Hello, dear reader. I am sitting alone in the dark cowering in fear from a wasp. Good for the wasp for still managing to survive in mid-November, but curse that wasp for surviving in my close proximity.
Several weeks ago I went to Plymouth to visit my friend. I had never been to Plymouth before and I hadn’t seen that friend in two years. She is one of my closest friends. Our closeness is maintained by how infrequently we see each other, and semi-regular phone calls. She’s like my sister in that we have practically nothing in common but still are always there for each other. That and a shared history. I was looking forward to it.
Day One: Home Cooking
As was alluded to in a previous post, I made the poor decision of drinking too much wine before having a six hour coach trip. One good thing of this is that I managed to sleep for the entirety of the coach trip once the coach had left London. That’s one way to make a coach trip go quickly, but it will leave you feeling rough at the other end.
I arrived, had a falafel salad and carrot cake from Co-op (verdict: some of the better supermarket meal deals) and went walking on the moors with sister friend, her boyfriend and her dog.
She cooked pulled pork with crackling and salad for dinner, followed by apple and blackberry crumble. We picked the blackberries. It was all delicious. She once made me a hot chocolate that tasted of carrots. Culinary growth: it’s a wonderful thing.
Day Two: Fat Friday
Like all the fun people in the world, I like googling menus. Sista sista told me that we would be going to River Cottage with one of her nursing friends so that a) I could try River Cottage, and b) so that I could see that she now has normal friends that aren’t “complete chavs.”
We got the bus. People were friendly. I commented on how nice Plymouth was in a small way and was berated for calling Plymouth small because it’s a big city and that I had hardly seen any of it.
The harbour was nice. We could see Cornwall, the ocean and the moors. Plymouth may not be bigger than Manchester or London but it does have a certain elemental charm.
For a Friday afternoon it was pretty quiet. I’m pleased to assume that the people of Plymouth have jobs. Sister friend’s friend came along. She had warned me previously that her friend can be “a bit much”. We got on very well. In fact, the three of us got on so well that we all ordered the same main course: the venison burger.
I was torn between the venison burger and the fish and chips, which was on the (cheaper) lunch menu. After much hemming and hawwing I chose the venison burger as this is what excited me on reading the menus online beforehand. Also I don’t eat venison often, and that onion on top is quite jaunty.
It was tasty but a bit dry. 6.5/10. Maybe I should have gone for the fish and chips. Sister friend said that we’d get fish and chips the next day but we never did. Fish and chips by the sea, ah there’s nothing better.
Sister friend ordered the posset for dessert, and her friend and I shared the caramel fudge brownie. Fast friends we were indeed.
When the dessert came we were all in deep conversation which was sharply silenced on the first bite. It surely was rich, but conversation-stoppingly good. It made River Cottage worth the visit.
Fast friend drove us back to sister friend’s house, via the ho and around the town so that I could have a little tour of Plymouth from hairdresser’s top car of the early 2000s, the Ford Tigre.
Fast friend thought about leaving. She stayed when she heard our plans. We made scones, watched Aladdin and Maleficent. She said she was full, but joined in the festivities of Fat Friday by eating scones. For two girls in their mid- to late-twenties, they sure do love their Disney films and were quite shocked that I had seen neither Maleficent nor the new, live action Cinderella. People have trouble understanding life outside their own. I would recommend that everyone have a wide variety of friends so that they can take weekend breaks and see how other half live. That, or, like, read and have empathy or whatever. Lololol.
We finished Fat Friday with a pulled pork soup from the night before’s pulled pork. It was rather sweet, but I am rather greedy.
Day 3: A Walk
Our plans for the day were scuppered by the weather, so we walked her dog to Plympton. Sister friend seemed agitated on this day; she and her boyfriend had been arguing on the phone and the dog was being bad. Owning a dog seems like a lot of effort and mess, but they are pretty adorable.
To celebrate our 8km walk (she has an app for distance) we got ice cream from the Plymouth-famous Langage Farm. Sister friend said her favourite ice cream of all time was the honey and nut, which has its own fun name that I forget. I asked the server what she recommended and she said something that was too sickly sweet so I went for the chocolate fudge brownie.
The chocolate fudge brownie was some of the best ice cream that I’ve ever eaten. Thick, creamy, and with chunks of good quality brownie. The honey was fine. Chocolate ice cream is my favourite so I should have stuck with what I know.
“The worst part about that ice cream was that it had to end,” I said, licking my hand.
Devonshire ice cream is undeniably very tasty, but it still doesn’t beat real Italian Gelato.
Other note: Langage also provided the clotted cream that we had with our scones. You can buy it online but the mark up is extortionate.
We had a homemade pizza, a lacklustre game of Trivial Pursuit and no fish and chips.
Day 4: The Best Pie Of My Life
On my final day a pub lunch and country walk was planned. And delivered!
Tensions were high between the couple, apparently because of money or the dog. We drove to a pub that was “fifteen minutes away” (half an hour). There was an ambulance and my friend asked whether she should help. She’s a student nurse. Student nurses love to help.
Her boyfriend walked the dog around the car park and we went in to find a seat.
The Plume of Feathers Inn is a military pub, apparently, and has lots of regalia adorning the walls. Sister friend’s boyfriend ordered the food – Hunter’s Chicken for him, something vaguely healthy for her, and a steak and stilton pie for me – and, with drinks, we were amazed that it only came to £29.
The reason that it only came to £29 was that they didn’t put my order through. He was already agitated. It would be another 20 minutes wait for my food. They ate. The dog pissed on the floor. He dragged the dog outside.
“[Your boyfriend] doesn’t seem in the best of moods.”
“It’s a money thing. He’s fine.”
My pie came.
As there was already a negative vibe, I decided against being the awful person that I am an taking a picture and dug straight in.
That was the single best pie that I have ever had in my life.
The pastry is made on premises to order (hence the 20 minute wait). The steak was wonderfully tender and the stilton accentuated the naturally good flavours of the steak. It should have been too rich, but it was just right. I may have been sitting next to dog pee while sister friend’s boyfriend looked annoyed as hell about life and how this was taking so long, but I was going to savour it, dammit.
And I did.
It’s a good job that I didn’t take a picture because I still dream about that pie and the visual stimuli may have been too much.
We went for a walk on Dartmoor and everyone left happier.
We went back to the house for a hot chocolate and a Double Decker, then rushed me to the bus station. I got on the coach with two minutes to spare. The hot chocolate and Double Decker would not have been worth missing the coach for.
I hopped the fence and hurtled on the coach back to the Big Smoke. I texted thanks for having me and sorry for the rushed goodbye, she texted that she was laughing too much to say goodbye as my dress rode up when I hopped the fence; that she’s glad that she could show her boyfriend that she has some friends from back home who are worth knowing, and that he thinks I vaguely look like Nadia from American Pie, “but means it in a nice way.”
For another two years…
River Cottage, Royal William Yard, Plymouth, PL1 3QQ – 7/10, get a dessert. The nice part of Plymouth. A celebrity chef choice for the masses.
Langage Farm, Ridgeway, Plympton, PL7 2AL – 8/10. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
Plume of Feathers Inn, The Square, Princetown, PL20 6QQ – 10/10. The pie is unreal. If you are in the area, go.