Using up the last of our annual leave we booked a few days in Cornwall at the start of November and decided to leave from work on the Friday to break up our journey with an overnight stop in Plymouth. We have been to this city several times before, latterly we spent a few nights seeing in the new year of 2016. Plymouth is probably best known as the birthplace of St Francis Drake and the departure point for the Mayflower carrying the Pilgrim Fathers – it is also home to Plymouth Gin – the country’s oldest Gin distillery! There are two Waterstones in Plymouth – this branch is in a modern shopping centre called Drake’s Circus.
The Beatles visited Plymouth in 1967 whilst filming The Magical Mystery tour – their photo was taken by David Redfern on the hoe.
Currently reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and listening to The Black Book (Rebus #5) by Ian Rankin on audio book.
Final stop on this trip was to Maidstone. When I was a child we used to visit Maidstone occasionally and go to lunch at the Royal Star Hotel – it was a real favourite, but sadly I discovered that it is a shopping centre now! Maidstone has changed an awful lot since I was a child (understandably – that was a long time ago!) – the Waterstones is in a new (to me) outdoor shopping centre called Fremlin Walk which is set on the site of the old Fremlin’s brewery and opened in 2005. The design of the centre incorporates the original brewery entrance under a reproduction of the old Fremlin’s clock.
Fremlin Walk Shopping Centre
Photo Credit – Andy Potter
We left Maidstone and drove through the Medway towns on our way to our hotel. There was a most fantastic sunset so we stopped at Rochester and I look some pictures of the River Medway looking towards the castle and cathedral and looking rather beautiful. I have a soft spot for Rochester as my first ever job as a Saturday assistant in an Estate Agents was here!
Photo 1 of Fremlin Walk taken by Andy Potter and used with permission under Wikipedia’s Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0
Peter dropped me at Brentwood on his way to his next appointment so I had a few hours wandering round this small town. The Waterstones here is in an attractive building but I haven’t been able to find out anything about its original use. It has a cosy feel inside and the two staff members I spoke to were both very friendly.
Brentwood has a Catholic cathedral which I would have like to have looked round, but there was nothing in the lobby to say whether it was permissible to go inside, and when I peered through the inner door I could see a small group of musicians inside rehearsing, so I didn’t go in.
I came across this…
Which after Googling I have discovered is the Brentwood Column and was designed to celebrate the town’s heritage – it would have been useful if they had some information by it for non-locals! After stopping for coffee in M&S I just had time to pop into Brentwood’s independent book shop ‘Chicken and Frog’ (great name – I don’t know where it comes from) before meeting up with Peter to head to our next destination.
Peter had to go to see some customers in the south east so I went along with him. We stayed in Essex overnight so I was able to do a couple of branches of Waterstones. The first was in Romford – the store here is in a modern shopping centre and set over two floors.
Romford holds an open air market three days a week. It is one of the UK’s oldest markets, having been granted a charter by Henry VIII in 1247.
Behind the market is the Anglican parish Church dedicated to Edward the Confessor (confusingly there is a Catholic church of the same name in Romford!) – it has a couple of beautiful, modern, stained glass windows but sadly I haven’t been able to find out any information about them.
Currently reading Keep You By My Side by Callie Langridge and listening to The Black Book (Rebus #5) by Ian Rankin
Our last stop of the day before heading home was to Teddington where we decided to stop for lunch. The Waterstones here opened in 2004 and used to be an Ottakars store and, like the Newport and Doncaster branches, they have a tiled mural done by artist Chris Burke behind their tills. (Incidentally, according to Chris’s website there were some in other former Ottakars stores, but of the shops we’ve already done they were either covered over, have been removed or we simply failed to notice them!).
The lady in Teddington looked rather bemused when I asked if I could take a picture of the tiles and asked why I wanted to so I muttered about it being unusual! As you can see, theirs is covered with adverts!
We had lunch in the King’s Head pub – a delicious Malabar fish curry – and then headed down to Teddington lock to walk it off before heading home!
We decided to head to Teddington for lunch. We didn’t really have time to stop at Twickenham on the way home, but couldn’t really miss out on the opportunity to visit Waterstones on the way through, so Peter dropped me outside and went round the block whilst I popped in!
Twickenham must surely be best known as the home of English Rugby Union and it is an ambition of mine to go there to see a match one day.
We had not been to Richmond before so decided to head their on our drive home, via the beautiful Richmond Park. The town which is on the River Thames is very picturesque and there are plenty of cafes and bars to enjoy as well as independent shops mixed with High Street names. The Waterstones here is in a large curved Art-Deco-looking building and is set over two floors.
We also spotted a great looking children’s book shop called The Alligator’s Mouth (I believe the name comes from a Lemony Snicket quote) but unfortunately as it as a bank holiday we were there before the shop opened so we weren’t able to look inside.
These views, taken from Richmond Hill looking east across the Thames.
Richmond Park is home to Red and Fallow deer – I think these are female red deer.