Saturday 19th March 2020 | Newton Abbot & Rosyth
9 hours on the road
The Plan: leave Newton Abbot at 7am; stop 2-3 times on the way; arrive at our hotel 5-6pm.
The Reality: left Newton Abbot 07:14; arrived at B&B: 16:26. 481 miles so not bad really, especially given the many miles of roadworks and 50mph speed limits around Birmingham and further up the M6.
I have no WiFi here so posting anything more than this quick note to say we have all arrived safe is about all I can do. It is sunny and surprisingly warm here – very much like home – but the overnight temperature is considerably cooler than Devon.
Sadly, I cannot recommend Rosyth as a place to visit. There is nothing at all of merit to visit and no pubs, cafes or decent takeaways. We had to make do with cold pies from McColl’s, which were extremely unpleasant – and somewhat suspect in terms of precisely what meat was stuffed into the worst pastry I have ever tasted. We were hungry. Very hungry.
When I arrive in a place I have never visited before my first instinct is to search out two things: beer and a pub. I know; one and the same thing really. An extensive search of Google Maps suggested pubs did not exist in the town centre, that is, within walking distance of our accommodation.
Tonight however was slightly different, in that our first priority was food. We were all ravenous and felt we could eat almost anything, and almost anything is what we ended up with. Pizza, fish and chips, pasty, sausage roll.. anything would do. But none of that was to be had. The more we walked on our food hunt the hungrier we became and less able to walk.
I spied a McColl’s, set well back from the road as if it was hiding from civilisation. We ventured inside. The first thing I noticed was how expensive everything was. No mind. I had to eat. And there it was! A warm (looking) counter with pies and other pastries that had the appearance of not only being hot but also edible. Perceptions can, as they say, be deceptive.
It turned out they were neither. The pies were stone cold – just what we needed on this stone cold evening – and my imagination went wild when attempting to discern what the meat was. My nose told me it had come out of a can with a picture of a collie on it, but the label in the shop told me it was ‘steak’. Yes, but steak from which animal?
Deeply unpleasant though it was I eat it, a measure of just how hungry I was. In my haste I had also purchased something that for all the world had the appearance of a sausage roll and which, in my own naive way, I assumed would have pork sausage within the pastry. I was not expecting much; I certainly was not expecting quality pork – not at these prices.
But, having bitten into it, I paused for what seemed like some minutes before my digestive system urged me to finish it off. This was without any doubt the worst ‘sausage’ roll I have ever seen or eaten. The thing described as sausage was rather like a dowel with a diameter of less than one centimetre. It was perfectly cylindrical, as if extruded by a machine in some distant factory. I could not tell what the meat was, or even if there was any meat content at all. For all I knew it was factory floor scrapings with bacon fat to hoodwink – or reassure – the unwary.
I had only put a few hundred metres between me and the dreaded McColl’s – I vowed never to visit one of those again – when everything was consumed. In some haste, presumably because my brain did not want the ‘food’ too close to my taste buds for too long.
Our next job was to find a pub. We knew one did not exist but there were rumours of a hotel bar, but for the life of us we could not find the hotel, only a building that looked like a remand centre. Wait a minute; it can’t be…
Yes, it was a hotel and it did indeed have a bar. We spent the evening in this very poor bar but it had a heart of gold. There was no beer (other than pop) and no cider (unless you count Strongbow, and I certainly don’t). However, the Guinness was reasonable and the drinks relatively inexpensive. The woman working behind the bar was lovely and very pleasant, and most of those drinking in the bar – some of whom must have been locals (but not all) – were friendly.
It was good to get to bed that night.
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