Although Keedie was born in Wolverhampton she actually moved down to Torquay with her family very early in her life at the age of just two years old. Therefore, she can now, as she enters into her thirties, without any hesitation, consider herself to be a born again Devonian, so to speak, and very much an integral part of the Torbay scene. As this is now very much Keedie's adopted home I thought that it might be a nice idea to include a Torbay related page within the Just Keedie website with a view to informing visitors of the many, and varied, attractions that are on offer in the area which, along with and complemented by some of the most welcoming of theatres, restaurants and bars, unite in offering the visitor to the area a fun filled day coupled with an equally vibrant nightlife in this very salubrious part of the United Kingdom that Keedie, and her extended family of West Midlanders now very fondly call home.
It is a well known fact that there are many beautiful seaside resorts located around the British Isles - each of them, by way of sand, sea and littoral vistas, providing the holiday maker with a well earned period of rest and recreation throughout the long summer months. However, nowhere throughout this sceptred isle will you encounter a more continental ambience than in the picturesque borough of Torbay. With the cosmopolitan flavour of Torquay and the family friendly conviviality of Paignton nestling majestically alongside the neighbouring fishing community of Brixham, The English Riviera, as it is endearingly referred to, is certain to provide the visitor not only with a pleasurable haven of well deserved rest and recreation, but also with a desire to return and a collage of memories to cherish for many years to come.
Each of the three towns has its own individual character, eminently reflecting a diverse history and heritage and exquisitely complemented by twenty two miles of Britain's finest coastline, spectacular scenery and beautiful sandy beaches. For those with an interest extending beyond the beckoning lure of the surf, a veritable Pandora's box of attractions awaits such as Bygones Museum, with its recreated Victorian street, for example. Along with Torre Abbey, steeped in a rich, and awe inspiring, tapestry of ecclesiastical history. Kent's Cavern, formed in the early Pleistocene period due to water action, and formerly occupied by one of at least eight separate and individual discontinuous indigenous populations.
An absolute marvel of topographical miniaturisation is Babbacombe Model Village. Painstakingly crafted in a Lilliputian form and an indisputable homage to the picturesque area in which it resides. And then you have the imaginatively designed Paignton Zoo. Not just a zoo but an Environmental Management System certified to the internationally recognised ISO 14001 standard and a great day out for all the family. You can also take to the rails with the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway with multiple daily round trips to the village of Kingswear where you can catch the ferry to Dartmouth and beyond. And for those with an interest in marine life then the Living Coasts attraction: a unique aquatic experience focusing on the conservation of coastal and marine life will, without doubt, be a definite on your agenda.
Accommodation, too, is of the highest standard in Torbay and it is here, among the tropical palms where three of the English Riviera's more expensive establishments such as The Imperial, The Palace and also The Grand proudly rub shoulders with some of the more readily affordable establishments. There are literally hundreds of places to choose from throughout the area and a quick search online with any of the many holiday accommodation websites or a phone call to the Tourist Information Centre should enable you to acquaint yourself with all the details you may wish to digest in order to decide upon your holiday accommodation. But whatever your particular preference - be it an upmarket hotel, a congenial guesthouse, a cosy bed and breakfast or maybe a comfortable holiday home on a fun filled holiday park there is one thing on which you will always be able to rely - and that is a warm and courteous welcome.
To discover further details concerning this remarkable corner of the British Isles you will really need to contact one of the Tourist Information Centres within the Torbay area where you will be able to request additional information regarding attractions to visit and places to stay. Torbay is an excellent holiday destination. A firm favourite with all who sample its delights and, taking into consideration some of the country's most favourable weather conditions, combined with excellent attractions, international cuisine, accommodation to suit every pocket and facilities that cater for every conceivable taste - it should come as no surprise that visitors to this beautiful part of the United Kingdom return to the resort year after year.
Visitors to Torquay will immediately be aware of its continental ambience. From its elegant villas, and resident palms, to its instantly recognisable Italianate architecture, the town of Torquay simply glows with a Mediterranean charm. Add to that a profusion of cafes, bars and shops leading towards, and encompassing, a beautifully apportioned marina and you'll find little wonder why, for many years Torbay has so rightfully been defined as The English Riviera. The gardens and parks along the seafront are also outstanding, providing the visitor to the area with a cornucopia of variegated floral displays along with various wide open green spaces for picnics and walks. During the summer months the gardens and promenade are exquisitely illuminated - adding that all important touch of magic to an after dinner stroll.
Just a short walk from the harbour Torquay also enjoys a modern shopping centre with many high street names as well as a variety of smaller, more individual boutiques, gift and craft shops. There is a wide range of quality restaurants specialising in everything from freshly caught seafood to cuisines from different countries. And for the evenings, there are cinemas and both the theatres along with a multitude of nightclubs and even a bowling alley. Although there is a distinct "town centre" presence, Torquay is really a town of several villages and visitors, therefore, will be able to appreciate the differing charms of each. Cockington with its Norman Church, picture postcard thatched cottages and 17th Century Manor House is a must. Only a mile inland from the seafront, it provides a pleasant walk or, if you prefer, you may take advantage of the horse drawn carriages that will add to the illusion of travelling back in time.
Many people have heard of Babbacombe, the home of the famous Model Village. Though situated high up on the cliffs, Babbacombe is fairly level with a plethora of hotels and a small shopping centre that will be sure to meet the needs of many a weary traveller. The beautifully manicured gardens that reside along the cliff top are a myriad of colour and also afford the visitor with a scintillating view across the whole of Lyme Bay's spectacular panorama. Incidentally, this is where you will also discover Keedie performing in this season's production of Starlight at the delightfully bijou Babbacombe Theatre which is situated in Babbacombe Downs Road. Refurbished in 2009, it has been part of the Bay’s tourism industry since the 1930s and is a perfect venue for whiling away the evening in the company of an amazing cast.
Torquay's neighbouring town of Paignton is definitely well worth exploring. It enjoys several stretches of glorious wide sandy beaches which blend into one another at low tide, but remain separated from each other by headlands when the tide is in. The sea front at Paignton itself boasts the biggest of the town's many beaches - along with a multiplex cinema and a crazy golf course. You may also wish to promenade along Paignton Pier, should you so desire, which was financed by Arthur Hyde Dendy, who was a local Paignton barrister, and designed by George Soudon Bridgman. Paignton Pier was opened to the public in 1879 and proudly remains to this day - a resplendent exemplification of Victorian ingenuity.
If you are searching for quieter beach locations however, you may prefer to head off in the direction of either Goodrington Sands: a Quality Coast Awarded beach that apart from providing holiday makers with a wealth of fun filled activities, also promises to keep the kids happy whatever the weather - or maybe venture a little further along the coast to Broadsands. If deciding upon Goodrington Sands, then for family fun extending beyond the beach, there is also a crazy golf course and lots of amusement arcades. Situated close by is the Splashdown attraction at Quaywest Waterparkwhere eight flumes, a swimming pool and a toddler’s play area ensure an equally fun filled day for all the family. If you should decide upon Broadsands - then why not also explore the South West Coastal Path which stretches along the length of the English Riviera. There is an easy circular route that takes in many beautiful coves where you will encounter beautiful South Devon countryside, spectacular coastal scenery and plenty of wildlife.
There are many and varied shops in Torbay Road - just a short stroll from the beach - that will ensure a ready supply of shrimp nets, buckets and spades, windbreaks, inflatables, ice creams and other essentials! These, together with the beach side kiosks and cafes and the amusement arcade situated on the aforementioned Paignton Pier, are sure to result in a lively family day out for one and all. More familiar high street stores are situated beyond the level crossing at Paignton Train Station. Names such as W H Smiths and Tescos and Boots and Costa Coffee. Visiting fun fairs may also be found during the summer months on Paignton Green which incidentally, on occasions, also hosted the Radio 1 Roadshow.
THE GOLDEN HIND
Picturesque Brixham is a town of two halves, each with its own character. The compact town centre is a busy, bustling shopping area dating from the 19th Century and the Harbour combines the romance of its history with the demands of a working fishing port. Brixham is extremely attractive and very popular with artists and historians alike. Attractions include Sir Francis Drake's flagship The Golden Hind: a full sized replica of one of the nation's most iconic galleons from the age of exploration and being a prominent feature of this picturesque harbour since 1964, along with a habourside statue commemorating the landing in the town of William III of Orange in 1688. Brixham Art and Craft Market is also held every Saturday from Easter to October under the Old Fish Market: a busy and bustling event for one and all that transforms the beautiful harbour side area into what can only be described as a shoppers' paradise.
If you fancy exploring the bay, then boat trips to Paignton and Torquay regularly depart from the harbour. You can also, if you so desire, venture even further afield on a boat trip to Dartmouth just a few miles further along the coast. There are a number of beaches in the immediate area, but they are not as extensive as those at Paignton and Torquay. Berry Head and Sharkham Point are the places to go if you enjoy walking or ornithology. Here you will be rewarded with superb views, varied and sometimes exotic and rare bird life accompanied by an invigorating sea air, that is surely guaranteed to uplift and refresh!
The street names of Brixham reflect the town's history. Pump Street is where the village pump stood. Monksbridge was a bridge built by the monks of Totnes Priory and Lichfield Drive was the route that the deceased were taken for burial at St Mary’s churchyard. Salutation Mews, near the church, dates back to when England was Catholic, and the salutation was to the Virgin Mary. Similarly, Laywell Road recalls Our Lady’s Well. The first building seen when entering Brixham, if travelling from Paignton, is the white boarded Toll House where travellers using this route had to render a fee to keep the road in good repair.
Literally hundreds of ships have been wrecked on the rocks around the town. Brixham men have always known the dangers but even they were taken by surprise by a terrible storm that blew up on the dark night of 10th January 1866. The fishing boats only had sails then and could not get back into harbour because gale force winds, accompanied by high waves, were against them. To make things worse, the beacon on the breakwater was swept away and, cloaked in darkness, the fishermen could not determine their position. According to legend, their wives brought everything they could carry to make a bonfire on the quayside to guide their men to safety. Fifty vessels were wrecked and more than a hundred lives were lost in the storm; when dawn finally broke the wreckage stretched for three miles around the coast.
There have been a number of famous, and infamous, characters residing in the Torbay area throughout the years. One of the most notorious being that of John Babbacombe Lee - The man they couldn't hang. Even after a century of time the case remains one of the most bewildering to ever have graced the annals of Scotland Yard. And as for famous writers, then apart from William Shakespeare, there can be none more internationally celebrated than Agatha Christie. As the creator of the eccentric and egotistic little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, the most famous detective since Conan Doyle's personification of Baker Street resident and master of the elementary Sherlock Holmes, she will always be remembered as the true queen of crime - a master of the 'who done it' and the sheer epitome of mystery and suspense. And then, of course, there is Isaac Merritt Singer, of Singer Manufacturing, who introduced the world to an affordable sewing machine for use in the home - which he manufactured with partner Edward Clark.
Agatha Christie embarked upon her crime writing career while she was working as a nurse during the harrowing years of World War One. Her first novel entitled The Mysterious Affair at Styles introduced the public to the egotistic and eccentric little Belgian detective with a penchant for tisane, and using the little grey cells, Hercule Poirot. The detective reappeared in about twenty five novels and many short stories over the years before finally returning to Styles, where in Curtain, he died. In contrast to Poirot, another one of Agatha Christie'sprincipal figures, an elderly spinster who lived in the quaint little village of St. Mary Mead and acted as a consulting detective, was Miss Jane Marple. Based upon her very own grandmother, Miss Marple first appeared in the novel Murder at the Vicarage - with Sleeping Murder, where she aids a young couple who have chosen to uncover events in the wife's past life, being her last.
When you think of the sewing machine there will always be one particular name that will inevitably spring to mind. That being the Singer: invented in America by Isaac Merritt Singer. Born in 1811, in the Pittstown area of New York, Singer, who later relocated to Torquay and was responsible for the development and construction of Paignton's historic Oldway Mansion, became the inventor of the first practical domestic sewing machine in use throughout the entire world. As a teen, Singer took on a promising apprenticeship as a mechanic, but his interest in acting soon spurred him to abandon the job and form a travelling theatre troupe instead. The group eventually went broke and a penniless Singer turned to inventing as a means of earning a living. He passed away in Torquay, England on July 23, 1875.
The Lee family lived in Abbotskerswell, a small Devon village situated one and a half miles, or so, south of Newton Abbot and approximately six miles north of Torquay. John Henry George Lee who was accused of murdering his elderly employer Emma Keese at her Babbacombe cottage in 1884 and famous for surviving three attempts at being executed for the crime by executioner James Berry lived there with them. The evidence against Lee was weak and circumstantial, amounting to little more than him having been the only male in the house at the time of the murder. But his previous criminal record, along with an unexplained wound on his arm meant that his fate was sealed. Though unable to be hanged for the murder of his employer 'John Babbacombe Lee' was ultimately incarcerated in Exeter Jail for the crime.