Torquay and the Peak District

Torquay United, a modestly supported team (3,000 per game) from the fourth tier of english football, have won through to yet another final. I – and by bequeathal my children – support them because I was born and raised in Devon. However, they are quite an exciting team to watch because we never have a boring season in the middle of the table; we are either challenging for promotion to the higher division or battling against relegation to the division below. This season is one of those where we may go up a division and it’s made special by the fact that our local rivals, Plymouth Argyle, have already been relegated to the fourth tier. If we are promoted, it will be the first time we have ever been in a higher division than them in our hundred year history.

Usually, play-off finals are held at Wembley. Torquay have been to rather a lot of them (I think more than any team?), and it was getting rather dull trotting off to the home of football every couple of years or so. I was therefore very pleased that – owing to The Champions League Final being played at Wembley today – the match is being held at Old Trafford in Manchester.

It is said that Lorna gets a nosebleed when she travels North of Watford. While that isn’t completely true, she’s only gone to the North of England three times in her life. Lorna – who is banned from watching the match because she brings bad luck to Torquay – wants to see more of Britain.

Lorna chose to rent a weekend cottage in the village of Longnor, bang in the middle of The Peak District. I assume she did so because there is no mobile reception or Internet connection in the village (see link to where this has happened before “What to do on Little Gasparilla Island”). But, I guess, my inability to do my emails and work is this blog’s gain.

The Peak District actually looks a lot like Devon and parts of Dartmoor, but is both more lived in and frequented. The village we are staying in has a population of 300 and has 3 pubs, 2 cafes, a fish and chip shop, a general store and a sweet shop. The house names (The Old Store, The Old Smithies) and the derelict hotel show an even more vibrant time, but it contrasts greatly with the village we live in (Puttenham, Surrey) which has almost three times the population and only a pub in which to spend your money. We bought fish and chips from the Chippie last night (closing time 9pm). It was very busy, and the servers didn’t need to ask what the regulars wanted as they came through the door.

Lorna rented a several hundred year old stone cottage right in the centre of the village. The whole house is about the size of our kitchen. Bluebell is somewhat perplexed by her new surroundings. She wags her tail in excitement by all the newness around her and promptly hits it against a piece of furniture. You can see her thinking “Who put that there?” before realising she’s somewhere new again and repeating the process again and again.

I was awoken by bird noise early this morning so went for a run with the dog in the hills at 5.15am. The small fields are partitioned by dry stone walls. These are like normal walls, only without cement. Careful construction and gravity have held these walls together for centuries. They make the landscape look very pretty (see picture, probably not taken at best time of day or in the best weather conditions). A friend of mine once rebuilt one of these walls; it seemed to take her a whole summer of weekends to complete but I guess it will be her legacy to the countryside. All the buildings in the villages are also of stone, giving the area an idyllic look.

Finally, I had a dream last night that I was watching the football highlights this coming evening. For some reason, the TV company had elected to show the Champions League Final first*. In this dream (probably because I had awoken at 5.15am), I was battling to stay awake to watch the highlights of the Torquay game. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the score of the game because in the dream I fell asleep. Confusingly, this happened just as I woke up.

Good luck to Torquay today.

*Culmination of competition to produce best team in all of Europe



3 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Julian, glad to know that passion for smaller clubs is undiminished, even by the amount of money the big guys throw around. All the best to Torquay. I had spend a couple of hours there way back in the Christmas of 1997!


  2. Posted by Melville on May 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Great blog – shame about the football, should have played Danny earlier and let him run through the legs of those tall defenders.

    Hope you enjoyed ythe visit to Old Trafford. The dry stone wall wall experts never pick up a stone without using it, but for the novice it is tricky.


  3. Posted by Marilyn Bishop on May 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Strange you never noticed similar dry stone walls in your native Devon and had to go to the Peak District to discover them!


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