Yesterday after a friend suggested she take Mum off our hands so we could have a nice day out together, my hubby and I went to Plymouth for a lovely outing to the Barbican, the oldest part of the city, down by the sea. It is a place full of atmosphere, with cobbled streets and tiny narrow winding alleyways, and a rich maritime history. Along the main streets there are plenty of gift shops and art galleries and eating places. There is a small covered arcade of shops called “The House that Jack Built” and it was in here that I discovered a shop entirely devoted to buttons! Here is a decorative tile set into the floor which took my fancy.
Buttons, buttons, buttons!
and more buttons!
We found a shop that specialised in chocolate sculptures and exotic cakes, and I couldn’t resist this glorious wedding cake with a sea theme.
Here’s one of the chocolate sculptures.
It was a bit difficult to photograph things in this shop window because of the reflections.
Here is a view of the main shopping street.
Some art glass in one of the galleries. The artist is called Richard Glass, appropriately.
This is New Street, which has to be one of the oldest streets in Plymouth – not easy to get a good photo, and apologies for the wheelie bins!!
This is the site of the old Fish Market, which now houses shops and restaurants. I remember coming down here many years ago, very early in the morning, and witnessing the fishing boats coming in, and managing to get some scraps for the cats! I also picked up a scallop shell which had been thrown aside, and which I still have.
The Dolphin Hotel, with its well-known facade.
Another street view, overlooking the harbour.
This has to be one of the oldest buildings in the city. I love the stone work, and the filled-in arches which show how the building has been changed in the past. The roof is obviously more modern, but the chimneys are old, and boast quite a lot of plant life growing out of them!
One of several snickets, known as “opes” with a view of an old warehouse in the distance. You can make out the crane with the pulley, which was used to lift things in and out through the large doors at the top.
Another ope with the Custom House in the distance.
Interesting street sign.
More art glass.
Our afternoon culminated in a tour of the Plymouth gin factory.
This has a very long and distinguished history dating back to the 1400s. It is a small concern but is still producing Plymouth gin in its distinctive bottles, in both “normal” and the stronger “navy” strength. We saw the single still that produces the gin, and in the tasting room, examined all the “botanicals” which go into the gin to give it its unique flavour – not just juniper berries, but lemon and orange peel, cardamom, angelica and other spices! We had a taste, and were then treated to a gin and tonic before we left via the shop, where I bought a bottle of their gorgeous sloe gin – quite the best commercially produced I’ve ever tasted. A lot of people make their own around here from the sloes which grow abundantly on Dartmoor (which the Plymouth Gin factory also uses) and this always tastes a lot nicer than the normal commercial stuff. It was a very interesting tour.
Years ago we had a French lady staying with us, who went on a tour of the factory, and on her return, when we asked how she’d enjoyed it, she replied, “It was bizarre…” and described how she couldn’t understand what was going on at all, with the large copper vessels and pipes and so on – she’d understood she was going on a tour of the Plymouth Jeans Factory and was mystified by the complete absence of even a shred of denim!
The weather was horrible yesterday and it poured with rain on the way over and on the way back, but we managed to escape getting wet, and were able to sit on a bench overlooking the harbour with all the boats, to eat our sandwiches. You can see from the photos how overcast it was, but we didn’t let the weather spoil our enjoyment. We used to live in Plymouth and have always loved the Barbican, and it was fun to return and be tourists for a day!