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We walk straight down to the sea from the station and there’s a proper seasidey smell – the first of the year. The sun is blazing and children are writing messages in the sand. And oh yes! There’s a tethered hot air balloon! We’re in Torquay and it feels like we’re on our holidays.
So the first thing we must do, is go up in that tethered balloon. And let me tell you, it’s the best thing the Lost Prom has ever done. It reaches 400 metres and provides marvellous views of the tenderly kept gardens and crazy golf. But never mind the view, we’re at the seaside! We’re in the air! We’re in a balloon! We try to think of songs about balloons but don’t get much further than Nena.
Next we attempt to find the town centre, but we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, because the only way we can find to get in, is through the back of a multi-storey car park, like a fucked-up, urine-soaked Narnia. And in terms of charity shops, Torquay that day really was Narnia, but without the Christian undertones and the beavers. We found something cool in nearly every shop. One had a collection of line dancing skirts, the next held an array of 80s Gola sportswear. A man fronting one shop answered our enquiry of how much a hat was with, “How much do you want to pay?” He wore a magenta shirt and a puce waistcoat and tie and nearly tempted us with a blouson leather jacket and a Dynasty annual. His appearance however was misleading, we hoped he would tell us all sorts of interesting things about the town, but like all the other locals we tried to speak to that day, he was taciturn and spurned idle chit-chat. Despite this, there was a real holiday atmosphere in the air that no grumpiness could destroy.
Our next quest was to find the Lost Prom’s patron saint, Agatha Christie. We had planned to visit her old home, Greenway, but didn’t have time. So we consoled ourselves with a stop at the Agatha Christie shop by the harbour. Disappointingly, everything was very overpriced; there were no small keepsakes like bookmarks, keyrings or postcards of classic book covers. So we just took pictures of her bust and in tribute to the Queen of Crime, went for a cream tea. At the Tudor Rose Tea Room, we scoffed scones the size of our handbags, smeared in sticky clotted cream and ruby-red jam like murder victims oozing blood and vomit. They were quite, quite delicious.
Oh no! We were going to miss our train, so we grabbed a cab back to the station and despite the words of the pessimistic cabbie; “You’ve already missed it”, we made it in the nick of time and shared our carriage home with a parrot called Kenny.
Torquay is too cutely pretty for Nhung’s aesthetic sense, so there were few photo opportunities to be had, but despite that, and the unfriendly locals, we loved it – the sea, the flowers, the balloon, the scones, the 1930s crime, the Krankies’ yacht docked in the harbour. This is a proper traditional seaside resort – no need for gastropubs, arts festivals and branches of Fat Face. You go there for your summer holiday (preferably in a charabanc) and you’ll be skipping around like you’re 5 years old again. Only if the sun is shining, mind. The rest of the year it probably sucks.
Ice cream (didn’t have time to have any)
Agatha Christie memorabilia
Interesting conversation from locals
Cream ostrich leather handbag with matching gloves
Black line dancing skirt with gingham trim
Grey wool blazer
Fake fur hat
Blue stripy 80s New Wave sunglasses
Floral velvet jacket with leg o’mutton sleeves and tailed back
Adam Ant mug
Pink and blue Gola top
Detective novel (not Agatha – boo!)
Vintage shop we’d been looking for called Johnny China Vintage
Our Lost Youth
Our Patron Saint