Holiday on the English Riviera

We stayed in Kingswear. Our holiday house offered us a wonderful view of Dartmouth, a tapestry of colourful town houses ajoined from the northwest by the imperious Naval College and footed by a flotilla of sailing boats on the glistening harbour waters. Kingswear itself enjoys a children’s-book village shop, post office, steam-train station, picturesque church, The Ship Inn, winding pathways and a foot-ferry to Dartmouth. The people seemed clean and healthy. I felt slightly uncomfortable; somehow unwelcome, under suspicion. We walked along the coastal path and, seeking a way down to a cove, a sign said: No Access. We cheerfuly went on to Coleton Fishacre National Trust House, enjoyed scones and tea and had a lovely time lolling around on the garden’s velvety grass.

On other days we went to Brixham and Paignton. What I saw there were junk shops, charity shops, gift shops, cheap sweet shops, shut up shops, chippies, boozers, amusements, new style churches. Many people displayed flab, dull tattoes, bad skin, big hair, ciggies, black teeth, crossed-eyes and cheap synthetics. I felt uncomfortable at poverty’s ugliness: poor me.

One afternoon, I went nervously into one of the pubs with my cousin. Windows were boarded up and there were signs saying that drugs were not to be taken here. The pub had a scattering of rather demented and fragile-looking rockers, including the publican. But we were served straightaway – £2.50 a pint! – and relaxed immediately. I felt welcomed, undeservingly welcomed perhaps, and we had a lovely time together.

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