The house of clocks

The shower is total, unadulterated, crap. There are three controls which seem not to work. The list of items on the page that comes with the welcome pack for the cottage, indicates it’s a power shower. If this is so then it’s broken. There is NO power. In fact the tap in the kitchen sink is more powerful.

At first, the temperature was unbearably hot. A few twiddles of the useless knobs meant this quickly turned to unbearably cold. I put everything back to the way it was and left it to run for a bit. Eventually the temperature levelled out to something comfortable. So I stood under the trickle and had a far from ideal shower.

I just have to discuss the toaster. I know I rarely comment on the kitchen supplies but this little fella has me mystified. I bought a standard, regulation size loaf of sliced bread. Mainly for toasting as I realise a lot of toasters aren’t happy with the oversized loaves you can buy. Anyway, this morning I took out two slices and tried to put them in the toaster. Guess what? They don’t fit. The opening is not big enough to take the width of a slice of bread. If you stand it on its end it fits but, of course, a big bit of the bread sits above the toaster and subsequently misses out. I managed to squeeze it in but, basically, you need to cut off one of the crusts in order for it to sit properly. I have no idea what size bread this toaster was made for unless it’s those tiny little loaves they make in France. Or perhaps it’s actually for making croutons.

We lit a fire as the temperature outside was still pretty cool. There was a high, brisk wind blowing. This did mean that the views were pretty far reaching. We could see the sea in both directions.

After a morning spent working on my essays, we set off for a visit to Trerice, a National Trust property on the way to Newquay. Before hitting the A30 we stopped off at the Caraharack Feed Store in order to pick up a couple of trees for the fire.

Trerice is an Elizabethan manor house sitting in a peaceful wooded valley. It was owned by the Arundell family for nearly 500 years. It passed to the Acland family in the mid 18th century when the Arundells died out.

The view of the back of Trerice

The Aclands sold it in either 1815 or 1915 – the guidebook goes a bit awry here so I’m not sure if it’s a typo or just badly written – very unusual for the National Trust, I might add. In 1919 it was purchased by the Cornwall County Council and subsequently, the land was divided into individual farms. In 1953 it was bought by the National Trust.

Trerice is thought to mean ‘the settlement by the ford’ but no-one knows for sure. There is a ford there, though it isn’t as important as it was in the late 16th century when the Arundell’s rebuilt the manor house.

Naturally, before starting our tour of the house, we visited the tearooms for tea, coffee, sandwiches and cake. Suitably refreshed – it did take us half an hour to get there, after all – we set off into the house.

There is a magnificent Great Hall with a massive oak table – this is the only piece of furniture that is original to the house. I think this is because no-one could get it out. It really is very big. Nowadays it is liberally scattered with various things you can pick up and fiddle with including leather tankards, a helmet, a long bow and some family brasses.

The plasterwork is fantastic. The work around the fireplace was the height of fashion in 1572 when it was made. The male and female terms (‘terms’ are carved or plaster images created for the tops of columns which stand either side of rather large fireplaces), however, look a bit modern and completely out of place. They’re not, by the way.

We wandered through the house, admiring everything. Especially the clocks. It’s a little known fact that all the clocks in England come here to die. We saw and heard them all. Some clever person (with a wicked sense of humour) has set them all a minute apart so they seem to chime continuously.

The Great Chamber had a very impressive tapestry hanging on one wall but nowhere does it tell me what it depicts. It has a woman holding a man’s head but it’s not Salome. I think it’s probably Judith with the head of Holoferne. It is not mentioned in the guidebook, there was no postcard of it in the shop and, of course, you can’t take a photo of it. If I’m unable to find any information on it. I have sent them an email and await information. [I received a reply which stated that it was, in fact, Judith with the head of Holoferne.]

After the house we wandered around the garden. We checked out the Tudor vegetable garden which looked very similar to a cemetery and the squirt, a strange Tudor version of the sprinkler. There was no water in it today, however.

We felt we just HAD to visit the lawn mower museum. This is a long room full of lawn mowers. Not much more I can say about that, actually.

The mower museum at Trerice with Mirinda leaving

Reaching the upper garden we had a brief game of Elizabethan bowling which Mirinda won by breaking my toe with the ball. The wind was blowing so hard, it was pretty tricky getting the skittles to stay standing in the first place. We didn’t play for long. Actually we only had one go each.

Before leaving Trerice, Mirinda tried the lemon meringue pie (not very good) and I tasted a Betty Stogs from Skinner’s brewery (VERY good). Let me tell you the true story of Betty Stogs, as related to me by my beer bottle:

Betty Stogs was a native of West Cornwall. She was unkempt and lazy, could never mend her stockings, couldn’t knit or cook and liked a drop of ale [sounds like a weasel]. Her child was taken from her by the ‘little people’, washed in the morning dew and returned. The shock of which turned Betty into a reformed character. Sort of!!

We then travelled back to Kitts Cottage.

We hunkered down for the night against the ferocious wind which seems to permanently blow around the cottage. Soon the fire was blazing and I had tea on the stove. Lamb chops, mash & peas. Loving the kitchen but missing gas (already). Mirinda serenaded me with her third guitar. It all felt very rustic. Well, apart from the electricity and running water.

We watched The Thomas Crown Affair – Pierce Brosnan being his suave self while Rene Russo worked way too hard trying to be sexy and then failed – then to bed. And the howling wind lulled us to sleep.

It’s actually not true about the clocks at Trerice being set a minute apart…but wouldn’t it be brilliant!

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