So, a couple of weeks ago I jumped on a train and headed South West - for a weekend in Dartmouth visiting family and the annual Food festival in the town. As usual I used the "cheap route" out of Waterloo - cheap it might be but it's also scenic, going through some beautiful little country stations on its 4 hour path through the English countryside. Finally you arrive at Exeter St Davids which is in itself a lovely station...
...then it's the train on to Paignton for me - 2 options to choose from, the speedy Torbay Express or the slow train stopping everywhere. On this route though it must be the slow option - just the names sing to you - StarCross, Dawlish, Dawlish Warren...this is the line that hugs the South Devon coast, in the summer packed with happy holidaymakers, buckets and spades, and ice-cream kiosks, but once September is past it's all birds, muffled up walkers and crashing waves.A truly magical journey and I never get tired of it!
Final stop Paignton - to most people this is "just another seaside town" although it does appear to be getting a bit of a facelift right now. The refurbished bus station adds a bit of colour...
..and also provides the stepping-off point for the next bit of my journey, onwards to Kingswear. Nearly there now, just the ferry to go. A bit of a special mode of transport itself this one - essentially a flat-top barge hauled across by a tug. No posh passenger accommodation here - you stand in the rain in the open!
Finally I step off the ferry - Dartmouth, MrEH's hometown, sitting alongside the River Dart in South Devon, and in fact more easily approached by water than by road, the nearest you can get by motorway is Exeter - an hour away by road. Now like so many towns of its type it's lost a lot of it's "useful" shops, to be replaced by trendy eateries and galleries - it's been said before that it's easier to buy a piece of art there than a pair of knickers! that notwithstanding, there is a busy market on a friday, and the butcher, fishmonger and farm shop all do brisk trade. This is possibly why for the last few years the town's annual Food Festival has thrived, and grown.
This year's festival was good once again, although we felt that the decision to cut the demo theatres from 2 to 1 was a mistake - in past years we've punctuated our days wandering around with demos, and have seen some excellent people from the Padstow Seafood School, to Jane Baxter of Riverford, and last year the hilarious Hardip Singh Kohli. This year we were able to get into the one remaining tent to see just one - the highly entertaining Tanner brothers.
We'd like to have seen more, but sadly a lot of the seats available were "hogged" all day by the same people, who seemed content to spend their day simply sitting in one place watching whatever was put in front of them (A bit like TV, only outdoors, presumably!) and so unless you were in the right position to grab one of the few seats to be vacated at the close of one show, and await the next, there was little chance to do so. Regardless of this though we had fun, and bought all manner of edible goodies. The weather was mostly kind to us, and we were able to find shelter (mostly in the beer tent!) when the rain did fall!