Tuesday, 15 February 2011

PLYMOUTH

Welcome to Devon! When I was growing up in West Cornwall, Plymouth, a good two hours away by train, was the nearest place with a remotely decent shopping centre, so every so often my mother and I would make the long trek the length of Cornwall for our shopping day in Plymouth. Plymouth was also the first place where I ate in a Chinese restaurant. I still remember the sense of wonder at the exotic taste and texture of the chicken in my chow mein. Unfortunately, Plymouth has during this century suffered two onslaughts on its aesthetics. The first was during World War II when the city suffered badly at the hands of enemy bombers. A ruined church, Charles Church, still stands in the city centre as a reminder of that time. The second onslaught came courtesy of the architects responsible for so much of the hideous post-war architecture visited upon war-torn cities such as Plymouth. However, there are signs of hope on the horizon with a scheme called “Vision for Plymouth”, which aims to give the city a much-needed makeover. Let’s hope the economic mess the country is in doesn’t put paid to it, because if it comes off, it will give this magnificently situated maritime city the kudos it deserves.

In contrast to the visually-challenged shopping and business districts of Plymouth, the Hoe and the Barbican are attractive to wander round. The pleasant, grassy expanse of the Hoe, dominated by the jauntily red-and-white striped Smeaton’s Tower, was the scene of a famous game of bowls in 1588, which Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing before setting off to give the Spanish Armada a thrashing. The city has seen two other famous departures: Captain Cook sailed from Plymouth in the Resolution in 1772 on his circumnavigation of the globe, and the Pilgrim Fathers left Plymouth for the New World in the Mayflower in 1620.  A more recent development for visitors to enjoy is Sutton Harbour, with its Marina and a great selection of restaurants, bars and shops.

For a list of events in Plymouth, see here.


Map
of the area.

File:Smeatons' Tower and the Hoe from the sea - geograph.org.uk - 1680191.jpg
Photo by Paul Buckingham, via Wikimedia Commons

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