Scared Stiff

Exeter Travel Blog

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On Friday evening I dumped the bike back at the apartment, packed a bag and fled to the station to get a train to Exeter.

You may recall previous blog postings from Cape Breton, where I met a complete nutter (R) and his girlfriend (K). With fond memories of the summer I decided to head down to Exeter and look them up. It was a cold evening and the area had recently experienced floods so I was unsure what to expect weather wise for the weekend. R & K met me at Taunton and we drove out to a pub for dinner. We got caught up over a pint and headed back to their cottage, after K managed to find the exit from the car park. (Well done K, I was struggling with that one too!)

K said that they were going to abduct me, R grinned psychotically and backed up the story. After 20 minutes hurtling down darkened country lanes I was almost convinced that they weren’t joking. Eventually we emerged at a farm, having driven past the same junction a few times to disorient me. K & R’s cottage is brilliant because it has portholes. The view from inside the lounge at night is like being on an ocean liner, except the moonlight doesn’t glint on the water. It glints on the barn roof next door. Ok so may not so much like an ocean liner then, but certainly a liner that has been deposited somewhere in the wilds of Somerset. We drank old Rosie cider in front of the log fire and then I headed off to bed with that warm red faced and amused feeling that only cider can bring.

The next day we got up early and went climbing. Who am I kidding? I slept in, had a lazy breakfast (top notch scrambled egg made by K) and we ambled down to R’s friends house about 1pm ish. The three of us then headed of to the small village of Chudleigh where a very fiddly section of cliff gives a heap of decent climbing routes.

After a bit of faffing we were ready to head down into the valley and find the path that lead to the cliffs. A short distance down the road I realised I hadn’t put my contact lenses in, so hurried back to the van to put them in. A while later I continued back along the path only to knock a lens out by accident. Doubling back again I returned to the van to put a fresh lens in. Having already faffed endlessly with the stupid lenses the first time I was determined to make this a quick one. I prepared the next spare lens. Only being able to see properly with my left eye I married my finger up to my head with the lens ready to go in. straight into the left eye it went without a moments thought. I now had two lenses in my left eye, and none in my right. Now I REALLY couldn’t see anything. Dang.

After further faffing involving some choice expletives and a confused onlooker, we hoiked the gear down to the base of the routes and R set about a lead climb up a ramp, around to a flat face and up to a plateau. I was seconding but I had left my shoes back in Canada, so R lent me a pair of his old climbing shoes. The thing about climbing shoes is, it is recommended that you have them as tight as comfortably possible, so most climbers tend to buy shoes that are one size smaller than their usual footwear. R is a size 9, so these loan shoes were a size 8. I’m a size 10. The shoes hurt a lot. I was in agony just belaying, but then climbing up was worse. I put most of my weight on my arms to take the pressure off my toes, but the pain was still horrendous. Eventually I reached the plateau. I scrambled over R sitting at the top and ripped the shows off as quickly as I could. I made the descent bare foot, the tops of my toes still blue from lack of blood.

Soon after we finished the descent it started to drizzle. R’s friend (Also called R, confusingly) was in desperate need of a ciggy. To his disgust all the other climbers around us were on a health kick and no one had a lighter so we packed up and headed for the van where, luckily for R, there was one.

A roam around Dartmoor in the rain found us stopping at an aptly named snack van entitled ‘the hounds of the basket meals’ parked at the foot of hound tor. I had a very hot cup of soup while the lads gulped down some burgers. The rain really set in now, so we sought the relative sanctuary of a pub in Taunton.

Later R dropped me over to Exeter, where I waited in the Jolly Porter for my mate B to finish work. I got a pint and read a few chapters of ‘The Deathly Hallows’ which I borrowed off my Mum (thanks Mum!). It was then that the band (‘Scarred Stiff’) started to set up. They had loads of gear in the cars and looked like they needed a break so I gave them a hand to shift it all in. In return they gave me free entry to their gig. Before I could hear how well they played, B turned up and promptly thrashed me twice at pool, but he bought me dinner so that made up for it.

We met up with his mate, whose first initial escapes me currently but I believe J may be correct. So J, B and myself got some food in (I had one of those super spicy pizzas that was so spicy I could see into the middle of next week and have a sneaky peak at the lottery results before my throat burnt out). We then went off to See ‘Quantum of Solace’ which was good, but a little disappointing in a few places. It lacked gadgets, Q (John Cleese) and a bit of self-reflective humour (it was all way too serious).

Cheers to R & K and B for a great weekend!

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photo by: pacovera