For hour after hour, I’d play on ‘The Triangles’, where tufts of grass became forests in which The A-Team could take cover and broken kerb stones transformed into a ramps that allowed my Knight Rider car to heroically leap any number of death-defying obstacles. I lost teeth, scuffed knees, argued, won (and lost) friends, not to mention Panini trading cards, on ‘The Triangles’ – all (crucially) without the direct supervision of my parents…
Now, I’m sure there’s a fair number of you queuing up to label me an overly sensitive snowflake. Fair enough, but I’m serious here. We, as a society, seem to have lost something. We’ve allowed ‘niceness’ to become a negative trait; something to be purged from our systems in case it shows up as weakness. “Show me a nice person and I’ll show you a pushover” is beginning to feel like the pervasive motto. I realised, standing outside that department store, waiting for in vain for my turn to enter, that I really miss niceness.
Can we have it back please?
“After a brief journey of well-rehearsed small talk, we came to a halt. Stepping from the coach onto an ocean of gleaming gravel, I surveyed what was to be our overnight dwelling: The Beach House. Such a pleasing, quintessentially English façade: the type of place where Miss Marple would have lived, if she’d won the lottery.
It had been a short journey, but it seemed we’d traveled back in time to an age of opulence. It pleased me greatly. The paintwork on the quirky windows and doors was as fresh as the sea air. A well-oiled, front door swung open and our gregarious host swept onto the driveway.
“You’re here, you’re here. So glad you could make it.”
As I took in The Beach House, beautifully finished in the Arts and Crafts style, I had to conclude that so was I.”
“Imagine the scene: the sun is shining and the birds are singing. You’re on your bike, riding at that perfect pace: not too slow so you’re burning carbs, not too fast so you take in the vista around you. Your freshly-shaved legs are looking good in perfectly fitting shorts and your tan lines are maturing nicely – in fact, it would be easy to be mistake you for a pro. You chat with fellow riders who are great company, while other road users happily, safely and respectfully keep their distance. The only thing on your mind is what type of coffee to order when you arrive at the friendly little café that lies just beyond the crest of the next rewardingly challenging incline. Too good to be true? Not necessarily.”
Moose Allain is a big, avuncular fellow. His naturally serious face regularly erupts into gales of laughter that are as contagious as they are welcome. I’m immediately at home in his (clearly family-orientated) house – it’s that kind of place.
I immediately understood that the joy of the The River Exe Cafe is the dining experience itself. It’s immersive – although hopefully you’re not immersed – put simply, you don’t ‘go’ to The River Exe Cafe, you’do’ it.
I still remember the whistling in my ears.
A sudden sense of the world being unsteady and the ground coming up to meet me. Landing hard, I was knocked out. Moments later, my eyes opened as several feet walked away. ‘You showed him,’ said an excited voice. The thing was, he hadn’t shown me anything. I still don’t know what I was punched for.
In the course of human history, more arguments have started over who’s in charge of the TV Remote Control than any other subject.
You know it’s true.
So give your dad the ultimate gift: 24 hours of the TV he wants to watch – without criticism.
It’s that time again.
Up and down the country you’ll hear the shrieks as men (old enough to know better) hop around bathrooms trying to staunch the flow of blood after doing their legs a major mischief while trying to shave them smooth. Soon, once 1,000 tiny cuts dry, the same men are dousing themselves in talc and holding their breath as they squeeze into the Lycra outfits that make their professional cycling heroes look like supermen (sadly the effect on most amateurs can hardly be described as ‘super’). Next they’re out on the streets tentatively riding bikes that cost roughly the same amount as a starter home.
In my experience, summer in this country is so fleeting that several times I’ve popped inside to make a cup of tea and missed it completely. “What did you do over the summer?” people will ask. “I ate half a bag of Monster Munch. To be honest, I wasted half of the summer struggling to get the packet open.”