This weekend, we drove down to Torquay on “The English Riviera” to visit some friends. I initially mocked this title thinking that “This is England! How can there be a Riviera???” But I was proved quite wrong. Merely two hours South of Gloucester (and 4-5 hours from London) is one of the three towns in Torbay on the Devon coast, Torquay. The town boasts 22 miles of coastline and an adorable town center comparable to any tropical retreat hub (minus the dreadlocked men hawking crocheted handicrafts and waddling overweight women begging to plait your hair).
Torquay has a palm lined promenade, yachts equaling the size of some of St. Tropez’s gems, and cliffs, coves, and beaches with stunning bay views. As far as weather goes, it was sunny and bright to a point where I barely believed I was in the United Kingdom anymore. Torquay truly is a Riviera- maybe I now have to redefine my definition of a coastal paradise. The only question that remains is; why doesn’t the rest of England’s population move down to Torquay?
Despite appearances- it IS the middle of winter and therefore, we unfortunately could not partake in the seaside café activity or beach and water sports. For that reason, our hosts planned an excursion to the “Living Coasts” sanctuary- a coastal zoo involved with wildlife conservation. This, to me, was yet another surprise. I have categorized the English as beer drinking, kebab-shop late-night brawling, football watching, deep-fried anything eating jokesters. So to find a wildlife conservation clearly concerned with animal/sea-life welfare was quite pleasing. I know I’m generalizing an entire population but I’m only human- and if anyone has ever lived in rural England- I doubt that they would beg to differ. (Sorry guys).
I couldn’t have been more contented with the choice of activity- just throw animals into the equation and I am quite happy to stand in the freezing cold for two hours. Amongst the birds and mammals and those species in-between, were a long-time favorite- Penguins!
Penguin facts (if you haven’t seen the recent movies);
-Penguins are monogamous and they stay with their mates for either a season or a lifetime
-Penguins are birds that can’t fly
-Most penguins can swim about 15 miles per hour
-All penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere
-They use their wings as paddles to swim
-Penguins lay eggs
-When a mother loses a chick, she sometimes tries to steal one from another mother
-Penguins probably taste like Oreos
The best story of the day was about a 30 year old penguin that recently lost her mate and now has a new boyfriend- a nine year old. (You go girl!)
In conclusion- my thoughts are; if a penguin can find love again after such a tragedy- than we humans are surely capable of mending our broken hearts as well. Maybe we just need to go a bit younger!!
And finally- After being so pleasantly surprised by “The English Riviera” and all its splendors… I am convinced that England is just full of surprises and I plan to keep on exploring.
Next destination- Hereford!