Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Nemesis Nick's Devon 2012: Birthday Bonanza 14 Midi Report

Date: Friday 28 September to Monday 1 October 2012
Venues: AMF Bowling Torquay, Plymouth Life Centre, Plymouth Pavilions, Devon's Crealy Great Adventure Park, Dartmouth Castle
Who Went: Just me

An early autumn long weekend in south Devon, deliberately timed to coincide with my 41st birthday on Sunday 30 September to extend the birthday fun over four days, hence the trip title. The format was intended to be similar to my four day short breaks in south Devon of recent years, i.e. stay three nights in Torquay and visit my usual favourite nearby attractions. Unfortunately the whole four day break ended up being a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, with Saturday and Sunday going as expected but Friday afternoon and Monday not going to plan.

To make the rest of report this easier to read, I've split it into sections. Click the applicable link below to jump to the section you want to read:

Day One - Friday 28 September
Day Two - Saturday 29 September
Day Three - Sunday 30 September
Day Four - Monday 1 October

Day One - Friday 28 September
First Great Western, AMF Bowling Torquay

Journey To Devon
The weekend began when I caught the 08:57 train from Bath Spa to Newton Abbot, which ran on time. I arrived Newton Abbot with a few minutes to spare for the connecting 10:39 train to Torre. Having reached Torre at 10:46 I walked straight to my guest house and checked in.

Friday Lunchtime
At midday I walked into town. The sun was now out. Around 12:30 I got to Seabank Fish and Chips where I bought takeaway cod and chips to eat on the sea front. Afterwards I had a whippy ice cream from an ice cream parlour near the harbour.

Friday Afternoon
Unfortunately the rest of Friday afternoon did not go as planned. My expectation was that the Riviera Centre water slide would open at 4pm, just like when I've visited Torquay term time Friday afternoons 2005 to 2011 inclusive. Meanwhile I walked along part of the sea front, up the Rock Walk steps and back to the town centre where I had a coffee.

Just after 4pm I got to the Riviera Centre. Disappointingly the Friday evening Fun Sessions, during which the flume is in use, no longer happen. The pool was open during the day, without the flume running, but shut at 4pm. So I wasn't able to go in either the pool or on the flume now. The flume was going to be Saturday, but I had other plans for Saturday.

I now felt the afternoon had been wasted. Had I known around midday that the Riviera Centre water slide would not be running at all Friday, I would have done something else after eating my fish and chips and ice cream, e.g. Living Coasts, one or more attractions in Babbacombe.

Ten-Pin Bowling
Around 5:30pm I found AMF Bowling, and had two games. My performance on game 1 was disappointing, I ended up scoring 62. I did much better on game 2, scoring a strike and spare along the way to finish with a score of 84.

Evening Meal
At 6:25pm I went to Wetherspoons for my evening meal: sausages and mash followed by sticky toffee pudding with hot custard, plus a bottle of Becks Blue alcohol free beer. After finishing my meal I walked back to my guest house, got there around 8:05pm and relaxed in my room the rest of the evening.

More about Friday available here

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Day Two - Saturday 29 September
Plymouth Life Centre, Plymouth Pavilions

Saturday First Thing
I awoke at 7:15am and had breakfast at the normal serving time of 8:30am. It consisted of cereal, a glass of orange juice, coffee, a full cooked breakfast and four triangles of toast.

Off To Plymouth
Just before 9:20 I set off for Torre station where I caught the 9:29 train to Newton Abbot for the connecting 9:49 train to Plymouth. Having reached Plymouth just after 10:30 I walked to Plymouth Life Centre.

Plymouth Life Centre
A new leisure centre which opened in opened in March 2012. It includes a 10-lane, 50-metre main pool, separate fun pool and two water slides. The slides don't have names, they're just referred to as the Slow Flume and Fast Flume. On entering the pool area around 11:10am I headed straight for the slides, and went on them as follows: Slow Flume followed by Fast Flume in sequence 19 times over. I didn't go in the fun pool or main pool at all, all I wanted to do was have as many slides as possible. At 12:30 all swimmers with yellow wristbands (of whom I was one) were asked to leave the pool as their session was now over.

Cumulative summary of slides:

Slow Flume
Fast Flume

After leaving the Life Centre, I caught a bus from near Plymouth Life Centre to Western Approach, whereupon it was just a short walk to Plymouth Pavilions.

Plymouth Pavilions Swiss Lake Ice Rink
Although Plymouth Pavilions fun pool has now closed due to the opening of the new Life Centre, the Swiss Lake Ice Rink is still open. I got to Plymouth Pavilions at 1:15pm and booked for the 2pm session. That gave me time to get myself a takeaway Sub Meal from a nearby Subway and return to Plymouth Pavilions with plenty of time to eat my takeaway before the start of the 2pm skating session. Skaters were allowed on the ice at 2:05pm and asked to leave at 3:34pm. In that time I had no falls, although I did briefly leave the ice from time to time during the session.

Rest of Saturday
Afterwards I enjoyed a Devon cream tea at Strand Tea Rooms at the Barbican. Back at the railway station a little later I caught the 17:54 train to Newton Abbot. Whilst there I walked around Courtenay Park and the town centre before going to Wetherspoons for my evening meal. I had Beef and Abbot Ale Pie followed by Eli's Original Baked Cheesecake, plus half an Abbot Ale. Later I caught the 20:49 train from Newton Abbot to Torre, and was back in my room just after 9pm.

More about Saturday available here

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Day Three - Sunday 30 September
Devon's Crealy Great Adventure Park

Sunday First Thing
Sunday was my 41st birthday, so I was really excited when I awoke at 7am. Just like last year I had a birthday T-shirt of my own design printed at T-Shirt Print, Bath in the days leading up to the start of this holiday. At 8:15 I had an early breakfast, the same as Saturday morning. I had one birthday card, and put it on the dining table during breakfast.

Off To Crealy
At 8:55 I caught the fast bus from just across the road from my guest house to Exeter. At Livery Dole bus stop in Heavitree, I just managed to connect with the Sidbury bus (9:31 departure from Exeter Bus Station). I reached the bus stop opposite Devon's Crealy at 9:52am.

Devon's Crealy Great Adventure Park
I had a warm welcome at the Reception around 10am, but was told the Park wasn't due open until 10:30, so I just waited. Once admitted I discovered the rides weren't due open until 11am. Meanwhile I began by sliding the outdoor metal slides in the Treetops Playground, followed by eight goes on the Buzzards Swoop drop slide.

When the rides opened I began by riding the three Vortex Water Coasters: Venom, Vertigo and Viper twice each. Although I rode Venom and Vertigo on previous visits, this was my first time of riding the curly slide Viper. Next I enjoyed one go on the Victorian Carousel (on the horse Lucy), four goes on Tidal Wave Log Flume and two goes on The Flying Dutchman Ship. After that, as a RCCGB member, I enjoyed six goes on the Maximus Coaster.

Having had such a big breakfast earlier, I only wanted a light lunch consisting of a sandwich and cup of coffee. Afterwards I went on the Funambulist Challenge. I made it all the way around the outer circuit of beams etc. and walked the short tight rope end to end, but gave up walking the middle tight rope after several failed attempts. Next I went on the Roundabout PlayPump clockwise followed by anticlockwise, and had four goes on the orange ball zip slide in the Treetops Playground.

By now I felt ready to return to the rides, starting with two goes on the Prince's Train. Next I enjoyed one go on the Aqua Blasters electric bumper boats, followed by another four goes on the Maximus Coaster. My final two rides of the day were the Honey Swing (chair-o-plane) and Meteorite (drop tower) once each. After that I spent a few minutes playing on Go Wild wooden indoor play structure.

Around 4pm I went into the Adventure Zone, a large indoor adventure play complex filled with two 4-lane Astrozoomer Astra (bumpy) slides, two double drop slides, the Red Devil drop slide, a yellow spiral tube slide and red corkscrew slide, plus loads of soft play equipment. Adults are allowed to play on everything and I had great fun playing on the slides and soft play equipment until closing time. I enjoyed both Astrozoomer slides and both double drop slides four times each, and the red corkscrew and yellow spiral tube slides twice each. Best of all was having 16 goes on the Red Devil drop slide (6 from the lower beam and 10 from the upper beam). Altogether almost an hour of Taylor-Made fun to round off my day at Crealy.

Cumulative Summary of My Rides at Crealy

Aqua Blasters
Honey Swing
Maximus Coaster
Prince's Train
The Flying Dutchman Ship
Tidal Wave Log Flume
Victorian Carousel
Vortex Water Coasters: Venom
Vortex Water Coasters: Vertigo
Vortex Water Coasters: Viper

Back To Exeter
The birthday fun didn't end when the Park closed at 5pm. I caught the 5:27pm bus back to Exeter, followed by another bus to the Exebridge Centre.

Pizza Hut
Once there I went to Pizza Hut for a celebratory dinner. I chose a Veggie Supreme. A salad bowl was included in the price, therefore I filled my bowl with plenty of salad as well as some cold pasta. For dessert I had Ice Cream Factory. Altogether a delicious meal. Throughout the meal my birthday card was on the table, and I kept my hoodie off in order to show my birthday T-shirt. Someone on another table was fooled by the design on the front, until I showed the back. I finally left Pizza Hut around 7:50pm.

Journey To Torquay
Just after 8pm I caught a bus back to Exeter High Street. Once there it was just a short walk to the bus station, whereupon I caught he 20:35 Newton Abbot bus which took the scenic route via Dawlish, Teignmouth and Bishopsteignton. Having finally reached Newton Abbot at 9:55pm, I caught the Paignton bus which was already waiting just across the road. Just before 10:30pm I left the bus at a stop close to my guest house, and was back in my room a few minutes later.

Altogether an amazing 41st birthday, which included a fun day out at Devon's Crealy and celebratory dinner at Pizza Hut, Exeter. Many people liked my self-designed birthday T-shirt. Some were mystified by the design on the front, until they saw the back.

More about Sunday available here

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Day Four - Monday 1 October
Dartmouth Castle, First Great Western

The final day of my four day holiday in south Devon. Unfortunately things didn't go as planned Monday. Here is what actually happened that day.

Monday First Thing
Having awoke at 6:52am I got ready and packed my bags. At 8:15am I went downstairs with all my luggage expecting my pre-arranged early breakfast. Unfortunately it wasn't ready until the proper serving time of 8:30. Just like the previous two mornings I had cereal, coffee and four triangles of toast. My cooked this morning was fried eggs and bacon as that was quicker to prepare than what I'd had the previous two mornings, but I didn't mind.

On My Way
After all that, I left with all my luggage at 8:57am, walked in the direction of Torquay Harbour, stopping to get a Sub for lunch on the way, and got to Torquay Harbour with time to spare for the 9:30 Dartmouth bus. When I reached Dartmouth I was initially unsure what to do there.

Dartmouth Castle
In the end I decided to visit Dartmouth Castle. I caught the Castle Ferry from the town centre to Stumpy Steps, and was surprised how small the boat Veryan Bay was. On arrival at the Castle, the staff let me leave my luggage behind the counter whilst I was in the Castle. In the Victorian Old Battery I saw the casemates, magazines and lighting room. After a quick walk around the interior of nearby St Petrox Church, I explored another part of the Castle: the Gun Tower. Having left the Gun Tower I ate my picnic on a nearby seat, before having a coffee at The Castle Tea Rooms. Finally I collected my luggage and at 3:10pm caught the Castle Ferry Veryan Bay back to the town centre.

Remaining Time In Dartmouth
Having disembarked from the ferry I had just over an hour before I intended leaving Dartmouth at 4:35pm. In that time I explored Royal Avenue Gardens, Flavel Street and Foss Street. Finally I had a coffee at Station Restaurant before catching the 4:35pm bus from Dartmouth Pontoon to Totnes. I arrived Totnes at 5:22pm.

Monday Evening
At 5:40pm I went to The Dartmouth Inn for my evening meal: carvery roast, followed by apple crumble and custard, plus a pint of ale to go with it. Having left the pub at 7:05pm I walked to Totnes railway station, and caught the 20:10 train to Bath Spa. The train ran on time and it was a relaxing journey. I finally reached Bath at 10:04pm and home at 10:22pm.

More about Monday available here

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Three nights' B&B in Torquay, including the delicious filling breakfasts.
Ten pin bowling in Torquay Friday early evening.
Sliding the brand new water slides at Plymouth Life Centre for the first time ever.
Skating on the ice rink at Plymouth Pavilions, having thought my 2011 visit there would be my last ever.
Enjoying 10 goes on Maximus Coaster and 4 goes on Tidal Wave Log Flume at Devon's Crealy.
My first ever go on Viper (one of the Vortex water coasters) at Devon's Crealy.
Playing in the Adventure Zone at Devon's Crealy.
Celebratory birthday meal at Pizza Hut Exeter Sunday evening.
Meals at Wetherspoons Torquay Friday evening, Wetherspoons Newton Abbot Saturday evening and The Dartmouth Inn Totnes Monday evening.

Discovering the water slide at Riviera Centre, Torquay was not opening at all on Friday.
Unexpected extra change of bus between Newton Abbot and Torquay Sunday evening (a minor inconvenience, but hardly worth worrying about).
Long wait just to buy a cup of coffee from the buffet when I got on the train at Totnes Monday evening.

Summing Up
Another great long weekend away, which included ten pin bowling, water sliding, ice skating, riding, outdoor and indoor adventure play areas, boat trips and a visit to a castle. What a pity Friday afternoon and Monday daytime didn't go as planned due to unforeseen circumstances. Thankfully Saturday in Plymouth worked out perfectly with all the desired activities fitting into place. More importantly my 41st birthday Sunday was another perfect day with the early breakfast, day at Crealy, dinner at Pizza Hut and bus journeys all going without a hitch.

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