River Cottage Plymouth

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 20th November 2011


After my recent disappointment with regard to rejection of the proposal for a documentary on René Mouchotte, my friend/agent suggested I go down for the weekend and we’d brainstorm about different approaches to the subject.

Simon and his partner Des live in a picture postcard, idyllic, seaside village on the Plymouth/Cornwall border. I love going down there and wouldn’t mind living there but, as with so many pretty places, a great deal of the property is owned by weekenders who’ve pushed up the prices alarmingly.

Simon has been doing a huge amount of publicity for River Cottage – another of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s projects so we went there for lunch on Sunday. What a fabulous setting – the old Plymouth Dockyard – and a lovely experience. The Café/Restaurant is very spacious and also incorporates a Deli, Book Shelves for the selling of his oeuvres, an open pizza oven and the most fabulous views. The food was interesting and the staff absolutely delightful. Mr. Whittingstall obtains the raw ingredients for his establishment from folk within a 50 mile radius of River Cottage – so everything is fresh and sourced locally although it doesn’t have to be organic.

I eat very little meat and certainly not lamb or veal so my choice of meal was a trifle limited – but that’s down to me and not the fault of the restaurant. I decided to go for a healthy option and chose the Mackerel. (Although I am a great fish eater I’m not too fond of the good oily fish like mackerel, herring etc.) Tell you what, if I could get fresh mackerel like I had at River Cottage, I’d be eating it all the time. It was shining so much it sparkled (an indication of its freshness) and tasted like Sea Bream. I had two for £8 which I thought was pretty fantastic. The only element I didn’t like – but it is common throughout the restaurant trade – is charging for ‘Sides’. At £3 a pop for any vegetable or potato the bill soon mounts up. I have to say that Mackerel was probably the least expensive item on the menu so there was room to manoeuvre but if you are already paying £15 for meat - to start adding on the veg is a bit OTT – well that’s my opinion. To be charged £3 for a plate of mixed veg. is acceptable but not £3 for every item.

GRIPE over – absolutely loved it and if I lived down there, they’d see me often. It’s also rather romantic if you come from the other side of the Tor as do Simon and Des because you take the little privately owned Cremyll ferry - – reaking of diesel – and cross the River Tamar from Cremyll in Cornwall to Admirals Hard in Stonehouse , Plymouth, Devon. By the time we went home it was dusk and the little boat looked really romantic sitting in a pool of myriad reflected lights. Even the diesel wasn't so strong.

In the late 60's, when I worked in Plymouth for the now defunct Westward Television and afterwards for BBC Plymouth, the area had very little going for it apart from the Barbican – now it is thriving and the Renovation of the Dockyard is nothing less than a miracle. Sadly apartments there are very very pricey.

Get home and then off to France for a day. Jan

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.