Leeds&me on tour: Plymouth

I often find it difficult to keep in touch with people. Partly because I’m quite shy, partly because life gets in the way, partly because I’m guilty of taking my friends for granted sometimes. An exception, though, is two friends that Ant and I met when we spent time travelling in 2009. Morbhen lives in Edinburgh, we live in Leeds and Matt lives in Plymouth but we’ve all made the effort to keep in contact and meet up a few times. It’s an odd friendship, based on just a couple of intense days together in Fiji, packed with memories and in-jokes and experiences that only the four of us share, but it’s more than just nostalgia that keeps us in touch.

This time we all got together in Plymouth, a city I’ve never been to before. I loved how walkable it was, and the contrast between the different parts of the city. Much of it was heavily bombed during World War Two, so there are zones of boxy 1950s buildings, but areas like The Barbican by the harbour retain a quirky feel, kind of like York but by the sea, and a bit less posh.

As Matt is a marine biologist we couldn’t pass up on visiting the National Marine Aquarium with an expert in tow, and some fresh seafood was a bit of a must do, too. We’ve demolished some serious quantities of gin together in the past, so we took a tour of Plymouth Gin Distillery, and explored Royal William Yard, where we went to a farmer’s market and the most hipster bakery I’ve ever encountered. I’d recommend pretty much all of these things, if you’re ever down that way, and I’d like to come too, if you don’t mind, thank you!

I don’t think I’ve ever taken as many pictures as I did that weekend, so apologies and I’ll try to break them up a bit with explanations. If that sounds like your worst nightmare, I’d quit scrolling right about now!

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First impressions of Plymouth were pretty flipping good – the sun came out, there was a family film screening in one of the main shopping squares and when we got to the Hoe – the area at the waterfront – it was just about the most picturesque thing you could imagine.

Next up: the National Marine Aquarium. I’m actually pretty pleased with the pictures I got in there though they’re not the highest quality – everything was displayed in an amazingly photogenic way except for the octopus which apparently likes it pretty dark and gloomy.

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Most interesting fact learned from our resident expert: hermit crabs have rap battles to establish ownership of shells. (No, sseriously, read this academic abstract.)

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Not many pictures of the gin factory because you can’t take electricals in – you even have to touch a metal bar on your way in just in case you’re a bit static-y. The cocktails from afterwards were brilliant!

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By Sunday, when we went to Royal William Yard, the weather had taken a bit of a downturn…

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We retreated to the bakery in search of tea and cake. This place was unreal – a huge warehouse where you just pick up whatever you want off the trays, sort yourself a drink then remember what you’ve had and pay on the way out. So hipster it hurt me, but I LOVED it too.

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These ceramic eggcups were all we could find to drink out of. Yeah, I know. But anyway, this scone just below changed my life. I’ve already tried to bake a batch using their youtube recipes and they were a dream! The recipe makes about a hundred giant scones and it’s hard to divide down but it’s totally worth it.

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