Visitors to Torquay have probably come to enjoy the sea air as much as anything, and a short walk from Torre Abbey through Abbey Park will bring you to the seafront and Torre Abbey Sands.
Abbey Park lies in front of the Riviera Centre and has some low-key sporting facilities such as tennis and crazy golf if you like that sort of thing, but the gardens, with their sub-tropical plants and water features are what I like, and in particular, the Italian Garden which is a riot of colour during the summer (see featured image at top of page).
If you’re not in any rush to get the sand between your toes, you might also want to check out the One World Café and Bistro which is the ideal place for doing absolutely nothing for an hour or so.
Across the road from the park is Torre Abbey Sands, which, if you arrive when the tide’s in, you’ll wonder where the name Torre Abbey ‘Sands’ comes from. It’s not even a very big beach when the tide’s out, but it doesn’t seem to bother people too much who seem quite happy to sit on the steps and watch Geoffrey Ward, aka Sandyman, create his sand art and then watch the tide wash it all away again.
Geoff moved to Torquay eight years ago after being involved in a serious car crash and was left unable to work. He immediately discovered that he had an artistic talent that he never knew he had. With his trusty 1930’s rake, he just uses his feet and eyes to create perfectly symmetrical pictures in the sand, and pretty well makes it up as he goes along.
His ‘mandalas’, as he calls them, cover many subjects, from marking local, national and international events and tragedies, to marriage proposals. Mandalas are symbols that represent spiritual meanings in the Eastern world, and I can see why Geoff has used the idea to help him recover from his own trials and tribulations in life. A few years ago, he was made homeless for 18 months through no fault of his own, and then he suffered a stroke which left him without the full use of his right arm, which meant that he had to learn to create his mandalas with the other arm.
Since I’ve lived here, I’ve come across several characters who have that wonderful knack of being able to cheer up the local population – and Sandyman is one of them. Having a lot less talent, and a bit more money, I’m always happy to throw a few coins in Sandyman’s hat, and I hope that if you see him at work, you might want to do the same.
ORIGINAL POST – JANUARY 2019
LATEST UPDATE – OCTOBER 2020