And back to Torquay

A few extra days in Harwich enabled us to catch up with more people than we’d first planned. After three days of trying, Clive eventually managed to secure a ticket to see the musical Parade in west London, in which his son Tad was playing drums & percussion. It was an excellent show and absolutely packed out.

I managed to get over to Stansted to our friend Sonia’s ‘New Years Eve’ party. She has a NYE party on a selected Sunday every summer and it’s always a blast. This year she chose September as Brad from Aridzona, (did I tell you he’s a lawyer?) was visiting Blighty on his annual trip over to Europe and staying at the wonderful Sonia’s for six days.

It was good to catch up with a number of old friends who I’d not seen for ages. Brad was in fine form and Sonia as ever hosted an excellent party. Clive in the meantime was traveling Harwichwards by train and getting the supper cooking, so I left the festivities at about 6pm, only to hear later that Sonia took a tumble at about 7pm, banging and cutting her head on a paving stone and knocking herself out. An ambulance was called and after some time the paramedics declared her OK, at which point Brad said, “Oh no you don’t! You take her in to hospital until you’re sure she has no concussion”. Duly chastised, the NHS crew did as they were bid by the interfering Yank and whisked Sonia to safety at Harlow. I expect the blood sample taken shocked even the most hardy A&E doctor on duty – how is this 75 year old gentlelady even walking with an alcohol content as high as this? Surely the sample has been contaminated! Sonia returned home some six hours later after the danger had safely passed. Three cheers for Brad, and for Maxine and Michael for bringing her home.

We returned circuitously to Torquay late last week, via Worcestershire (me) and Frome (Clive), both of us visiting our respective families en route.

We have a boat moored opposite us which is owned by an elderly chap who bimbles down every morning and carries out various tasks, cleaning, rubbing down, washing, bimbling. He is then joined by two other elderly chaps, one of whom, David (72), owns a fabulous yacht called Nefertiti which, having sailed round the world in her twice in the last 18 years, now sails single handed across the channel to France and northwards or southwards every summer. Anyway, these chaps lunch together every day, and go their separate ways early each afternoon. We call them The Men Who Lunch. Not to be outdone, on Tuesday an old friend from Hatfield Broad Oak days, Vicky Willis, came aboard for a lunch time feast. She now lives in Ottery St Mary just the other side of Exeter and for some mad reason, I’m godmother of her daughter Issy. It was lovely to see her and we walked to Torre Abbey in the afternoon, which fired my resolve to visit the place properly, which Clive & I did yesterday. WOW! Well worth visiting.

Torre Abbey was one of the wealthiest monasteries in Britain from the 1300s until Henry VIII sacked it when he fell out with the Catholics and needed funds to fight them. It then became a ‘stately home’ going through several transformations, all the time owned by a Catholic family who had to hold Mass in secret for centuries until the late 1800s. Tragically, all the male heirs were killed in the Great War and death duty (taxes) wiped out the family’s ownership in 1930, when it was sold at a cut down price of £40,000 to the town council. That’s a very brief snapshot of a long and turbulent history. The exhibitions were excellent, interesting, varied and included some rooms dedicated to Agatha Christie, and what a life she had. The gardens were beautiful too.

We spent a day in Dartmouth via the steam train from Paignton and back. It’s a lovely place and with the nights drawing in, the weather cooling fast and the Atlantic sea state playing a merry dance, we have secured a mooring on the town pontoon for the winter, so we will sail DD round there for October 1st (weather permitting).

Today is Saturday 26th September and friends from Harwich, Duncan and Gunter, have just been for tea aboard DD. They have brought their son Dylan and his pal Simon for the class 29 races. Dylan is a keen sailor and has been exceptional in his age range at racing lasers. The 29ers are a different type of boat requiring two sailors to manage the sails and 47 of these small boats raced today. All the sailors were young and aged from 16 upwards. It is such a good way to learn about wind and sails, and to conquer any fear of the water. Brave guys all of them and we just watched them all return some five hours after heading out into the bay.

Tonight we are going to Clive’s niece Sarah’s 21st birthday celebration, a long uphill stroll to stretch our calf muscles again. Torquay and this area is very hilly and certainly keeps you fit, compared with Essex! And that’s where we’re heading tomorrow for a few days, primarily to go to the premier screening of Blood Moon at the Genesis Cinema on Mile End Road, east London, a ‘western werewolf’ movie which our pal Harold has invested in. We couldn’t miss it and we’re trying to get a screening at The Electric Palace in Harwich. Released last year, Studio Canal have taken up the promotion and distribution. More on this and other tales later…..

Photos to follow when I have a good internet connection.

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