Finn Bar’s Fowey

So, this morning I braved the ‘shower’. It’s actually a sexy hand held hair washer, if you ask me. There is nothing to stick it on. In fact the bath is sitting in the middle of the floor so short of a skyhook, nothing would work. But I persevered, seeing as I detest having baths more than a dribbly shower. It was a case of get wet, soap up, then rinse. That was it. The temperature was ok, the water pressure not very. Not high on my shower scale.

The BBC informed us that heavy rain was due in the South West by the early afternoon so we figured we’d head off to Fowey early. Ah, Fowey. You will find it described as “…the little grey sea town that clings along one side of the harbour”, by the sea rat in Wind in the Willows. You may hear the French talk about the evil, marauding Men of Fowey who persistently sailed across the channel and beat up the inhabitants indiscriminately. Actually, even the king, Edward IV, didn’t have control over these guys. When he declared peace with France, he went as far as to send Fowey a special note to acknowledge that they were no longer at war. It didn’t work. They continued their marauding ways. This dislike seems to have stemmed from an incident in 1457 when the French popped over and burnt Fowey.

A narrow main street through Fowey, Cornwall

Apart from the aggressive townsfolk, an important thing to know about Fowey is that it is surrounded by car parks and there’s a handy bus that runs every 15 minutes, so why anyone would drive down the very narrow roads is a mystery…but they do. Later in the day I saw a car rudely toot an old lady, almost giving her a heart attack! Not that the driver was bothered. He just zoomed off as she hopped, painfully off the road. The roads in the centre of Fowey are not as wide as most normal footpaths!

We parked Sidney in the City Car Park and walked down the steep lanes and steps onto the Town Quay. The main part of Fowey is a square with the St Finn Bar church on one side and the King of Prussia pub on the other, the Fowey Museum within the town hall to the right and a lovely blue bookshop to the left. Walking around the town hall and you are standing on the quay, looking out over the River Fowey. In the sunshine of the morning, it all looked lovely. Even the old drunk outside the King of Prussia looked like he belonged there.

It was time for some breakfast so we popped into the Brown Sugar, which I was very happy to see, served Scotch Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup! It also had a fairly nice coffee.

St Fin Bar's church, Fowey, Cornwall

We spent some time wandering around the church of St Finn Bar (c560 – c610). Or St Fimbarrus – there are many different spellings of his name. (It should be noted that this is also true for Fowey.) The church boasts a 15th century tower and a Norman font. The ceiling bosses are something, too! Actually, it’s doubtful whether the Irish, St Fin Barr ever came to Fowey. The whole rumour of his visit probably springs from the fact that he supposedly made a trip to Rome when he was young. This may seem odd but, Fowey was on the most direct route to Rome from Ireland. It has been suggested that while waiting for transport from Fowey harbour to Brittany, Finn Barr may have built a small brushwood church where the big one stands now – I assume he had no tent. Moving forward to the Middle Ages, a lot of people came to Fowey from Cork and would have maintained the name of the Irish saint, keeping his memory alive. He founded a monastery in Cork around which the town developed so they would have been a tad influenced by him.

There was a story spread in 1478 by William of Worcester who spent a Sunday in Fowey visiting his cousin, that Finn Barr was buried in Fowey but this is just plain rubbish. Everyone knows he died and was buried in Cork! Anyway, after the church was burnt down by the French and was rebuilt completely, it was re-dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari! Not that anyone seems to have taken a lot of notice. It’s still known as St Finn Barr’s church.

We spent most of the day wandering around the town, admiring the houses hanging from the sides of impossible hillsides, and stopped at places like the Villa Marina Hotel for morning tea (on a lovely balcony overlooking the river) and the Quay Hotel for lunch (on a terrace overlooking the threatening black clouds that spread ever closer).

The Quay Hotel restaurant, Fowey, Cornwall

Lunch was delicious and we fully recommend the Quay Hotel restaurant. The fish of the day was bream and was perfect. Mirinda had the calamari, which was also perfect. The crème brulee, on the other hand, was about a 7.5 on the GazScale.

We finished our first (for there will be more) visit to Fowey by buying some books, some mugs and an iron doorstop with a mouse on it. It was then a queue for the town bus (a ten seater mini-bus) under thundery skies and a ride to the top of the hill to a waiting Sidney.

The clouds started spitting as we headed off and then there was a torrential downpour, the likes of which is normally reserved for more tropical areas of the planet. The roads were saturated. It was like driving through fords. By the time we reached Lostwithiel, the rain had stopped and we managed to do a bit of shopping while remaining dry. It was then back to Castle.

And the water wasn’t hot. Mirinda wanted a bath. I went and complained and the wife of the guy who showed us around reset something. 20 minutes later, the water was piping. There is another problem with the bath. The plug is a push type. Because of this, if you sit on it, the water starts running out. The other problem with this type of plug is that it doesn’t create a perfect seal so the water is gradually leaking out as you lie back and enjoy your bath. Mirinda, ingenuity to the fore, utilised an old plastic bag to form a more accurate seal.

And then we decided to watch a dvd. There was a big bag full of them in the apartment – an excellent assortment, I should say, for all ages and tastes. It wouldn’t work. As with the Battlestar DVD, it was apparently, the wrong disk. I tried a few others but none of them was the right disk. I ended up watching the football and Mirinda managed to ignore it.

By the way, I should also mention, Fowey is pronounced Foy.

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