Friday, 18 December 2009

Fishing for compliments

Torbay is a great place to fish, with plenty of variation whether you like shore, rock, deep sea or estuary fishing.

One of the best websites which guide you through everything fishy in the Bay is where some very experienced anglers give advice and tips on where to go and what to do when you get there.

They also give advice for beginners, some useful rig guides, news archives and a blog. Tempting? Why not take a bite/look...

Come and stay with us at Torquay's premier self-catering property. Visit and see what luxury really looks like.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Park for less, spend more

Like most modern towns, Torquay is no different in that parking can sometimes be a tricky operation. But thankfully, for Christmas at least, it has just got cheaper.

Torquay's biggest shopping centre is offering £1 parking to customers during December weekends. After Fleet Walk unveiled its Christmas lights last week, the council has announced a return of its 'Park for a Pound' scheme for weekends in December. And so the shopping centre has signed up to the initiative, meaning shoppers will also be able to park all day for £1 in Fleet Walk car park.

Parking for a pound gets under way next Friday and will run every weekend during the month including Boxing Day and December 27. The promotion means one £1 ticket purchased in any of Torbay Council's pay and display car parks after 6pm on a Friday evening in December will be valid right up until 10am on the following Monday.

Another good reason to visit Torquay - as if you needed one.

And if you want a millionaire's view to make your stay really special, you must check out West Wing Cottage, Torquay's newest and most spectacular rental property. See for more details

Friday, 20 November 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town

Santa is coming early to Torbay and the surrounding area this Christmas - and rather than using his sleigh, which is being prepared up in Lapland, he's coming by train!

Little ones (and big ones) will love some of the fun events being put on by South Devon's two remaining steam railways. Both feature visits from the big man himself and special attractions for a truly magical day out your children will be talking about for years.

The Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway has a Santa special again this year, with two different experiences for you to enjoy. First the Santa Express leaves Queens Park Station where you will be welcomed by Santa’s helpers. When all are aboard the steam train, Father Christmas and his helpers will join you, where a present and lolly will be given to the children and a mince pie and festive drink will be enjoyed by all the adults.

This service runs on December 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th and departs Paignton 1:30pm, returning at 2:45pm.

The Santa Steam Special is just that. As you arrive at Queens Park Station you will be welcomed by Santa’s helpers. When all are aboard the steam train, Father Christmas’ helpers will join you for the scenic ride to Father Christmas’ grotto at Kingswear.

On the train there will be a festive drink and mince pie for the adults and a lolly for each child and the bar will be open for further drinks. On arrival at Kingswear you will enter a scene full of Christmas Magic. A world for children of all ages, with a pantomime and a visit to Santa’s Grotto for the children’s present. You will then return to Paignton on the train. Refreshments are available at The Belle Bistro at Kingswear.

Dates are December 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th, and the train leaves Paignton at 10.15am, returning at 12.45 or 3.15pm, and returning at 6pm.

Check out for more details.

The other service is being run by South Devon Railway - - and also features a turn from the man himself on return trip from Buckfastleigh to Totnes and back and a visit to Santa's grotto on the train.

The trip includes: presents for all the children, even the Under-ones, mince pie and mulled wine for Mum and Dad, non-alcoholic drink available, on request, tea and coffee on the train.All trains start from Buckfastleigh, where there is free parking.

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit?

Come to Torquay and stay with us a while in Torquay at one of the finest address in the town. See for more details

Friday, 9 October 2009

Big medium coming to town

Controversial US medium John Edward is to appear at the Torquay's Princess Theatre next year - but then the more psychic among you will have already known that.

Tickets to see Edward, who causes something of a split among those who have seen his work and watched him interact with audiences, have gone on sale for £51 and £61.

He is best known for his TV shows Crossing Over with John Edward and John Edward Cross Country, both of which are premised on Edward communicating with the spirits of the audience members' deceased relatives. Which is where the controversy comes in.

Edward is at the Princess Theatre on May 15 at 2pm. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 847 2315 or log on to

Monday, 14 September 2009

Numbers down, but still going up

Babbacombe Cliff Railway one of only 16 funicular railways still functioning in the United Kingdom. It leads down to the wonderful Oddicombe beach from the far side of the small cafe on Babbacombe Road and is the only way to travel, once you consider the steep beach road has a one-in-three gradient.

At its peak the cliff railway was transporting up to 250,000 people a year but nowadays fewer people want to spend a traditional seaside holiday in this country so numbers have dropped somewhat.

In March 2005 28 people attended the first meeting of the Friends of Babbacombe Cliff Railway, a support group in co-operation with Torbay Council, which formed to preserve protect and promote the Babbacombe Cliff Railway.

The Cliff Railway opening times are 9.30am to 5pm, seven days a week, and the last up journey is signaled by the ringing of 'Talca', an old ship's bell, 30 and 15 minutes before the railway closes.

Visit for more information, and be sure not to come to Torquay without at least one trip on this historical gem.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A big week for Torquay

A bonanza of fun on the sea and in the skies will mark the 196th Torbay Royal Regatta which starts this weekend. The Red Arrows and a major fireworks display will light up the night skies and hundreds of enthusiasts will take part in the regatta road race and regatta rowing championship.
The West of England Rowing Championship takes place on Saturday at Hollicombe Park and beach. High Society jazz band will be playing in the park from noon and refreshments will be available. Torbay Athletic Club is expecting more than 500 entries for the regatta 10km road race on Sunday at 7pm. On Monday Fantastic Fireworks is promising its best display yet.
More money has been added to the display to ensure the regatta can retain its claim to the title of best regatta fireworks show in the west. The display from Corbyn Head will start at 9.30pm.
Tuesday sees the Water Ski Spectacular by Torbay and South Hams Motor Cruising and Watersports Club. The best viewpoints are Princess Pier and Torre Abbey Sands. The display starts at 7pm.
On Wednesday members of the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club will be parking up their impressive motors at Living Coasts, Beacon Hill, Torquay. The cars range from the early 1920s to present day and will be joined by several Bentleys and an Aston Martin.
The Red Arrows will be taking to the air at 6pm on Wednesday.
Don't miss it!

Stay in the best self-catering holiday cottage in the whole of South Devon. With stunning views, a prestigious location and brand new interior, West Wing Cottage is the next level in holiday rental luxury. Visit for more details

Friday, 7 August 2009

Dem bones, dem bones...

Beware the locals when you arrive in Torquay, according to the Guardian, they are all descended from cannibals! (Read the full article here)
The article opens: Deliberate cut marks on a 9,000-year-old human bone excavated in a west country cave more than a century ago suggest that prehistoric Devonians may have been cannibals.
Scientists at Oxford University have examined a fragment of human bone from Kents Cavern, near Torquay in Devon, after a curator spotted it in a mass of animal bone in a museum store. They concluded that it was part of the forearm of a human adult, and that the seven cut marks were deliberately made with a stone tool around the time of death.
The marks suggest that either the flesh was stripped or the body chopped into pieces – perhaps for ritual reasons or to make it more convenient to handle. The arm appears to have been fractured around the time of death. The bone is on display in the Ancestors exhibition at Torquay museum

Really, if we weren't such a tolerant lot down here, it would be quite easy to take offence at something like that. And, rest assured wary traveller, the days of Devonians gnawing on arm bones are long gone.

Now we prefer leg bones.

Stay in the best self-catering holiday cottage in the whole of South Devon. With stunning views, a prestigious location and brand new interior, West Wing Cottage is the next level in holiday rental luxury. Visit for more details

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Don't be Gorm-less...

If you haven't seen it, you must go. If you've already been, well, er, go again.
I am talking about the Antony Gormley installation which consists of 40,000 hand-sized terracotta figures which is on show at Torre Abbey's Spanish Barn.
Each of the figures that make up 'Field for the British Isles' was made by a community of families in St Helens, Merseyside. The sculptor, who is most famous for the The Angel of the North, directed the work.
Now the piece, which was instrumental in Gormley's Turner Prize victory in 1993, is the centrepiece of the abbey's year of contemporary art.
Amelia Marriette, keeper of art, said: "The exhibiting of Field for the British Isles is the start of a new era for Torre Abbey as a major centre for contemporary arts in the region. Field will create a strong impression on all that come to see it."
For more information visit

Stay in the best self-catering holiday cottage in the whole of South Devon. With stunning views, a prestigious location and brand new interior, West Wing Cottage is the next level in holiday rental luxury. Visit for more details

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A ferry good day to you

You can't really come to somewhere so dominated by the sea as Torbay and then not get out on it at least once. One of the best local companies who will take you out there is Greenway Ferries, which operates from a number of locations throughout the area.
You can catch one from Torquay, Brixham, Dartmouth, Greenway and Dittisham and throughout the year they run a number of special cruise events including:
Agatha Christie Greenway Estate Special
Dartmouth Regatta
Sharpham Vineyard - Click Here
Fishing Trips (wreck fishing, mackerel fishing and rough ground)
Dartmouth Castle Cruises
Evening Illumination and Sunset Cruises
Firework Display and Red Arrow Trips
Private Charters

Whatever you are looking for Greenway Ferry Services are sure to have something for you and your family for a memorable great day out.
For all bookings and enquiries call 0845 489 0418, email: or visit

Stay in the best self-catering holiday cottage in the whole of South Devon. With stunning views, a prestigious location and brand new interior, West Wing Cottage is the next level in holiday rental luxury. Visit for more details

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Captain Cayman?

Stuck for something to do in Torbay? (You shouldn't be). Want to involve the whole family in a fun activity while at the same time enjoying some wonderful views of the bay? Then Cayman Golf is for you.
Cayman golf is a family run business, which has been cleverly designed to create a short 18 hole (par71) golf course, built in nine acres of land on the outskirts of Brixham.
It claims to be a new concept of the traditional game of pitch 'n' putt golf and is fun for all the family and golfers alike.
It uses unique 'Cayman' golf balls which rewards the player for accuracy rather than distance and offers a reduction in land area thus being a friend to the environment by contributing to land and water conservation and to the reduction of pesticides and insecticides.
The 2009 prices are: adults £6, juniors under 12 years £4, clubs and Cayman balls are provided but a charge of £1 will be payable per Cayman ball not returned
Family Tickets (2 Adults and 2 Juniors under 12) are £18.
For more information visit and tell them we sent you.

Stay in the best self-catering holiday cottage in the whole of South Devon. With stunning views, a prestigious location and brand new interior, West Wing Cottage is the next level in holiday rental luxury. Visit for more details.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Road map to peace? Nah!

A public inquiry starts today to decide the fate of a subject that has been under discussion for about 50 years - that's before man walked on the moon!
Supporters of the multi-million pound Kingskerswell scheme say it will ease congestion and boost Torbay's economy, but opponents claim a bypass could destroy the village and millions of pounds would be wasted.
If approved, 90% of the £123m cost will be met by central government, with the rest of the money coming from Devon County Council and Torbay Council.
Improvements on the A380 between Penn Inn and Kerswell Gardens are aimed at reducing congestion, improving air quality and road safety, with the new road bypassing Kingskerswell to link Newton Abbot to Torquay and Paignton.
Compulsory purchase orders were published in September 2008 for 11 properties which might have to be demolished to build the road.
The public inquiry, which is being held at the Passage House Hotel in Kingsteignton, is expected to last for 12 days. If you want to make your thoughts known - and it's unlikely you will sit on the fence on this one - you might want to get down there to register them.
When you come to Torquay stay in the only self-catering apartment to have its own sweeping lawn leading down to the sea. West Wing Cottage is located in a prime position overlooking the Bay and has been furnished to a high standard. Visit for more details

Monday, 29 June 2009

Two of Torquay's most famous legacies: Agatha Christie and Fawtly Towers combine beautifully in this sketch from the Monty Python team.
It's the Agatha Christie sketch, featuring John Cleese, he of Basil Fawlty fame, and is a bit of a classic. Enjoy!

When you visit Torquay come and stay in the very best holiday rental property in the Bay. West Wing Cottage is a two-bed luxury self-catering property for the discerning guest. With Heritage fixtures and furniture, a modern kitchen, and one of the best possible views over Tor Bay, it really is a special place. Visit for more details and to make a booking.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Bay appeals to boxer Michael

Former middleweight boxing champ Michael Watson MBE is to make Torquay his home, he has revealed to the Herald Express newspaper.The announcement came as he visited for a special night on the horses being held at the Bancourt Hotel in Torquay tomorrow in support of the Nathe Farm charity, of which he is patron.Speaking to the Herald Express, Michael explained he wanted to use his involvement with the organisation to help those with special needs.He said: "I want to set a legacy by helping these people who are less fortunate than others and give them help in life. The idea is for me to help those people with special needs."Torquay is fantastic. I will be here a lot more often. That is part of the idea of me being here, this is my next home and I can't wait."Good choice Michael, we'd love to welcome you...

Monday, 22 June 2009

Walking around Torbay

When the weather is like this, there can be no better way to spend a day than walking along the fabulous coastline around Torbay. With so much to see and so many wonderful points from which to see it, you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to spending some time on your feet.
But to help the visitor out, the English Riviera Tourist Board has published a booklet promoting 16 walks in Torbay and the surrounding area.
The booklet is available from the Tourist office. There is also an English Riviera walks leaflet, which contains some of the walks that use a significant part of the PROW network. You can view the booklet here
Two of the more popular ones take you from Maidencombe to Torquay, and from Torquay to Brixham, but it's really up to you.
One thing is certain, with the sun shining, the promise of an ice cream at your destination, and a good travelling companion, you are sure to have a walk to remember.

Friday, 12 June 2009

What's on, where and when

If you're staying in Torquay you will want to know what's going on around you.
And if it's entertainment you want, check out this site for all the news on bands, performances, restaurants, and everything else you should know.
It's called What's On South West and is run by the local newspapers in the area - the Herald Express (Torbay), Herald (Plymouth), Express and Echo (Exeter) and Western Morning News (South West).
Visit to see what's on in the South West.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Great Create under way

Torquay and the surrounding area really comes alive in the summer. There are all sorts of festivals and events which bring in the crowds and can enhance your stay no end.
Right at the minute there is something special going on at Coleton Fishacre, a beautiful National Trust property just outside of Torquay.
The award winning Great Create Festival of the Arts, now in its third year, invites all South West artists producing exceptional art in all formats to submit work for the forthcoming exhibition at Greenway, the National Trust’s glorious estate on the river Dart. The festival runs until June 28, 2009.
Greenway House, the holiday home of Agatha Christie, has opened for the first time this year following a major restoration project. There has been significant interest shown in the property and it is anticipated that visitor numbers will be strong during the festival.
There is no formal brief set but artwork should reflect current practice and The Great Create hopes to provide a platform for artists to try out new, challenging and exciting work, whilst being exhibited in formal galleries and gardens and attracting a wide audience.
For more information visit the National Trust homepage and search for Coleton Fishacre.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Magical place, funny name

Torbay is home to some beatiful gardens and homes, one of the best being that found at Coleton Fishacre. It's an odd name, but the gardens are anything but.
Coleton Fishacre also known as "a garden by the sea" is a National Trust property which was built in the 1920s for the famous D'Oyley Carte family who built the Savoy Theatre and hotel and also well known for their theatrical connections.
It was the D'Oyley Cartes who developed these stunning gardens, which also boast breath-taking views of the coastline. The gardens descend to Pudcombe Cove and the coast path. The house and gardens can be found on the road between Churston (midway between Paignton and Brixham) and Kingswear, nestled in the hills.
For more information, visit the house's National Trust page here

Friday, 22 May 2009

Players cheered from the bus tops

As followers of top-class football will already know, Torquay United recently won promotion back into the Football League and last night marked the occasion with an open-top bus parade through the streets of the town, finishing with a civic reception at town hall.
As reported in the Herald Express newspaper, 'Thousands of Gulls fans lined Torquay's seafront and town centre pavements to hail their heroes, who were marking the historic Wembley victory over Blue Square Premier League rivals Cambridge United.
Last Sunday's 2-0 playoff win elevated Torquay United into the League, two years after they were relegated.
The players' bus, filled by everyone associated with the running of Torquay United, left Plainmoor at 6pm.
Fans cheered the bus and sang celebratory songs as it drove sedately off to Westhill Road before heading to Hele Road.

Paul Buckle, United's manager, said: "It's fabulous to see the people turn out in such numbers. Right up to the end of the season and beyond they never let us down.
"We're now building for our first season back in the league. This is where we start work."
The bus then turned into Newton Road, went on to Torre Station and then turned right into Avenue Road.

The noise from fans was incredible, with children running alongside the bus, waving their blue-and-yellow flags, while drivers honked their car horns.'
Truly it was a night to remember, let's just hope the coming season brings as much joy and happiness. And at least we won't have to play at Barrow again for a while...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Living life with colour

Torquay has really changed very little over the years. From the very first Victorian holidaymakers who coined the phrase English Riviera, to the modern sun, sand and sea-seekers of today, the traditional attractions still hold true.
But don't take our word for it, check out this vintage footage from the 1920s, when times were simpler and the devastation of the second world war was still years away.
According to the notes on YouTube, this extract comes from Claude Friese-Greene's 'The Open Road' - originally filmed in 1925/6 and now re-edited and digitally restored by the BFI National Archive. Britain seen in colour for the first time was heralded as a great technical advance for the cinema audience - now we can view a much improved image, but one which still stays true to the principles of the colour process.
We hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Not messing about in boats

Who says you don't get anything for free anymore? Well, if you find yourself in Torquay over the second May Bank Holiday weekend then you are in for a real treat.
The weekend of May 23 and 24 sees Torbay play host to the first ORDA event of the year with the Torbay Classic Powerboat Race.
Each year these incredibly fast craft spread out across the Bay locked in battle. The racing is fast and furious and the organisers ensure that those watching the racing from the harbour side or shore know what is going on at all times.
Just make your way round to the marina in Torquay and enjoy the views.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Setting the facts straight

The world's media came to Torbay this week with the news that 12-year-old Amy Whitehouse from Paignton had contracted swine flu. It sent the area into something approaching blind panic and as always happens in these cases the facts got lost in the fog.

So, just for accuracy's sake, here is the government advice on what to do avoid getting the flu, and what to do if you get it.

To reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus you should:
cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, using a tissue
throw the tissue away quickly and carefully
wash your hands regularly with soap and water clean hard surfaces (like door handles and remote controls) frequently with a normal cleaning product

You can prepare now for a possible pandemic by:
always carrying tissues - catching the germs in a tissue could help limit the spread of the virus
know your NHS number (this will be in NHS letters or prescriptions)
keep up to date with the latest help and advice available through radio, TV and the internet
confirming your ‘flu friends’ - these are friends and neighbours who can help you if you become ill; they could get your medication or food for you so that you don’t have to leave the house - this will help stop the virus from spreading
have a two-week stock of food and other supplies in case you and your family are ill

If you have the flu
Catching swine flu will feel like seasonal flu, so:
stay at home and rest
take medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol (following the instructions – children under 16 should not be given aspirin or ready made flu remedies)
drink plenty of fluids

If you are still concerned, you can call:
NHS Direct on 0845 4647 in England
NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24 in Scotland
NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 in Wales
0800 0514 142 in Northern Ireland
They will give you advice on your symptoms and the next steps you should take.
Contact your doctor if you develop complications, like a shortness of breath - but don't go to the surgery yourself, ask your ‘flu friend’ to go for you.

Vaccines are used to help fight seasonal flu but a vaccine for this strain of swine flu will take time to create.

Antiviral drugs
Antiviral drugs work by preventing the flu virus from reproducing - to be effective you need to take them within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. This means the illness may be shortened by a day and reduce the risk of complications. Read the section above, ‘if you have the flu’ before contacting your doctor about antiviral drugs.

Face masks
Although face masks have been given out in Mexico, there is no actual evidence that proves wearing a face mask will stop you getting the virus. It’s more effective to use tissues when sneezing and coughing and wash your hands regularly.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

May Day fun fayre

If you're in Torquay for May Day, make sure you don't miss the May Day Fayre at Cockington Court. The fun starts on May 4, at 10am.
Cockington Court is set in 450 acres of beautiful parkland complete with thriving craft centre, tea rooms and stables.Visitors can enjoy exploring the trails and walks around the grounds and lakes. Or take it easy with a horse and carriage ride and discover the doomsday village of Cockington with its thatched cottages and old forge. For the inquisitive, watch the wonderful demonstrations by skilled Torquay craftsmen in the craft centre. See the glass blowing or watch the blacksmith at his forge, browse through local artwork whilst watching the artists at work in the gallery. Take a journey back in time in the walled rose garden or learn about the craft of organic gardening in the kitchen garden.Feeling peckish? Then enjoy a spot of lunch at the excellent Cockington restaurant, or just bring a picnic along and enjoy the space.
See the Cockington website here for directions and more information.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Go and meet the animals

One of the best days out in Torbay is a visit to the zoo. Forget those old-fashioned throwbacks where there is not enough room for the animals with big bars between you and them.
The zoo is situated just off the main ring road connecting Torquay to Paignton, and welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
Paignton Zoo was founded by Herbert Whitley, a shy, eccentric, millionaire, and was opened to the public in 1923. Torbay Zoological Gardens, as it was known, included monkeys, bison, zebras, baboons and many birds. Entry was one shilling for adults and sixpence for children. From the earliest times education, conservation and botanical themes were important.
The zoo is now an education and scientific charity dedicated to conserving our global wildlife heritage and inspiring in its many visitors a life long respect for animals and the environment.
The zoo is home to thousands of amazing animals and plants. Walk through a world of wonder – visit the desert, cross the savannah, explore the forest and trek through the tropics. Use your senses to discover the wild world: look around, listen out – you’ll even need your sense of smell! Find out about conservation and the world’s endangered species.
Paignton Zoo is a great day out for everyone. As well as the thousands of animals, there’s a miniature train ride, a wobbly jungle bridge in Lemur Wood, indoor and outdoor play areas, keeper talks and feeding times, places to eat and places to sit – all packed into 80 acres of natural habitat.
Check out their website here

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Oldway still pulling crowds

Torbay is not just about fabulous beaches, it has some pretty interesting history too.

One of the most fascinating days out you can spend on the English Riviera is at Oldway Mansion, a little oasis of calm and splendour tucked away behind the main road linking Torquay to Paignton.
A visit here is a trip to the the place where Isaac Singer, whose name adorns sewing machines around the world, entertained his colourful friends and where his son, Paris, danced with the beautiful Isadora Duncan.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Around 1871 the Fernham estate in Paignton was purchased by Isaac Merritt Singer, the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The old buildings on the site were demolished and he commissioned a local architect, George Soudon Bridgman[1] to build a new mansion as his home. Isaac Merritt Singer died on 23 July 1875, shortly before work on the original mansion was completed.
Paris Eugene Singer, Isaac Singer's third son, supervised the alterations at Oldway Mansion between 1904 and 1907. The rebuilding work was modelled on the Palace of Versailles, and the eastern elevation of the building was inspired by the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The interior of the building is noted for its grand staircase made from marble and balusters of bronze. The ceiling of the staircase is decorated with an ornate painting based on an original design for the Palace of Versailles by the French painter and architect Joseph Lebrun. The ceiling is a replica painted by Carl Rossner, who studied the original by Lebrun before creating the reproduction.
Above the staircase there is a large painting entitled The Crowning of Josephine by Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David. The original was sold to the French government in 1946 and now hangs in the Palace of Versailles. Today there is a replica of the painting hanging in its place. The reproduction is a colour print which was unveiled in 1995.
The gallery on the first floor is a reproduction of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, and is floored in parquet. The gallery leads into the ballroom, which contains walls of gilt panelling and mirrors. Above the fireplace there is an oil painting of Louis of Bourbon dating from 1717.
Oldway Mansion is set in 17 acres (69,000 m2) of gardens, which are laid out on an Italian theme by the French landscape gardener Achille Duchesne. Beneath the eastern elevation of the building is the maze, which consists of dwarf box hedging and flower beds. To the south of the mansion there is the grotto garden where a waterfall passes over a rocky cave into a pool below. The grounds of the mansion contain many sub-tropical plants and shrubs.
Opposite the main entrance to the mansion is a large round building known as The Rotunda. This was built in 1873, and was used originally as a horse riding pavilion and exercise area. Isaac Merritt Singer gave this building the nickname of "The Wigwam".
Paris Singer is noted for his love affair with the dancer Isadora Duncan, who died in a road accident in 1927. Following the end of their relationship in 1917, Paris became an American citizen and went to live in the United States. This was done partly for tax reasons, and after 1918 Oldway Mansion was no longer the permanent home of the Singer family.
During the period of the First World War from 1914 to 1918, Oldway Mansion was transformed into the American Women’s War Relief Hospital. The Rotunda was converted to house rows of beds for the wounded soldiers being brought back to England from the trenches of France and Belgium. Queen Mary visited the hospital in November 1914.
Oldway Mansion became the Torbay Country Club in 1929. During this period tennis courts and a bowling green were added to the grounds that can still be seen today.
During the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, Oldway was used in the war effort by housing RAF cadets training to be aircrew. In 1943 Oldway was damaged in an air raid, along with many other buildings in Paignton. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the mansion in 1943 .
Paignton Urban District Council purchased Oldway Mansion from the Singer family in 1946 for the sum of £45,000. It is estimated that around £200,000 was spent on building the mansion. Today the building is used mainly as council offices and for civil marriage ceremonies. There are also offices for the BBC local radio station Radio Devon in the building. The mansion and its grounds can be visited free of charge by members of the public, and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Torbay. The mansion has a small museum with exhibits linked to the building's history, including antique Singer sewing machines. Oldway Mansion is a Grade II listed building.
In recent years the cost of maintaining the building and gardens has increased considerably, leading to the suggestion that they should be sold and turned into a casino or apartments. This suggestion has been controversial, since local residents argue that the mansion was sold at a reduced price on the understanding that it would be open to the public.

Entry to the house is free and there is a small exhibition in the foyer

Friday, 17 April 2009

Easy to pass, shame to miss

There are plenty of places to visit in and around Torbay, but sometimes you might just drive on through without realising the charms of the various towns and villages. Here are some of our favourite little places to visit, maybe not for a day, perhaps not even for an afternoon, but certainly worth the trip and a shame if you miss them.

With a brand-new shopping centre, plenty of good restaurants, a restored docks area for walks along the river and many sights of historical interest, including a wonderful cathedral, Exeter has it all for a great family day out. Just half an hour away by car but also well connected by bus and rail services from Torquay.

A small village with good pub that is busy in the summer, located between Paignton and Brixham by the River Dart. You can walk down to Galmpton Creek. Agatha Christie lived near here at Greenaway

Famous for its Golf Course you can walk down to the sea from this small village between Brixham and Paignton. Railway Station on the main road for the Dart Valley Railway. Location map

Stoke Gabriel
A pub, nice church, a Sunday drive out of Torbay, turn off the A385 Paignton to Totnes road just after Paignton, or get lost in the lanes, an adventure!, by turning off the ring road between Paignton and Brixham. You can get to Galmpton from Stoke Gabriel.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The hottest ticket in town

Visitors to Torquay have for years visited the theatre, enjoying the delights of many a varied shows. By far the biggest and most popular theatre in Torbay is the Princess Theatre, which currently has comedian Rob Brydon appearing.
The Princess Theatre first opened its doors on Wednesday, June 7, 1961. Top of the bill on the opening night were the late, great Tommy Cooper and the legendary Morecambe and Wise.
The theatre was built by Torbay Council as the main feature of the redevelopment of the Princess Gardens area on Torquay seafront. The theatre replaced a marquee which was erected annually to house light entertainment.
Theatres in seaside resorts are traditionally known for their annual Summer Season consisting of light entertainment and family variety shows and Torquay is no exception. In the past the Princess Theatre has seen artistes such as Jim Davidson, Jethro and Jimmy Cricket making regular appearances. However Summer 2002 saw a change from the traditional line-up to a six-week run consisting of two West End musicals Grease and Chicago. Summer 2003 saw a similar offering, featuring the Blues Brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Boogie Nights, with musicals proving to be a popular choice for the local people of Torbay as well as the holidaymakers. The same sort of program runs to this day, with the odd major solo star turning up for a sell-out show.
For more information check out the Princess Theatre website here

Friday, 10 April 2009

Choo, choo, choose your train

Torbay has a rich rail heritage although these days you would never guess. There are some pointers hidden away behind the scenes, if you look hard enough, such as the old station just off Torquay Road which is now an art studio.
But for those of you who crave a day on the rails, there are two very good attractions near to the cottage which will satisfy even the most diehard trainspotter.

Dart Valley Steam Railway
Travel Torbay's spectacular coast and the beautiful River Dart by steam train from Paignton to Kingswear, then on to Dartmouth by passenger ferry. Combine this with a circular river cruise on a boat train service, or cruise up-river to Totnes and take an open-top bus back to Paignton for a complete day out on the Round Robin service.

South Devon Railway
Travel an historic line between Buckfastleigh and Totnes. The line closed to all traffic in 1962 with the South Devon Railway Trust taking over the running of the line in 1991.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Less can still mean more in Torbay

You will want to eat out when you come to Torquay, but you don't have to break the bank to have a good time. Here are some of our favourite places to fill up for less than you might expect.

Hanbury’s Fish & Chips, Babbacombe, Torquay
South West fish and chip shop of the year for four years and consistently one of the best places to enjoy one of our national dishes in the area. Enjoy your meal in the relaxed restaurant with varied menu or indulge in the great British institution: takeaway.
T: 01803 314616 (restaurant), 329928 (takeaway)

Edwards Brasserie
A popular local haunt with a varied menu, specialising in steaks and fish dishes which are sure to satisfy a big appetite.
T: 01803 290855

Kim Long Restaurant, Braddons Hill, Torquay
A Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant right in the middle of town with great views over the harbour. A relaxed, friendly place to eat.
T: 01803 291577

Ocean View Brasserie, Torquay
Husband and wife team Neil and Justyna Fanous opened Ocean Brasserie in July 2004 before which they gained experience in some of Europe’s top establishments, including Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. Here they offer a menu making use of the excellent local produce available with a strong bias towards seafood from Brixham and Plymouth fish markets.
T: 01803 292359

Friday, 3 April 2009

Lots to see, lots to do

You're spoilt for choice in Torquay if you like living things - with one of the best zoos in the country as well as a brand new visitor attraction at Living Coasts, and the prehistoric majesty of Kent's Cavern. Here is a brief guide to each of them, but for best results why not just go and experience them for yourselves.

Kents Cavern
Recognised as the most important Stone Age cave in Britain, Kents Cavern has revealed more about palaeolithic Britain than anywhere else. Hand axes dating back almost 500,000 years have been found, as well as an upper jaw bone believed to be the oldest human remain in Europe! Visit for more details.

Paignton Zoo
One of Europe’s finest zoos, focusing on conservation and habitat. Visit the new gorilla enclosure, enter the crocodile swamp, or just take a trip on the Jungle Express, there is so much to see and do here. Visit for more details.

Living Coasts
A coastal zoo right on Torquay seafront, offering visitors the chance to experience the wildlife of our shores with birds and mammals in specially-designed naturalistic habitats, as well as some more exotic creatures, such as those found in the new mangrove exhibit.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Life's a beach in Torquay

Torbay attracts thousands of visitors each year in search of sand, sun and surf, and with 20 beaches and coves dotted along 22 miles of coastline, few go home disappointed.
There are good places to go diving, perfect sands for building great palaces, safe areas to swim, and plenty of room to lay out a towel and just soak up the sunshine.

Here are a few of our favourite beaches, although you can find out information about all of them at the Torbay Council website here

Babbacombe Beach, Babbacombe
A delightful little beach, popular with families and weekend visitors. Although there is limited parking on the steep road down to the cove, although there is a car park and level promenade at the bottom.

Oddicombe Beach, Babbacombe
Around a rocky headland from Babbacombe Beach, Oddicombe is accessible by the cliff railway and offers a secluded getaway from the crowds. Awarded a Blue Flag in 2008, you can easily spend a day on this shingle beach.

Ansteys Cove, Torquay
The perfect base for a clifftop walk, with a path leading out to Hope's Nose and the opportunity for some fabulous views over the bay. There is a cafe near the beach, and also a shop, deck chair and sun bed hire.

Corbyn Head, Torquay
Just a short walk along Torquay Road into town from the cottage, Corbyn Head is very popular with families because of its proximity to Torquay centre and also its many interesting rock pools.

Hollicombe Beach
Our favourite place to get away from it all, and the closest beach to the cottage. A short stroll down to Hollicombe Gardens and through the tunnel leading down to the beach and you could be in another world. Never busy, often deserted, this is a perfect place for a romantic stroll.

Broadsands, Paignton
A lovely crescent-shaped sandy beach, away from the arcades and noise of Paignton. Again, well placed as a base for coastal walks, and just a short distance from the pretty shingle beach at Elberry Cove.

Goodrington Sands, Paignton
With its long unbroken stretch of sand and an amusement centre right next door, Goodrington Sands is perfect for a family with kids to entertain. If somehow they do get bored, you can catch the small steam train from here along the coast.

Paignton Sands
With wide sandy areas either side of the pier and always with plenty going on, Paignton Sands is another ideal family spot. Hire pedalos, go for a swim in the shallow sea, or wander along the the picturesque and often overlook Paignton harbour for some fish and chips.

St Mary's Bay, Brixham
A bit of an open secret but worth the slightly difficult route down, St Mary’s Bay is a delightful sandy stretch of secluded sand.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Find fine dining

Torquay and the surrounding towns are fortunate to have some of the best restaurants and places to eat in the South West. With celebrity chefs, Michelin stars and so much choice, you are in for a culinary treat.
Here are two of our favourites, the Corbyn Head being just a short stroll from the cottage, while a trip to The New Angel will require one of you to drive.

The Orchid, Torquay
Situated on the first floor of the Corbyn Head Hotel head chef Daniel Kay’s eight years in charge have earned two rosettes, three RAC Ribbons and this year a place in the coveted Michelin Red Book. With wonderful views and only 24 covers this is an intimate and special place to eat.
Alternatively, let head chef Wayne Maddern cook you up a treat in the Harbour View Restaurant downstairs. With a four-course set dinner for under £25 and one of the best Sunday lunches in the Bay, you would be mad to walk past on your way to more expensive alternatives.
W: or
T: 01803 296366

The New Angel, Dartmouth
Definitely worth the short drive to the naval college town of Dartmouth where celebrity chef John Burton Race is in residence. Watch the chefs at work on the open ground floor, or eat in more relaxed surroundings of the first floor, or just enjoy cocktails upstairs. The menu, created by Burton Race, showcases the best of local and seasonal ingredients in a modern, French style. And if you miss the last ferry across the river there are six tasteful rooms located just down the street.
T: 01803 839425

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Something old, something new

Torbay has been attracting visitors in search of rest and relaxation since Victorian times when the phrase The English Riviera was first coined. In those days people came for gentle promenades along the beaches and coastal paths, a dip in the sea and to enjoy the wonderful views across Tor Bay.
Although you can still indulge in those very traditional pursuits, the English Riviera has moved with the times and fully deserves its long-standing reputation as one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations.
Nowadays the three Torbay towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham offer so much more for the year-round visitor, ranging from internationally acclaimed tourist attractions to its many areas of special scientific interest.Whether you want a day out, an afternoon’s diversion, or just a great way to spend a couple of hours, Torbay has it all.
First, let's look at one of the longest-established visitor attractions in the whole of South Devon. In fact, Kents Cavern has been around longer than almost anything on Earth.
Recognised as the most important Stone Age cave in Britain, Kents Cavern has revealed more about palaeolithic Britain than anywhere else. Hand axes dating back almost 500,000 years have been found, as well as an upper jaw bone believed to be the oldest human remain in Europe! Visit for more details.
Next, how about something which has only just appeared on the seafront, the balloon.
Newly-installed on Torre Abbey gardens, just off Torquay seafront, this spectacular attraction offers 360 degree views across the whole of Torbay from 400ft up. With up to four flights per hour when the wind is low, you should not miss this chance to see the bay as the seagulls do. Adults £14; concessions £11; children £8 (children under five are free).

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Near neighbour gone upper class

When you come to Torbay you don't necessarily expect top-class shopping facilities. There are many reasons to visit our beautiful corner of the world but these days you might be better off taking your shopping bags and credit card up the road to Exeter.
But there is more to this historic city than the lure of retail therapy.
A short drive north of Torbay, Exeter is the capital city of the county of Devon and is home to the magnificent Exeter Cathedral, which dates back to Norman times. The huge building dominates the centre of the city, and is flanked by ancient streets with wonderful restaurants and hotels.
Alternatively, take a free Red Coat guided tour to get a real feel for the history of one of the oldest cities in England, or simply drop in to the visitor centre and explore yourself.
Wander down to the Quay with its warehouses, bars and restaurants and take a walk along the Exeter Canal Basin where you can follow the canal for five miles to Turf Lock and the Exe Estuary Trail.
Exeter is rightly famed for its top-class shopping, which is due in large part to the 2007 opening of the Princesshay development, with over 60 shops including designer clothing stores and many cafes and restaurants.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Plymouth: ships, shops and chips

Right, we're nearly there! Today let's look at another famous seaside town, this time one with a proud and long naval tradition - Plymouth.
It was here that Sir Francis Drake famously played bowls while the Spanish Armada advanced on the channel, where the Beatles were pictured enjoying the views of the Sound at the height of their powers, and where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail in their search for America.
Today Plymouth, about an hour's drive from Torquay, is a bustling city, with a large commercial centre, proud naval history and fantastic views over the natural wonder of Plymouth Sound. There are many attractions for the visitor, and you will struggle to fit everything into one day if you try to do it all.
Many people head straight for the new shopping centre, based around the large indoor Drake Circus, with its major high street stores, and revamped city precinct. Alternatively, head to the historic Barbican, which dates back to the 16th century and contains many points of interest including the Mayflower Steps, the symbolic leaving point of the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620, and the Plymouth Gin Distillery, which offers guided tours (and tasting!).
Across Sutton Harbour is the National Marine Aquarium, which is a wonderful attraction for the whole family. It houses many impressive tanks with sharks, turtles and all the creatures found in the waters around our coast.
Overlooking the sea is Plymouth Hoe, made famous as the scene of Sir Francis Drake's game of bowls the day England was about to be invaded by the Spanish Armada. It offers superb views across Plymouth Sound and is home to the Royal Citadel, which offers a guided tour and still houses a battalion of marines.
You can also catch a ferry across to Queen Anne's Battery, with great views back towards the Hoe and also out to sea, or take a cruise up the River Tamar, past the Devonport Royal Dockyards, with its frigates and nuclear submarines.
As you can see, a visit to Plymouth might require some forward planning!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Dart over to Dartmouth

While we're looking at all the towns around Torquay, let's focus today on Dartmouth, a lovely little town steeped in history and well worth a visit.
Located south of Brixham, on the banks of the beautiful River Dart, Dartmouth's narrow, medieval streets full of galleries, restaurants and unique shops and beautiful aspect overlooking the picturesque estuary are a real treat for the senses.
Dartmouth has a rich seafaring history with its famous regatta and working port, and is home to the Britannia Royal Naval College which overlooks the town from a hillside above.
There are many sites of historical interest in Dartmouth, including the cobbled pavements of Bayards Cove and the English Heritage Dartmouth Castle, which sits at the mouth of the Dart Estuary. The castle is well worth a visit and you can even take a boat trip from the quayside at Dartmouth, which lands you a short walk from the castle entrance.
You can also take a pleasure cruise either upstream, where much of the renowned TV series 'The Onedin Line' was filmed, or along the coast to watch grey seals.
On land, the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway is another trip worth taking, with steam trains running for seven miles from Paignton along the coast to Churston and on through the wooded slopes bordering the Dart estuary to Kingswear.
With its excellent shopping, high-class restaurants and glorious views, Dartmouth is well worth the trip on the car ferry from the north, even if you have to wait a little while.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

About Newton Abbot

Right, so we've looked at the Bay, now let's move inland and have a gander at one of the area's famous market towns, Newton Abbot, which is about a 15-minute drive from Torquay.
Newton Abbot was originally two towns dating back to the 13th century which were eventually joined under one council until 1901, by which time the railways had arrived and workshops to repair locomotives and carriages were built. While the workshops are all gone now, the mainline station still offers travellers a quick route to London and the north.
Throughout its history Newton Abbot grew steadily to become a bustling commercial centre and market town. There was a weekly market in Newton Abbot as far back as 1220 but it has since closed and today the pedestrianised town centre offers an interesting blend of independent and high street shops.
Nowadays the town is most famous for the racecourse which sits on its north-western edge. Newton Abbot prides itself on being the leading summer jumping racecourse in the UK, and certainly offers a great day out. For more information visit

Friday, 27 February 2009

From Cow Town to Fish Town

We've had a look at Paignton, now let's turn our attention to the third of the Bay's towns, Brixham.
At the southern end of Torbay, Brixham is a busy working port, home to one of the largest fishing fleets in Europe. Each day the fresh catch is sold in the fish markets on the historic quayside.
Around the harbour are a number of small, unique shops, and kiosks offering fishing outings and a variety of day and night boat trips around the bay or even up the River Dart to Dartmouth.
To reflect its seafaring heritage, Brixham Museum includes lots of interesting artifacts and information about the town's past, including rare photographs and written accounts.
Brixham is also home to an artists' league, known as the 'Shoal of Brixham Artists'. The Shoal was founded in 2003 when a group of local artists decided to work together. You can view some of their work at the Breakwater Bistro and Art Gallery which houses changing exhibitions throughout the year.
Brixham is locally known as two separate towns: 'Cow Town' the rural part, and 'Fish Town' the port part, telling the story of the area's rich farming and fishing heritage.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Paignton - what a picture

Let's begin our look at South Devon - and Torbay in particular - with a brief guide to one of the three towns that overlook the bay.
Paignton is the middle of the three towns making up Torbay, and has long been a favourite holiday destination ever since the Bishop of Exeter visited in the Middle Ages. But it was with the arrival of the railway that Paignton really turned into the town we know today.
A more typical British holiday resort is hard to imagine, with its amusement pier, rows of arcades and shops selling candy floss, buckets and spades and fast food restaurants.
But Paignton has more to offer the than those traditional tourist trappings. There are ancient buildings including the medieval Kirkham House and remains of the Bishop of Exeter's palace. Paignton is also home to Oldway Mansion which was designed by the American Isaac Singer, the inventor of the sewing machine, and finished by his son, Paris.
But for good reason is Paignton known as the ideal spot for a family day out, with its excellent sandy beaches, wonderful zoo and plenty of exciting activities from go-karting to paragliding and water-skiing. Or you could just find a quiet spot and watch the world go by with an ice cream.

If you want to come and stay with us, check out our fabulous website for a new two-bed cottage in Torquay overlooking the calm waters of Tor Bay. It's a stay in real luxury so don't miss out, book today.

Friday, 20 February 2009

What to do when you visit Torbay

Torbay has been attracting visitors in search of rest and relaxation since Victorian times when the phrase The English Riviera was first coined. In those days people came for gentle promenades along the beaches and coastal paths, a dip in the sea and to enjoy the wonderful views across Tor Bay.
Although you can still indulge in those very traditional pursuits, the English Riviera has moved with the times and fully deserves its long-standing reputation as one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations. Nowadays the three Torbay towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham offer so much more for the year-round visitor, ranging from internationally acclaimed tourist attractions to its many areas of special scientific interest.
Whether you want a day out, an afternoon’s diversion, or just a great way to spend a couple of hours, Torbay has it all. Here is our guide to all the best bits, from those located within the resort towns themselves, to some a little further afield.
Over the next week or so I'll be taking a look at some of the attractions the Bay has to offer the family or couple who come to visit.

I'll start with the Hi-Flyer Balloon on the seafront at Torre Abbey Meadows.
Newly-installed, last summer, this spectacular attraction offers 360 degree views across the whole of Torbay from 400ft up. With up to four flights per hour when the wind is low, you should not miss this chance to see the bay as the seagulls do.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Torquay - Queen of the English Riviera

Hello and welcome to a brand new blog about the Queen of the English Riviera - Torquay.
For years this beautiful part of the world has been welcoming visitors to its glorious beaches, fabulous walks and friendly natives! And it is doing exactly that to this day.
This blog will act as a guide to the area, keep you up to date with all the goings on around the area, and give you some tips and suggestions on where to go when you arrive.
If you ever have any suggestions about what you would like to see on here, or any questions before you arrive, just add a comment to any of the posts and I'll do my best to answer it for you.
I just want to tell you about this wonderful part of the world, which is enjoying something of a renaissance among British travellers. So what are you waiting for? Get on over to Torquay for your next holiday or short break and see for yourself what's going on over here.