I’ve never been to Exeter before, heck I’ve only ever been that far south west ONCE before. I was 16, a bit heartbroken and on a trip to Cornwall with a school friend and her family and spent the entire few days reading Harry Potter in the sunshine, borrowing her mum’s wet suit to go in the sea and learning to never eat closed mussels. It was pretty dreamy.
Anyway, Exeter. First Great Western (the train company who serve that part of the world) kindly invited us to choose a city on their transport route and well, have a weekend away on them. So we did just that. I know, as Chris described over our Saturday night dinner, there are serious ‘high highs’ to being a full-time blogger, to go along with the ‘low lows.’
I met Chris at Ipswich station at 5.20pm, armed with my broken headphones so I could utilise the time for some all-important podcast listening, four bottles of cider crammed into my mini suitcase because DUH, and my New Look leopard print sandals which I’d been quietly anticipating debuting to the world since I snapped them up before Christmas. Seriously, they’re everything right with shoes, they’re like, the new loves of my lives, and now sold out, so sozzles about that.
Chris had sauntered off to M&S on his lunch break to buy us the queen of train dinners. It’s times like the minute he was unpacking proscuitto, manchego, olives and sour cream & jalapeno crisps from his bag that make me realise he totally gets me. We totally have the same belly tastes and that makes me mega haps. A bit like the time when I got flooded out of my London flat and he greeted me at Ippers station at 12.30am on a Sunday night (or Monday morning if you’re going to be picky) with a McDonald’s bag crammed with double cheeseburgers, chips and barbecue sauce. Boy knows.
Our east to west train journey was technically five hours long. Uh huh, as long as me flying to Egypt or summin, but it went quickly, considering. Our Paddington to Exeter St Davids train was super comfy, bang on time AND had free wifi which is pretty much all I ask for in a train.
Although, just FYI, the new Adnan Syed podcast? Not so good. I mean, it’s OK, but just don’t, well, get your hopes up. I got distracted and forgot what was going on every few seconds, so there’s that.
We arrived at The Magdalen Chapter hotel just after 10pm and tucked straight into the free mini bar, which included cans of Diet Coke. ALL THE HAPPINESS. Then I took photos of my shoes on the windowsill because why the hell not.
The boutique hotel is located just outside the city centre – it was about a 5 minute walk to the shops and quay – and includes an indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool and a very reasonably priced spa (I spent most of the weekend eyeing up the luxury 1 hour pedicure for £45 or the 30 minute back massage for £35 – I bought neither because I did that thing where I panic and think I’m still like relying on EMA or the Dole or something to survive when I’m not, lolz).
Mostly I was excited about staying in a hotel because it meant I could take nice long baths with sassy smelling shower gel. I don’t get to do this at home since I broke the bath taps and they won’t turn off if *somebody* like me decides they’re DESPO for a hot bath to take away all the aches and pains and stresses of life. And then Chris has to shut the water off at the mains and frantically watch YouTube videos about temporarily fixing the taps. Yes, we could get a plumber to solve our washing woes, but we’ve got two out in the past who’ve promised they’ve fixed the issue, and then, well, it happens again – so we’re currently weighing up a new bathroom.
Anyway, we spent much of Saturday having a mosey around the shops, because get this – Exeter is seriously bloody good for shopping. As in, like, it’s a more peaceful version of Westfield or summin, just without the Forever 21. I bought a new little white leather chain bag from Zara and a flowy pale yellow spring dress too because MID SEASON SALE and gurl can never have too many spring dresses, not ever. So thanks to everyone on Twitter who enabled me as I was snapping photos of myself in the changing room and tapping my fingers waiting for yeys and neys.
Despite asking eveyone for eating recommendations, we ended up in chains, because we simply don’t get the good stuff over in Ipswich, sob. So we started the day gobbling pancakes and coffee at Bill’s and moved on to coconut noodles at Wagamama – this is seriously my new favourite dish there.
We also stared at the cathedral for a bit, dipped into a vegetarian cafe for juice and had a merry little walk down to the quay which was just perfect on such a sunny spring day.
After an afternoon of watching Honey on ITV2 (BEST.FILM.EVER.), attempting to nap (me), reading the newspaper (Chris) – can you tell why I couldn’t *actually* nap with someone turning pages really loudly? – we checked out the hotel bar for pre-dinner prosecco. Which is pretty much the best sort of prosecco you can have. Aside from airport prosecco, and birthday prosecco, obvs.
And then we went to Byron, because burgers win every single damn time. No, but seriously, I wish more places outside of London would catch on to the macaroni cheese side thing, it’s literally all my wildest food dreams come true.
I went for the B-Rex which is just a monster. A really sexy, dinosaur-themed monster that includes onion rings and jalapenos and bacon and barbecue sauce and ohmygod I’m so stupidly hungry just typing that out. Damn eating a broccoli, chicken and avocado salad for lunch today.
We also snuck into Coal Bar & Grill for their ALL THE TIME 241 Happy Hour on cocktails. I’ve never heard of this chain before as it’s mostly located in the west, but yeah, £4 cocktails win every time – we had the peach amaretto sours, which is pretty much everything right with the world in 2015.
And then I slept soundly until about 6am when Chris’s snoring got too aggressive and I held his nose with my fingers to make him stop, and then he woke up because he probably thought I was trying to smother him or summin (promise I wasn’t guys, promise promise).
We grabbed coffee and croissants from the station Costa and headed back east, to Rudey and ironing and life and trains that weren’t *quite* as comfy and speedy and prompt as First Great Western.
I really like Exeter, and think that it misses out on lots of glory because it’s close to Bath, and well, everyone loves Bath because Roman spas and that. But Exeter is seriously good, like better than Cambridge OR Brighton (I recks anyway) and if all that fails you – it has ridiculously Instagram-worthy streets, and so many places that would make the DREAM backdrops for outfit photos. And it has a big Zara. And those cheap cocktails. And it’s two and a half hours out of London, so yeah, that.