I woke last Saturday to the usual morning stirrings within the house – Max getting up to make an obscenely middle class breakfast (that day I think it was roasted tofu and avocado and quinoa salad, or something equally preposterous), Liz groaning her way through an all night in ‘Top-Top’ hangover, and Theo’s one-night-stand quietly slipping out of the house, bearing several of his hoodies. This weekend, however, was going to be different. This weekend we were actually going to do something: we were all going to the cinema.
Most student cinemagoers tend to opt for the Vue cinema in Summerland Gate, but we decided to try the Picturehouse on Bartholomew Street. Picturehouse has, for some years, enjoyed a good reputation amongst local film fanatics due to its eclectic range of art films, international cinema and new releases. Currently on offer is a screening of Carlos Acosta’s direction of a series of short performances by the Royal Ballet (a nice introduction to various styles of classical music and dance for those who aren’t aficionados… Such as my housemates and I), Kenneth Branagh’s critically acclaimed production of The Winter’s Tale, and Spectre. Guess which one we went to see… Picturehouse also serves wood-fire pizza (though it’s not quite as reasonably priced as the Firehouse, of course) and on select dates they have live music in the restaurant/bar.
Our screening wasn’t until mid-afternoon, so I insisted we explore the area around the Picturehouse. “But there’s literally nothing to do around there,” Theo complained. A few weeks before I had been walking along Bartholomew Street in the sultry autumn dusk, and through a slight film of mist I saw a stunningly beautiful view out across Bonhay, which I instantly photographed and posted on instagram. Bonhay is almost a village in its own right that sits in a little valley over which the Iron Bridge stretches. It’s full of pretty houses with hanging baskets and pleasant old men who have been wearing the same pair of dirty dungarees and wellington boots since before the war, and bellow “MORNING!” at you when you pass (regardless of what time of day it is).
The area is also home to an imposing and handsome church, the St. Michael and All Angels Church. “I’ve never heard of that denomination before, I’d love to know about the history of it,” said Liz, ever the Theology student. “I read up on it after I instagramed my photo of Bonhay a few weeks ago” I replied. “Excellent,” said Theo, “do feel free to keep it to yourself mate.” I don’t think he was very happy about being dragged around to look at old houses and churches.
If, unlike Theo, idyllic Devonshire walks are your sort of thing, I can’t recommend this area enough. It’s incredibly beautiful and for some reason it’s always sunny when you go there. Coming back across the Iron Bridge we stopped in at the City Gate Pub, part of the historic Young’s Hotel chain, which continues to serve fantastic food and a wide selection of beers. The fish and chips is the best I’ve had in Exeter, even though it’s a bit pricey at £9. But when you’re doing an English degree and are acutely aware that the future holds nothing but poverty for you, sinking ever deeper into your overdraft doesn’t seem to matter that much.
“What did we all think of the film?” I asked as we left the cinema a few hours later. “I liked that it all turned out to be a sibling rivalry,” opined Theo, “it’s the same with me and my brother. He’s always had more attention from my dad because he’s so much better than me at rugby… But I don’t know if I’d drill into his brain because of it… Nah, I probably wouldn’t.” This is actually what he said. I’m not kidding.
On our way home we walked up North Street (which joins with the High Street), where there are several good restaurants and bars, all of which are surprisingly cheap. We picked up some Indian food from The Red Rose for about £6 per head (I was surprised that they served heads). North Street is also home to a sushi place called Steak N Sushi, which, granted, is not cheap, but for Exeter sushi fans your only alternative is the outstandingly overpriced Yo! Sushi, and I’m not a big fan of eating in places where all the chefs shout at you in unison when you come in.
So finally I had orchestrated a successful Saturday. Overall, the day cost around £15 each, and if you want discounted tickets to showings at the Picturehouse you can apply for membership and tickets go down to £6.50. But if you want to save money on food I suggest that you copy Liz, and get so drunk the night before that you are too hung over to eat the next day… Or get through the film without throwing up.