It was as the train set-off from Waterloo that @LoftforWords postulated on the following. We consider trainspotters to be 'odd': people who get up on a weekend (probably early), to take a trip (possibly lengthly) to a random (and presumably dull) part of the country, to see, photograph, and record the serial number of a particular train. Yet a football fan is equally odd: we get up on a weekend (usually early), to take a trip (often lengthy) to a random (and likely dull) part of the country, to see, photograph, and record the result of a football match. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
We passed through many, many places that morning as our train wound through increasingly smaller settlements far in to the western limb of England, eventually arriving in Exeter where we would drink beer, discuss football, and watch our team exert the minimum of effort required to just about beat a lower league opponent. And this Saturday, I wouldn't be surprised if another group mirror our trip to view the splendour of the British Rail Class 159 Floor 159022 - an exceptional locomotive.
I've not been to Exeter before (cue Mum: "we took you there when you were eight!"), but from what I saw in those ten hours, it's well worth another trip. Incredibly, the first place I would revisit would be Wetherspoon's very own The Imperial. Sitting atop a grassy hill, overlooking the railway and river in the valley below, with it's own gatehouse and driveway - yes, it is a Whetherspoon's - the pub is a TARDIS of four or five cavernous rooms and a Jules Verne inspired conservatory that has to be seen to be believed - yes, it is a Whetherspoon's!
Sitting in the sunshine, with a couple of pints of Marston's Ashes Ale (4.1%), we then headed to the darkened rooms of The Old Firehouse, in the dead centre of Studentsville. Here, between mouthfuls of pie and chips, we managed to scare off a dating couple and drink a couple of ciders - it seemed fitting being in the West Country. It would probably be good place to spend a while longer, especially during term time, but the football was calling and the dating couple looked as if they might need to move again.
Other pubs included The Wells Tavern - with it's clear NSS (No Smooth Surfaces) policy in the toilet - and The Great Western - with it's thermostat set to baste. These can both be avoided unless you're looking for a pre-game drink that's spitting distance from the ground or an alternative waiting room that's spitting distance from the station.