Ian Drury once sang that ‘Reasons to be Cheerful are One, Two Three!’ - but we can beat three when it comes to reasons to be cheerful about living in Plymouth! ‘It’s elementary, my dear Watson!’ is a much-loved line from the best Detective fiction in the world, and a couple of The Elements make a good starting point for this compilation.
1. If there is one thing that characterises Plymouth, it is water! Plymouth exists because of the sea and it’s reach out to the Oceans of the World is what made Plymouth great – and it deserves the moniker ‘Britain’s Ocean City’! The fresh salty air is simply delicious and the activities that the water offers are world-class – whether you want to watch international yachting or powerboating, or get onto or under the water yourself. You can enjoy the rivers that flow from Dartmoor, or within half an hour be beside a Moorland lake or stream. Few places offer the ability to be in a city yet so close to the H2O factor – and time spent by or on the water is never wasted!
2. Look down. See those two things on the end of your legs, standing on the earth? Have they taken you for a good walk lately? Well, if you are around Plymouth you are in for a treat – because if you now look up, inland behind the city, you can see the magnificent rolling hills of Dartmoor! You will also find the South West Coast Path (around 700 miles of it if you feel fit) and a host of paths and tracks to get out and enjoy. And it’s not just the walking that is so good – this is a cycling Mecca, and it attracts major events and is ripe for you to explore.
3. Did we mention a literary connection? Well, Doctor Watson – in his real-life persona as Dr Arthur Conan-Doyle, lived and practiced in the city. Wander down Durnford Street and find many quotations embedded in the pavement, or up to Princetown to see the inspiration for The Hound of the Baskervilles.
4. Connection of a different kind happened in 1620 when the Mayflower stopped in Plymouth before heading to America with the group who became known as the Pilgrim Fathers aboard. Millions of Americans claim a connection to those brave souls, and in 2020 a major world event will commemorate that one of many moments when the course of history flowed from Plymouth.
5. History around Plymouth is incredible. Get a sense of Drake on the Hoe or in a narrow cobbled Barbican street, see the majesty of the Royal Citadel and grandeur of the Royal William Yard; take a cruise past the Dockyard (few are older or larger). There are superb museums (many in the course of major improvement) and old houses, and not far away you can find Drake’s Buckland Abbey or the Georgian finery of Saltram House.
6. Go to France! The son of a Frenchman, Isambard Brunel, designed the docks at Millbay, and today from here you can catch the Brittany ferries services to France and Spain. Extremely popular, these high quality ferries allow you to set off in the evening, enjoy authentic French cuisine and a comfortable cabin, and be enjoying your morning coffee in Brittany!
7. It’s easy to complain about travel services, but actually Plymouth is well connected. Sure, there are improvements in the pipeline – but road and rail work pretty well into the City, and air at Exeter or Newquay is only an hour or so away, comparable to many other cities.
8. Food and Drink in Plymouth is a revelation, and you can eat ‘around the world’ at the incredible range of cafes and restaurants that the City has to offer. Many use fresh seafood that has been landed at the Plymouth Fisheries in Sutton Harbour. Whatever your taste, you can find it in Plymouth. If you’re thirsty the City offers a huge range of pubs and bars; don’t miss the cosy traditions and superb beer of The Dolphin, the cocktails of the Gin Distillery or Tigermilk, and the classy nightclub style of Annabels.
9. If culture is your thing, and you love a good West End show, you’re in luck – Plymouth’s Theatre Royal sees many of the big productions as they gear up for London. Musicals, Ballets and plays are all here. And not just here! The Barbican Theatre is always busy, and there is a vibrant Arts scene, on stage and in galleries. Music, comedy, a Blues festival, outdoor theatre and cinema – there’s a great deal more going on around Plymouth than you might realise or expect!
10. If retail therapy is your thing, Plymouth has a large, top-class indoor mall and packed main-street stores all ready for you. But it also has smaller chain and independent shops spread around the City; look in Ebrington Street, around Frankfort Gate, and especially along Southside Street and The Barbican for unbeatable smaller shops and galleries.
Plymouth is home to a thriving University, many major employers, and excellent schools. The housing stock is extensive and suits all tastes and pockets. It is a real ‘fresh air, blue sky’ city, never far from the kind of spots that you go abroad on holiday to find; Plymouth lets you live your life in as close a way to being on holiday as you’re likely to find anywhere!