A Long Weekend in Paignton
I have been going to Guitar Retreat weekends and holidays for many years and over that time I've met many great people. I have kept in touch with a a few of them and last weekend we met up in Paignton.
I flew to Exeter airport and Brian was there to meet me and take me to Paignton. Brian runs a couple of businesses, amongst them a holiday letting. Friends were travelling from Cobham in Surrey and Bude in Cornwall and they were to spend the weekend in his apartment. I was staying with him and his wife in their home. He lives in the Goodrington area of Paignton which has fantastic views across Torbay to Torquay.
Brian and I walked down to the town for a couple of pints at The Inn on The Quay. After dinner we played (or should I say attempted to play) some music in his wonderful downstairs lounge.
Sharon and Stu arrived from Bude in the afternoon and were staying in the apartment. After they settled in we ate from a wonderful buffet prepared by Paula, Brian's wife. Sue and Chris were arriving a little later and they would meet up with us later. During dinner Brian and Paula announced that they had bought a property in France and were planning to move there permanently in August to start a B&B business. Their new property looks very impressive, they have great plans for it and I hope they are successful. Perhaps the next time we all meet up again it will be in their new French home!
Brian had negotiated for us to play in The Blue Anchor Pub that evening. The pub is in Brixham, just down the coast from Paignton and we decided to take the ferry. Paula had kindly offered to take all our gear to the venue so Sharon, Stu, Brian and me walked down to the harbour at Paignton where we would catch the ferry. We were the only passengers on the last trip across. Whilst Saturday had been a glorious warm sunny day, Sunday was very misty and the crossing a bit chilly. We arrived and walked round the harbour from the jetty passing a replica of The Golden Hind on the way. Brian told us it had recently been purchased by a coupe he knew. It looked very much a money pit to me and if you look closely at the photograph you'll see that there are gaping holes in the hull below the waterline where planks have popped or rotted. It must fill with water each time the tide comes in.
The pub was rammed full of imbibing locals many of whom looked as though they had been there since opening time that morning. There was a guitarist playing when we arrived (oddly also playing a large kick drum) and we were on after him. Paula had arrived with the gear and we started to bring it in. As we were doing this Paul and his wife Heather arrived. Paul is a proper musician and he was playing a gig at a gallery in Torquay on Monday evening where we were all going to see him. We all performed and many local also joined in including Ted Turner the brother of Wishbone Ash founder member Martin. Ted played. We were also treated to one very drunk Glaswegian who fell out with everyone because they weren't listening to him.
It was a brilliant, if somewhat odd evening in The Blue Anchor. I think we went down well and the manager invited us back - mind you, with the locals so drunk or high on drugs they probably never noticed us.
On Monday we visited Dartmouth. I walked down to Paignton and met Paul and Heather at the railway station to take a steam train. The others were driving and would meet us there. It was a beautiful sunny day and the journey was very picturesque. The train took us to Kingswear on the east side of the River Dart and we caught a foot ferry across the river where we met up with the others. During the journey, Paul told me that there was an Open Mic session before his set at the gallery that evening so a quick message to the others to see who wanted to perform!
Dartmouth is really quite small and whilst not that busy, most of the cafes and restaurants around the harbour were quite full. We found a wee cafe down a back street where we all managed to get a seat. We wandered around the town and sat in Royal Avenue Gardens for a while before crossing back over the river to get the train back to Paignton.
We all ate together that evening - a delicious Thai curry made by Paula - before making our way to Torquay to see Paul and hopefully do a couple of numbers ourselves. The gallery was quite small as was the audience (our group made up the bulk of it). Some of us performed, I did a couple on my uke, played the wonderful "Speed of Loneliness" with Chris and Stu and I performed our party piece "KIss".
On the way home we were listening to "Night Fever", singing at the top of our voices (difficult high notes!) with the windows and sunroof wide open. Sharon has promised to find white suits for me, Stu and Brian so we can perform a couple of numbers at the next Guitar Retreat!
It was an absolutely wonderful weekend and great to see everyone again and I'll be meeting up with all these friend over the next few months at some time or other.