Monday, 28 September 2015

Pilgrims and Pubs, Cannon and Lighthouses in Plymouth

Thursday 17 September 2016. We had originally set off to go to Falmouth but, instead of looking at the map, I remembered seeing signs on the way to Polperro so headed 90 degrees in the wrong direction and subsequently the wrong direction by 180 degrees on joining the A30 and we ended up deciding to carry on to Plymouth once we realised we had gone irreparably wrong!

So we crossed the Tamar Bridge with Brunel's famous Royal Albert Bridge to our side and found ourselves in Devon. Plymouth has one of those approaches that confuses the hell out of any drivers not from around those parts. You seem to describe several figures of eight before you get to where you want to be. In our case I had to do a nifty U-turn to avoid entering the Naval Dockyard...

We parked under a rather dubious sky near the Barbican and walked down to the waterside to this view of the Mayflower Steps. A boat trip was just waiting to go out with a party off a Shearings coach. There seemed to be a bit of a flap on because there were two people fewer on the boat than there had been on the coach...

The Mayflower was a 3-masted square rigger and by no means new by the year 1620. Whilst Plymouth has traditionally been thought of as her last port before setting out (she first picked up passengers in both London and Southampton), it is now thought that she called into Newlyn in Cornwall to replace water casks, the water loaded in Plymouth having found to have been responsible for illness in the city.

The Mayflower Steps, where those first brave pilgrims, 102 in number, embarked for the voyage. "Are we on the all-inclusive?" came a voice from the back. "Look at the size of that ship! God preserve us, it must be three decks at least!"

Whilst the other passengers argued as to who had booked the best excursions, the Purser checked in the hold to ensure the cask of Milk of Magnesia was safely stowed. He knew that they might have to settle the New World...

The Barbican these days plays host to a modern marina. There are a few empty places evident against the nearest jetty. Either no one has yet bought a boat to go there or the owners of the boats that moor there are unaware of the rule that boats in a marina should never ever move...

There are a couple of modern buildings on the wharf. One is the Mayflower Museum, another has shops. Thankfully though many of Plymouth's old buildings still stand and add character to the Barbican.

Many of them, it has to be said, are pubs. In the days when Plymouth was a busy port those sailors off the many ships that came in were a thirsty bunch. And a motley one too - there would have been a few different languages adding to the noise of the area. The French would be demandez-ing vin blanc et vin rouge; the Danes would be snatching off their horned helmets to be filled with lager ("Lager, ye swab?" What the heineken is that?"). Even our own brave Jack Tars would be given a swift kick for ordering beer ("That's for childer ye lubbers! We serves good English ale here!")

The Three Crowns pub sits on the opposite side of the harbour to most of the other pubs. I'm not sure how old it is - there was quite a bit of bombing here in the Second World War and certainly Wikipedia ignores this pub which is usually a sign that it's not that old. If anyone knows better, please do tell.

Similarly the Navy Inn, despite the great name seems to boast no history on either Wikipedia or its own website. It does have live music though - yay!

Sigh... And it's more of the same at the Maritime too. All these pubs do look the business though. I was driving so couldn't really afford to go for a pint in each one. In fact, had I not been driving I'm still no good at pub crawling. I enjoy a pint - dark mild is a favourite tipple but rather hard to find these days - but two pints is enough to make me feel slightly bloated and queasy. Three and you would be carrying me home... I have to say I've never thought of this as a handicap...

As well as all the drinking places, there are a good number of eating places. The big difference about these in the South West that we noticed from previous visits is that the small traditional tea rooms seem to be a dying breed. All the cafes want you to buy a huge cooked dinner no matter what the time of day and regardless of whether you might prefer to eat your main meal in the evening.

We did find a great tea room though behind a tiny area with benches set back from the waterfront. It had lots of framed prints of the Royals of England from the Middle Ages onwards and in the background Bing Crosby was crooning from a tape or CD recorded from his old radio shows of the 1930s and 40s. An American man in his 40s was sitting alone at a table, happily immersed in the sounds of his own country's past. He was enthusiastic in complimenting the owner about the music as he left.

The tea rooms was at the back of the little square behind and to the right of the green umbrella. When we came out the sun had made an appearance and we sat for a while here with three Frenchmen chattering away on the next bench.

We had a look round the shop of the Mayflower Museum without going into the museum itself and then a walk around the headland to Plymouth Hoe...

...where preparations are still in place should those rascals the Spanish decide to have another go.

We had an ice cream from the van - 80p each and they tasted wonderful. The woman in front of me ordered a tub with a big dollop of clotted cream on the side. That looked as though it would have tasted wonderful too...

The walls are those of the Royal Citadel, constructed by Charles II after his restoration to the throne. Nominally to protect the port in case the Spanish or anyone else did come for another go, King Charles was also giving a warning to the people of Plymouth who had veered towards the Roundhead side of the tiff between the Royals and Parliament. The fort remains in military use even today. I know... I almost drove into it by mistake...

The lighthouse tower on Plymouth Hoe is known as Smeaton's Tower. It is in fact the upper portion of John Smeaton's lighthouse that was the third lighthouse to be built on the Eddystone Rocks. It was built there in 1759 and was replaced by the current Eddystone Lighthouse in 1877 and the people of Plymouth paid for it to be moved stone by stone to this spot.

We returned to Newquay for our evening meal which repast was served up in grand traditional style in a typical seaside cafe called Bunter's.

It was very windy and therefore not all that warm in Newquay and we decided to take to the car once again and head north along the coast for a little run out. This is Watergate Bay,

Tomorrow we'll have another attempt to get to Falmouth. It's an early night back at the B&B - I need to consult a map...

Cornwall Holiday Index

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments must be passed by moderator before appearing on this post.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...