Mother Nature clearly has not referred to her calendar. A saying goes that March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb – well this lamb has a serious incontinence issue as today has definitely been big on the April showers. At least they were forecast, so we wrapped up and were prepared for when the heavens opened.
We planned to make the most of the drier forecast for the morning by walking to Calstock via Cotehele, then to catch the train to Devonport from where we’d walk to the King William Dockyard. The forecast tricked us a bit as we were caught in several heavy downpours on our way to the station. We were all a bit damp by the time the train arrived. It seemed as though most of Calstock had decided to catch the 11.56 train to Plymouth. The single coach rail-bus was quite full with plenty of excitable children, tired looking adults and four dogs (including a damp Zoly). I was quite relieved to get off in Devonport as Zoly in a confined space with lots of other dogs makes me nervous. He inevitably wants to play, not a good idea since 26kg of dog jumping and landing unexpectedly on you in a train carriage is never going to end well.
From the station we walked to the Dockyard via the lovely Devonport Park. This part of Plymouth is quite poor and has had lots of regeneration money spent on it. Devonport Park has benefited from this. Many of this Victorian park’s heritage features such as the bandstand, fountain, park benches and monuments have been restored. The ornamental bedding – a victim of budget cuts in so many areas, was still proudly on show in Devonport.
While we enjoyed the surroundings, Zoly also had fun bounding around and introducing himself to the four-legged locals. Like us, Zoly was dressed for the inclement weather with his finest red rain jacket on. I, too, was wearing a red jacket and what with my brown trousers and Zoly’s brown hair the similarities did not go unnoticed. As we walked along I heard two women behind us talking with broad Devonshire accents. One said to the other ‘look at him [referring to Zoly], don’t he look just like his dad’, the other adding ‘you can tell they’re together can’t you’. Mike, who does tend to see himself and Zoly as soulmates (separated at birth), took much offence at the notion that I and Zoly should be considered a natural coupling. Mike should pay more attention to his outfit coordination, I shall say no more!
It was about 20 minutes walk to the dockyard, through more heavy showers unfortunately, so we arrived damp and a bit chilly. We’d already checked up on dog-friendly Plymouth and we headed straight for the Seco Lounge. This cafe/bar is part of a chain that was founded in Bristol – the first ever Lounge was actually opened on North Street, just round the corner from our house. They’re always a safe bet for us as they have a vegan menu and are very dog-friendly. We ate, warmed up and dried off before heading of outside to look around the yard.
The Royal William Victualling Yard was the major victualling depot of the Royal Navy and an important part of Devonport Dockyard. In case you’re wondering what victualling is, it basically means they prepared all the food, drink and other provisions necessary for a naval voyage. It was built between 1826 and 1835, and occupies a site of approximately 16 acres (65,000 m2) but was closed in the early 1990s and eventually sold to private developers who have converted it into office space, luxury apartments (are there ever any other kind?), cafes and shops.
The buildings across the site are incredibly solid with fine Georgian architecture and chunky granite block construction. The yard occupies an impressive promontory overlooking Plymouth harbour. We walked Zoly around the perimeter and then up onto the Devil’s Point to take in the views over the harbour and Plymouth city. More rain showers beckoned so we took shelter in another food place, a trendy bakery where they served hot drinks too and made dogs very welcome (we like dog-friendly places).
Our return train journey was uneventful bar a terrier with a nervous disposition who went into fits of yapping every time the train doors opened. The dog’s American owner responded each time with repeated shouted “No” and instructions to the dog to “Stop”. Mike tried to inform her that the dog would probably be interpreting her shouting “No” and “Stop” as if she were joining in with the dog, so she was just reinforcing the behaviour that she was trying to stop and that she should not tell the dog off but rather try and distract the dog with treats (he’s read lots of books on the subject). She didn’t take too kindly to to the advice and simply assured him that the dog was ‘just excited as he’s nearing the end of his journey’. Thankfully Zoly wasn’t much bothered by the yapping and was happily snoozing stretched across our laps.
We walked back from Calstock via Cotehele, catching a couple of light showers but getting back to the cottage just before a horrendous downpour. Zoly had his dinner before we all headed off to the local Carpenter’s Arms for ours: a pre-anniversary pizza. Tomorrow is our second wedding anniversary. Traditionally this is marked by cotton gifts, but we’ll be celebrating it with a traditional supper of baked potatoes, beans and vegan sausage, if you can’t have a bit of sausage on your wedding anniversary, when can you?!