Newton Abbot, Devon: Brunel’s cock up, a highly grateful king and trespassing in the designated teenage area

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I recently travelled with my husband and mother-in-law to Brixham. They were there for the week however I had to get back to work so I just enjoyed a particularly rainy weekend:

https://travellingveganmystic.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/brixham-devon-drunken-sodden-pirates-a-song-of-praise-and-peering-down-agatha-christies-toilet

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After my stay in Brixham, Franc drove me to Newton Abbot as it housed the nearest rail link for home and so I explored this pleasant market town for a few hours. The days of torrential rain had totally cleared and the sun shone strongly as I hiked about in my layers, polo neck and thick scarf.

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Newton Abbot is a town generous in public conveniences and bridal wear and is also home to the South Devon locomotive works, thereby signals and levers take up most of the room in its small museum. 

Famous engineer Brunel took on the Great Western Railway (GWR) project in 1833 and indeed it is great; connecting the Midlands, Wales and the South West whilst presenting stunning views, however the Newton Abbot stone archway was built way too low. It traps and damages many high trucks and the only way to get traffic moving again is to deflate the tires of the lofty vehicle and reduce its height. I am sure many lorry drivers have been brought to anger on sustaining a concave roof, damage to paintwork, let alone being late home for dinner.

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For lunch I went to the Country Table Cafe since it was listed on my Happy Cow app as being vegan friendly.  Whilst it has a commendable separate vegan menu, I was baffled to learn one of the daily specials (and my preferred choice), butternut squash and black bean casserole, had been flavoured with meat stock.  That is just damn lazy.  So instead I had the perfectly acceptable Mediterranean platter:

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There are no vegan sweet treats available at The Country Table but there is a nearby friendly health shop, Nature’s Bounty.

The focal point of the town is the limestone creation of St Leonard’s Tower, built around 1220. Its accompanying chapel was demolished in 1836 due to disrepair and to allow more traffic through and was so named courtesy of King Richard I (aka Richard the Lionheart).

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On returning from his 3rd crusade in 1192 Richard’s ship was wrecked. Whilst completing his journey on land, his enemy Prince Leopold of Austria nabbed him and handed him over to Emperor Henry VI of Germany. There he remained hostage for 15 months until England scraped up enough money to pay the ransom, bankrupting itself in the process.

Finally freed to continue his journey home, Richard called in at St Leonard’s shrine hankering after a miracle. He prayed that if he could just hoist his arse back up on the throne despite the country’s financial difficulties, he would dedicate churches throughout England to Len, now known as the Patron of Prisoners of War. Well Richard did regain his royal perch and as a man of honour, kindly fulfilled his promise.

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What surprised me most about Newton Abbot is that it offers up a designated teenager area, something I have yet to see elsewhere. It was in Courtenay Park and no it wasn’t the bandstand as is commonly wont to happen in parks. I have a soft spot for bandstands and prefer not to find them draped with the youth of today ruining any chance of a decent photograph. I also prefer bandstands minus live their brass bands.

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Anyway, I stomped around the teenagers’ part of the lawn, slouching and muttering an angst-coated “That’s SO unfair!” because the closer my departure time came, the harder the sun worked.

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