mind is a little bit of a problem because while the scaffolding has enlarged a fair bit since Jan, when the work started, was incomplete 8 days a go and it is still just as incomplete now. Have RC Scaffolding of Exeter run out of scaffold poles or what? Exactly what the 'or what' part of that question in this grim financial period we are all stumbling through I will leave to your imagination. But it does not look good. Scaffold firms like to get in, get the scaffold up and move out and let the contractor get on with his work. Which in this case is making sure lumps of the building don't fall on passers by, as I am an occasional passer by I have a vested interest here. But with the scaffold incomplete the contractors can't come in and make the world a safer place for you and me. So how long will we be dodging amongst the poles that have already been planted. Any bets on summer, by which time the work on Rock Walk should be finished. Any chance the safely barrier there might come down once Vertical Technologies have finished making the cliff face safe for generations yet to come. It would be nice to get rid of that Big Blue Wall that runs along the base of the cliff. I'll probably get a letter some time in the summer from the council telling me the Big Blue Wall is going. Then when I get down there I discover the Wall's been painted red, just for a change,

Monday, 9 March 2009


We had a big fire in Torquay last night. A derelict hotel, The Dorchester, in the Meatfoot area of the Bay went up in flames. The fire started about 8:30 in the evening and at the height of the blaze fire fighters from all over South Devon were at the scene. Me, I was watching TV and knew nothing at all about it until I turned on the computer this morning and read all about it. So I decided to walk up and have a look. Here is a photo of the building.Four fire engines were still at the scene and parts of the building are still smoking. Also if you click on this link it will take you to the story in the local paper. A lot of readers have left comments, some blaming the local council for preventing the redevelopment of the site when the hotel closed a few years ago.
One thing about this incident is the fact that though I have lived in Torquay for over 10 years now I have never, until today been up to this part of the Bay. Some interesting views of the coast and I will get up there again when the sun is shining even though it is a hard uphill slog in parts. I used to claim I knew all of Torquay provided it was on the number 12 route. Now I have the time I must look about my home town in a bit more detail.

Not quiet the North Face of the Eiger but still a hard slog, a run up here every day will get me fit for my attempt on Mt Warning in 2011.

Rugby and The Mail on Sunday

Yesterday I went to watch the lads take on Newton Abbot at home, my first game for two months. While I had been away they had won most of the games they played and drawn one so I set out with some optimism that I would see a winning game. It was a game of two halves as they say but not in the content of the game. The first half was played in bright sun shine with a strong hint of warmth, quiet pleasant, nothing like the strong winds and blustery showers predicted. Half time came as it does and so did the wind and the rain and it was cold. God, will I ever get used to being cold again? The match started with Torquay all over Newton, a try and conversion came quickly and a couple of near misses suggested the game would be a bit of one way traffic. Then the Newton coach shouted very loudly at his team and the started playing instead of standing about in the sun. Two trys and conversions later Newton were in the lead. Newton attacked desperately but Torquay defended just that bit more so and neither side scored again. Still I enjoyed the game without the victory I was hoping for. I did spend a lot of time shouting, "Pass the ball." but to almost no avail. By the end I was muttering, very quietly, between clentched teech as it were, "Pass the ****** ball" and you can add almost any swear wold you like there. A rugby ball is shaped the way it is so it can be thrown about easily. It can also be tucked under an arm even more easily though.

On may way home I dropped in to the Cider Press, possibly the best pub in Torquay, and the way things are going in the pub trade, maybe the only pub in Torquay some time next week. It was busy but there was a spare seat which I gratefully occupied. On the table next to me there was a newspaper, one of several the landlord leaves for us to read. I picked it up and started to make my way through it. Now I entered to pub in a bright almost cheerful frame of mind, we hadn't won but we had only just lost, the wind and rain had gone and I don't have to go to work tomorrow. Now I don't read many newspapers, they tend only to print bad news which while interesting is still bad news. But a little bit of masochism now and then can't be a bad thing just don't over do it. By the time I had got to page 4, (of 102) I had seriously over done it. Alright I know the world holding a closing down sale, there are "Everything Must Go" signs every where not just in Torquay but I never realised how bad it was. Drugs, prostitution, guns on the street, politicians working to hidden agendas, politicians with the aptitude for the job a goldfish would show in a pool of piranhas, world leaders living on different planets, children out of control, welfare benefits the biggest growth industry in Britain, criminals living the life of Reilly (who ever he/she was) an article which suggested no one gave a s**t about global warming, savings worthless, pension funds about to collapse, football player transfers up to £20million, football players wages up to £20 million. OK, I know all this crap is going on out there but this paper seemed to delight in making manure while the world went down the tubes. Not one single note of optimism except for the story about NASA sending up a rocket to look for planets that might just be able to support human life. It then spoilt it by suggesting that those of us who could afford it book a flight on the first trip to this new world, to get away while they still could. I am of the belief that if this newspaper were to be banned the number of people entering doctors' surgeries and saying, "I feel a bit depressed doctor." would go down quicker than some one jumping out of a window in Wall Street.

Then I went home and watched a recorded TV program about Darwin and evolution and decided there may just be hope for humanity yet. It is just a guestion as to which is faster, global warming or natural selection.

Have a nice day. And I really mean that.

Friday, 6 March 2009


While I was away the Under 11s rugby team, supported by Stagecoach Devon played 4 games won 3 and drew one. last Sunday they beat Totnes by 52 pts to nil but I didn't get home until 2 hours after the match had ended. The boys didn't have a particularly good start to the season losing several games in a row but all the hard work they and the coaching staff have put in seems to be paying off. They have a home game on Sunday against Newton Abbot. I will be there but so will strong winds and blustery showers. Welcome back to winter sports in the UK.
Meanwhile here in Torquay more shops have closed down including the Pound Shop in Union Square. If you have any spare cash please come to Torquay and spend it. Now. Please, before the whole place shuts down.

Scaffolding has gone up in Fleet Street so much needed work can be done on the shop fronts there. Last year a lump of concrete came loose and fell into the street. The Romans built concrete structures and some of them are still standing 2000 years later. How come modern builders can't manage to make their concrete last as long. In Burnie ( 4th largest town in Tasmania) there is a concrete building there that is dropping bits of it's self on passers by so this problem isn't confined to the UK. And when you consider the number of concrete building dotted around our town centres I watch your head if I were you.

Burnie, the main car park.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

OK. One last blast from the Opera House.

And a little look at Woy Woy and a vicious pelican.
Woy Woy is a small town between Newcastle and Sydney and there I was attacked by this pelican. I was sitting in the shade of a tree trying to decide if I could make the 20 metres to the shade of the Fisherman's Wharf where a fish and chip lunch awaited me. The above pelican appeared and I decided to take a photo. I mean I had never been this close to such a big bird before. With the pelican only a couple of metres away I put my hand in my bag to get the camera. Pelican decided I was putting my hand in bag to take out some food. When your dentist says, "Open wide." you might open a 7 or 8 cms at most. When a pelican opens wide we are talking a metre or so, enough to rip me apart from groin to gob. I desperately and ineffectually waved my camera and gasped, "Shoo." but the pelican was having none of that, it wanted food. Was the last picture I ever took to be me vanishing down this feathered 'Jaws' throat? Then a 4 year old child save my life, or at least my dignity, there were about a hundred people sat around watching this display, waiting for blood no doubt. He, the child just came running up, arms spread wide and screamed. The pelican ran for the sea, I was saved. So I went and had some fish and chips and noticed this.
Pity the pelicans can't read. There were still people feeding them though bits of fish and chips, not bits of hand or other body parts.
Back on the train I heard the guard announce that passengers for Wodabyne must travel in the back coach and let him know they wanted to get off and I wondered why. Is this the shortest platform in Oz? If no one want to get of or on the train doesn't stop.

On all the photos of the Opera House it always looks like one big building but it is actually 3 small buildings.
Photo Album of more Oz photos will appear some time soon. I have been fairly busy since I got back, shivering mostly.

Last from Oz, for at least 2 Years

A trip to Newcastle, NSW. I have been to Newcastle in England only a couple of times, both trips over 40 years ago. The North East has a reputation for being a grim, dark industrial wasteland. Please note if you are from the North East I am aware that much can change in 40 yrs and certainly has but reputations persist. When a trip up the coast to Newcastle NSW was put forward I was a little unsure of what to expect. But the above is a photo of suburban Newcastle taken from the train window. The train ride cost $22.00, £10.50 for one hundred miles. I wish train rides were that cheap in the UK. Have you ever wondered why surfing is so popular in Oz. Well this is on a beach close to the city centre and these are school children learning to surf. It must be on the National Curriculum. Note the vulture sat on the top of the lamp post.

Newcastle also pleased me because there are very few high rise buildings any where in complete contrast to most other cities in Oz, and the world for that matter. But someone managed to build this object, the Leaning Tower of Newcastle. Remember dear reader, Newcastle does have a fault line running under it and recently had an earthquake that cost billions in damage.

Not exactly sure about these four either as they stand guarding what looks like and air vent by the side of the main road.