Face2Face – A Private Viewing

I was honoured to receive an invitation and attend the private viewing of the new art exhibition Face2Face at Torre Abbey, one of Torquay's most historic locations, where you can see over 800 years of local history. So I must send a big thank you to my Colleague at the abbey – Angela Cappello for inviting me.

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What a fabulous evening it was. Leaving the office slightly early, and walking long Torquay seafront on a beautiful Summer's evening, taking in the busy promenade, and seeing the town alive in the sunshine always brings a smile to my face.

On arrival at the Abbey, I wasn't disappointed either. There were about 120 people in attendance including teachers from local schools, whose pupils have created portraits to be in the exhibition, including one of Ed Sheeran. We were welcomed into the gardens by characters in costume and invited to take selfies so we can #Face2Face  and given a game to play, similar to happy families, then we were welcomed with drinks and a Jazz duo called The Magic Buzzard Duo it was a lovely atmosphere.

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As we were blessed by beautiful weather, everyone was networking and enjoying the gardens and music with drinks and canapes. The gardens looked magnificent with everything in full bloom including the Poison Garden which is dedicated to our very own Queen of Crime – Dame Agatha Christie, who is known to have spent time at the Abbey, with the Cary family who used to live there.

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We were welcomed by Mischa Eligoloff, the Creative Manager of the Abbey and Beth from the Arts Council Collection who have lent the Abbey the portraits for the exhibition. The Arts Council were responsible for bringing both the Anthony Gormley's "Field for the British Isles" in 2009 and Damien Hirst's "Mother and Child" in 2010 to the Spanish Barn.

We were treated to more music from the Choral Engineers including a song they wrote to commemorate the opening of the new South Devon Highway into Torquay.

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Personally I can't wait to visit the Abbey again soon!

 

Tickets Still Available — Love Summer Festival 2017

Tickets – Still Available (Please Read the Terms and Conditions at the end of the page before booking.) Tickets purchased after 20:00 on 2nd August will be held at the Site Box Office for collection on your arrival (you will not need them to enter the car park). Site Address – Newnham Park, Plympton, Devon, PL7 5BN We are now on the last Tier of Tickets at £60 £5.00 Booking Fee Caravan\Camper Passes are available below

via Tickets Still Available — Love Summer Festival 2017

Hotel Review – The Cottage Hotel, St Ives

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This weekend Gerald & Jen, Group Organisers of a family and friends group in Somerset took my husband Grant and I on an overnight familiarisation visit to the AA 3 Star rated Leisureplex Cottage Hotel. The hotel is located in the Carbis Bay area of St Ives.

The hotel has 80 bedrooms, a snooker table, a bar, a ballroom with live entertainment most evenings, TV Lounge, and an outdoor heated swimming pool (open May – September). Many of the bedrooms as well as the restaurant and sun lounge enjoy the amazing sea-views across Carbis Bay.

The hotel caters mainly for the over 50’s market, either arriving by an Alfa Travel or third-party operator coach or self drive. The Alfa Travel coach guests usually have excursions included in their holiday package to a variety of local places including:

  • Marazion, Penzance and Lands End
  • Trebah Gardens & The Lizard Peninsula
  • Falmouth
  • Truro & St Mawes
  • The Lizard Peninsula and Porthleven

We arrived by car, enjoying the view as we came down the hill, and had no problem parking in the spacious car park with room for lots of cars and coaches. At the end of the car park lie Carbis Bay Railway Station, which is really affordable at a £1 each way into St Ives and accessible for people wanting to visit St Ives when they have a free resort day, if they have travelled by coach. It also avoids walking up the hill to the main road.

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After a welcoming and informative check in we made our way to our rooms, and obviously as we were exploring the hotel and all it had to offer we looked at each other rooms, which were exactly the same decor, furniture and nice sea-views. Our rooms were very clean, and had the basics you need like tea-making facilities, en-suite with a powerful shower (don’t you hate it when the shower just dribbles out?) and heated towel rail (there is nothing like a warm fluffy towel to wrap yourself in after a shower). The added bonus of our rooms is that we also had wi-fi. All the Alfa Leisureplex hotels presently have internet access in the lounges/reception areas, but they are now rolling out in-room wi-fi, throughout their 21 hotels which is great.

The hotel is set in 4 acres of grounds with footpaths through the woods to the swimming pool which was being prepared to open at the end of the month, but was in a lovely situation in a wooded area, over a little bridge, with a large patio area for sunbathing and relaxing. The views from our room were sea-views overlooking the trees, and even on the afternoon we arrived as the weather took a turn for the worse, the view is one you won’t tire of with the turquoise sea and views from St Ives on the left all the way round to Godrevy Island (which is owned by the National Trust) on the right, with the golden sands of Hayle Beach.

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We ordered drinks (including a lovely bottle of Gradport Cabernet Savignon – yum!) and went in for dinner. The waiting staff were very friendly and efficient. you have a 3 course dinner plus tea or coffee. We settled for scampi to start, I had hake with a cream and parsley sauce, whilst Grant enjoyed Chicken Chasseur and we both had Bakewell tart for dessert. The food was proper home cooked food and enjoyable.  Breakfast the following morning, was good too, with a selection of starters – cereal, fruit and yoghurt, and a good choice of cooked breakfasts including a traditional full breakfast with fried bread, hash brown,  and black pudding to accompany the usual bacon, egg, sausage, beans and tomatoes as well as toast and preserves, so I can assure you don’t go hungary after a Leisureplex breakfast! In fact I think is was about 3pm before we thought of eating lunch on Sunday.

The bar on the ground floor is open from 10am – 8pm for drinks, tea and coffee and sandwiches etc for lunch. The bar in the entertainment room is open from 8-11pm with a live entertainer most evenings, and the obligatory bingo. However after years of working in hotels for both myself and Grant we do tend to avoid it. but we did go up there after dinner. The Cottage has a nice large entertainment room with dance floor and bar, again making the most of the stunning views. There is a full size snooker table and dart board and the lounge next door, again enjoying the breathtaking views.

We awoke the next day to a beautiful sunny morning and decided to head back to Devon with some sightseeing en-route, but that’s a whole other blog post, that will feature soon!

So in conclusion:

The only downside I could find is that St Ives and Carbis Bay are hilly, so some of the clientele may struggle to get around, however Alfa Travel do say this on their website. So onto the best bits:

  • the hotel is perfect for the senior and group markets it caters for
  • the location and views are stunning
  • its close to the beach
  • large car park for cars and coaches
  • set in lovely wooded grounds with swimming pool
  • really close to the train station
  • friendly & efficient staff including the manager
  • great choice of food and caters for many dietary requirements
  • nightly entertainment to keep the guests busy
  • close to St Ives and lots of other great places to visit
  • great base for walking the South West Coast Path or the Cornish Mining Heritage Site

For group booking enquiries to the Cottage Hotel phone 01257 248007 or email groups@alfatravel.co.uk

For other reservations call 01257 248000 or book online at http://www.alfatravel.co.uk

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Please note that whilst I am employed by the Alfa Leisureplex Group Ltd, I paid for my own accommodation and have received no payment for this post.

Top 5 – Torbay Beaches

As I sit in my office on an incredibly grey April day, I’m longing for the Summer and this winter seems to have been here forever! All the signs of Spring are here – daffodils have flowered, leaves have unfolded on the pear tree in my garden, but this week’s weather sucks! I always seem to get cabin fever at this time of year, and I can’t wait to hit the beach. Living in Torquay I remember spending a recent Easter weekend with friends and family on Meadfoot Beach in our swim suits, enjoying picnics and rock pooling with the kids, hopefully the weather will improve for this Easter. But reminiscing about that made me think about all the great beaches in Torbay, with 22 miles of coastline, over 22 beaches and the highest concentration of blue flag beaches, and seaside awards there really is a beach to suit all, so here are my top 5:

#5 – Torre Abbey Sands

Torre Abbey Sands is the main beach on the seafront in Torquay. it is popular with holiday makers and locals alike due to the easy access, and being close to transports links including Torquay Railway Station. It is overlooked by Torre Abbey Meadows and the Abbey itself. Looking out to sea from the beach, your view is beautiful with the Princess Pier in front, and looking across to Brixham, you can see all the boats and yachts coming out of the harbour, at the end of Torre Abbey’s golden sands where the beach huts are situated is Corbyn Head, and Corbyn Head beach, which looks like a continuation of Torre Abbey but is a different shingle beach and Corbyn Head itself is popular with rock climbers but not for the height of headland but for its great traverse climb around the headland to Livermead beach. Torre Abbey Sands is famous for its sand too! As it was voted the Best Sand to Build Sandcastle with in 2004 due to a study by scientists at Bournemouth University.

#4 – Goodrington Sands

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image courtesy of Splashdown, Paignton

 

I love Goodrington!  Not just for its lovely sandy beach, with beach huts running along the back of the beach, but because there is so much to do. There is a large pay and display car park, although it can be tricky to find a space in peak season. If you are travelling to Goodrington via Paignton on public transport, then I can recommend taking the short journey on the steam train to Goodrington station. You can find more details visiting www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk

Goodrington is the location of Splashdown Water Park with its thrilling water slides, it’s a favourite of locals and tourists alike. The park host opening season fireworks displays too. For more details visit www.splashdownwaterparks.co.uk/quaywest

Just behind the beach you will find the boating lake and bandstand, located in Youngs Park which also has bumper boats, swan pedaloes, a spanish cafe, drop slides and crazy golf. The park dates back about 350 years and the boating lake was called Mays Pool and there was a myth about a large watery lagoon, Stories soon perpetuated that it was a bottomless pit and parents would warn their children to stay away from it. The myth was given more weight when in 1667, a chap called Richard Thorne fell of his horse and drowned there. Many years latter when Goodrington park was reclaimed it was found that this myth about the lagoon, that had lasted for 100´s of years was in fact only 2 feet deep! The park is also a natural haven for birds including swans and geese.

Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust own and operate the Seashore Centre at Goodrington. They host an array of events such as “Rockpool Rambles” so children can learn about the marine environment. More details can be found here

#3 – Churston Cove

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image courtesy of English Riviera Image Library

I discovered Churston Cove a few years ago, when I got my family out on a nice circular walk from Broadsands, which turned out to be far longer than we expected, but that’s a whole other story! What I loved about Churston Cove, was the approach through the woods, which were full of bluebells, and it looked amazing, then when we came out of the wood to the small pebbled cove, you could see the end of Brixham Breakwater and watch all the coming and going of the boats. I would recommend stopping at Churston Manor for drinks (and/or food) on your way back. Churston Manor has a great reputation locally and it really historic and picturesque.

#2 – Preston Sands

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Preston Sands in another Paignton Beach to feature in my top 5. The sandy beach is backed by a promenade with beach huts, a childrens play area and a cafe at one end of the promenade and a pub at the other. The beach is great for water sports too – you will find the local surfers here, especially when there is an easterly blowing. But children have lots of fun too with their body board and skim boards. You can walk straight along the beach to Paignton beach and pier too when the tide is out. Its really popular when the Torbay Airshow is on, as its focused around Paignton Beach so lots of people congregate around the area to get the best views of the flying displays.

#1 – Meadfoot Beach

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Meadfoot is in Torquay just around the coast from the harbour heading towards Hopes Nose. Meadfoot is a popular beach with locals and you see lots of people diving, snorkelling and kayaking there, especially heading out round Thatcher Rock. The beach is mainly sand and shingle. The end of the beach by the cafe and newly built beach huts is a blue flag beach, however the rest of the beach isn’t but you are allowed BBQs etc. There is also a great part of the beach for rock pooling which the kids love when the tide is going out. My Husband didn’t like Torquay when we first moved here, I think the first time he liked it was a sunny day at Meadfoot when we were there with kids and the water looked turquoise and the yachts were sailing out of the marina round the headland and he said “its not too bad here, I can see why you like it” coming from my other half that high praise! but he is right on a summer’s day you could be sat on Meadfoot but feel like you are sat on the edge of the Mediterranean. So hands down it my number 1 beach, if the sun’s out and I’m AWOL look at Meadfoot!

Have you got a favorite beach in Torbay? Let me know in the comments below!

The Worst Weather Ever!

 

On Saturday I set off on a day trip with my 13 year old daughter Vicky, who is my photographer for some of my reviews to visit Wildwood at Escot in East Devon.

Before the visit lots of my friends looked puzzled about Wildwood as they haven’t heard about it, until I mentioned two words – BEAUTIFUL DAYS. Which is a festival held at Escot every August by the Levellers band, and probably what the estate is most famous for today.

Escot House is situated between Exeter and Honiton near the village of Feniton. The house dates back to 1678, when it was designed by Robert Hooke for Sir Walter Younge Baronet, who sold the estate to Sir John Kennaway of the East India company in 1794. However after a fire the current house was built in 1838, with gardens landscaped by Capability Brown, 2016 saw the 300th anniversary Capability Brown. The estate is still owned by the Kennaway Family today, and other than Beautiful Days Festival and Wildwood it has segways, quadbikes and plays host to weddings and conferences.

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Anyway, I digress, Vicky and I set off from home to catch the 8.14am train from Torre Station in Torquay to Feniton, which should take about 2 hours and was great value at just £13.40 return for both of us, however once we were on the train going along the breathtaking Rivera Line passing through Teignmouth, Dawlish, past Powderham Castle onto Exeter, it started snowing – which is a very rare occasion here in Devon. While we were on the train I called the two taxi companies I had phone numbers for, the first said they were too busy to collect us from Feniton to take us to Escot, and the 2nd told me that it would be £20 for the 2.5 mile journey as the taxi would have to come from Honiton. So Vicky and I decided to walk instead, which was no biggie to us as we don’t own a car and I can’t drive so we are pretty used to walking distances. Once we arrived at Exeter St Davids to change trains, we found out we had to take a rail replacement coach, which was a luxurious Mercedes coach. the nearer we got to Feniton, the more it was snowing, which was worrying as I was concerned that if the snow settled they would stop the coaches and we could be stranded.

We arrived after at Escot after 45 minute walk from Feniton Train Station, feeling a bit chilly and a bit wet, although the snow had turned to rain, and did stop eventually. We made our way into Wildwood through the walled garden, to the sound of lots of children obviously having fun in the Beech Tree Maze. Our first stop was the Saxon village which was really interesting to see with buildings, with animal skins hanging up and a glimpse into what life would have been like.

After that we took the path through the woods to see the animals, unfortunately we didn’t see many of the animals as they were all hiding from the rain and the cold, so we were a little disappointed, but there are Lynx, Wildcats, Wild Boar, Red Squirrels, amongst others that are all native or former native species, but we did get to see the birds of Prey, which were pretty spectacular. The children’s play areas also looked like they would be great fun in better weather, although I couldn’t resist having a go on the pirate ship! Another lovely part was seeing the spring flowers coming out, and contrast of the silver birch bark against a background of red rhododendrons coming into flower.

After a good explore, the cold and wet got the better of us and we made for the cafe to warm up with some lunch (sausage roll and chips for Vicky and cheesy chips for me) and Hot Chocolates with cream of course! The cafe was busy with some of the families we had seen in Wildwood as well as some other groups who had obviously been on the quadbikes. but the staff were friendly and attentive and the cafe was good value.

By this point, with our wet feet, and still rather concerned about the journey home, we decided it was probably best to make our way back to Feniton and the train home. The journey home turned into another interesting event, as we were pretty cold from our wet feet, we decided to see if we could hitch hike to the rail way station (well we’re in the middle of nowhere and it was only 2 miles to the station). We were picked up by a nice lady who was in a rush to go to Honiton so she dropped us off at Honiton Railway Station and we jumped straight on the coach back to Exeter and Molten Hot Chocolate from Starbucks #JustWhatWeNeeded!

So plus points of Wildwood are that:

  • It is great for families, especially with their great value monthly membership
  • Great day trip for school groups
  • Its uncommercialized (so kids aren’t asking you to spend money every 2 seconds. Any parent will know what I mean!)
  • The Yurt Camp which is great for school/youth groups for stay for residential trips
  • The wildlife (when it comes out to say hello!)
  • The native species planting
  • The maze
  • The Saxon village
  • Signs of spring arriving on a cold and wet day

The downsides for us, was definitely the weather, and that it isn’t too easy to get to by public transport, however Vicky and I both agreed that it would be great to go back on a drier and warmer day!

So Wildwood we will be back! But with friends in a car on a drier day! However that said, sometimes the days that don’t go quite to plan are always the more memorable ones!

 

 

 

2016 – A Year in Pictures

Well, most people have spent the last month heading to the gym or drinking raw juices, signing up for Weightwatchers and the such like, trying to keep their freshly made New Years resolutions. I, for one, am doing exactly the opposite after a couple of ambiguous years, I finally feel quite settled, like I’m finding my niche. But its good to reflect every now and again, after “they” were saying 2016 was an “Annus Horribilis” as her Majesty Elizabeth II once stated about 1992, with Trump, Brexit and many icons passing over.  So when I downloaded photos from my camera yesterday, looking back at 2016, I realised it wasn’t a bad year at all, in fact it had some great moments. As they say a pictures speaks a thousand word, I thought I would show you my year, rather than write about it.

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I had my first freelance press release published in The Pass magazine, about Roselyn Coaches

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Being eaten by Jaws at the National Aquarium, Plymouth at the Steve Reed Tourism Event

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My first day working for Alfa Travel as Group Sales Executive

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 A Beautiful Spring Weekend at my friends caravan, with lots of friends and family, when I reviewed Occcombe Farm, owned by Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust.

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I was invited to my first tourist attraction review at Bygones Victorian Experience, St Marychurch, Torquay

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I modelled in my friends final fashion show for her degree course

We went camping at Whitehills Park at Stoke Gabriel for my daughter’s birthday.

Spent lots of time with friends enjoying the great outdoors

We got our groove on at MTV crashes Plymouth watching Jonas Blue, Jess Glynne and Rudimental.

I attended the Southport Flower Show for the first time, exhibiting for Alfa Travel. We went to the NEC Birmingham to exhibit at the Group Leisure Show, pictured below including a shot of me with Mike Bugsgang, CEO of AGTO (Association of Group Travel Organisers)

I attended the inaugural New Meridian Group Travel Organisers Association weekend event in Bournemouth.

The Alfa Leisureplex Groups team hosted 3 GTO Festive Party Nights, at the Queens Hotel, Blackpool, The Hydro Hotel, Llandudno and the Queens Hotel Eastbourne

Last, but not least my friends got married, so below is the final shot of the year, us girls enjoying the Anti- Hen Night, as the bride didn’t want a traditional hen night, so we all enjoyed a cocktail evening

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Merton & Annie – a match made in Heaven and Bournemouth

 

On a mild, sunny, autumn afternoon in October, The New Meridian Group Organisers Association gathered in Bournemouth for their inaugural meeting. We split into two groups for our familiarisation visit to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. After spending a lot of time in Bournemouth including working there for over 12 months, it is a place I hadn’t visited before and I was really curious to see what it has to offer visitors.

The art gallery and museum is situated on the public footpath as you come from Bournemouth Pier towards the East Cliff. Bournemouth’s town centre, gardens and pier are all in the a valley with the West Cliff, going towards Poole and the East Cliff going towards Boscombe Pier rising up on both sides. The East Cliff and West Cliff have many hotels of different standards, many with views from Old Harry Rocks in the West to Hengistbury Head in the east, and are really popular tourist areas. We walked past the new memorial for FT Lt John Egging, the unfortunate Red Arrows Pilot who crashed over Christchurch during the Annual Bournemouth Air Show.

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I lead the second group the short walk from the hotel to the museum, where we were met at the gate by Mel and her Colleague from Bournemouth Tourism and our guide Ruaridhri. The gardens looked great in the autumnal sunshine.

In 1901 Merton Russell-Cotes, who owned the nearby Royal Bath Hotel, gave his wife, Annie her dream house on the cliff tops in the relatively new resort of Bournemouth. As avid travellers they filled the house with their souvenirs of their travels around the globe, works of art and curiousities. The house was extremely modern for its time, with central heating, buttons around the house to ring at the hotel and the hotel staff would bring tea, or serve their dinner. The house even had the first telephone in Bournemouth with the phone number “Bournemouth 1”.

The success of the newly refurbished hotel made Merton and Annie very wealthy. The couple were very active in the political and social circles in the town. They gave the town several gifts including the freehold to East Cliff House, which is home to the museum today with a more modern extension added to the house.

Unfortunately, we only had a short whistle-stop tour, which is what familiarisation visit should be about – just enough to make you want to return with group. I would difinently return again as I didn’t get a chance to explore the new modern part f the building with the art gallery, café and shop in it. To be honest the museum is a feast for the senses, there is so much to take in, the views for the windows, the lavish decoration, as well as paintings on every wall, and the objects on display. It is a very unique museum with a fascinating collection of art and Victorian  artifacts in a breath taking position overlooking the whole stretch of Bournemouth coast line, a view I don’t think you can tire of.

The group rate at the museum is good value, and you can have refreshments in the café including afternoon tea. I would add this to an itinerary either at the start or end of the day if travelling by coach, however fitter groups could easily walk to the museum, even coming from West Cliff, a popular area for hotels, along the promenade past the beach huts and pier with the golden sand and ocean to look at, making it a good way to saviour the seaside air that Bournemouth was famous for in the Victorian times.

For more information visit their website HERE or for more about museums in Dorset clink HERE

 

Step in Time! Step in Time!

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I was recently invited by the owner to review Bygones. I received no payment for this post and all views are my own.

Babbacombe and St Marychurch are really popular places for tourists to visit, so much so, that I had to educate some travel trade colleagues who thought that Babbacombe was a town in its own right, rather than an area of Torquay.  Babbacombe has lots to offer visitors – hotels of varying standards including quite a few coaching hotels, a theatre (Blog post coming up in the next few weeks), the famous Cliff Railway to Oddicombe and Babbacombe Beaches, the famous downs which hosts several large events each year, the internationally renowned Model Village and Bygones. St Marychurch is famous for its Norman C of E Church, mentioned in the Doomesday book and the shopping precinct, which has lots of cafes and shops including several independent book shops.

A step back in time to the times of Mary Poppins and Queen Victoria is certainly what you experience when you visit Bygones Victorian Experience in St Marychurch, Torquay.  Bygones began life as a 1920’s Cinema. Its now what started as one man’s hobby, a museum filled to the brim with all kinds of exciting and varied artifacts. Ken Cuming was a man with a passion for collecting railwayana, an interest that went a step too far for wife, Patricia when in 1986 he purchased a 27 ton railway engine from Falmouth Docks. Not wishing to see the engine on a preservation line and with no room in the garden, they decided to sell their post office and bought the nearby old cinema.  So Bygones was born from a mans hobby and turned into a unique collection of Victoriana, railwayana, military history, toys and marketing.

I was met at the reception desk with a bright friendly smile by Richard, (Don’t you just hate it when you’re met at a reception of such like and the person is grumpy/bored/dis-interested??? sorry one of my bugbears!) one of the owners, given a guide book and a route to follow around the museum, which was full of really useful hints and tips, especially opening the broom cupboard, but I won’t spoil that surprise for you!

Once you enter through reception, you are in a life size Victorian street, complete with a host of shops, a forge, a model of Queen Victoria, a barrel organ and a roast chestnut stall. Each shop is full of relevant and interesting articles.

I went to visit on an overcast afternoon, out of season, and was pleased to see a number of tourists, from the UK and some of our European friends exploring the museum, as well as a class from one of the local primary schools – St Margaret’s.

The school children were split into two groups of 10-15 with a museum guide with each group, dressed in flat caps or pinafores and were really bringing the history to life for the kids. It was great to see them getting involved and obviously enjoying it. The guides took their time with the children and really explained about each shop and the item contained therein, giving the children comparisons of modern life.

 

Once you have explored the ground floor street, you make your way through the pub, complete with its Pearly King and Queen to the second floor with its display of rooms as they would have been in Victorian times.

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You make your way past the nursery, bedroom, bathrooms etc, and there is so much to look at, I think you need more than visit to see it all. I have visited Bygones 3-4 times on Group Travel Organiser familiarisation visits as well as this visit, and I still see things I haven’t noticed on previous visits – its like the gift that keeps giving!

Upstairs you see what the Doctors, Dentist and Jail would have been like too, I’m not sure what was worse – the dentist or the jail!

Once you have made you way around the gallery second level you end up at the train station, with its full size steam engine and World War II Evacuee Children. Making your way up the stairs the welcome of the Station Cafe comes into sight for a well deserved cuppa and cakes. I can highly recommend the Devonshire Cream Tea. School groups start in the cafe where they are dressed in Victorian clothes or army clothes for a World War II guided tour, both which last an hour. The cafe can comfortably seat 56 people so can easily accommodate a coach full, and offers discount on refreshments and entrance to groups.

Once you have enjoyed some respite in the cafe, you can continue your exploration going into the railwayana section with its landscapes pictured below.

Its really interesting looking at the scale models that light up and model railways zooming around the tracks and the old amusement machines. Another journey through time and you are in the first and second world wars with the anderson shelter and the world war 1 trenches with officers dugout. The display cabinet afterwards shows you all the items that would have been found in the trenches and other displays full of military paraphernalia then artifacts from the 40’s and 50’s. As I descended the stairs to the shop and exit I was really struck by just how much they have fitted into the space, how well laid out it is to create maximum effect.

So this attraction has way more pros than cons as a group visitor. Pros include:

  • indoor attraction for inclement British weather
  • great value entrance
  • discounted refreshments when you book as a group
  • you can make it a quick hour stop on your tour, or spend a whole morning or afternoon exploring
  • great location – close to coach park and public bus stops
  • close to other attractions like the model village so makes a full day out
  • appeals to all ages
  • wide range of interests covered – victoriana, railwayana, military history, historical marketing, vintage fashion etc

The only  con is the disabled access – as its a listed building, the owners are unable to put in a lift, but wheelchair users are given heavily discounted entrance and are taken around the victorian street so they still have a lot to take in, and whilst the rest of the group explores the upper levels they can enjoy a complimentary cuppa.

Final word – if you’re planning a trip to Torquay – make sure you add Bygones to your itinerary. Whlist I’m not sure I could handle my husbands hobby getting out of hand like this, I would also like to say a big thank you to Patricia, Ken, Richard and Amanda, the owners for saving all these important historical relics for us all to see

Bygones can be contacted on tel 01803 326108 or visit http://www.bygones.co.uk

 

Beautiful Bournemouth

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This weekend was the inaugural event of the New Meridian Association in Bournemouth, Dorset. The Association was launched just 7 weeks ago, and brings together Group Travel Organisers (GTO’s) with their business partners who can supply with the organisers with everything from Long haul bucket list group holidays to UK and continental coach holidays as well as tourist attractions, insurance providers etc. Their mission is to bring group organisers together with business partners, take the group organisers on fam trips with the support of business partners, provide networking opportunities and represent the needs of group organisers.

The weekend commenced on Friday afternoon, with a welcome cuppa and biscuits in the ballroom at the Oceana Cumberland. It was the most beautiful sunny day to see our arrival, where we were met by Sylvia Saxon, the chairperson of the association as well as other members of the committee. We were also joined by Melissa and her colleague from Bournemouth Tourism, who escorted us in two groups along the East Cliff and into the Russell Cotes Museum and Art Gallery.

 

At 6pm we were all collected in one of the open top double-decker sightseeing buses, and went on a tour of Bournemouth and Poole, as the sun went down. It was very informative if a little chilly for those up top! We disembarked at Poole Quay, and were met by Granny Cousins and Red, who took us all on a “potted version” of the Poole Ghost Walk, regaling stories and even a song of old, about the smugglers, history and ghosts that still linger around Poole Quay.

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I think the best surprise of the evening was being met by the Meridian Brass Band, a youth band, that played us onto the City Cruises “Solent Scene” boat for a fish and chip supper with lashings of bubbly and a disco, which was a great way to break the ice and get everyone mingling.

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We all enjoyed an early breakfast on Saturday and boarded a Coliseum Coach with driver Simon, and made our way to Poole Quay. Our day was a busy one! We visited the following attractions, and I will write individual posts about each one, so I can do them justice:

  • Poole Pottery, with a demonstration by their master potter
  • Coffee stop at Quayside Emporium
  • Guided tour of the RNLI College including the lifeboat simulator
  • Swanage Steam Railway
  • The Tank Museum at Bovington

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We spent the evening with an events company, who had designed a cocktail called “New Meridian”, which I must say was very tasty! we all then enjoyed a Gala Dinner and live entertainment from a singer called Diane James.

Sunday morning following breakfast, the formalities commenced with a meeting where we were given the association’s constitution, and several people spoke to promote various events and generally thank the committee and the sponsors for a great weekend. I must say I concur!

If the association can keep up its momentum and its cheerful disposition, then the future looks very bright for the newest Group Travel Association.

 

 

 

 

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