A trip to Plymouth during the weekend is so rewarding. An escape from the hustle and bustle of London city is always welcomed.
I had one of the most memorable train journey to Plymouth. Watching the vast green fields and hills swooshing past outside the windows is a satisfying experience. Yet the best part is during the journey approaching Plymouth, where the train passed by the edge of sea, giving a weird sensation as if we were gliding above the vast sea.
Met up with Ray's old friends from Plymouth, Wong and Hong. They acted as guides to bring me around Plymouth while Ray went for his work. A walk from the City Centre to Barbican showed me the Cathedral, Guildhall and Plymouth Gin.
Strolling at Barbican, where Drake and Raleigh once weighed anchor, ensures a great relaxation. There was a bustling community of stylish cafes, tea shops, craft workshops and galleries. In fact, many of their local artists, such as Beryl Cook and Lee Woods, have attained global reputations.
Standing at the Mayflower steps, where the Pilgrim Fathers first embarked on Plymouth, I surveyed the area. The National Marine Aquarium (largest Aquarium in Great Britain, deepest tank in Europe) stood by the pictureque harbour, where many boats rested on the gently lapping waters. I love the wamr mediterranean quayside atmosphere, I love the rich artistic heritage of shops and cafes, I love the warm sunshine and gentle breeze... I made it a point to take the Tamar Cruise in my next trip to have a good look at the Dockyard, Warships and of course, the sea.
We then walked to the Hoe, where I was fascinated by the beautiful rocky cliff and slopes. Smeatons tower stood high on the cliff. This masterpeice of John Smeaton, built by 1493 blocks of stone and 1800 Oak Renails, formed a centrepiece of the Hoe and has become one of the most well known landmarks in Plymouth. It is a pity that we did not have a chance to climb to the lantern room on the top, where we can see a breathtaking view. However, we did not manage to get into the Plymouth Dome because it was way past the closing time. Next time, perhaps.
What striked me most though, is the friendly atmosphere and the relaxed attitude of the people here. Things moved much slower than in London, and people smiled and called out to one another more than we do in London. I realized I enjoyed small town atmosphere much more than the city hectic life, and this is such a great holiday break for me.
We went to a Chinese restaurant where Ray used to work. We were pleasantly surprised to find such a close-knitted community in Plymouth, where everyone practically knows everyone. The best chef in Plymouth, a good friend of Ray, paid for our meals, making us feel a bit paiseh with him. Such was the warm and close relationship of the small town people... I love it.
My greatest harvest in Plymouth is to get to know a few marvellous friends, Wong, Hong and Visya. We had fun together, and celebrated 2005 Mooncake Festival in the kitchen of Wong's house. The Ah Hong's style nasi goreng in the next morning and the Debenhams coffee break were enjoyable too.
Like I usually say, I will be back to this lovely place.