In Helston there is a roundabout called Furry. It took me a while to find out why. Apparently there is, in Helston, a traditional dance performed on May 8 every year called the Furry Dance (‘furry’ may have come from ‘flora’ but no-one knows for certain) and the roundabout has been christened Furry as a homage.
Meanwhile, a little further up the road, not far from Truro, there’s a double roundabout at a place called Playing Place. I have not been able to find out why it’s called Playing Place. If someone can help me out with the information, I’m prepared to be enlightened.
The thing is, there are a lot of roundabouts in Cornwall. And it felt like we went through all of them today on our journey from Restronguet to Marazion. The reason we were headed for Marazion was in order to visit St Michael’s Mount.
A long time ago, some rich person was standing on the coast of Cornwall, looking out at a small island. Next to him was his pet engineer. The rich person pointed to the outcropping and said he wanted the engineer to build a castle on it. The engineer looked at him, scowled, and told him to find another engineer. The rich person managed to find another engineer and so St Michael’s Mount was built.
I’m fairly certain I’ve visited before but I can’t find any mention of it on the blog. Maybe I’m confusing it with Mont St Michel, after all, the French owned the Cornish castle for a few hundred years. And they are very similar.
In an attempt to even the score, the owners of St Michael’s Mount once tried to buy Mont St Michael but, were unsuccessful. The owners still live in St Michael’s Mount so, I guess, Mont St Michel would have been their summer cottage.
When we left our cottage, it was raining. As we drove to the castle, it was sunny. When we arrived and reversed into a car space, it was raining. All the time we were on the island, it was sunny. The weather was very changeable. Still, it was excellent for a day of excessive exercise.
Seriously, the way up to the castle is extraordinary. According to the guide in one of the rooms, the only people to ever be driven up to the castle are QEII, the Duke of Edinburgh because of his hip replacement and a single lady in waiting. Not that they were in a car. In fact, they had, at their disposal, a sort of 4WD golf buggy. When the royal chauffeur saw it, he shook his head and refused to drive. The gardener/handy man said he’d be happy to. And so he deposited them outside the guest entrance.
I want to know what they talked about.
Though, possibly more important, is who on earth thought it was a good idea to mark various spots in the harbour with the feet of various monarchs? It’s an odd thing. A single foot of Victoria, Edward VII, QEII and Phil are placed in the path. It’s weird. Actually, Edward’s foot is only a size 7. The same size as Denise. Little footed man.
But the walk up and down, regardless of your foot size, is one thing, the walk across the causeway is another.
Obviously, when we set off, the tide was very low and the causeway was completely high and dry. However, when we headed back, the tide was rushing in and, with every step we took, more of the causeway was being submerged. It was a race against time.
But that was much later. The first order of the day was for Denise to have her very first Cornish pasty. Which she did. She thought it was delicious.
We then started the long trek to the top.
I didn’t think I was going to make it. The last bit was without banisters of any kind and there were heaps of people milling about. I had to gird my loins and concentrate. But I wasn’t going to back out. I managed to reach the summit and entered the castle like I’d just completed a marathon.
The woman who greeted us, suggested we sit a spell and regain our composure while we waited for more eager tourists. After our number had increased to six, she gave us a potted history of the castle as well as the fact that the tour through the place was an ingeniously devised one way system.
Something else she told us was not to touch the furniture. She then indicated a pump bottle beside her on a small table. Apparently, people are splashing hand sanitiser onto their hands then touching the furniture. The hand sanitiser is destroying the wood and material. During the off season, they are really going to have their work cut out for them, preserving everything. I assume it is as bad everywhere.
Well done, people. Destroy our heritage for the sake of a bit of poison on your hands. Wear gloves if you’re that frightened.
Anyway, after this warning, we were free to roam around and follow the arrows.
What an excellent place it is – I didn’t remember any of it. And I’m sure I would have remembered the stained glass windows. I don’t think I’d have quickly forgotten this beauty.
The whole place is amazing. Room after room, rooftop and church, it goes on and on. A delight from start to finish. Of course, having walked all the way through, we had to descend via the uneven, nobbly path back down.
Naturally, a lot of goat-like normal people were bouncing and hopping from rock to rock in front of me but I kept my eyes down, my mind concentrated on every step. I didn’t let them distract me.
Though, there was one group who managed to get in our way the entire time we were there. According to Denise, it was as if they were on a fashion shoot. I just think they liked taking photos of each other every 15 feet.
I managed to get a photo of them taking a selfie up on the roof of the castle. I could easily have managed a photo anywhere.
How they managed to wear so many clothes on what was, essentially, quite a warm day, is anyone’s guess. They will have a lot of photos though.
That aside, the rest of the tour was great fun. Obviously, there was a lot of chat with our fellow tourists, not least with the people in the shop when I discovered they sold a local vodka flavoured with rose and hibiscus. I had fallen in love and I didn’t mind proclaiming it. It caused a lot of hilarity, particularly with a chap who had spent some time in Byron Bay and Wollongong.
We eventually decided it was time to return to the mainland, and we couldn’t have timed it better. As we walked across the causeway, the tide started to reclaim it.
By the time we reached dry land, a lot more of the causeway had disappeared beneath the waves and, finally, as we reached Freddy for the trip home, the entire path to the island had vanished.
All up, it was an excellent day. Denise enjoyed it, I conquered it, and we didn’t have to resort to catching the boat back across the water.
Back at the cottage, we headed down to the Pandora Inn for our last meal. A lot of the staff recognised us. It was sad saying goodbye when we left.
Tomorrow we head back home.