So, to recap, this is where the work and travel blogs merge. I’ve landed myself a four month secondment to BBC Radio Devon – and when I’m not busy doing that, I’ve made it my mission to explore as much of my glorious temporary home as possible.
And you could do a lot worse than starting here.
This is the Royal William Dockyard, once a key part of Plymouth’s Royal Navy base. The impressive buildings were designed by John Rennie. And they were certainly built to last. Today the military has been replaced by businesses, bars and apartments. Because of their listed status, every conversion has to be done carefully. And some of the present building work wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Dragon’s Den.
It’s a wonderfully industrial, rugged place. And yet, it blends in far more beautifully than some of the more modern developments gracing Millbay Docks.
The docks themselves are still very much a working concern, with a marina jostling for space with an international car ferry terminal. And it’s worth remembering that many famous people landed here. So much so, that a Hollywood style “wall of fame” was constructed.
Plymouth Hoe is a brilliant landmark. Smeaton’s Tower (the lighthouse) forms part of the city’s publicity machine entitled Destination Plymouth. Every major city or town seems to have one of these bodies these days, with the sole aim of drumming up tourism and conference business. The BBC website this week featured a Great Western train decked in the iconic image. The comments accompanying it were largely neutral or negative.
And here’s the thing : exactly the same thing happens in my home city of Nottingham. Whatever the initiative, local people seem convinced that it’s either a waste of money or generally “a bad thing”. In Plymouth’s case, the phrase “Britain’s Ocean City” is met with cries of “is that the best you can do?” Yet, as a newcomer, I think it’s quite neat. Once you get over the 1950s concrete dominating the post-war city centre, Plymouth really is an impressive destination.
Perhaps appropriately, today is Armed Forces Day, and the Hoe is full of military figures past and present.
The weather switches quickly between sunshine and horrendously sharp showers. During one of the downpours, two teams of school children do a gun running race in the main arena. Despite the rain, the show must go on.
Oh, and it’s definitely not a holiday. Ok?