Call Me Frank

The summer of 2013 was indeed hot. Probably the best summer that Devon has enjoyed for several years. The county, especially the seaside was full of visitors having a great time. The Sun it seemed had brought happiness to many people. Each dawn of each day gave way to beautiful blue skies, after each spectacular sunrise.

Bernhardt; Bernt to his mates and Karl were both students from Germany. Originally from Bavaria, they had moved to Heidelberg to attend university. Heidelberg is famous for its university and for its bier cellars, in which Bernt and Karl had spent many an hour consuming their favourite brau. With the term at an end, the lads decided to head for England to spend a week or two on holiday. For some reason, they felt drawn to Plymouth, and why not as Plymouth is renowned for its good beer, especially real ale and for very pretty local girls. Both these attractions ticked all the boxes for Bernt and Karl.

On arriving in the city, Bernt and Karl got to work with some sightseeing and trying a pint or two in the local pubs, especially on the Barbican. They were most impressed with “The Hoe” and taking time to climb “Smeaton’s Tower”. The view from the top across Plymouth Sound was just breath taking. Looking across the top of The Hoe, Bernt and Karl could not fail to see the statue of Sir Francis Drake looking out to sea. Drake, the Elizabethan privateer or pirate depending on your point of view, was not particularly known to Bernt and Karl. They knew of course, the story of the Spanish Armada, but little else. It was interesting to have a look at the guy who had become so famous in English history.

As evening drew on, the lads decided to wonder back down to the Barbican, to try a pint or two of real ale. In their short time in the city, they had become quite attached to a local brew called Jail Ale. Jail Ale is brewed on Dartmoor and according to Bernt and Karl has that touch of magic that seemed to make the world alright. The world appeared to become even better after trying out a few pints.

After leaving the Barbican and entering the Dolphin, the lads noticed a couple of local girls sitting at a table. Opposite the girls were two vacant seats, so the lads casually asked if they could sit down. “Sure” came the reply. After a short while, the girls, intrigued by their accents enquired to where the lads had come from. “Germany” replied Karl. “That’s interesting” replied Kate, one of the girls. Are you enjoying your stay in Plymouth?” “Yes” came the reply from Bernt. “We like it very much”. This short exchange appeared to open a conversation between the four. The girls explained that they were pretty excited about a movie company that was coming to the city to shoot a film about Sir Francis Drake. They were hoping to get parts as extras in the Elizabethan drama. The evening continued and at closing time, the four agreed to meet again the next evening in the Dolphin.

The next morning, Bernt and Karl got up quite early. After breakfast, they sat down and planned their day. They wanted to try and explore the Rame Peninsula. From there they could possibly gain a closer look at the Eddystone Lighthouse, 14 miles to the south. This plan agreed, they jumped in their Volkswagen Polo, and headed off the Torpoint Ferry. On reaching the Cornish shore, they took the road which led to Rame Head, where they parked the car to do some further exploration on foot. The scenery impressed the guys as they made their way down the cliff to be nearer the sea. It seemed like all English summers, when you get a period of hot weather a thunderstorm is not that far away, and so it was on this day. Seeing the arrival of the storm, Bernt and Karl headed into a cave to gain some shelter from the rain. With a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning the cave was subject to a most peculiar feeling.

Finally, the storm cleared and Bernt and Karl emerged to continue their exploration. As they reached the water’s edge, they noticed a small boat being rowed close to the shore. The boat contained two men, dressed in what seemed pretty old clothing. “Hi” shouted Karl. The two men stopped rowing and looked to the shore, and then looked at each other. Fearing that the lads were stranded, the boat headed towards the shore. As they came closer, Bernt and Karl could see the men clearer. “Look” said Karl “These guys are in fancy dress, they must be part of the movie company the girls told us about last night. “Are ‘ee all right gents”? Said one of the boatmen, “Climb in and us will give ‘ee a lift”. The lads climbed in. “Shouldn’t take long me lads”, “us will get ‘ee back to shore soon” “We must call in to the ship on us way”. With this the boatman gave the lads a strange look, “Not from these parts are ‘ee” continued the boatman. “No” replied Karl, “We are from Germany”. With this the boatman continued to row. “These guys are truly authentic” said Bernt; “Maybe we will be in the movie” Karl smiled. “I think your imagination is getting the better of you”, replied Karl.

As they rounded the headland, there in front of them was an old sailing ship moored at anchor. “What on earth is this” asked Karl, “This really must be part of the film set, this is brilliant”. The boat edged nearer the ship and came alongside. “Ok lads” said one boatman, “Why not come aboard and meet the master” “’ee be interested in meeting you two”. The two lads climbed the rope ladder and over the ships side onto the deck. There standing in front of them was a swarthy looking man who looked at them with some suspicion. “Who are ‘ee”, asked the man. Karl explained how the boatman had picked them up from the rocks to assist them back to shore safely. “You have strange accents” said the man. “Whom not spies are ‘ee”. Karl looked at Bernt, This guy is really playing he part well. “No” said Bernt “We are visiting Plymouth and decided to explore the headland”. The man stroked his beard “Whom not Spanish”, “No” came the reply. The man stroked his beard again. “Whom dressed all finny” “Worth a pretty penny or two, I can seed that”. With that, the man smiled “Come, I like the look of ‘ee, come join me in a glass of wine in my cabin”. The man beckoned the lads through a door in the bulkhead, which led to a small cabin.

“Forgive me gentleman”, said the man, “Can’t be too careful these days,” “Here” the man put out his hand in welcome, “My name is Drake, Francis Drake, but you can call me Frank”. The lads shook his hand. “Come and sit here”.  Frank beckoned them to a tale. They were quite pleased to take a seat as Bernt and Karl were tall and the cabin ceiling was quite low. This proved little problem to Frank, as he was quite short in comparison.

Frank explained about his ship, its crew and how many cannon she carried. The lads were impressed, this guy was playing his part to the extreme, but it was great fun so they played along. Frank went on to tell them all about his last voyage to the New World. He kept on referring to this as the Americas.  He spoke of his skirmish with Spanish Galleons and about how much gold he had secured for the Crown. The guys looked at each other again. This guys a natural they thought. Just wait until they saw the girls again tonight, what a story they had to tell them.

The goblets of wine eventually emptied and the lads were somewhat relived as it did not taste too good.  Frank once again stood up and put his hand forward to shake their hands. “It’s been good to meet ‘ee”; “I will get me crew to row ‘ee back to shore”. Karl and Bernt thanked Frank for his hospitality and said farewell.  As they departed the ship they gave Frank a wave.

It seemed that the boatmen dropped them off fairly close to their car and as they drove back into Plymouth the pair were so excited about seeing the girls again to tell them of their experience  in meeting up the “the movie actors”.  They could not contain their excitement on arriving at the Dolphin and seeing the girls at the same table.

The lads sat down after buying a drink at the bar. “Hey, you will never believe this, but we have spent several hours today with the crew from the movie”. The girls just looked at each other and smiled. “Come on guys, the movie team is not due in Plymouth until next month”.


By Ray Steed



Edited by

Sandi McConnell. Canada