Out and About in West Cornwall…

20_656_1.jpgVisits of friends, in this case Julia and Allan, always lead to excursions. Our first day out centred on a lunch at Jamie’s Fifteen restaurant in Watergate Bay. As we arrived nice and early we had a drive around Newquay (pretty scruffy).  A walk along the sands was then called for to work up an appetite…20181008_122910.jpg20181008_153405.jpg20181008_153434.jpgOn our previous two visits to Fifteen we have had excellent food. Unfortunately on this occasion the food was not only expensive but also very disappointing. I think you can see that from the thoughtful expressions! It’s always a let-down to promise a great experience and then see it fall very short.20181008_133809.jpgOur next objective (I do like to have objectives) was Bedruthan Rocks – pictured at the top on a good day weather-wise. If it had been calm we would perhaps have descended to the beach. It was far from calm, but therefore there were spectacular seas….20181008_161353.jpg20181008_161432.jpg20181008_161946.jpg20181008_161514.jpgI did get down half the steps….20181008_162452.jpgbut any more would have led to certain accident (or death!) I am sure….20181008_162615.jpg20181008_162720.jpg20181008_162851.jpgWe were to spend the next three days based at a cottage near Penzance, but before going there we were booked to have lunch at Senara – a completely different experience from Jamies’………It justifiably is one of the top restaurants in Penzance, and renowned for its incredible food and service. But the interesting thing is that it is a training kitchen for professional cookery students at Truro and Penwith College and is located in the college itself, with great views of St Michael’s Mount. The service was amazing, the food absolutely first-class and the whole experience wonderful. All this for £10 for 3 courses….incredible! Because of its pricing and value the restaurant is also used as a takeaway by staff and students at the college as well as the public. What a fabulous organisation this is….faultless, and with a great vibe. Here is a typical lunch menu……

Cured seatrout, salt baked swede and beets, carrot tops, crème fraiche and caviar.

Smoked chicken Caesar salad, pancetta, baby gem and parmesan.

*****
Pork fillet, pork scrumpet, smoked mash, carrots, cider and thyme jus.

Plaice, mussels, warm tartare sauce, tenderstem and confit potatoes.

Roast heritage squash, tabbouleh, harissa, feta, yogurt and rocket. *****
Sticky toffee pudding, fudge sauce and clotted cream.

Mocha cheesecake, amaretto raisins and vanilla ice cream.

Mr Hanson cheese, Senara chutney and biscuits.

20181009_142453.jpgI imagine we will have lots more visits here, and we will be looking forward to every single one of them. Lunch completed, off we went to nearby Mousehole. We parked as usual on the Bay road and the weather for October was very pleasant indeed.20181009_144231(0).jpgParking here enables you to walk into Mousehole past the old lifeboat station for the Penlee lifeboat which is always thought-provoking. All crew lost and such a small village.20181009_145246.jpgMousehole still retains a lot of its original character and we discovered little roads that we hadn’t been down before20181009_153233.jpg20181009_153312.jpg20181009_153740.jpgThe flowers showed that Cornwall was living up to its reputation for its mild climate……20181009_154007.jpgThe Weslyan Methodist chapel still operates but I doubt it has as many members as the 1780’s when 200 out of a population of less than 1000 were members. Here’s the Evangelical Times…”The character of the whole town was transformed, as blasphemers and immoral people were saved from their wickedness and brought into the joys of salvation. The main work was done over a period of four months.” Reading the guide on its noticeboard, the musicians here were known as ‘The Teetotal Band”…very apt I am sure. the men sat on the hill side of the chapel and the ladies on the sea side.Mousehole-3rs-1024x768.pngOur cup of tea was in the Old Coastguard Hotel with its great views and lovely atmosphere.20181009_161240.jpgThere were some unusual views too on our walk back to the car….20181009_165115.jpgWednesday was our day trip to the Scilly Isles. An early start from the cottage…20181010_065239.jpg and dawn breaking over the harbour….20181010_071801.jpg20181010_071919.jpg20181010_072434.jpg20181010_072443.jpg20181010_072536.jpgOur first glimpse of the Scillonian ferry showed it busily loading freight (including cars)20181010_072936.jpgand leaving harbour we were promised a pleasant day – which we had………..20181010_081934.jpgWe knew Julia and Allan would enjoy the views of the Cornish coast before we headed out into the deep ocean….20181010_082809.jpgand we could see Mousehole, the Minack Theatre and Lamorna cove as well as Land’s End. During the voyage we saw gannets bombing the sea vertically at great speed, and we were very lucky to see several dolphins skimming in and out of the water….what a privilege………what wonderful creatures.Common-Dolphins.jpg20181010_090604.jpg20181010_090644.jpg20181010_103122.jpgThe journey is two hours forty minutes, not long enough to get seasick on relatively placid seas, and we soon had our first sighting of the islands…..20181010_104017.jpg20181010_104318.jpg20181010_104343.jpg20181010_105516.jpgWe hurried off the boat at Hugh Town as we were intent on catching the little boat to Tresco. However due to unusual tides there was no chance of us getting it there and back in time for the return trip to the mainland, a disappointment we quickly got over when we started to wander around the little capital….20181010_111058.jpg20181010_111429.jpg20181010_111745.jpgAnd we were soon sitting in the sun admiring  the first of many beaches…..20181010_113110.jpg20181010_114141.jpg20181010_114327.jpg20181010_115033.jpg20181010_115632.jpg20181010_120648.jpgWe were making for Juliet’s cafe where we knew we would get a reasonable lunch with a view and, on the way, called in a little gallery (there were many) where the local birdlife was as friendly as the locals!20181010_121837.jpg20181010_121931.jpg20181010_123027.jpgWe could see Tresco sparkling with its white beaches across the channel but never mind!20181010_123320.jpgAt Juliet’s it was still sitting-out weather….and more friendly wildlife was encountered.20181010_125551.jpg20181010_142000.jpgLeaving, we walked a short way down a path which we discovered was the coastal path for St Mary’s. This would be a great thing to do if one was staying overnight, and I made a mental note.20181010_142549.jpg20181010_142447.jpgGreat views wherever you are in the Isles of Scilly and interesting to see the regular shuttle planes flying to and fro from the tiny airport….20181011_132451.jpg20181010_142655.jpg20181010_144316_001.jpgWe just had time to climb the hill out of Hugh Town towards Star Castle which is now an excellent hotel, and enjoy a more panoramic vista………..20181010_151318.jpgas well as looking in some of the old buildings……..20181010_151743.jpg20181010_151949.jpgI was surprised that on our return voyage we went around St Mary’s in the opposite direction to our arrival, and consequently down very narrow channels where we were very close to the shore……20181010_163016.jpg20181010_163034.jpgJust about dark when we got back to Penzance after a fantastic day out…….20181010_191357.jpgOn our last full day it was blowing a gale – Storm Callum actually – and torrential rain, so we decided to go to Penlee House Museum and Gallery, a favourite. There was an exhibition on the mainly marine painter of the Newlyn School – Borlase Smart. Here’s the man himself en plain aire painting The Pilots’ Boathouse…..20181011_114514.jpg20181011_114510.jpgAfter taking a couple of pics I was told off (no photos). That meant I could concentrate on the paintings!20181011_114533.jpgThe cafe was full so we took the car to St Just where we knew we could get a good pasty, and drove down the byroad to Cape Cornwall where we enjoyed it – in the  warmth and sunshine. 20181011_132437.jpg20181011_132502.jpg20181011_132451.jpg20181011_133431.jpg20181011_135146.jpg20181011_135310.jpgWe saw a little notice whilst we were eating saying the National Coastwatch Institution lookout was open so we bobbed round the corner of the Cape and climbed up to it. The views were even better than those we had had so far, and our talk with the volunteers was very interesting indeed. Plus, absolutely amazing sightings though their very powerful telescope……..20181011_140508.jpg20181011_140514.jpg20181011_140821.jpg20181011_141334.jpg20181011_141849.jpgOn our way to Land’s End we stopped off at Sennen to look at the quaint little harbour and expanse of sands…….20181011_145417.jpg20181011_145429.jpgThe visitor site at Land’s End itself was a massive improvement on the last time we were there. Then it had been frankly tawdry with amusement arcades, burger bars etc etc but now everything was painted a fresh white and all the buildings were spick and span. Just shows what you can do. Impressive scenery was enjoyed, and although we couldn’t today see the Isles of Scilly 32 miles away, we admired the Longships lighthouse which seemed from some viewpoints touchable but is in fact a mile and a half away.20181011_150548.jpg20181011_150822.jpg20181011_152545.jpg20181011_152808.jpgAlmost our last stop on a very interesting tour of the Far West was the Minack Theatre. I wondered whether it would be worth visiting without a performance, but I need not have worried – it was magnificent. Our first view before entering the site was of next door Porthcurno Sands really one of the best beaches in the world, but here foreshortened because of high tide.20181011_161043.jpgThe Minack cafe is pretty spectacular too.20181011_161410.jpgWhat a unique place this is. Obviously you get many Greek and Roman theatres built into hillsides throughout the Med but this was largely and almost unbelievably built by one very strong-minded woman and her gardener…..Rowena Cade. Not by a whole army of soldiers and slaves. After excavating and pouring concrete during the day, and gouging designs with an old screwdriver, she would go down to Porthcurno beach and lug up bags of sand on her back ready for next day’s concrete mixing.20181011_162800.jpgIt seems a bit glib to say they don’t make people like that any more, but really, do you know of anyone who would undertake a project like this (in all weathers of course) into their eighties? A redoubtable woman indeed….20181011_170725.jpgWe all enjoyed clambering around the various levels of the site and experiencing the views the audience and actors would have….20181011_162735.jpg20181011_163233.jpg20181011_163313.jpg20181011_163547.jpg20181011_163657.jpg20181011_163927.jpg20181011_164122.jpg20181011_164308.jpg20181011_171010.jpg    20181011_171014.jpgI had one more location in mind to give Julia and Allan a full flavour of West Cornwall – the Tinner’s Arms at Zennor. On the way there we couldn’t help but stop at an old engine house too. This particular one was Carn Galver tin mine – looking very benign in the evening sunshine. It’s impossible for us these days to imagine all of Cornwall as one huge industrial site in Victorian times….dirty, noisy, dangerous and pulsating with work.20181011_180202.jpg20181011_180219.jpg20181011_180250_001.jpg20181011_180313_001.jpgAfter parking we had a quick look in at Zennor church to see the famous ‘Mermaid of Zennor’ and the ravishingly beautiful barrel roof.20181011_181941.jpg20181011_182249.jpg20181011_182106 2.jpgYou don’t often see the bellhops hanging freely…..20181011_182052.jpgDuty beckoned (Excise Duty!) and we had our well-deserved pint in The Tinner’s……..20181011_184449.jpgand I did like the ‘Fish Only’ entrance…..20181011_182828.jpgWhat a good way to end a day – a pint at The Tinner’s. On our way home to St Keyne the following day, if it had been nice, we would have called in at the incomparable St Michael’s Mount. As it was atrocious weather we had a drive round instead one of my favourite parts of Cornwall – the area around Helford. Pity the Shipwright’s wasn’t open. We had lunch at the Black Swan in Greek….good pub fare. 20181012_112252.jpg20181012_112259.jpg20181012_112625.jpg20181012_112647.jpg

Reading Matters……Hidden Histories, and more

A1SjTWkBayL.jpgNow this is one of those books for browsing. Subtitled, ‘A Spotter’s Guide To The British Landscape’, ‘Hidden Histories’ is just that. It answers lots and lots of interesting posers…..’Is that an ancient tomb?’; ‘It’s straight, but is it Roman?; ‘How old is this drystone wall?’; ‘What was kept in there?’. Basically it enjoins you to get out there and get your eye in. But many points of interest are mentioned throughout. For instance I didn’t know but Mary-Ann Ochota assures us, “Britain has more ancient trees than most of the rest of Europe”. Something we can all be delighted in. The Chartered Institute of Archaeologists concludes ‘This is an ideal introductory book for someone who wants to know more about British landscapes.’ And it is indeed, something to prepare you for the ‘deeper’ books of Richard Muir and Oliver Rackham. There are plenty of great photos and illustrations and each section is followed by a selection of the best sites and monuments. It certainly encouraged me. On our way to Plymouth just off the road we see a lump in the ground which looks to me exactly like a barrow. So I halted in the nearest lay-by and marched up the side of the busy dual-carriageway quite a long way to take a photo or two. I have consulted an archaeologist who says it may be a farm rubbish dump. I still favour a barrow.

Dusting my shelves one day I noted for the umpteenth time a set of two books in a slip-Unknown.jpegcase looking very enticing but still in their plastic cover, unopened……‘Gaudi : Complete Works’ Why, when I love Gaudi so much, had they never been opened? I cannot answer that question. It was a sheer joy to revisit some of the Gaudi buildings and works which we know well ourselves from our many visits to Barcelona, and to see some of his work of which we were entirely unaware. Gaudi can be classed as working in the Art Nouveaux style, or in the Spanish or Catalan term as ‘Modernista’ but actually he was of course entirely unique. His work is a sheer joy calculated to bring a smile to anyone’s face. It is Arts and Crafts meets Gothic meets Mediterranean vernacular. Some of the buildings we see in Barcelona are now old friends…..these books make them resident right here…beautifully illustrated too.127ec586d92525c6d130dd59a194d4f8.jpg

9200000032978692.jpg‘Sweet Heart’ by Peter James is a book I picked up in Morrisons for £4, something I have never done before…… I usually give a quick glance at the book section and conclude….’trash’. But I thought I was short of something to read and we know Peter from events he did for us at our bookshops and know he is an excellent author. It is not one of his usual and very good detective novels with DS Roy Grace set in the streets of Brighton. Rather it is a ghost story, but one with a difference. It is about someone who regresses under hypnosis, something I happen to believe in. After all if genes can be passed through the generations with all kinds of information why on earth not memory? On Peter’s site the blurb gives…                                                                            ‘After Charley and her husband Tom move into Elmwood Mill, sinister memories of a previous experience start to haunt her. Despite both their attempts to dismiss everything with rational explanations, the feeling turns to certainty as these memories become increasingly vivid and more terrifying. Persuaded to undergo hypnosis, each session stops in a feeling of doom and terror. There is something hidden that the therapist cannot reach. Something that was safely buried in her past – until now. In searching back she has unwittingly opened a Pandora’s box of evil. It is too late to close the lid. The terror is free.’ The book did remind me very much of a Stephen King. You are drawn in and become part of the story. The only quibble I have is that the main character seems incredibly brave, far more so than I would be, and I did begin to query some of her actions. Other than that, a creepy read which will almost certainly have you on edge.

Now why have I not read ‘The Making of the British Landscape’ before now as it has 227910.jpgbeen in my possession quite a long while and it is my type of book. Or so I thought. In fact I have found it extremely annoying. When one talks of the peoples who lived here thousands of years ago, obviously material remains are few, and assumptions will be made, which you can agree with or not. But not to the extent of telling us their daily lives and how they were feeling. It’s absolute rubbish, and I don’t know why Nicholas Crane expects to get away with it. On and on he drones ‘acquainting’ us with our remote ancestors. It reminds me very much of ‘Time Team’ and the way that at prehistoric sites if they can’t think of anything else, or have no real evidence, they conclude that such and such a site must have been developed ‘for important ritual purposes.’ What nonsense! If there is no evidence, don’t try to draw any conclusions. I persevered with Nicholas Crane for several chapters and, as a historian myself, at great mental and emotional expense, thinking it all might get a bit more realistic, but no. A very, very disappointing book which I had been looking forward to. Shame.

 

From Carlyon Bay to Trenarren….and surely some of the steepest bits of the SW Coast Path….27/9/18

20180926_122041.jpgOn another glorious September day off we went and parked up by the excellent Carlyon Bay Hotel. What a joy it is to do what we want (well within reason, and as long as it doesn’t cost too much) whenever we want. After using the hotel’s facilities (very nice), we admired the view of the bay from the grounds…….20180926_122058.jpg and then set off passing some very nice new flats (starting at half a million), and being dazzled by the reflections on the sea……..20180926_122434.jpgWe then came across a watch tower which was evidently manned. On closer inspection there was a notice saying ‘Visitors Welcome’ which I was very surprised to see, and  so up the steps we went to a very warm welcome.20180926_123153.jpgThe watchtower – Charlestown Station – is indeed an old coastguard station. Many will know of  the concerns when in an economy drive they were nearly all shut. In fact in 1974 there were still 127 stations (permanently manned) and 245 auxiliary stations. Now there are just 10 Coastguard Operations Centers (CGOCs) and one National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC). Local concern all around the country about the loss of local visual watch and local knowledge led to the setting up of volunteer-run watch stations and the establishing of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI). This watchtower is an NCI station. Built in the early twentieth century as an auxiliary Coastguard lookout, it became redundant in the cuts and was abandoned . Rediscovered and resurrected from its derelict state in 2001 it was re-opened after extensive work in 2003.20180926_125257.jpgRegarding its purpose, as our hosts noted…….”Whilst high technology and sophisticated systems are aids to improved safety, a computer can’t spot a distress flare, an overturned boat or a yachtsman or fisherman in trouble. Other vulnerable activities like diving, wind surfing and canoeing are made safer with visual surveillance.”   It operates 365 days a year and provides visual watch over all users of St Austell Bay.                               The leaflet we got informs us that ‘NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies, offering a variety of skills and experience and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met. Over 246,000 hours of organised coastal surveillance were completed in 2016 alone, all at no cost to the public. Funding is managed by a Board of Trustees.’ The Charlestown Station itself is sponsored by the Carlyon Bay Hotel amongst others, and relies like all the others totally on contributions. We donated £5, a small amount indeed but very gratefully received.                                                           The UK has a world-wide reputation for its charity work and volunteer giving. A total amount of £9.7 billion was donated by generous Brits in 2016. However it is salutary to note that whilst the UK is Europe’s most generous country it still lags behind the developing world, especially Africa. Indeed only six of the G20 largest economies in the world feature in this year’s top 20. Interesting.                                                                              Just after this worthwhile diversion we saw these two seats placed so that you could look forwards or back! They perhaps represent what walking on the SW Coast Path is all about, and I never fail to look where I have been as well as where I am going……20180926_125603.jpgProceeding, we soon had our first glimpse of Charlestown Harbour (where Poldark is filmed of course)…..20180926_125613.jpgand we dropped down towards it…..20180926_125909.jpg20180926_130831.jpgpassing some beautiful cottages (a lot let out to rent, of course, as everywhere in Cornwall)….20180926_131013.jpgand we then hit the first objective (you’ve always got to have objectives)…the Pier House Hotel and Pub….20180926_134007.jpg20180926_133147.jpgThirst slaked, we parted…..F. to return the way we had come and me to push on to be met by her later. There was a steep climb out of the village….. 20180926_134237.jpgand an old kissing gate…..20180926_134231.jpg……before coming to another point of interest on this walk….20180926_134609.jpgNext a view along Porthpean beach…….20180926_134838.jpgI then came across a derelict tower (perhaps a Second World War watchtower?) to which I gained access…20180926_135906.jpgand the views – both ways of course – were worth it….20180926_135959.jpg20180926_140006.jpgApproaching the beach itself all was peace and solitude……with about three couples enjoying the sun20180926_140318.jpg20180926_140918.jpgI do love coming across weather-beaten wood of all kinds…they’d pay a fortune for this ‘Porthpean look’ in some expensive houses…20180926_140945.jpgand I loved this little antique jug which was tied to a post…perhaps water for dogs left by some kind soul, who knows? If it had been Rose wine…….20180926_141119.jpgPorthpean seems a good sort of place with a tiny village on the hill and an energetic boat club…20180926_141236.jpgThe hedge adjacent to the clubhouse was all wild fuschias…of which I see many on my walks on the Path…..20180926_141328.jpgAfter admiring the scene before me for a while longer…..20180926_143957.jpg….I met up with F. but decided to push on a little further…..20180926_145858.jpgloving the colours on the sea….20180926_150142.jpgI then came across what I call a see-saw stile. …..never seen anything like it…I’m sure it’s not meant to be like this – but it was quite good fun. I don’t know whether I have mentioned before but I am fascinated by all the varieties of stile and kissing gate and fencing and walling and so on there are around the country, some regional types, some NT Head Office inspired, some quirky builds of seemingly quirky minds. I am astonished that there is not a book in the amazing Shire Books series which covers just about everything else you can think of!20180926_150619.jpgAscending the next hill past a few animal friends…..20180926_151041.jpg20180926_150929.jpgI passed, in a little clearing, the remains possibly of an old Celtic cross…..20180926_151752.jpgand looked down on the most beautiful little beach – to which there didn’t seem any access.20180926_151853.jpgMy SW Coast Path guide refers next to ‘steps’. Well what can I say? I have never ever experienced such a steep descent followed by an almost vertical ascent, both long. Not on the SW Path nor climbing Bowfell or Scafell Pike or anywhere else. This pic gives a little idea…..but only a little.031456_91f4eb74.jpgI was very glad to meet up with F. again at the remote little hamlet of Trenarren, and relax watching some gentle farming activity……20180926_153123.jpg

The Little Stranger…a great film

083118littlestranger7.1.jpgWe hadn’t been to the cinema for a while, so having read the excellent book by Sarah Waters, set in Warwickshire where we lived for some time, a trip to Vue in Plymouth was looked forward to by us both. We went by bus and with time to spare had time to visit Waterstones in order to but the latest Cormoran Strike novel Lethal White which I am already enjoying. Then we walked the mile or so to the cinema and saw parts of Plymouth which were new to us, especially interesting being Sutton harbour. This is one of the regenerated parts of the waterfront in Plymouth, all of them very good. And there were some excellent flats, some in historic quayside buildings and some totally new. I looked to see what was for sale and was amazed that we could afford (just about) one or two of the 2-bed ones. A marina view almost as good as a sea view?20180924_125940.jpg20180924_125946.jpg20180924_161455.jpg20180924_161955.jpgAnd the harbour is still home to several big trawlers which is encouraging. Anyway the film…….. both F. and I enjoyed it very much. Whilst it does make a lot of the class system in late 40’s Britain, it is at heart a ghost story.  Which makes it strange that the Times’ film critic Kevin Maher should comment…..dIt’s a profoundly perverse movie about two people who are essentially going mad (is the ghost real? Is it not?) because the political reality around them is changing so radically.’ I don’t think ghosts take account of the current political situation whether in this film or any other. And as for his crass comment ‘The director has made a movie that’s a Brexit Britain parable about the intoxicating, if futile, allure of national identity.’……what an idiot!! And how typical of a London Metro Remoaner to be unable to see anything away from their loss of the vote on Brexit. How pathetic. The actors involved – Charlotte Rampling obviously well-known, the others not so much – were brilliant. The setting was magnificent – a run-down country house (filmed in Ireland?). And the plot was tautly dealed with by the Director. I think there were perhaps nine other people watching apart from us. The cinema is so obviously so much superior to watching Netflix at home on a screen no matter what size it is. What then have cinemas to do? Just keep plugging away (like High-Street retailers) until the realisation dawns, as it will, that cinema and physical shopping are much better. Start living, get out more!

Family Adventures…in Devon and Cornwall…….the next day, and the next

20180916_122019.jpgDartmouth was our destination for lunch on Sunday at the first floor of the Dartmouth Yacht Club…good food, very reasonable and great service, much enjoyed all round. The first floor restaurant is actually run by Bushell’s Restaurant next door which we learned was due to re-open after flooding. It has a very good reputation – 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor. We’d give it 5 stars (well we will – I must write a review….).20180916_124146.jpg20180916_124152.jpg20180916_124956.jpgNext stop was Woodlands Family Theme Park a second visit for Katherine and Aiisha and a first for us. Excellent fun for children and adults……Another great day.Woodlands-Park-Map-Guide-July-2017.jpg

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DIUNnSRWAAA7PTT.jpgNon-stop good times as the very next day we had even more adventures…first stop today was The House of Marbles where not only did we enjoy the marble machines and the outside chess…..20180917_114117.jpg20180917_114123.jpg  20180917_120837.jpgbut we were fascinated by the experience of seeing two glass-blowers in action at the next door Teign Valley Glass a treat we hadn’t bargained for…20180917_114343.jpg20180917_114525.jpg20180917_114723.jpg20180917_114957.jpgEven Aiisha was entranced by the way in which molten glass was quickly transformed into a cat or an elephant under the expert hands of the blowers…20180917_115720.jpgand although I don’t usually like glass products, I did enjoy looking round the shop and found some things amazing…I particularly fell in love with the idea of 4 glass lampshades strung over a kitchen table…too dear for now, but….amberbowl_1024x1024.jpglargeclearvase_1024x1024.jpgBut this was also a mini Industrial site, and had a lovely feel all round…20180917_123719 2.jpg20180917_123743.jpgWe proceeded then through some beautiful countryside (I had forgotten how pretty Dartmoor is) to The Cleave Restaurant and Bar at the charming little village of Lustleigh an above-average pub lunch at a characterful location…20180917_125231.jpg20180917_125558.jpg20180917_142538.jpg 20180917_142640 2.jpgWe still had time for the nearby Miniature Pony Centre which we all enjoyed, particularly the pony ride…..suitably kitted out of course…..20180917_150056.jpg20180917_150241.jpg20180917_150247.jpgand the ability to get up good and close to some of the residents…. 20180917_150634.jpg20180917_151653.jpg20180917_151702.jpg20180917_151518.jpgnot all of whom were miniature!20180917_150539.jpg20180917_150744.jpg

Family Adventures…in Devon and Cornwall..

20180913_143750.jpgOur daughter and granddaughter were here for a long weekend, all the way from Scotland. We met them at our local station which, as I have said before, has trains running to almost everywhere in the country – amazing for such a remote spot. Aiisha was quick to show us the fruits of her labours on the last part of their journey.20180913_143827.jpgAfter a nice cup of tea (you very rarely say a nice cup of coffee), it was a quick game of football in the garden and hide and seek in the acer.20180913_155031.jpg20180913_154953.jpg….before a drive to Black Rock, which turned into a drive to somewhere else entirely -Seaton due to the satnav! Katherine had been left behind for a recovery sleep, so we had a lovely time building sandcastles, paddling and having ice cream….well what else are you supposed to do at the seaside?20180913_172136.jpg20180913_173328.jpg20180913_174112.jpg20180913_181210.jpgAfter a lazy lunch off we went on the bus to Looe where the sun came out and a good time was had by all, especially on the slot machines in the Amusement Arcade where we won a Unicorn.20180914_162117.jpg20180914_163156.jpgNext day we took the train to Hayle on the North Coast where we visited Paradise Park a wildlife sanctuary and Play Park and  very, very good in both aspects. The adults really enjoyed the amazing animal life, especially the hundreds of different birds all in excellent aviaries with plenty of space…20180915_114230.jpg20180915_115729.jpg20180915_125146.jpgand you can get very close to some of your favourites including flamingoes…20180915_125339.jpgand the very first Chough we had ever seen (we have looked out for them on the Lizard but to no avail)……20180915_132317_001.jpgWe really enjoyed the flying display with an extremely knowledgeable and personable guide….20180915_121206_002.jpg20180915_121229.jpgand the opportunity to get up really close was terrific…20180915_123651.jpg20180915_123711.jpg20180915_123712.jpg20180915_123817.jpgHaving said all that, it has to be said that the younger element did prefer the other side to Paradise Park! And why not?20180915_120037.jpg20180915_124233.jpg20180915_120235.jpg20180915_114716.jpgthere was time for a late lunch, but first we had to get to St Ives on the lovely little railway round the bay….where the views from the train window were as breathtaking as usual….what beaches, what skies.20180915_145537_001.jpg20180915_145540.jpg20180915_145619.jpg20180915_145624_001.jpg20180915_145728.jpgFor a change and to avoid walking all through town we decided to lunch at the Porthminster Kitchen 20180915_153408.jpgGood choice..20180915_153403.jpgand straight out onto the beach afterwards…20180915_161625.jpg

Dartmouth on a Rainy Day……12th September

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F. had a jacket which we bought last time we were in Dartmouth and was faulty, so we decided another trip there would be good. We went a different way than normal, cutting across country from Avonwick and alongside the beautiful River Avon. We were lucky to find the only free parking space in Dartmouth although it did mean a bit of a trek into town. The business with the jacket was soon done…a replacement offered, no questions, terrific service, just as it should be if shops are to survive. Three cheers for The Crew Clothing Company.Although the day was overcast and mizzly it still didn’t detract from the loveliness of the town. Shown is the Lower Ferry busy as ever……20180912_125322.jpgAnd, over the road, the Dartmouth Yacht Club where we were hoping to have lunch…a brilliant place – but unfortunately the restaurant above was closed today. After looking at many possibilities we opted for sit-down fish ‘n chips which was fine. 20180912_125333.jpgWe then did our usual walkabout…Fosse Street looking one way…20180912_141246.jpgand then the other with Simon Drew’s latest edition of a giraffe poking out into the street…20180912_141446.jpgWe decided to return via yet another route. We drove as far as we could towards Slapton Ley where Storm Emma in March had destroyed the road which sits precariously between the sea and the lake. Interesting video clip on Devon Live! And we could get as far as the private beach which we had visited a few times when living down here – Blackpool Sands. Lovely to go when no-one around….whatever the weather.20180912_152811.jpg20180912_152941.jpg20180912_152752.jpg20180912_152948.jpgCutting inland from there we first of all passed a pretty group of cottages where I just had to stop and take a photo….20180912_154004.jpgand then went via very devious roads where sometimes the signposts were missing, or perhaps pointing the wrong way. Quite an adventurous little trip.

Age 69….Is this the best book I have ever read?

I love History, studied it at Manchester Grammar School and University, and have been 91XjOCuJA9L.jpgreading History books of all kinds ever since. It is high on my list of most intense personal pleasures. Now here is a book which has taken me two or three months to read with lots of concentrated effort, but which has been a joy from start to finish. Not only was it sheer pleasure, but I learned something new on virtually every page. It is deeply researched, masterful in its breadth, written with a loving hand, entertaining, full of surprises, and comprehensively covers English history from around 600 AD up to the Cameron government. All the time it is drawing conclusions and comparisons and linkages across the ages which show we are in the hands of a master. And, really, really important for me as a historian, it is not politically correct. How wonderful and surprising is that in this age of ours where we are not allowed to celebrate, for instance, the pluses of Empire as well as the minuses, where we are not allowed to judge actions in their own context instead of imposing our own standards. I can do no better than quote an equally enthusiastic reviewer in that left-wing rag The Observer……

“The English and Their History, by the Professor of French History at Cambridge, Robert Tombs, is a work of supreme intelligence. Intelligence cuts its way through orthodoxy, dogmas, traditions and shibboleths rather as engineers hack their way through forests and mountains, slice open outcrops of nature and forge exciting new routes to old destinations. In this vigorous, subtle and penetrating book, Tombs defies the proprieties of our politically motivated national history curriculum to rethink and revise notions of national identity.”

You can read from Tombs himself the positive way in which he approached this masterwork….“By the standards of humanity as a whole, England over the centuries has been among the richest, safest and best governed places on earth, as periodical influxes of people testify,” he writes. “Its living standards in the 14th century were higher than much of the world in the 20th… We who have lived in England since 1945 have been among the luckiest people in the existence of Homo sapiens, rich, peaceful and healthy.” He holds no truck with declinism as espoused by nearly all historians when discussing our post-war history, but he does draw many conclusions about our current position and where we go from here which should make us stand back and analyse how to proceed very much based on the lessons of history…which of course is what history is for.

I have absolutely no idea how Robert Tombs has managed to read around his subject so comprehensively and critically. Of course it is a lifetime’s work. The footnotes, references and further reading alone take up nearly 100 pages and believe it or not they are great reading. I take my hat off to this historian. This is a truly magnificent piece of work and yes I would say the best book I have ever read.

Unknown-1.jpeg‘Absolutely filthy’ was how screenwriter Andrew Davies, (well-known to Frances as a customer of hers at Kenilworth Books) described his adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Victorian lesbian romp ‘Tipping The Velvet’. “What’s it about?” …..’people sometimes asked me’, says Sarah Waters herself ‘when they had heard I’d written a novel – and I always had to brace myself, slightly, to answer. There was the awkwardness of explaining the rather risque title. There was the fact that I outed myself the moment I began to reveal the plot. And then there was the plot itself – because, oh dear, how lurid it sounded, how improbable, above all how niche, the tale of a Victorian oyster girl who loses her heart to a male impersonator, becomes her partner in bed and on the music hall stage, and then, cruelly abandoned, has a spell as a cross-dressed Piccadilly prostitute and the sexual plaything of a rich older woman before finding true love and redemption with an East End socialist.’

If you can put up with the antique lesbian lingo, using, or cheerfully misusing, some of the words and phrases – “toms”, “mashers”, “tipping the velvet” itself, you can have an enjoyable time reading this novel. And Sarah Waters isn’t a half-bad story teller. Good, light bed-time reading.

a9dc6a034278e24584ca3a173b908bd8.jpgHaving recently walked past Menabilly, the house where Daphne Du Maurier was a tenant and which she restored, I thought it was about time I read ‘Rebecca’. The front cover of my copy quoted Sarah Waters ‘One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century….A stunning book’ – sentiments  which I can understand, but don’t entirely agree with. Despite my 69 years of reading, amazingly I didn’t even know the plot line. I have to say I really enjoyed it. Du Maurier is a romantic novelist in the best sense of that term, not at all soppy, and she knows how to build and maintain a story. But this story is not a romance …it has rather darker themes. “It’s a bit on the gloomy side,” she told her publisher, Victor Gollancz. The idea for the book had emerged out of her own jealousy about the woman to whom her husband, Tommy “Boy” Browning, had briefly been engaged. She had looked at their love letters, and the big elegant “R” with which Jan Ricardo signed her name had made her painfully aware of her own shortcomings as a woman and a wife. On such foundations the tale is told. Well worth the read, I do enjoy Du Maurier as a writer.

SW Coast Path – Polkerris to Carlyon Bay…. 31st August 2018

20180831_125322.jpgAnother short section for me, just over 4 miles. Not exactly the most scenic bit of the path but beautiful in parts and interesting….F. dropped me off at Polkerris where I walked down hill virtually onto the beach which was busyish even halfway through the morning. Last chance before schools go back for a lot of people. I then climbed away from the beach with its shouts and laughter to look ahead to the Western arm of Carlyon Bay. When the sun was out (most of the time) quite reminiscent of the Med.20180831_125513.jpgSteps helped climb the hill….the volunteers who do these things are amazing.20180831_125627.jpgAnd, after about a mile with good views ahead….. 20180831_130105.jpgI spied what looked like a deserted beach to which I descended for the sheer pleasure of being on a beach on my own in August. Amazing!20180831_130539.jpg20180831_130644.jpgI then walked along above Par beach where there were a moderate number of people….20180831_131244.jpgand which is actually very nice with high quality fine white sand if you don’t mind the houses directly overlooking the beach and the China Clay Works at the far end.20180831_131416.jpgAt this point there is quite a diversion through Par itself to get round the Works. The first bit however is along a river, the Par or Luxulyan, starting at the beach car park where I learned that the river actually contains sea trout, flounder and, from fairly recent times after historic pollution, salmon.20180831_131915.jpg20180831_133740.jpgThere were several accesses onto the beach as well as from the car park and with dunes at the back it is all quite pleasant.20180831_133117.jpg20180831_132117.jpg20180831_132233.jpg20180831_132544.jpgThe Works itself is still operational and of course China clay is still used in many industries. 20180831_135514.jpg20180831_140131.jpgAnyway you are soon past all Industry and back to what the Path is all about…sand, sea, views…here the approach to Carlyon Bay…20180831_140728.jpgand flowers…20180831_133146.jpgThe next little bit of the walk – it seems quite lengthy when doing it- is alongside the renowned Carlyon Bay Golf Club where ex European Tour golfer Mark Rowe is the professional. This really did make me want to pick up my golf clubs again! 20180831_140808.jpgSome pretty views of the beach…20180831_141031.jpg20180831_142258.jpgand loads of sloes (we weren’t quite sure) and had no bag to collect. At this point F. had walked out from the golf club house to meet me….20180831_143847.jpgF. had already had a nice half-hour enjoying a cup of tea on the beach here which is extensive and fairly quiet. It is composed of three different stretches and all is made up with a waste product from the china clay Industry called stent. It looks fantastic.20180831_144256.jpgMy need though was a pint in the club house overlooking the magnificent first and eighteenth tees. Great!20180831_145641.jpg

A Saturday trip to Polperro…..Aug 2018

20180818_165257.jpgJennifer and David not having been to Polperro, off we went on the bus. First stop salted caramel ice creams (seems to be the in-flavour). Reminded me of when we sold ice creams in York with Top Gold the very best. It was always enjoyable selling ice creams as you knew you were giving pleasure.20180818_171059.jpgThen up to the cliffs where the fishermen’s net drying hut is…views over the harbour…20180818_171143.jpg20180818_171235.jpgand a bit of rock climbing for some…20180818_172055.jpg20180818_172118.jpg20180818_172118 2.jpgD + J didn’t quite get to the very top as this little lad did….20180818_171855.jpgWe popped over to the other side of the little town to see the shell house, 8452718585_d669cd6e97_b.jpg

20180818_174022.jpgand then caught a 72 double-decker, brand-new, to Looe where we were booked into the Old Sardine Factory for dinner….cropped-sf-new-cover-1.jpgand really good it was too. I can safely say that the hake main course was one of the very best fish dishes I had ever had…..The Old Sardine Factory with its cafe and resource centre and restaurant must be one of the best additions to Looe in a long while….and finally I was able to test my mobile phone camera in low light and the results were terrific…it was dark, but the resulting photos came out nicely exposed.20180818_211007.jpg20180818_211029.jpg