The Million Pound Jewel

“That thing costs Plymouth a million pounds a year and it’s a complete waste of money!”  Barbara is eighty one and angry. I was surprised at her reaction. We’d been waiting at a bus stop on the coast path, overlooking Plymouth Sound – not far from where she’d learned to swim. But she was adamant…

Land Of Ope And Glory

Throughout Devon towns and cities, you’ll see street signs ending “Ope”. They’re normally side roads and the meaning is simply short for “opening”. Which is apt, as I open a new chapter in Plymouth – moving to my very own Ope. When I mentioned to colleagues that my new address was on Theatre Ope, few…

Start The Week

The tourists have largely gone, which makes exploring Devon at this time of year a whole lot easier. Yet “this time of year” doesn’t feel like the first week of October. Much of the UK has been enjoying the Indian Summer, but nowhere else has quite the same views as those in Start Bay on…

Cruise Control

In rural areas, I’m often impressed by the topiary lining some of the roads. Up until now, I’d always assumed it was the careful work of the local council’s highways department, diligently trimming every tree and hedge in uniform fashion. But it’s more likely to be the work of a double decker bus, swiping through…

A Prior Engagement

As far as villages go, Fairmile in East Devon is fairly nondescript. But its modesty, tucked away by the side of the A30, belies its recent past. Here, in the mid 90s, I interviewed a young man camping with his mates in a field. They’d vowed to stop the road being widened, and were among…

Making Tracks On Dartmoor

For many newcomers to Devon – myself included – Dartmoor can seem a very inhospitable place. There’s no doubt that its remote, bleak location was a great place to put a prison. But it’s threatening wilderness can be tackled in relatively easy chunks, so long as you start in the right place. Thankfully, several public…

Yachties, Trust and Honesty

The last time I was in Salcombe I met The Levellers. Quite by random, they were playing at the very first Salcombe Festival, which must have been around 1998. This isn’t the kind of event that an indie, somewhat leftie band, would normally be seen. The lead singer, Mark Chadwick, joked that he “loves to…

Moor Or Less

Let me make it clear. I don’t do camping. The idea of having a thin sheet of canvass between me and the elements for a whole night has never appealed. As for caravans – well, in this part of the world they’re universally hated by just about everyone except the idiot clogging up the roads…

The Lakeman District

Live music is often best served in a pub, and you never quite know the standard to expect. Unless you’re in Plympton Saint Maurice. This pretty village has given way to urban sprawl to the north, with housing and industrial developments effectively merging it with Plymouth. But stay on the bus for a couple of…

Strete’s Ahead

In many rural areas, a major “A” road may as well be a side lane leaning to a farm. The topography makes widening the routes virtually impossible. But the positive side, as far as I can make out, is that the challenging conditions put many people off driving along them. It can be the only…

Setting Sail

“Everyone sails in Plymouth. Everyone. We must get you out on the water!” My landlord, Adrian, loves nothing more than his boats. Specifically ones with sails. That this was the sum of my technical knowledge didn’t bother him. “I don’t expect you do much sailing in Nottingham, do you?” Correct. And so, on a warm…

Go West

So, having been in Devon for exactly three days, I’m running the risk of starting a local war. By going to Cornwall. I partly blame my acquaintance and staunch Kernowist (I’ll get this terminology sorted our soon) Rob. He was taught how to speak Nottingham by reciting the words “Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet” in…