Although Plymouth is a nice town with lots to do and see with many historical associations, my personal feeling is that it is too big if one is on holiday. There are two JD Wetherspoon pubs there and I was not able to find one of them, so that didn't increase my enthusiasm to stay there!! Here then is my light hearted guide of short breaks to get away from Plymouth. The first thought that crosses my mind is to head North for Dartmoor. This is such a huge and unspoiled part of the country where one is able to see many animals in their natural environment such as ponies, sheep and horses, and the added advantage is that the scenery is stunning. For an insight a look at Dartmoor Prison wouldn't go amiss, it is a frightening building in a lonely location, when I was last outside it at 7 at night the mist came down AND the fan belt came off of my car at the same time but I decided I wasn't staying THERE, so drove on anyway to the safety of nearby Tavistock, which is also a lovely market town just on the borders of Devon and Cornwall and supped of a well deserved pint whilst the RAC fixed the car. For several of these reasons I've decided to plan my fantasy festival in another op on Dartmoor. Another alternative from Plymouth is to take the free car ferry across to Cornwall. There is also the alternative of going over the river by the road bridge, which at the last time I went was a very attractive one built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and well worth seeing, but I thought I'd mention the ferry to prove I'd been there and not copying this from a book and to give you an alternative. One ends up not more than about 15 miles from some lovely seaside towns of which I will mention three. The first is Looe, which is basically split into two, East and West by the river. What I like about all the places in Cornwall I have been to including those I will mention is that nearly every house is a totally different colour
giving a very unusual impression, though I personally would not live in a pink or purple house!! The streets of Looe are quite small but it is worth a stroll round to have a look at the small shops and restaurants. There are numerous pubs on each side of the river, connected by either the bridge or a small passenger ferry which is quite fun and cheap. The harbour is interesting being the centre of shark fishing in England, and as such is very busy. Also Looe island is worth seeing, being just a few hundred metres from the harbour For animal lovers there is a monkey sanctuary a couple of miles away, and no I didn't escape from there before you ask !! The second town I will mention is about 3 miles further on, Polperro. This is a very quaint fishing town, but don't take the car as the streets are just too small. One has to park about 1/2 mile from the town in a large car park which is quite expensive at ANY time, and then walk or take a tram (some horse drawn ). The town climbs up the cliffs, and it is very beautiful and amazing in that the houses could have been built there at all, or that anybody could live there, shouldn't think Tesco's take too kindly at home deliveries either. The town has a long standing association with smuggling, and as such there is a small museum near the small harbour. There are many pubs and restaurants, mainly with very low beams inside. I ate in the hotel, an excellent steak for the princely sum of £5. I actually drove round the town and because of the one way system ended up 10 miles from where I intended (must have been the ST. Austell beer !) The third town I will mention is Fowey, a town with sailing traditions being situated on the River Fowey. Parking is plentiful but again the streets are fairly narrow. The shops here are excellent, as are the pubs and restaurants with river side views. For the avid drinker try this, a pint in each pub followed by a trip across the river on a wat
er taxi to Polruan to have one in the Lugger on the harbour, and then the other pub just behind, then tack along the river a mile or two to Bodinnick (Daphne Du Maurier lived here ), another pint then back across on the quaint car ferry to finish the pub crawl. The King of Prussia on the quay at Fowey is worth a visit. Fowey is a MUST around August Bank holiday, the carnival snakes it's way around the tiny streets at night while the participants are attempting their pub visits, and the audience looks on with plentiful pints in hand, for a laugh see the Polruan version on their very steep streets. You wouldn't guess from this that I've had many a good time with my friends at the Carnival would you ?? The last time I was there I hid in a dustbin because a friend had brought home a young lady, and her dad decided to burst into the house at about 1a.m. Jeez was he big !! Finally for the serious in mind, drive another 10 miles or so to the National Trust property of Llanhydrock. It's about £5 to get in but well worth it, especially if stuck for something to do on a typically wet British day. There are about 50 rooms to see, the most interesting being the numerous kitchens, about 10 in all. There's one for dairy, one for meat, one for vegetables etc. On the day I went there were also trips up the drive in a 1930 Humber to save the weary legs, or in my case to get back to Fowey quicker ! For the beer fan however, try the guided tour of St .Austell brewery, about £4 with free beer chucked in. Like me, you'll never want another pint once you've tasted St. Austell.I've mentioned pubs and beer a bit haven't I ?? That's because my job is a beer taster for Guiness.....no sorry, I was on holiday and got into the relaxed mood of this beautiful area, you should experience it for yourself. I will be back to the area in September 2002, so there's a recommendation.