Truro

Lovely sleep-in until 9. Though my sleep was disturbed by the doona thief who hasn’t been around for a long time. Wind still blowing with a persistence most admirable, though the clouds have parted a bit and blue sky is peeping through. Also managed to glimpse the sun. Had a leisurely wake-up period then worked on my essays while Mirinda read her strange Japanese book.

Eventually we set out for Truro, the capital of Cornwall. It seems we have picked a good spot to stay as it’s in the middle of everything. Truro is just a short drive away. We were going to be very good and do the park & ride but the council doesn’t seem to feel the need to advertise it properly (if at all) so we drove into town and parked in the first car park we found.

It seems the council would rather charge you a lot for parking in the centre rather than use the park & ride. It was £4.30 for 4 hours. I think this is extortionate. Especially when there appears to be little alternative.

From the car park we wandered the lovely cobbled streets of the city, the cathedral very much in evidence where ever we trod. It’s quite a small and cute cathedral. It has been built on the site of St Mary’s church. The cathedral was built between 1880 & 1910. It was designed by John Loughborough Pearson who is included in the façade of the building as a statue holding the plans of the building. I have no idea if this was in his original design or if someone thought it would be a nice touch.

Approach to Truro cathedral

We were going to visit the cathedral but being Easter Friday, there was a bit of a thing happening out front with crosses and people in red dresses so we decided to find a coffee shop for morning tea.

After a bit of a wander looking for a chain (like Starbucks) we settled on La Bevanda, a small restaurant on the second floor of Casa Fina, a trendy design store. The coffee and toasted tea cake was lovely and I thought the surroundings were sweet. Mirinda said it was the most artificial flowers she’s ever seen in one place.

The plan was to then visit the cathedral. There was a three hour service going on at the cathedral so we decided to visit the Victoria Gardens instead. On the way, Mirinda thought it would be nice for me to visit the Royal Cornwall Museum, which specialises in geology and archaeology. It was a lovely thought but she was altogether too pleased that it was shut.

We also went to see the amazing little curved Georgian street of Walsingham Place. It is described as one of the gems of Truro. And it is very cute – if you ignore the multi-storey car park at the end.

The Victoria Gardens were very nice. The magnolias were all out and a few late spring plants were flowering in mostly reds. The sun was out – though it didn’t really stop being windy all day – and people were taking advantage of the warmth to lounge around on the grass.

We wandered through to the Royal Courts of Justice which were deserted yet open. The open area outside the building gave a wonderful view over Truro including the cathedral (of course).

Courts of justice, Truro

We ended up at a seafood restaurant near where the car was parked and had delicious seafood for lunch (sea bass for me and lemon sole for Mirinda). By the time we finished it was almost 3pm and time to get into the cathedral.

As the congregation filed out so the tourist hordes flowed in, led by us. Now this is irritating. There are signs saying how great the new, all colour guide book is. There’s even a copy safely in a glass cabinet. It looked great, just the sort of thing I’d buy. At the desk there was also a sign saying the guide book is available ONLY in the cathedral shop. Fair enough…except the cathedral shop is closed over Easter.

There’s a limit then to my ability to report on the building. There were lots of stained glass, depicting many saints and biblical scenes and two massive rose windows. One of them shows a scene with Giotto, Dante and Pope Innocent III. Beneath the seated figures there is the scene of Dante meeting Virgil which Giotto painted originally.

There is also an excellent window showing the beheading of Charles I. Given the relative youth of the cathedral, there is a lot of stained glass which is in perfect condition.

I wanted to have a look at the choir stalls, in case there were any misericords but I was ushered away by an officious usher as he closed it off with a tasselled rope. Obviously I should have visited the choir first! A sign at the door of the cathedral advised tourists that a photographic pass was required to take photographs. This could be obtained at the cathedral shop. So, no photos then. I’m glad I didn’t find a St Sebastien. I did manage to take a shot up the aisle. So phooey to them.

It was soon time to retrieve the car and set off for St Agnes. This was not planned. On the way, Mirinda said she wanted to see the sea. I suggested we try somewhere to the side of St Agnes then as it is a bit inland. We went through Goonvrea and down to Chapel Porth Beach. Down a long windy (and windy) narrow road we passed cars with what looked like soap suds on them. This seemed odd.

The area is owned by the National Trust – the chapel is in ruins and undergoing…well something. It was extremely windy. The sudsy foam above the water line which was occasionally picked up by the wind and deposited on the parked cars was, claimed Mirinda, a result of pollution. It looked very odd. Sort of like the overflow from a giant washing machine.

Sudsy water at Porth Chapel, Cornwall

We had a short walk around which Mirinda said was not exactly what she had in mind when she said she wanted to visit the sea. According to the tourist guide we have, this is supposed to be a typical Cornwall, picnic type beach. Today it certainly wasn’t.

Sidney easily made it back up the steep incline (bringing up memories of poor old Neville and that horrid climb up the hill at Dittisham all those years ago) and we headed back to Caraharack.

Before heading back to the cottage we stopped off at the odd Gwennap Pit. This is a deep depression in the ground created when the roof of a mine collapsed back in the dim dark years. By the 1760s the bare rocks had become covered by grass, forming a natural amphitheatre. John Wesley, the first Methodist visited in 1762 and claimed it as his own though he conceded that it was made by God. After that he visited 18 times up until 1789, always on a Sunday and drawing larger and larger crowds. He said “I think this is the most magnificent spectacle which is to be seen on this side of heaven.” I assume from this that he hadn’t seen the Himalayas, the Grand Canyon or Uluhru.

Gwennap pit, Cornwall

OK, it’s pretty cool and the sound carries rather well but it IS just a big hole in the ground which someone has terraced so people can sit and sing, or pray, or just meditate in relative comfort. Actually a bunch of local mine captains (whatever the hell they are) remodelled the hole so it now has 12 rows of seats. They may call them seats. They are steps.

Apparently if you walk completely around every ring all the way to the bottom then all the way back to the top, you will have walked a mile. Also, it seats 1500 butts comfortably. Don’t get me wrong, I rather enjoyed this odd little place and I did feel a lot more welcome than I did in Truro cathedral.

From here it was a short hop back to the cottage to write up and be entertained by Mirinda’s guitar practice.

Having had a big lunch, we settled down to biscuits and cheese for dinner and watched a movie about kidnapping called Man on Fire. It had it’s moments.

This entry was posted in Cornwall 2008, Gary's Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *