My hubby and I took my parents out for the day again yesterday. This time we went over to Plymouth and explored the eastern side of Plymouth Sound. My hubby used to live in that area before I knew him, so he knows lots of out-of-the-way places and there's still lots that's unspoilt, like the hidden bit of SE Cornwall that we visited last time we went out. This particular area is steeped in history and full of views of familiar places, but from a completely different perspective.
We had lunch in a pub in Turnchapel which has been run by the same couple for years, and she does all the cooking. We got an excellent 2-course meal, perfectly cooked, for £4.95 a head! My hubby has been going there for years and often goes there with his boating friends.
We were killing ourselves laughing half way through the meal, because my mum got up and went to look at the garden while we were waiting for our deserts to come, and my hubby took a swig of his drink and said, “This beer tastes a bit lemony!” He took a sip of my mum’s drink which was supposed to be a lemonade shandy and said “She’s been drinking my beer!” When she came back, I asked her if she was enjoying her shandy, and she drank some and said “Oh yes, I always enjoy a nice shandy!” My hubby was mouthing, “Don’t tell her!!” and she didn’t know why I was smiling so much and trying not to laugh! Next time we go out, I shall say to her, “Would you like a nice glass of beer today?” She will reply, “You know I don’t like beer!” Ha ha ha!!!
After lunch we explored Mount Batten, Bovisand and Wembury, with a quick detour to Down Thomas. There are lots of forts in the area – my hubby explained to us that Lord Palmerston built them in the days when there was real anxiety about a possible invasion by the French under Napoleon III, which never happened, so these forts are now known as Palmerston Follies!! Most of them have been used by the MOD and some are now in private hands.
Here are a few photos from our day out.
Terraced houses in Turnchapel:
The National Marine Aquarium from Mount Batten, taken with the zoom lens – this is one of my all-time favourite places to visit. Notice the sea-green glass windows and the roof shaped like a wave. In front, you can see the masts of the yachts in the marina.
Rock-climbing at Mount Batten - see Shoshi hanging on by her eyebrows up there! (...Not!)
Mount Batten Tower (this isn't a Palmerston Folly but dates from the time of Charles I):
Drake's Island, once used as a prison – from this angle you can see the prison buildings. Our local Alcatraz.
Staddon Heights Wall and the Golf Course:
This wall, which you can just see between the trees, is a free-standing wall which was built as a firing range. When it was first built, the locals thought it looked like a sea wall, and the story went around that it was built on the top of the hill by a particular British Isles ethnic minority not reknowned for their intellectual prowess (although I strongly dispute that notion - I believe they just have a different way of thinking from the rest of us lol!!), as a sea wall, and then they realised they couldn't drag it down to the sea, so they left it there!!
Here’s a view of the Palmerston fort at Staddon:
This one is definitely still MOD property, with all its “Keep Out!” signs in evidence!
Before we went to Bovisand, we had a little wander around Hooe. This is where Sir Francis Drake was playing his famous game of bowls when he spotted the Spanish Armada, not Plymouth Hoe, as is usually supposed. Also on the outskirts of Hooe is the site of Sir Walter Raleigh’s mansion, which was pulled down in the 1930s, and all that remains is his summer house. We approached the site down an extremely narrow lane, at the far end of which is a large locked gate giving access to more MOD property, and no turning space, so my hubby had to show off his reversing skills all the way back to the road, which impressed my parents no end! (We get plenty of practice round where we live, reversing down narrow lanes!)
All around this area there is a lot of evidence of military presence, much of which has now disappeared with the downgrading of the armed forces; I didn’t manage to get a photo of the RAF officers’ mess, unfortunately, as we were driving at the time and couldn’t stop, but it’s very impressive – a nice curved building with neo-classical leanings. RAF Mount Batten was where the flying boats were stationed, and their large hangars are still standing.
The RAF quarters for non-commissioned ranks are still around too – a far cry from the officers’ accommodations – it’s a rabbit warren of little brick block buildings huddled together and known affectionately by the locals as the “Hooe Loos”!! (I didn’t get a photo of those, either…)
And so on to Bovisand. Here’s a picture of the beach:
There’s a quite magnificent fort at Bovisand, another Palmerston Folly. From this point, one can see the Breakwater across Plymouth Sound, which I've never seen from this angle before; we were quite far round on the eastern side of the Sound and so were able to see it end on. The familiar view is full-on, from the Hoe, from where you can see it stretching across the Sound.
Here are some views of Fort Bovisand, which is incredibly massively constructed with huge granite blocks. The whole fort is pretty extensive, and after passing out of MOD hands, was for a while the home of the Plymouth School of Diving, where many North Sea divers were trained.
The part of the fort where the great guns were housed, down on the edge of the sea, is circular, and has the gun ports all around. The actual ports have been converted to windows, as you can see in the photo above, and the divers’ accommodations were in converted rooms behind.
Surrounding the ports are incredibly thick, multi-layered panels of steel armour, which was once painted, but the surface has corroded in the sea air, and the metal has begun to rust, giving rise to the most glorious grungey textures which I simply couldn’t resist!
Rocks below Bovisand Fort:
Here’s an interesting rock formation below the fort, beside the old sea wall:
I also took a couple of photos of the top of the wall I was beside when I took that photo – you know me – I love walls! I love the shapes and colours of the stones, and the spots of lichen.
After this we made our way to Wembury, via a quick detour to Down Thomas, another attractive little seaside village. The coastal path at Wembury is the property of the National Trust, and when I was well, it was one of my favourite walks – my hubby and I used to walk for miles along the cliffs, with the springy turf and wild flowers, and the wonderful sea air blowing in, and the skylarks singing… That’s one of the many things on my famous List of Things to Do if I ever get well again!!! The path that leads up to the church goes on up the cliff.
Colourful canoes at Wembury:
For a brief moment, there appeared an incredible streak of light on the horizon over the sea – the weather had been pretty changeable all day, but it didn’t rain, and there were occasional bursts of sunlight, but this was such a dramatic effect.
Finally, here are a couple of pictures of us! When I go out, I very rarely take family snapshots as my camera is usually drawn to the natural beauty of landscapes, quirky details, fun architecture, textures, textures, and – did I mention textures? LOL!! Here’s my hubby with my parents:
I was very amused at this because my mum was very anxious to cross her legs before I took the picture, so that the plaster on her leg ulcer wasn't showing!! In the next picture, she's hiding it behind my wheelchair! (she really is a hoot sometimes…) I hate this picture of me - my necklace is all crooked, and I look like a fat lump!!! (A friend on the Brainfog forum suggested that my necklace was crooked to balance my hubby’s crooked belt buckle! Ha ha ha!! What a scruffy lot we are!!!) My dad managed to cut our feet off, but I suppose that’s better than cutting our heads off (or perhaps you disagree?)!!
I really enjoyed the day, despite feeling pretty lousy all day. (I had a busy day last Sunday, and have suffered pretty severe payback every day since then.)
Hope you've enjoyed this vicarious trip around some of the lesser-explored bits of South Devon!