Thursday, 21 April 2016

Exploring Torbay and watching Wild in lieu of walking ourselves

We are pitched up on The English Riviera now, at a huge
campsite in between Paignton and Torquay called Widend Touring Park. It is a good location for exploring the Torbay area and we zoomed over to Totnes on our very first day here. Totnes impressed us a lot. It has lots of independent shops, many of the hippy-green variety that appeal to me! There are three health food shops and more organic cotton clothing than I have seen since WOMAD! We bought tofu in The Green Life, delicious fennel and garlic sausages from C.M.McCabe butchers, and a second-hand dvd copy of the Reece Witherspoon film Wild from a fabulous shop, Fretwork Music, that stocked a range of musical instruments, dvds and books. Great mix and the dvd was only £2.99!

In 1995, a young woman called Cheryl Strayed decided to walk 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail across the American wilderness. She was a heroin addict struggling to overcome her grief at losing her mother to cancer. She had never hiked before and set off, alone, with a ridiculously overstuffed backpack and too-small boots. Cheryl published her memoir of her hike years later, in 2012, and it was read by Reece Witherspoon who was then convinced that she had to make a film of Cheryl's journey. Together with director, Jean-Marc Vallee, I think she has done a fantastic job! Wild is just under two hours long, but it flew past for me and I was actually a little disappointed when it finished. The Pacific Crest Trail scenery is stunningly beautiful and Cheryl's story is one of real hope and motivation. I am now so inspired to set out on a long-distance walk of my own! I loved that the real Cheryl was very involved with the filmmaking - her whole family appear in minor roles and her daughter plays Cheryl as a child - and the work feels truthful. Dave did find a lot of the dialogue difficult to hear so we might well watch the film again with subtitles on. Otherwise it is superb!

Back to my reality and a few words about Widend Touring
Our pitch at Widend Touring Park 
Park. I was seriously underwhelmed on arrival. We had booked by phone a few days earlier and had to pay the whole cost of our stay upfront, however they failed to mention Reception's lunchtime closure so we were left stranded in their carpark for twenty-five minutes. An officious woman who said she would find someone to show us to our pitch but failed to do so got quite snarky with Dave when she reappeared. She gave the impression that we should have known Reception would be closed even though we hadn't been told and there's no mention on the website either. Grrr! Not a good start!

The site is large and most pitches are taken, but with unoccupied caravans so it feels like a ghost town. We wonder if there will be an influx at the weekend or over the Bank Holiday. It's pretty peaceful at the moment and cheap for the UK - a deal of stay-six-nights-and-get-the-seventh-free means we are paying under £12 a night including electric - less than many CLs. We have fantastic wifi reception here - our Osprey has five bars of 4G! Water and grey water disposal are close by and the shower block is in good condition, but the doors are kept tied open so it's chilly at this time of year. There was only eight seconds of water on the shower press-button too, though after my shower I tried the next cubicle and that ran for twenty seconds. We are surprised that the only recycling facility is a wheelie bin for newspapers. Everything else has to go in large bins that seem to be just for landfill and we were strongly encouraged to use the tumble driers rather than hanging out our washing - I guess they're not big on environmentalism!

Widend campsite is conveniently located for exploring the Torbay area by car though which is our main objective here as we start our flat-hunting in earnest. I don't yet know if we can do any walks from Widend - I wouldn't fancy walking or cycling on the road past the entrance - but we are only a few minutes' drive from Torquay and Paignton, and a scant fifteen minutes from Totnes. The scenery around here is beautiful, as you would expect from Devon, and we've even had one gloriously sunny day.

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