Here we are again with our second instalment in which we observe distant lands and the cultures contained within. Located approximately 220 miles west of Croydon, Plymouth is best known as a naval city similar to Portsmouth but, in football terms at least, is in a lower league to that of its coastal rival. In fact, you could apply that analogy not just to its sporting prowess, but to the actual feel of the place. You can tell how close to the sea it is by the amount of seagull droppings that can be found. The architecture resembles the modern bits of Ipswich circa 1960s and further proof, should you require it, can be found by Googling images of the city; make sure you just look at the sepia photographs as they accurately reproduce the tone of the buildings (any photographs you see in full colour are false, they've obviously used Photoshop to give the place some pizazz).
Local cuisine is served in the form of the humble pasty (coleslaw optional), a traditional food which is easily accessible and of reasonable cost. A medium sized steak pasty will set you back in the region of a couple of quid. Hint: seek out the Oggy Oggy Pasty establishment near the market. The market itself is there for you to whittle away an hour of spare time, selling bits and bobs such as wellies, pashminas, painted tobacco tins as well as livestock. It's similar to a festival bazaar with the type of goods for sale that can be bought at any decent outdoor music event selling articles that you'd have absolutely no use for once you get home.
Architectural blandness aside, I'm pleased to inform that the natives are a very colourful race; open, friendly, helpful and hospitable - in fact, they'll willingly give you their last-but-one pasty, providing it involves the exchanging of fresh blood. As I waited for the arrival of the bus to Home Park, I was approached by two rather jolly gentlemen proudly wearing their sporting colours. "GREEN ARMY WILL KILL CITY SCUM!" they shouted. I didn't bother to remind them of both sides' respective positions in the league table as it might have hampered their good spirits. Aviva's recent television adverts seem to be a winner with the natives; it puts them on the map. Unfortunately it's a map of a different planet. Even the bus driver - a comely wench with lots of blonde frizzy hair - enjoyed hollering local slogans such as "Geddon, ya Janner!" at every conceivable opportunity. How quaint.
Earlier in the day, I ventured into a HMV store to observe regional purchasing habits of cultural artifacts where I found this displayed on special promotion:
Many Plymothian women of "Amazonian proportions" were out in force on a Saturday afternoon for the gathering of clothes, pasties and, one presumes, DVDs. Amateur anthropologists should take note that over recent years, interbreeding with people from other counties (mainly those passing through on their way to Cornwall) occurred which subsequently has reduced any Norfolk-like features. Thanks to improved social linking services such as Facebook and Bebo, there now exists a wider variety of DNA in the Devonian gene pool than ever before.
Home Park is the only man-made structure in the vicinity to have a different colour other than grey and beige; you've guessed it...it's green. The favourable factor regarding Plymouth Argyle's stadium are the parking facilities. If you arrive a few hours prior to kick off, you'll be able to leave your vehicle just outside the ground with stewards in attendance and there's public transport conveniently close by which will convey you into the city centre; a type of park + ride for away supporters and a veritable advance of civilisation. This is an improvement compared with the situation at Reading and Swansea in terms of time spent waiting to exit post match. As soon as the stewards get out of your line of sight, there's a mad dash by all the front row cars as they head towards a rather narrow exit, which is potentially dangerous to the driver, but thoroughly entertaining to watch as a spectator.
Stadium - horrendous pitch but the ancient cowshed contributes much needed soul to the area
Stewards - drive around in tractors (as they do at Portman Road)
Transport links - satisfactory as described above
Food - Ginsters pasties (quelle surprise)
(P Argyle 0 - C Palace 1. Attendance: 9,318)