United Kingdom
Millbay Park

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    • Day 62

      Catastrophic Discovery in Plymouth

      October 25, 2016 in England ⋅ 15 °C

      Tuesday October 25th
      In Which I make a Catastrophic Discovery

      Our three nights in St Ives had been most enjoyable. We quickly learned our way around the maze of narrow streets and we had shared some delightful meals at some of the local restaurants. However all good things must come to an end, and it was now time to pack our bags into the rental car for the final time. Our plan was to drive the 120km or so to Plymouth, stay there for one night before catching the train back to London the following morning. It should have been a relatively easy day. It didn't turn out that way.

      Things went a little pear shaped right from the beginning. For some reason the GPS decided to torment us a little more by taking us a brand new way out of the city. We wondered why we were heading in an unfamiliar direction, after we had almost learned our way around, however we thought that maybe it was a good shortcut to Plymouth. It wasn't. It was a quick access to a navigational nightmare.

      Almost immediately we found ourselves jamming down a narrow walkway with a huge stone fence on either side. I just hoped that no car would appear around the next corner. But one did. We both sat looking at each other wondering who was going to crack first. The other driver was a young girl who seemed just as uncertain as me as to what we should do next.

      Since I was older, I indicated that I would reverse back, but she refused to move. I reversed back a little and stopped. She stayed still. I beckoned her forward. She stayed still. Curiouser and curiouser. Inexplicably she then started to hesitantly reverse back, veering wildly from side to side. I followed at a respectful distance, until finally we broke through to a wider section of road, where I allowed her to get past. I continued for a short distance before finding a driveway and U turning. I had decided to leave St Ives by the way we were already familiar with. This way seemed to a cruel practical joke.

      Soon we were cruising along a good A road and it looked like the rest of the day would be smooth sailing. The kilometres ticked by quickly. By mid day we started to get a little peckish and looked for a town to get some lunch.

      I turned off towards a likely looking town with the name of Liskeard, found a car park and walked the steep streets looking for the best cafe.

      We soon found a place and were working our way through heaped piles of food. At least we had solved our hunger problem. We walked back to the car and looked for the best way to get back to the main road to Plymouth. Like all English towns, the roads were completely confusing but we did find an alleyway that seemed to be heading in the right direction. It was only one car wide and only too late did we see what sort of mess we had driven into. The road did a series of tight switchbacks, steep and far too narrow for the large Vauxhall Mokka we were driving.

      I tried to approach the first bend and got stuck half way round. Two local lads came out to watch the fun. I could have murdered both of them. Maggie got out to lend her advice. I drove backwards and forwards. The wheels were skidding on the steep slope and we were about 2 inches from the stone walls on either side. Spinning the wheel furiously and praying for divine guidance, I somehow managed to get my camel through the eye of the (first) needle and then tackled the second switchback. It was real nerve tingling stuff, but somehow we escaped the jaws of death and regained the main road. No more detours I decided.

      One of the conditions of the car rental was that it must be returned with a full tank of petrol. I found a petrol station on the outskirts of Plymouth and decided that it would be a perfect place for the final tankful of fuel. I filled up and then walked to the cashier to pay. Out comes the wallet. I started looking for my debit card. Where was it ? I looked in every compartment of the wallet. No sign. It was gone without trace. My heart started pounding. Where had I last used it ?

      I returned to the car and both of us looked everywhere. No card. I figured that the last time we had used it had been when we paid for the B&B at ST Ives. I rang the owner and was actually quite relieved when he told me that I had left it in the machine. At least I knew where it was. My problem was how to get reunited with the card. The B&B owner arranged to post it to our hotel in London. He assured me that British mail is really good. I certainly hoped so. It had been a stressful time.

      Fortunately we made The Imperial Hotel in Plymouth without further difficulties or accidents. Our first impressions of both the hotel and of the city itself were both very, very positive.

      The hotel was a large distinguished looking building, very close to the famous Plymouth Hoe region of waterfront. Apparently it was originally built as the mansion of a naval admiral and had been converted at some stage to a hotel.
      With its high ornate ceilings, wide staircases, large windows and spacious rooms, it really was a lovely place to spend an evening. We soon regretted that we had not planned for more time in this lovely city.

      Although we were not due to return our hire car until the next day, we decided that we did not need it any more and that we could take it back a day early. The depot was only about 1 km from the hotel and we were soon back at the hotel minus the car. It was a bit of a relief to be free of the car and the related stress. From now on our exploration would all be on foot.

      Since the hotel was so close to the waterfront, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking the beautiful Plymouth Hoe region. The most famous ex resident of Plymouth is Sir Francis Drake. According to the legend, Drake was playing bowls at Plymouth Hoe when he was told about the invading Spanish Armada. He is reported to have replied that he had time to finish his game before defeating the Spanish.

      When he returned with stolen Spanish treasure on his famous ship The Golden Hind in 1580, Queen Elizabeth was entitled to one half as her share. The plunder was so immense that this accounted for more than the Queen's income from all other sources in that year. No wonder she rewarded him with a knighthood. Drake used some of his fortune to buy a huge mansion for himself in Plymouth.

      Drake eventually died of dysentery at the relatively young age of 55 and was buried at sea in a lead coffin. Treasure hunters still search for the elusive location of this coffin.

      There is no doubt that Plymouth is a handsome city. Unlike many English towns, the streets are wide, the traffic flows smoothly, there are many beautiful parks and the waterfront views are amazing. In fact, of all the places we had seen so far in our travels in the UK, this is the first place that I could actually consider living in.

      Tomorrow we will be catching the train to London and our 2016 European Odyssey will be drawing to a close.
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    • Day 2

      Aquarium und Kaffee

      July 5, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Am Nachmittag gings ins Aquarium, inklusive Octopus-Show und einem Hai-Rochen-und Meeresschildkröten- Becken 🦈🐙
      Danach für einen Mocha und Ice Cream zurück zum Hafen 🍦☕

    • Day 2

      Last evening in Plymouth

      July 5, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Dinner im Pub direkt am Hafen, live Musik und dabei die letzten Sonnenstrahlen geniessen 😍🌊

    • Day 9


      June 8, 2022 in England ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

      It's a tiny village you've probably never heard of it. If you found Looe having two Coops as startling as I did, then hearing that Plymouth has 30 Coops could well give you a stroke. It also happens to have seven Lidls, five Wetherspoonses and an en-route McDonalds. Apparently Sir Francis Drake concluded a game of bowls down on the hoe, where Smeaton's tower now stands, just before sailing out to defeat the Spanish armada (bet he skilled Ortega). Nowadays it's clearly still got naval significance as I could see a giant warship circling from where I was (not) sleeping all night.

      Edit: Plymouth is horrible lol
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    • Day 22

      Back to Plymouth

      July 4, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      Whilst our B & B was in a lovely setting and the establishment itself was good, the owners (mother and two sons) were somewhat strange! We had to eat dinner there as we were quite a distance from any other place (initially, we thought that evening meals were not provided so we were looking at begging for a few bread rolls!). Our meals turned out to be micro-waved frozen meals for which we paid restaurant prices! and breakfast was pretty ordinary as well.

      Anyway, an early start to the day meant we could cover the walk to Plymouth (22 km) in reasonable time.

      Lots of lovely scenery of course plus quaint little towns (Cawsand and Kingsand).

      Beautiful garden (Mount Edgecumbe House and country park grade 1 national register of historic parks and gardens, 17th and 18th gardens, complete with lovely folly) before we caught the Cremyll Ferry to King William dock.

      Our B & B tonight is the worst of the lot! Very small, cluttered with tatt, no glasses, tiny TV (no good for the tennis) intermittent WiFi, plastic tablecloths on breakfast tables … we have been spoilt!
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    Millbay Park

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