A Ramble with Reg
The opening day for the 2016 season at Fairlynch Museum is drawing closer and many of Reg Varney’s fans are looking forward to visiting his centenary exhibition ‘Our Little Clown.’
ESPECIALLY THE WEEKEND BEGINNING FRIDAY 1 JULY.
ON THAT DAY AND ON SATURDAY 2 JULY A SPECIAL TRIBUTE SHOW IS TAKING PLACE IN BUDLEIGH FOOTBALL CLUB.
A SMALL GROUP OF BUDLEIGH RESIDENTS INCLUDING REG'S DAUGHTER JEANNE HAVE BEEN PREPARING THIS VERY SPECIAL EVENT.
IT WILL RAISE MONEY FOR THREE WORTHY CHARITIES, BUT MORE IMPORTANT, IT WILL SHOW US SOMETHING OF THE REAL REG VARNEY: THE GIFTED EAST END BOY WHO MADE IT TO THE TOP OF HIS PROFESSION, WHO 'GAVE LAUGHTER TO SO MANY' AND WHO IS STILL REMEMBERED WITH AFFECTION BY MILLIONS.
YOU CAN READ MORE AT
Driving to Budleigh Salterton along the B3178, approaching from the north, you meet Coastguard Road which turns into Coastguard Hill.
At the top of Coastguard Hill I noticed that flowers had been placed on this bench. I thought of Reg, ‘very cut up’ as a neighbour told me, when Lily passed away on 4 November 2002.
Further down the hill, of course, and looking east rather than west you get this wonderful view of Otter Head.
Reg was not so lucky here one day when he damaged the wing of his car – ‘I was dazzled by the sun’ – he explained.
We can now start our exploration of Budleigh on foot.
The little hut at the entrance is where the town’s first Tourist Information Centre was located. It was here that Reg, having just arrived in the area, met its manager Mrs Sue Newcombe. ‘I love the look of Budleigh Salterton,' he told her.
The first thing to do in the town is to visit Fairlynch Museum and the exhibition ‘Our Little Clown.’ Turn left out of the car park on to Fore Street and head towards the beach.
The museum is on your left and the exhibition you’ve come to see is on the first floor. It's called 'Our Little Clown', recalling the title of Reg's own autobiography.
Don’t forget to visit the shop where you can buy not only one of those useful pencil sharpeners…
But also this brilliant new book – the first-ever biography written about Reg. It’s not a heavy tome, just something to take away as a souvenir of the exhibition, and I enjoyed producing it.
And now for a wander round the town, following in Reg’s footsteps. Turning right out of the museum, continue along Fore Street. On the left is the Spar, which he used to visit for groceries and so on. The shop front has obviously changed. Yes, things do change in Budleigh in spite of what they say.
Carry along westwards along Fore Street and take the first road on the right, which is Chapel Street. On the left is The Premier Café where Reg would call for the best fish and chips in town.
Opposite is The Salterton Arms, one of the pubs that he knew, still serving good food and drink.
Retrace your steps to turn right and join the High Street. On the left is Coles the Butchers, a very traditional kind of place where Reg used to shop.
Opposite, in a prominent position on the High Street is Staddons Garage where Reg took his car for servicing and repairs. They sometimes have interesting vintage sports cars in the window.
Further up on the left is The Feathers, one of Reg’s favourite pubs for a meal out.
Cross over the High Street and go down Ragg Lane to Brook Lane. Turn left at the end to join The Lawn.
Just a little further on is Budleigh Library where Librarian Margaret Hallett has good memories of Reg. He called there regularly to borrow books.
Head back towards the High Street, passing on the left the bakery where Reg used to shop, though it was known as The Lawn Bakery then.
On your right is what used to be the Rosemullion Hotel, where Reg and his wife spent their first night in Budleigh. It has been converted into flats.
But this is how the Rosemullion Hotel used to be, as shown in this old postcard.
Simon has made quite a name for himself in recent years with his depiction in pebbles of everything from an octopus to a 16th century galleon. I was worried that after the winter storms we wouldn't have any pebbles left at Budleigh, but in mid-March he told me: 'The beach is looking good, plenty of materials and lots of space.'
Simon will probably need help to gather pebbles for his Reg project, and when he's ready I'll make the call. As for what the project might be, no prizes for guessing!
Now comes a bit of a climb along the Coast Path. Just before the top, turn right into Victoria Place.
Here you will find Pinewood Nursing Home, where Reg died on 16 November 2008, six years after losing Lily.
Just a bit beyond is The Green. One of the first benches here is dedicated to Reg and his wife.
I love the inscription.
Enjoy the walk up Dark Lane, following it north. It’s an ancient track through Triassic sandstone cliffs and tree roots which look almost as ancient.
You can visit the St Peter’s Burial Ground, another peaceful place, where Lily is buried.
You should come out almost opposite Hayes Barton, the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh, pictured here even though Reg never lived in this ancient and beautiful house.
Turning right along Hayes Lane you will eventually come to the village of East Budleigh, opposite the Sir Walter Raleigh pub where Reg and his family enjoyed many outings.
From East Budleigh you could go to the picturesque village of Otterton and spend some time at the King’s Arms, another of Reg’s favourite haunts.
I hope you enjoyed the Ramble with Reg. Here's a useful map.