Experience the English Seaside at Paignton in Devon

I must admit that until I included Paignton on a self-guided mini-tour of Devon, I had never heard of it, and had no idea what to expect when I arrived. I stepped off the bus into a delightful seaside resort enjoying the last days of the warm weather before autumn made its presence felt in earnest.

IF01 Paignton

A fun pier stretched across the red sandy beach, but only the seagulls seemed to think it worth the effort to get their feet wet. Unless you are an out of place tourist like me, if the season is over, its over.

IF06 Paignton Pier_2

I could only imagine this Cod and Chips stand surrounded by wet, hungry children with money in their hands and feet burning on the pavement. Fortunately I did not have to imagine the Cod and Chips, very nice indeed.

IF11 Cod and Chips Paignton_2

As mentioned in the previous post, it was from here that I decided to walk around the red sand to Torquay, which I could see in the distance, across Tor Bay.

IF12 Paignton Beach

On the way, I encountered the pretty beach huts of Preston, which apart from a few retirees, seemed like a seaside ghost town.

IF19 Preston Beach Beach Huts_2

I couldn’t resist a close up of these iconic dressing sheds, a popular image for seaside photographers.

IF20 Preston Beach Huts

Between Preston and Torquay are the stunning red cliffs that have provided the colouring for the distinctive sand of the beach.The red earth is a startling contrast to the green vegetation. Man and nature seemed to be having a competition as to who had the superior colour palette.

IF23 Cliffs at Torbay_2

It was great to get a glimpse of English Seaside life, albeit after the crowds had gone home. It wasn’t the only time on my travels that I felt puzzled that people we not drawn to such a beautiful place in such nice weather. Ah, how quickly we travellers forget that the demands of work and school still apply on pretty days.

I am trialling some greeting cards from this Tor Bay area in the Esty store, including the Colourful Beach Huts and Cod and Chips. I hope to build them into an English Seaside theme, at which time I will include them on the Greeting Cards area of this website as well.

Tourism and Yachting in Torquay

My approach to the famous seaside town on Torquay was on foot. I was in neighbouring Paignton and it didn’t look too far around the sands of Torbay. This was my first close encounter with the red cliffs that characterise the area. As an Australian I have seen my fair share of red dirt, but I didn’t expect to see it on the English coastline.

IG02 Cliffs at Torquay

Famed for being the home of Agatha Christie, Torquay has been dubbed the English Riviera for its warmer climate and beach lifestyle.

IG13 Beach at Torquay

Tourists can enjoy the shops and restaurants that line the waterfront.

IG29 Street in Torquay

You can even go for a ride on the famous red train.

IG30 Torquay Tourist Train

Small boats take shelter in Torquay Harbour near the bustling centre of the town.

IG31 Inner Harbour Torquay

Yachties from the UK and beyond find shelter in the large marina at North Quay.

IG20 Boats at Torquay

Despite all this fun and relaxation, Torquay is also a working port, as this jumble of nets on the harbour walls testify.

IG32 Fishing Nets Torquay_2

Those last two images contributed to the Fishing Boats of Devon and Cornwall Greeting Card series.

After a full day of sightseeing and photography it was time to leave Torquay and get the bus back to my accommodation in the town of Totnes. At this point I realised I had left my jacket somewhere. Retracing the walk back to Paignton did not seem so appealing in the late afternoon, but I was reluctant to give up on the only warm jacket I had with me. These are the extra little moments that make travel interesting. Fortunately I found the jacket in a park where I had sat briefly to make a phone call and was able to get the bus as planned.

Scenic Fishing Village Porthleven Cornwall

If you travel 20 km (15 miles) east along the coast from Penzance in Cornwall you will find the scenic fishing village of Porthleven. This charming village has all the features of a working fishing port, with a few scenic pubs thrown in. The focus of the village is the harbour, where boats can take refuge from wild weather.

FB13 Porthleven Boats_2

Porthleven was one of the prettiest villages I saw in Cornwall, with its white houses ranging up the steep hillside.

FB10 Porthleven Street

I find it hard to believe I climbed to the top of the hill to get a birds-eye-view of the village, but I must have. Here is the photographic evidence. That’s Cornwall for you, everywhere is on top of, at the bottom of, or on the side of a hill!

FB11 Porthleven from Above

I could imagine smugglers stopping in here for a pint or two, a few centuries ago.

FB15 The Harbour Inn at Porthleven

It was a beautiful day when I was there. I walked around to the breakwater at the mouth of the harbour. There was a sign, just out of view in the image below, which said not to walk out during high seas or you could be swept away. The sea must be very rough indeed.

FB06 Porthleven Breakwater

To the east of the town is the open beach, fully exposed to the pounding elements.

FB08 Porthleven Beach

The boats in the harbour were very colourful, although as it was low tide, the water was very muddy.

FB17  Blue and Yellow Boats Porthleven_2

I was surprised to see some swans swimming in the harbour. Thanks to the murky water, they are not likely to make it onto a greeting card.

FB21 Swans Swimming at Porthleven

There are two images from Porthleven in the Fishing Boats of Devon and Cornwall series. One is a close up of the boats in the harbour.

FB13 Porthleven Boats

The other is two boats tied up to the harbour wall.

FB14 St Ruan at Porthleven

You can see the full range of the Fishing Boats of Devon and Cornwall on this website. They can be purchased from the the ImageChest Photography Etsy Store.

Flying the Flag for Penzance

Having visited Mousehole and Newlyn I think it only right that we take a scenic stop off at Penzance. Like many people most of what I knew about this town was courtesy of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Light Opera, The Pirates of Penzance. In other words, I didn’t know much apart from the fact that it was by the sea used to be a popular haunt for pirating types. Turns out Penzance is the end of the railway line when you journey further and further south into Cornwall. I stayed there for a few days in 2010. Although you could still see the Jolly Roger gracing a ships mast in Penzance, it didn’t really have the mysterious allure that you might expect, given that it was in a parking lot.

FA17 Penzance Pirate Ship

My impression of Penzance, more than any other place in Cornwall, is one of colour, movement, and quirkiness. One of the most striking features when I was there were the flags lining the seawall.

FA27 Flags on the Promade Penzance

The flag motif was extended around the edges of the local swimming pool. It was a stroke of brilliance to introduce such bright and exciting colours to what could be an otherwise grey scene, and sent the message that Penzance is a fun town.

FA41 Flags at Swimming Pool Penzance

Of course Penzance is steeped in history, like all of Cornwall, but there seems to be an element of quirky humour and modernity; perhaps a residual cheekiness from the pirate past?

FA39 Admiral Benbow Hotel Penzance

True to form, I had dinner in a Chinese restaurant one night, and the decor there also reflected a bold willingness to engage with colour.

FA38 Penzance Chinese Restaurant_2

When travelling, you need to expect the unexpected. And indeed a bright red dalek was the last thing I expected to see dominating a shop window.

FA23 Shop Window Penzance

Penzance might be historic, but its not behind the times. I knew enough to recognise this as a retro shop, but that was about it. Little did I realise that a few years later I would be more interested in what appears to be a collectable Villeroy & Boch coffee set. Maybe just as well. I could not have carried it home to Australia on the plane.

Fishing Industry Old and New in Newlyn

Although steeped in history, there is something very modern about the fishing village of Newlyn. As the largest fishing port in England, Newlyn is home base to a large and modern fishing fleet.

FC45 Newlyn Harbour

I loved the colour and visual chaos of the modern fleet, and couldn’t help cropping in close to accentuate the shapes and lines produced by so many boats in close proximity.

FC58 Boats Newlyn_2

I chose a more modest working boat to include in the Fishing Boats of Devon and Cornwall  greeting card series. I like the interaction of circles and straight lines in this image, and the predominance of red and blue tones.

FC59 Fishing boat Newlyn

I was in Newlyn at low tide and tucked in behind the old harbour wall the remants of the past were telling a softer, more subtle story than the modern fishing fleet.

FC47 Old Boats Newlyn

There is something very evocative about a boat in decay which is why chose these two old hulls for the Fishing Boats of Devon and Cornwall greeting card series. It felt like a risky choice, given the state they are in. However there seems to be something that people can relate to in a boat that has seen better days.

FC48 Broken Boats Newlyn

Exploring Traditional Cornwall at Mousehole

In 2010 I went to England to explore my family history in Cornwall and Devon. Some of my ancestors migrated to Australia from this area in the mid-19th century. Although it was only a few years ago, it seems like the dark ages now. For me personally, it was pre-iPod, pre-iPad and pre-WiFi. I had to go to local libraries during opening hours to do my travel research and contact the outside world. How things have changed!

Although my personal connection with Cornwall related to mining, I was also drawn to the beautiful coastal fishing villages. One place that captured my imagination was Mousehole. This is a village built for walking to work. Nestled on the side of a steep hill, you can imagine the fishermen tumbling out of bed and down the hill before sunrise, to go out in the boats. They probably still do.

FC14 Mousehold Harbour from Breakwater

I felt inspired to climb up the hill and get a view from above, which involved some steep climbing. However it was well worth the view. Seeing the small boats nestled in the Harbour on a still and overcast day I could only imagine what the sea must be like in bad weather to warrant such as sturdy harbour wall, with such a small opening. Not to mention the tonnes of protective rock piled outside the wall.

FC33 Mousehole Harbour from above

I have drawn on images taken down in this little harbour for my next range of greeting cards which I am calling Fishing Boats of Devon and Cornwall. For the purpose of card making I have chosen images that are up close and tell their own story.The picture below is a wider view of a scene that I cropped to produce Dinghys at Mousehole Harbour.

FC01 Mousehole Harbour

There were a lot of seagulls on the beach, and I was honoured to make the acquaintance of Captain Seagull, who is now immortalised on a greeting card.

FC03 Captain Seagull

A seagull also features in Sandpiper and Seagull which is a closer view of this image, also taken at Mousehole.

FC04 Boats at Mousehole Harbour

The images for Fishing Boats of Devon on Cornwall greeting cards were taken at a variety of locations in varying lighting conditions. To create sense of cohesion between the images I have cropped them to create focus and intimacy, and also given the colour a slightly faded treatment to produce a more consistent mood across the set. I hope you enjoy seeing a little of the story behind of where they came from.

PS. Now that I have let you say Mouse-hole (hole for mice) quietly in your head I will let you in on the correct pronunciation which I believe is Mau-zle (where Mau rhymes with cow as in Maui).