Hornby Report: First impressions

We arrived in the UK last Tuesday and after a couple of hours in London calling on friends and walking around Trafalgar and St James’s Park we took an evening train to Plymouth.

My son Edward is also with me because he is going to do his BA in English Literature here at Marjon and we are both staying on campus. The staff of the International Department at Marjon gave us a very warm welcome and they have been really helpful in these first days of adaptation. We have already got our way around the campus and the departments, sorted out the settling in tasks and have already started to enjoy a bit of the city life.

Last Friday we visited the Hoe and the Promenade. These are the seafront areas of Plymouth where the famous lighthouse stands and where there is an impressive monument to all the Navy troops who fought in the First and the Second World Wars. It was here that Sir Frances Drake played bowls while waiting for the Spanish Armada!! The area is now a huge park overlooking the sea and it was created in Victorian times. The view of the bay is simply breathtaking. We also visited St Andrews Cathedral. The original church was built in medieval times but the whole of the city centre was bombarded during The Blitz in the WWII and the Cathedral was almost completely destroyed. Few parts of the original building remain, but the people of Plymouth did not surrender and started rebuilding it even before the end of the war.

Last Saturday we went to the Barbican. The Barbican is the historical part of the city where Drake and Raleigh once weighed anchor and it is now the marina. It was from the Barbican Steps that the Mayflower left England taking the Pilgrim Fathers to America. It is full of pubs and quaint little speciality shops selling antiques, jewellery, pottery and paintings. It also hosts an Elizabethan house which first belonged to a prosperous Plymouth citizen. The house has undergone restoration work and is now a period house open to the public. We wrapped up the visit to the Barbican with a pub meal of fantastic British homemade food in The Navy, the oldest pub in the area.

I’m looking forward to meeting the other Hornby Scholars – there will be five of us this year at Marjon – and I’m also looking forward to meeting my tutor and starting my studies. Certainly, I will not have much time available for travelling around but we are determined to get to know as much of the country as we can and make the most of our new “British way of life”.


2 thoughts on “Hornby Report: First impressions

  1. Dear Chris,

    After reading your description of your first days in Plymouth I remembered the place very vividly – Marjon campus, Tavistok Road, the huge Derriford Hospital, misty Dartmoor hills, outlined in the evening against intensely purple clouds… And then the Hoe and the monument to the Navy and all those lovely pubs and restaurants at Barbican.

    When I was there as Hornby scholar in 1999-2000, the first piece of advice I received from someone was to stay clear of Union Street at night, which when I got there had the highest concentration of policemen I ever saw in the Uk in one place (I think, two). Well, of course, it is not THAT dangerous, but needs some attention.

    As a massive Emerson, Lake and Palmer fan I was thrilled to learn that their first ever performance as a band before they stormed the Isle of Wight festival in 1970 took place in Plymouth at the Guildhall!

    Not to be missed is a small Arts centre just round the corner where I saw for the first time David Lynch’s Straight Story on my birthday.

    And, finally, Dartmoor with its vast, immensely walkable areas and pubs and villages and tors and creeks and cream tea and real ales! I think I learned more about England from there than from the whole of London, if you see what I mean.

    My warmest regards to Tony, Sarah and all those who might still remember me. Good luck!


    Alex Ulko

  2. Dear Chris
    This is just a (very) short note to say hello and catch up with you.
    I was thrilled when I heard you were moving to the UK – I might come for a visit sometime this year or maybe next term.
    Little John is growing fast and never ceases to amaze me – but I´ll tell you more later.

    Bye for now

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