Crabs, an Octopus & Steep Steps

Wednesday was my final day to explore Torquay as we’re headed to Wales Thursday morning. As Mandy was feeling better after being under the weather for almost two weeks, she accompanied me down the hill where we grabbed breakfast at one of the many fine cafés bordering the marina.

After a traditional English breakfast for me and a healthier avocado on toast for Mandy, our first stop was Triton Galleries located on Torwood Street. I had noticed one of Doug Hyde‘s paintings in their window on my first day in town and wanted to take a closer look. His artwork is playful and whimsical, centered around dogs and cats and their human companions. Before coming to the U.K. I must admit I had never heard of Doug Hyde. But apparently, he is one of the most beloved and best-selling artists in Britain. I can see why.

Love Overload by Doug Hyde

The painting above, entitled Love Overload, is what drew me to the gallery. All of Doug’s pieces are known for their warmth, humor and joy. His artwork certainly instills those feelings in me. I encourage everyone to check out his other paintings and sculptures, which are especially charming. And if anyone needs a birthday idea for me …

I love not only quirky artwork like Doug’s. Landscapes and street scenes are a particular favorite of mine, such that I relished the work of Henderson Cisz, a Brazilian painter who specializes in urban settings. Upon entering the gallery, the piece below immediately drew my eye.

The Pink Bouquet by Henderson Cisz

Studying the painting of a street scene is like reading a short story, but it’s for you to discover. Is the woman averting her eyes away from the man holding the pink bouquet, his apology for something stupid he undoubtedly did? Or has she not noticed the flowers yet? Will she wrap her arms around him with joy or forgiveness? Perhaps this is a father-daughter scene and the pink bouquet is for the mother. Are they meeting her for an anniversary or birthday dinner, or laying them on a grave? The woman walking away in the white coat stands out. I want to follow her. So much going on here!

After the gallery Mandy and I headed toward the Princess Promenade. I wanted to climb to the top of the Royal Terrace Gardens. Mandy decided to wait for me at the bottom. I couldn’t blame her as there were many, many steps as you can see and not see from the bottom.

Royal Terrace Gardens

I found one postcard online to show how the Victorians did it. Back then, there were many more shade trees which have since been felled, to the disappointment of the locals.

Up, up, up I went to see what I could see. I saw this …

Torquay Marina

And this … (the ferris wheel again!)

English Riviera Wheel

Here’s a little factoid for you. One “standard” ride on the Wheel runs £6 for two revolutions. The ride lasts about twelve minutes with one stop at the top while new riders are loaded into the gondolas below. If you take a close look at the picture above, you’ll notice one black gondola. This is for VIPs. Of course, anyone can be a VIP for £35. Add some champagne to your private gondola for £60 and ride the wheel for a full 30 minutes!

I’m sure you’re wondering by now what I found at the top of the stairs. Well, I found more stairs …

… which finally led me to the rock wall which is what this neighborhood is known for, I’m guessing.

Rock Wall

The wall was cool, but I was disappointed not to find any historical plaques on it. Why was it built? Who built it? How old is it? This enquiring mind wants to know.

The rock walk is one of the things to do in Torquay. Apparently, there’s an “official” route:

But this is what I actually did. Took me a little longer than 15 minutes.

Now, you might be wondering what else I found at the top of the hill …

… which led me to yet another neighborhood encircling this Victorian church.

I was unable to go inside but did a bit of research on my own. Church construction began in 1861 when the first stone was laid on top of Waldon Hill. Sir Arthur William Blomfield, known for his gothic revival style and the design of the Royal College of Music in London, was the architect. Services for the first parish began in 1869. Bad luck struck in 1964 when the main church structure caught fire, damaging most of the interior. It underwent restoration and remains standing at the top Waldon Hill.

Taking one last look down from the top …

Torquay Beach

… I headed for a new staircase – down this time. Yay!

And a couple more pix for the road …

The skies had turned from grey to blue while I was wandering around on top of the hill. As a reward for my trek up and down, I treated myself to a tasty vanilla milkshake – with fresh whipped cream.

Mandy decided to head back to the apartment while I stayed behind to continue my exploration of Torquay. The beach beckoned, and I answered the call. Along the way, I stopped to smell the sunflowers … and found a bee.

Passing by the rocks I had scampered on my first day, I found them underwater this time.

Farther down the beach I was surprised to spot a swan hanging out with the seagulls …

… but she promptly went to sleep, so I kept going. The cliff (Corbyn Head) at the end of the beach needed to be climbed. It was nothing too arduous as there was a path from the beach. Torbay Road runs along it for those who want to cheat.

Proof I made it!

The skies started to turn grey again, so I thought I’d better start for home. I had a steak pasty waiting for me! Back down to the beach I went …

… and was dismayed to see this guy washing in and out with the tide.

I couldn’t tell if it was an octopus or maybe a cuttlefish. Anyway, made me sad.

I continued on along the beach with the tide incoming. The channel water almost got me a few times, but I’m quick!

I returned to the marina where all day long, kids and their parents had been catching crabs with bright little nets and putting them in buckets. It left me to wonder how on earth there were any crabs left in the harbor with this activity happening every single day, all day long.

Torquay Harbor crab catching

I even had to wonder why the crabs continued to hang out here, considering their daily imminent demise. I know. I’m giving way too much credit to a crab thinking. So, I thought it best to ask someone who could speak for the crabs. I stopped to talk to a young father who informed me crab catching was a traditional, fun-time activity in Torquay. He caught crabs with his father though at the time used hooks rather than nets. Not so much fun for the crabs, I thought, until he told me all the crabs are released back into the water at the end of the day. So basically, the crabs get fed mackerel or bacon (apparently, their favorite), hang out in a bucket with their buddies, amuse the humans, then are released back into the water. As careers go, it’s not too bad if you ask me.

I was delighted to hear this news and even more delighted to witness the “releasing of the crabs” down the slipway. They skittered sideways, en mass, then disappeared one at a time into the water. These were the last two guys to go free.

Clocking out.
Hi-ya!

As I walked away from the harbor, I took one last look back. Torquay may not be a town I would have picked out on a map to visit, but I’m certainly glad to have met its trails, beaches, piers, hills, steps, buildings and people.

On to Wales!

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