Furry and the Playing Place

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.

Posted in Cornwall 2022, Gary's Posts | Leave a comment

Life’s too short for matching socks

Today was Denise Day. It was full of things she really wanted to do in Cornwall. There was the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, the Pixie Shop in Boscastle and Tintagel Castle. She also wanted to see King Arthur but she had to do with parking in his car park because he is just too far around the cliff top.

As it turned out, she didn’t get to see the Pixie Shop because it’s not there any more. I think it was washed away in the Great Flood of 2004. By the way, I thought the name of the village was pronounced Bo’castle but, I was reliably informed by a very helpful, horse riding waitress* in the café where Denise had her very first Cornish cream tea, that it is pronounced Boss-castle.

It’s hard to believe the place was ever flooded. Today it shone in the sun and looked an absolute and crowded delight. There were also lots of dogs.

Fortunately we arrived just on 10am when the car park still had spaces. It soon filled up and, when we left, cars were circling like vultures above a sickening cow.

We were going to visit the Museum of Witchcraft but first, Denise wanted to try a Cornish cream tea. We tried a couple of tea shops but, strangely, they were closed. We finally headed into The Riverside (Guest Accommodation and Coastal Restaurant). And what an excellent idea that was. Obviously, Denise thoroughly enjoyed her cream tea but my bacon sandwich took some beating. Excellent stuff. Very fresh bread and heaps of bacon. Couldn’t fault it.

But food was quickly forgotten when we hit the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy it. So glad I went.

Cecil Williamson (1909-1999) created the first museum back in 1948 along with Gerald Gardner. It was on the Isle of Man. However, things soured between the two and, in 1952, Cecil sold the place to Gerald and returned to the mainland.

Cecil, taking his own artefacts from the original museum, opened another one in Windsor. It was quite successful for a year but then local opposition forced him to move. And so he next tried Bourton-on-the-water in the Cotswolds. The locals weren’t that keen on him there either. In fact, they tried to burn the museum down. He once more upped sticks.

Finally, in 1960, he ended up in Boscastle and here the museum has remained ever since.

The collection is amazing. From paintings to figurines, from a mummified head to Alistair Crowley. It’s all there. In fact, the mummified head was called Harry until the museum had it tested only to discover it was actually a woman’s head from Egypt. It has since had a name change to Harriet.

Something quite interesting about the museum was the pair in front of us. Now I tend to look at most things in museums but there comes a point where you just skim a bit. Not this pair. They read every single word on every single card. They were causing a right old logjam in the narrow corridors downstairs. It was only when we emerged into the open space on the second floor, that people could get by them.

Those two aside, it was an amazing place. I particularly liked the fact that witches used to use eggshells for boats, so people would crush their eggshells to prevent it. This painting shows the dangers of not crushing them.

Witches in Eggshells (1979) by Jos A Smith (b 1936)

I guess the witches can shrink because most eggshells are pretty small. Even a hefty ostrich egg would be too small for a human sized witch. I’m thinking there’s some magic at work here. I’ll have to remember to crush them now.

And, oddly, there was a Joan. I guess it wasn’t so odd given the English tried and burned her. There were suggestions that she was working for the devil which, maybe could be equated with witchcraft. Personally, I think it’s a bit of a stretch. Still, it’s always nice to find a bit of Joan and very unusual finding her in Britain.

I have to refute the charge made by Erica Jong on the card regarding Joan’s refusal to ‘say the Paternoster’. This was explained at the time of her trial. She refused because her judges would not allow her to make her confession. Also, she was NOT burned as a witch. She was burned as a heretic, because the court decided she was delusional rather than someone sent by god.

Of course, the actual truth was that the English tried, starved, and deprived her of sleep before burning her alive, simply because she was a force more powerful than them. It has happened so many times in history when the old white men fear the young strong woman and, rather than sit down and talk to her, they kill her in as much pain as possible. Cowards, the lot of them.

It was also because the English hate the French. Some things never change.

But, enough of my favourite French maid.

After spending some time in the museum, we headed down the harbour and back. I then left Denise to buy some stuff while I had a beer in the Cobweb Inn. A lovely establishment, directly opposite the car park of the same name.

Yes, there were a lot of beer bottles hanging from the ceiling.

As soon as I finished my pint, Denise turned up and we headed back to Freddy in order for Denise to pack away her 15 bags of things she’d just bought. It was then time to head for our second destination on Denise Day.

The last time we visited Tintagel was in 2013. We were with Bob, and the three of us had to climb the ridiculously steep steps up and down. It was arduous. Then, in 2019, they built a bridge. And what a brilliant bridge it is. And lucky for her it is there because Denise said that if it had been the stairs, she’d have not gone. She would have stood on the land side and just waved.

The bridge was completed in August 2019 following a competition in 2015 for the design. The winners of the competition were Ney & Partners Civil Engineers and William Matthews Associates. The bridge is paved with Cornish Delabole slate, with stainless steel balustrades fitted along its length. The balustrades have been designed to be so fine that, when viewed from a distance, they disappear against the sky. There is a 40mm gap in the middle which is supposed to represent a shift from present to past. Denise wasn’t keen on the gap.

I think it’s a wonderful bit of engineering. Who knows what the original looked like, but I reckon those engineers would have loved the new one. It is truly a thing of beauty. Still, I’m rather glad I also experienced walking up and down the steep steps.

We wandered around the ruins – I read the plaques for Denise – then rested on a short wall before heading back.

Ye Olde Malthouse Inn was calling. It had a sea bass with my name on it alongside a pint of beer just waiting for my mouth. Of course, I didn’t know that until we went in. Denise had the filo pastry with 146 potato wedges and a glass of lemonade.

Having filled our tummies with food, beer and I may have had a small rum, we headed out in order for Denise to buy more stuff to fill Freddy with. It was while I was waiting for her to emerge from one of the countless gift shops that a woman, walking a dog, stopped and said, “Life is too short for matching socks.” She was referring to my unmatching socks.

Her husband, who was walking in front of her, turned and asked what she’d said. She pointed at my socks then asked him if he was wearing matching socks. He lifted his trousers to reveal that he was not. I felt like hugging him. Instead, I gave him a thumbs up and called him brother.

It was a great moment of clarity. And comradeship. I felt warm in the glow of a fraternity I didn’t know existed.

We then drove back to the cottage.

It was an excellent day which we both enjoyed immensely.

* She wasn’t riding a horse while being a waitress. It wasn’t some weird sort of reverse ride through café. We were discussing the weather yesterday and she mentioned she’d been for her morning ride just before the rain started.

Posted in Cornwall 2022, Gary's Posts | Leave a comment

Rain interrupted day

Today it rained. And rained. It was an awful day. And the thing is, it’s all well and good going site seeing if your car is parked outside your accommodation but when you have to walk along a dirt track and, eventually, across a beach then up a muddy hill to reach your car…well, it feels a bit much. It means you’ll be wet all day for one thing. We decided to stay in.

Speaking of our faithful hire car, here’s Freddy parked on the hill.

So, yeah, we decided to stay in. Denise spent most of the morning reading while I wrote then Skyped with Mirinda. Eventually, it was time to head for the Pandora Inn for lunch, which we obviously did.

And the specials had changed. I had a lovely bit of roasted hake and Denise had tagliatelle. There was also a fair bit of alcohol consumed, including a shot of Captain Morgan’s rum. I’m afraid I’m getting quite attracted to rum. Bloody Nicktor.

Anyway, the Pandora Inn has an interesting history. The building dates back to the 13th century. Back then it was called Passage House. From here, a ferry operated. I haven’t been able to find out where it went, but I assume it connected Falmouth to the outlying villages. Obviously, in the 13th century, the ferry would have been a simple affair. Perhaps it was operated by oars and may have been like the lighters on the Thames.

Whatever the ferry was, it was, it seems, one of the first in the area.

More importantly (I suppose) were the pilgrims that would trudge through the area on their way to St Michael’s Mount and other religious places. The pilgrims would stop at places like the Passage House in order to get fresh horses, water and food. And directions. SatNav wasn’t too good in the 13th century.

We know this about the Passage House because it was let to an innkeeper in 1468 at a rent of 8s 4d per year, his tenancy leaving lots of records regarding ferry rides in the area starting and/or ending at Passage House. This bit of the south west was a hive of activity back then. They obviously didn’t have to park their car miles from their front door.

Eventually, Passage House was renamed the Ship Inn and entertained many a fisherman and sailor under its rafters. It was when it was the Ship Inn that a chap called Captain Edward Edwards (1742-1815) may have taken it over. Or so the legend would have you believe.

Eddie Edwards was the Captain of HMS Pandora (1779-1791). He was the man tasked with bringing back the mutineers of the Bounty. While he searched all the islands in and around Pitcairn Island, he didn’t find most of them. His map didn’t have Pitcairn Island on it, so he missed it completely. He did find a few bits of HMS Bounty but no Fletcher Christian or his fellow baddies. He found a few stragglers though and prepared to return to England.

Poor Eddie then fell foul of the Great Barrier Reef back when it actually was great and not bleached white. Perhaps he would have seen it better had it been white but, he didn’t and HMS Pandora foundered in 1791.

Lots of people died on the wreck but a few (including Lucky Eddie) managed to row a jolly boat to Timor and survived. Back in Blighty, Lucky Eddie was court marshalled for losing his ship, but was acquitted of any wrong doing and made his slow, half pay way up the naval ladder. And before anyone starts feeling that Eddie was a lovely, cuddly chap, from all accounts he was as bad and cruel a captain as Bligh.

The story goes on that Lucky Eddie retired to Cornwall and bought the Ship Inn and renamed it the Pandora Inn in memory of his lost ship. There is absolutely no evidence to support this. In fact, the evidence indicates that Lucky Eddie died in Lincolnshire where he was born and he probably never lived in Cornwall.

The more likely reason for the name of the Ship Inn changing to the Pandora Inn is after one of the last packet brigs, something for which this area was famous.

HMS Pandora, the packet brig, was built in 1833 at Woolwich dockyard. She sailed out of Falmouth for many years, being used as a coastguard watch vessel from 1857. She was eventually scrapped after a long and distinguished career.

I guess the story of Lucky Eddie and his HMS Pandora is a lot more exciting than the tale of the brig, so it makes an odd kind of sense that the pub would adopt that history. I rather like the other story. Maybe the Ship Inn was bought by an unknown and anonymous captain of the HMS Pandora brig for him to serve out his retirement. He renamed the pub after the ship he loved and the Pandora Inn was born.

In 2011, the pub almost vanished when it was devastated by fire. However, after some painstaking restoration work, it was soon back, serving a grateful public.

The Pandora Inn is an excellent pub. The food is superb, the beer excellent and the staff seem to really love working there. I totally recommend it for drink or food or just shelter from the inclement weather.

As for us, we walked back, splashing through the puddles in the path along the cliff until we reached the cottage where I managed to plug a heater in for Denise to enjoy.

A restful day. Tomorrow promises to be more exciting.

Posted in Cornwall 2022, Gary's Posts | Leave a comment

All aboard the wobbly boards

So, we’re sitting in the Harbour Inn, a lovely pub in the equally lovely town of Porthleven, and who should walk in but Mr 1962, his partner and his hair dye victim brother, Mr 83. These were the people from a couple of days ago who entertained us so much in the Pandora Inn. It felt like Casablanca (Of all the gin joints in all the world, you had to walk into mine…or whatever the quote is). Denise and I were in hysterics.

They even sat at the table next to us until Mr 83 decided he’d rather sit on one of the comfy lounges in the next room. This was a good move because we’d have had to strain to listen to them as well as carry on a conversation with Kim, our cousin once removed. I think.

I’m never sure how the whole relative thing works. In simple terms, Kim’s mother was our mother’s cousin. I know that sounds like one of those trick riddles where it turns out that someone’s father was also someone’s aunt, but it isn’t.

Kim lives in Cornwall now and, when she heard that Denise was visiting AND she was visiting Cornwall, she and Denise arranged to meet. Denise sent Kim the postcode of where we’re staying, and she suggested we meet up in Porthleven as it was about halfway between both our houses.

And what an excellent choice.

I admit that I was a bit concerned that we wouldn’t find her around the harbour, which is one postcode she sent us but, as wonderful good luck would have it, she pulled into the car park at the same time as we did. We all greeted each other like the long lost relatives we were, and headed into town.

It’s important to realise that I’ve never met Kim. Denise may have but, if she did, it was a long time ago; back when she came over to live in the UK when she was 18. I almost met her a few years ago when I was going to attend a wedding or birthday or something but, because of public transport limitations, I couldn’t work out how to get there.

Still, family ties and all that…we headed to the harbour and a delightful walk towards the sea wall and beyond.

Unlike Louisa Musgrove, I took great care not to fall, even without the aid of a Captain Wentworth, and managed to navigate both ways without mishap. I do wonder why Jane didn’t employ an effective sign, as we see above at Porthleven. Mind you, I don’t think Louisa would have set much store by the warning. Her intentions were otherwise engaged.

Regency intrigue aside, we walked (almost) to the end, where we discovered the red ball in a raised position, then back again, before stopping at a handy café which, surprise, surprise not only had syrup but hazelnut syrup at that. And the woman behind the counter did not flinch or question me when I asked for an extra shot. She even took Denise’s order without flinching.

We sat outside at a bench with lots of other people. It was here that I witnessed a crime of daylight robbery, the like of which is clearly an indication of the decay that society has fallen into. A man and a woman were delivered a scone each by a café staff member. The woman took hold of hers. The man was chatting to another couple sitting behind him with an Alsatian, not paying attention to the delivered scone.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a seagull swooped down and stole the man’s scone. The whole thing. It hadn’t even waited for the jam and cream. The seagull found it difficult to fly with an entire scone in its beak, but it managed it somehow. Very quickly, it was forced to land and was instantly surrounded by a whole bunch of seagulls that managed to wrestle the scone away from it.

In the meanwhilst, the man who originally expected to eat the scone was a bit glum. I was disappointed, because I didn’t get a photo. I did, however, get a photo of Denise and Kim.

You can see how sunny it was. In fact, the day was glorious. It would also have been quite warm if only the wind had stopped. Denise managed to get quite burnt but it wasn’t so much the sunshine as windburn.

After sitting on a café bench long enough to be shooed away as if we were three scone thieving seagulls, we headed for the pub for lunch, where we discovered yet another jolly barman. That’s every barman that’s served me so far this holiday. All jolly. Denise was surprised I was surprised, but I’ve experienced some less than jolly barmen in my time. But not in Cornwall, and definitely not at the Harbour Inn.

The Harbour Inn is a St Austell pub. It was thanks to a handy plaque outside the pub that I discovered that St Austell Brewery is the oldest in Cornwall. The brewery has been going since 1851. The latest St Austell beer is called korev. Korev is a lovely, flavourful lager which I first experienced on our recent trip to Devon. I have also enjoyed it at the Pandora Inn.

It turns out that I also know one word in Cornish as a result of discovering this new beer. Kim, who is learning the Cornish language, informed me that the word ‘korev’ is Cornish for beer. Which, rather nicely, means it’s beer lager, or beer beer. Whatever it’s called, it’s bloody nice.

In fact, it’s so nice I had three pints of it.

Lunch was lovely. I had the catch of the day. I asked the barman what the catch of the day was. He told me. I then said, I didn’t really care, I was going to order it anyway, I just thought it would be nice to know what the fish was before eating it. I have since forgotten what the fish was, except delicious.

As if we were cursed, we were again moved along when advised that the table we were sitting at was reserved from 2pm. We headed outside, to sit at a bench overlooking the inner harbour which, over the course of the day, had filled up with water. And a group of kids learning to paddle board.

They kept us royally entertained as the instructor managed to teach them how to fall off in all manner of ways. The most effective way was to tell them to spin around by jumping up and turning. It was all very funny.

It was while we were sitting outside that we were almost joined again by Mr 1962, his long-suffering partner and his brother, Mr 83. They started to sit down next to us then, for reasons unexplained, they decided to sit further away. I asked Denise if she thought they recognised us. It was possible, but there was no sign of recognition. Anyway, their moving made it easier for us to talk about them to Kim.

And we talked to Kim a lot. And she talked to us. It was a marvellous day with lots of laughs, exchanges of anecdotes and general dislike of the same relative.

And, best of all, it didn’t rain!

Posted in Cornwall 2022, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

Five quarters of pizza

The National Maritime Museum, Cornwall, at Falmouth, is excellent. I’ve wanted to visit for ages but it’s never really worked out whenever we’ve been in Cornwall. Today, however, a dream became reality when I managed to drag Denise through the whole place. From the lookout to the shop, we did it all.

I particularly liked Viktor Wynd’s UnNatural Museum; his cabinet of curiosities. The unicorn skeleton, the mummified mermaid, the cask containing some of the original darkness that Moses called down upon the Earth. Genius.

Viktor Wynd is amazing. Denise bought me the book, The Infected Museum, which goes with the exhibition at the Maritime Museum and it seems to suggest that he doesn’t exist and yet, he has a museum of curiosities in London which I now, really, really have to visit. There’s an excellent piece about him here.

Is Viktor real? He may be; he may not be. Whichever way, his collection is truly extraordinary.

But that is but a rather long term temporary exhibit in the museum. There are, of course, many ship models. I particularly liked the infamous Boaty McBoatface.

How well I remember the furore surrounding the decision in 2016, to ignore the choice of the people when it came time to name the new research vessel; when they decided that the people who democratically voted were wrong in choosing Boaty McBoatface so they ignored the people’s choice and called the boat the Sir David Attenborough instead. If only that had happened with that other vote back in 2016.

Of course, I was instantly transported back to Stockholm and a certain train.

But the museum is more than strange curiosities and misnamed research vehicles. There’s mail packets, full size boats and a fishing room. There’s the view from the lookout, a very nice cafe and monsters from the deep.

The latter had a rather frightening effect on a little girl visiting with their parents. She was standing, mesmerised by the strange creatures. She was much happier a little later with the remote controlled yachts. Though, personally, I think her father enjoyed the yachts more.

The whole place was a delight. It didn’t take me long to want to return and that’s the biggest compliment any museum can get. But, of course, that wasn’t possible because we were going for pizza and the very handy Pizza Express situated directly in front of the marina. Pizza with a view of boats. How is that not Gaz heaven?

Of course, I knew exactly what I wanted before we walked in the door (Fiorentina pizza and beer) but Denise took a little longer to decide what she’d actually like to eat. I managed to talk her out of ordering a Marguerita which, as anyone knows, is the base of many a great pizza but a base nonetheless.

Of course my pizza was perfect but I think Denise was a little surprised at the size of what the British call king prawns. She was expecting proper, Australian ones. She was surprised that the British have no idea what a real king (or any kind, really) prawn is like.

Suitably stuffed to the gunwales (I had to finish the last quarter of her pizza), we then went for a staggery walk up the high street of Falmouth.

Being a Sunday and not raining, the high street was full of people and the occasional car. Everything had a feeling of sunshine and seaside. People in beach type clothes, kids screaming for attention because their parents were doing something they didn’t want to do, dogs on leads everywhere. It was lovely.

The last time I was in Falmouth, back in 2013, when I had to buy a fleece because it was cold and I stupidly forgot to pack anything besides shorts and t-shirts, I remember popping into a Peacocks and buying one for about £6. I can easily remember it because I’m wearing it now, as I type this post. I didn’t see the Peacocks this time so can only assume it’s gone the way of most things mercantile.

In fact, looking on the Peacocks website, the closest Peacocks to Falmouth now is either at Newquay or Cambourne. They are both a long way away. I guess I was very lucky, back in 2013.

To be fair, we weren’t after buying anything this trip, though Denise did go into a tourist shop which, as anyone knows, guarantees some money is going to be spent. We emerged with a few things for the kids (her) and a rum taster set (me).

Actually, I bought the rum because Nicktor insisted I try rum. I didn’t want to buy a huge bottle, in case I didn’t like it. I thought two little bottles and a special glass, were perfect.

I was right and, it turns out, I like rum after all.

Talking of alcohol, we also discovered a wonderful little pub, hiding away up a nondescript alley. The pub was, mysteriously, called Beerwolf Books Freehouse. It is amazing.

You climb the stairs, heading towards the shelves of books in the back room and emerge in the bar. At the bar there’s a plethora of beers to choose from and two jolly and knowledgeable barmen. I was very happy.

I think today was, basically, Gary’s Happy Day. There were so many things I loved. Boats, pizza, beer and a wonderful, quirky pub which sold a wonderful wheat beer I’d never tried before.

And, best of all, after yesterday’s almost continuous rain, today was dry, sunny and gloriously warm. Well, until we were back in the cottage and all tucked up, away from the world. Then it rained. But that was just fine.

Posted in Cornwall 2022, Gary's Posts | Leave a comment

Light shower day

He left here in 1962, the man being served at the bar in the Pandora Inn. He was a lawyer in Australia, retired to New Zealand, and was now back to visit family. He reliably informed the barman and me that he was delighted to be here. His family consisted of his 83 year old brother, who was sitting at a table next to us, where we’d decided to have dinner for lunch.

The morning weather, unlike Mr 1962, had been unfriendly. Well, not at 06:30, when we went down to find Freddy, give him a six point turn and take him across the shingle beach, concerned we’d miss the tide. The low tide I mean. You can’t drive across the beach at high tide.

As it turned out, Freddy was unmolested and sat where we’d left him, his butt facing the turdis, his front facing the wrong way.

Denise, expertly and carefully, turned him round. I did suggest it would have been a lot easier had Strong Girl Bong Song been there but, of course, she wasn’t. And Denise didn’t know who she was anyway. It was a flippant and unnecessary remark at a time of rising tension.

Actually, it was not tense at all. Denise shuffled Freddy back and forth while I stood at either end suggesting when she should stop and start. After only a few backs and forths, Freddy faced the right way and we went and parked him up the hill. We were expecting a car park but found only a slightly wider part of the country lane and left him behind the SUV belonging to our neighbour. Then we walked the 24 miles back to the cottage.

No, the weather wasn’t unkind then. It had been very wet earlier. Actually, I was sitting writing yesterday’s post when a strange noise came to me. It was rain falling on the small alcove out the back. It sounded like paper being crumpled up. It was rain. A glance out of the window told me that.

And so it continued for most of the day. Coming and going. Clouds going, clouds coming back. It called for a lazy old day at the cottage and, of course, a meal at the Pandora Inn…

Which is where we overheard the increasingly tense family reunion between the man who left here in 1962 and his 83 year old brother.

The 83 year old claimed he had aristocrats visiting his restaurant. At first we thought he was an artist but, if so, he was an artist with an eatery because he was quite adamant about his restaurant ownership. He didn’t look like a master chef. He also ate his fish chips with his fingers, gesturing to his brother who used cutlery. “That’s very sophisticated!” He erupted, “I always eat with my hands.

He reminded me of Nicktor and his insistence on using a knife and fork to eat pizza. Maybe this means he’s an aristocrat. Nicktor, I mean.

The brother, the one who served aristocrats in his restaurant, was quite proud to be 83. We know because he proudly proclaimed as much to anyone with hearing. That was because he’d had a few. Beers, not aristocrats. And was continuing to. He also dyed his hair. And beard. Both were very black. He made me realise I was right when I shifted to a light brown dye, then stopped completely for my natural, pepper and salt look.

It was all very jolly and family reunion-y until the 83 year old went to the loo. 1962 man started talking in a low voice to the woman he was with and things suddenly went a bit tense. Something about insurance turned their talk away from the family fun they were almost having.

The 83 year old man with the impossibly black beard returned and 1962 put his coat on. He sat, impatient in his coat, determined to leave, waiting for the moment to come. When it did, 1962 man strode purposely by our table and headed out of the pub. His face, once happy and glorious was glum and severe. The 83 year old was surprised. He stood up and staggered after them. How could he not know, I thought, that his behaviour was annoying his younger brother?

Turns out, this was the most action we saw all day.

The rain came and went. A light shower day, the Met app on my phone called it. At one point, I sat outside for a bit, on the small deck overlooking the river, reading and ducking under the meagre shelter whenever necessary, and Denise stayed inside, rugged up against the bitter cold with 12 jumpers, three blankets and an Icelandic nose warmer.

While I read on the deck, a robin came and watched me. Tilting his head from side to side, wondering what I was up to. I assured him I had no food, but he kept returning, determined to find something. He didn’t. Sadly, I could only manage a rather blurry photo.

He was most insistent. It made no difference. I didn’t even have crumbs. Denise reckoned he knew about the robin I feed inside the extension and expected something himself. Could be, I guess. Maybe all robins have some sort of messaging app in their heads that connects them all. Maybe I’m the Robin God. I’ll never know.

I did manage to Skype with Mirinda for a bit. Well, until her laptop died from lack of juice. And we took great delight in reporting on our exploits from yesterday. Both Denise and I told her, based on her history, she’d have turned back at the beach and decided to stay somewhere else.

Posted in Cornwall 2022, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

When instructions go wrong

There was quite a bit of rain between Farnham and Cornwall today. Driving conditions started off pretty good but it deteriorated around the time we passed the county boundary. It tested the automatic windscreen wipers of Freddy Fiat and Denise’s memory of driving a manual car.

We picked Freddy up from the rental place first thing. He is a Fiat 500 and, surprisingly roomy. In fact, the boot seems bigger than the one in Nicktor’s car. This is surprising because Nicktor’s car is probably twice the size of Freddy.

For the two of us, Freddy turned out to be the perfect fit. The puppies, of course, were a bit confused having to get in from the front in order to access the shelf that passed for the back seat but they were soon happy, sitting on a waffle blanket for their brief trip to the kennel.

The people at Bowenhurst were lovely and whisked Emma and Freya off with not so much as a backward glance. I hope they enjoy their stay.

Back at home, we packed Freddy and set off.

The journey was fine, as far as it goes. Obviously there was the usual traffic at Stonehenge and various other jammy spots. There was also the unexpected trip through Truro when we took the wrong exit off the roundabout which sent us along a back road that, in parts, was only just as wide as the car. But, apart from these flustery moments, we made it to the Norway Inn.

It was at this point that we should have turned around and gone back home.

The cottage that we are staying at is lovely. The views over the water, strewn with boats, are gorgeous. It is remarkably quiet. There is also a five minute walk to the Pandora Inn, somewhere we’ve visited before and thoroughly enjoyed.

Getting to the cottage, however, is far from joyful.

The instructions seem very clear and easy. Not so. Far better trusting the SatNav, something usually not the case. However, in this instance, a definite must. Having gone down a few wrong roads and squeezed by a couple of big cars, we finally found the road.

I say ‘road’; track is probably a better description. Having followed the track down hill, you then have to drive on a bit of shingle beach. Denise was not keen on this so I set off, stick a’clicking, to find our accommodation. I was very happy that the rain had gone somewhere else.

While I was gone, the people who were moving into the place next door to us, stopped and assured Denise the beach was fine to drive on. It wasn’t until I returned, having found the cottage, that she actually attempted it.

Like the men who walked in front of early automobiles, waving a red flag, I led the way across the shingles. We then drove to the cottage.

Something to realise is that you can’t park at the cottage. I knew this. We both knew this. We could off load our stuff though, and walk it up the tiny yet long and steep path to the front door. It is then necessary to try and reverse the car in order to return to the beach and go back up the dirt track and find the parking. Of course, you then have to walk back.

It’s a good thing we have Freddy Fiat because I don’t think Max would have managed, let alone a big car. Mind you, our new neighbours managed with a massive SUV thing.

So, we unpacked and made a number of trips back and forth. Well, I did. I told Denise to make herself a cup of tea and get over the trip. She said she didn’t need to sit down, having been in the car for five hours. I told her she needed to relax, not sit down. I know, from past experience, that not being a driver means I don’t understand the stresses associated with it. This means I unpack the car while the driver relaxes with a cup of tea.

I then gave her a couple of options for how we were to move forward. Had I been with Mirinda, I think she might have added the option to go somewhere else. Denise took option one, which was to reverse Freddy to a spot where he wasn’t obstructing anything – not that there’s a lot to obstruct – and deal with it first thing in the morning.

The cottage, as I said, was lovely. It took a while to work its charms but, eventually, we were ready to find the Pandora Inn.

The little narrow path outside the cottage continues around and, after about five minutes, deposited us outside the pub.

Dinner was lovely. The pub very atmospheric. The staff delightful. A better end than expected to a quite fretful day.

Posted in Cornwall 2022, Gary's Posts | Leave a comment

Farewell chat

The weather changed a bit today. There was actually a pretty sunrise. As I said to Denise, there were probably a few shepherds heeding the warning. It felt like rain all morning. My weather app said there might be rain at midday while Denise’s said it was raining all morning. As it turned out, they were both wrong.

Not that it didn’t rain. There was a short shower, lasting about 15 minutes, at around 9am. But that was it. And the sun even tried to come out just before it set at around 9:30pm.

Not that the weather had much of an impact on me today. I had a Talking Newspaper remote recording, so I was inside for most of the time.

There was an early walk up the avenue of trees with the girls, of course. It featured a look at the fun fair preparations as well as a glimpse of the garden through the blue door.

We saw a few dog walkers, but there was no sign of the loan golfer with the moss obsessed daughter.

Even with the overcast and looming sky, the park looked beautiful and lush.

Back at the house I had a brief Skype with Mirinda and then set to preparing the newspaper clippings for the recording. Denise decided to go for a walk into Farnham, avoiding the brief shower and wandering around the shops for a couple of hours. I was surprised it took that long.

My reader this week was supposed to be Robert but he did a swap with Nigel. I rarely get to read with Nigel, so I was delighted with the swap. But it turned out to be most fortuitous. Today marked Nigel’s final recording as he’s moving to Suffolk very soon.

And, as usual, we had a hilarious time.

It was quite stuffy in my office, so I had the door open and Denise, in the extension, heard me burst into laughter many times throughout the session. I’d like to think I helped make Nigel’s final session a memorable one.

Once I’d recovered from the recording, I made a variation on a räksallad with Wiltshire ham for dinner. Denise thought it was lovely.

I had a story today which featured a socialist member of Alton Town Council. I said that I’d been called a champagne socialist by a friend of mine to which Nigel said: “Surely that means you share the champagne around.

I really need to remember that excellent riposte!

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On navigation

Today, we had visions of that fateful evening, back in 2001, when we were locked in Guildford Castle grounds. Of course, the time of year was very different so it was light but, even so, it makes you wary. You never know when some officious person might go beyond his remit and take his miserable life out on you.

Yesterday we decided a bus trip to Guildford was a good idea so, this morning, having taken the girls for a ramble through the woods, we were standing at the bus stop opposite the territorials, waiting for the number 65. We were not the only ones there. Two couples also waited. Oddly, both couples caught the same bus back to Farnham as us. It caused some conversation about being followed.

It was a perfect day for going into Guildford. The sky was perfectly blue, highlighting the castle and the wonderful high street; making everything look perfectly beautiful.

Unfortunately, the castle keep was closed. There were no signs indicating when it would be open. A group of women were perched on the steps leading up to the entrance looking disappointed. It suggested it would be a good time for the invaders to turn up given the castle was closed.

It felt like a bit of a waste having expended so much energy dragging ourselves up the steep path. I explained to Denise how we dragged mum up there to see the end of Alice in 2015. Actually, I took Denise via the route that the play took, explaining what happened where. We also managed to see the Alice statue in the park which is always a challenge to find.

Not that we minded wandering around. The beds were all blooming nicely, promising great displays as the summer goes along. Lots of people were enjoying the gardens taking lunch or just wandering around.

Of course, all of this wandering around created a yawning need for ham and tomato sandwiches which were gratefully consumed at the wonderful Three Pigeons, along with a much needed pint of Neck Oil.

I think the levels of hunger were exacerbated because of the long-winded wander earlier in the day. I thought Denise (and the girls) would like a walk through the woods, so we headed into the deep undergrowth up the hill. Then there came a fork in the road.

Two paths, one left, one right. It’s been quite a while since I last trod these paths. I chose left. As I told Denise later, anytime I am called on to navigate and confidently announce “We go left“, we should actually go right.

I knew I’d gone the wrong way quite early on but figured, all paths lead somewhere and just kept walking. Eventually I spotted a clearing up ahead and figured I’d be able to work out where we were.

We reached a fence and nothing looked familiar. It was all quite odd. I decided to go through the gate and, suddenly, there were cows. We were on the Queen’s Bottom. As Mirinda said “How could you not recognise that field immediately???!!!

I admit it was a bit odd but, in my feeble defence, I was coming at it from a weird angle. And, of course, my navigation is shit.

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The carnival is in town

This morning, when we took the dogs on an early walk to the castle, in the field opposite the golf course, the carnival trucks and rides had started to arrive. They had been parked in the typical circle formation one expects from American westerns involving wagons and arrows.

I dare say, I would have known about it had I recorded a Talking Newspaper edition in the last month but, for whatever reasons, I haven’t, so, I didn’t.

I suppose the show will start this weekend. We’ll not be attending. Not because we don’t like carnivals but because we’ll be in Cornwall. Though, to fair, I’m not that keen on carnivals.

Interestingly, on this morning’s walk, we saw heaps of people. Most walking dogs but with a smattering of joggers (some also with dogs) and one, lone golfer who stopped to tell us that his daughter, who was visiting last week, stopped at every tree in the avenue in order to photograph the moss. We never found out why.

He stopped to talk because I’d noticed a carving in one of the trees which I photographed years ago, vowing to photograph regularly and then instantly forgot. I wonder whatever happened to the love between Thomas and Erika. Or did they forget about their carving as quickly as I did?

I explained to the lone golfer what I was photographing. I think he was disappointed that I wasn’t photographing the moss. Though he did get his phone to take a photo of the carving, possibly to send to his daughter.

After so long on our own, it was fun having Denise along with us. If nothing else, it gave me the opportunity to talk to another human. While I dearly love the cockerpoos, their conversational skills are pretty basic.

After our walk, we decided to head into Farnham for a latte then brunch. The girls weren’t happy about being left on their own but, hey, that’s all part of being a dog. Besides, they have to protect the little birds, something they are very good at.

In fact, for most of the afternoon and evening on this, the longest day, they chased away the pigeons in order to allow the voracious sparrows to gobble up all the seed. And, of course, they ignored our very friendly robin as it bravely hopped further and further into the extension, almost within pecking range of Denise’s foot.

Our brunch was at Bill’s, still wrapped in it’s weather proof overcoat of scaffolding and temporary, galvanised roof. Of course, we ate far too much and remained full for the rest of the day.

Late on, I introduced Denise to the Reading Hour, which she embraced wholeheartedly though she didn’t have a vodka.

And, in answer to Mirinda’s question regarding the Tim Tam flavours…this is what is currently residing in the Coat Cupboard.

We started on the ‘chewy caramel’ shortly before bed. As a treat. I don’t know if we were in with a chance of the 3 wishes $100,000 competition because Denise didn’t keep the receipt to prove purchase. As she said, “Who keeps the receipt?

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