31st May 2016…St Keyne…Church,Vineyard, Station


This is our village church. Locked most of the time, we have visited to hear the Polperro Fishermens’ Choir, and now know it tends to be open on a Saturday. This is the entry in Cornwall Historic Churches Trust..

‘The Church of St. Keyne is located on high ground at the southern extremity of the village of St. Keyne within the parish of the same name, the second smallest in Cornwall. The parish lies on the edge of the Looe valley between the parishes of Liskeard (to the north and east) and Duloe (to the south and west).

St Kayne seems to be the most ancient spelling, but Kaine, Keane, Kean and Keyne, have also been used. St. Keyne is noted in 12th century Welsh sources as being one of the children of King Brychan of Brecon in Wales. Her brother Berwin is noted as being in Cornwall and may be St Barry of Fowey. Such legends were used to explain the repetition of saints’ names in the Celtic areas of Britain: Devon, Cornwall and Wales and there is a more Cornish version of the Children of Brychan which does not include St Keyne.

According to another legend, St. Keyne is said to have lived like a hermit and visited St. Michael’s Mount, which coincidentally is the only parish smaller than St. Keyne in the county of Cornwall. She is also said to be responsible for the construction of St. Keyne’s well, situated just outside the village, which was the old baptismal well. It is famed for its ability to ensure that the first of a newly-wed couple to drink the water will become the dominant partner.

The hood moulding over the door in the porch of the present church building indicates that a Norman church stood at St. Keyne. The building appears to be mainly constructed in the 15th or early 16th century as indicated by the Cornish standard granite piers, the font and one of the bells, although the north aisle west window may date from a little earlier. The tower windows look early 16th century and the tower is built in the typical Cornish pattern of three stages, but the stages are uneven; the first stage being half the height of the tower, less pinnacles.

In the 16th Century the whole parish was one manor, Lametton, which at times has also been the name of the parish. In the 16th Century the manor was owned by the Coplestone family, but in 1561 John Coplestone was forced to sell 13 of his manors to buy a royal pardon for murdering a son and godson. This was sold to the Harrises of Mount Radford in Devon (One Harris was MP for Liskeard in 1661), who married a daughter of the Rashleighs of Menabilly. In 1911 the estate was sold in lots at Webb’s Hotel in Liskeard.

Throughout the first 20 years of the 19th century the church was consistently recorded by successive Rural Deans as being ‘out of repair’. Minor improvements were attempted but, by the 1860s, it was noted that the church was neglected and out of repair, and a substantial restoration was undertaken by J P St Aubyn between 1872-1878.

Today the church consists of the chancel, the nave, short north aisle, south transept or vestry, porch and west tower. St. Keyne parish is linked to the market town of Liskeard and the fishing and tourism centre of Looe by the B3254. The church serves the population of St Keyne parish (505 in the year 2,000) & the Trewidland area of Liskeard parish (345 in 2,000)’. More architectural info can be found at Historic England

The Parish Plan for 2005 contains lots of useful information about St Keyne. We also have a vineyard in St Keyne which we intend to visit..585-1024x577.jpg

and the station (recently visited by Paul Merton in his small stations series) is dinky..we are lucky to have it for access on the scenic Looe Valley Line.St_Keyne_station_entrance.jpg

28th May 2016…kayaking on the Fowey


As our son and his wife were visiting, we booked a morning’s kayaking on the river Fowey. There was only one difficulty and that was getting F. in and out of the kayak, but once ensconced no problem! After brief instruction we started off from Golant on the high tide, and went up the River Fowey and into “Wind in the Willows” Creek, where Kenneth Grahame got much of his inspiration, to picturesque Lerryn village. There we stopped for a 30 minute break for refreshments and to give our arms a rest before heading back to Golant on a circular loop through the estuary. A beautiful 3 hours in incomparable surroundings and quite the equal of kayaking on the Dordogne with the children what seems like centuries ago. I have often wondered why we don’t use our rivers more extensively….the effort is certainly worthwhile. After a quick change, we headed up the hill to have lunch in the Cormorant Hotel overlooking the whole magnificent river scene….if there is a more beautiful location on a warm sunny day I’d like to see it. The company, ‘Encounter Cornwall’ also do a 3 hour trip downstream to Fowey docks on the low tide, so we must do this soon and then I would like to look at the implications of buying our own kayak as there are many other wonderful places to canoe in Cornwall and Devon.

27th May 2016….trip to Buckland Abbey

20160527_132156.jpgOver the border today to the NT property Buckland Abbey in Devon. Tucked away in its own secluded valley above the River Tavy, Buckland was originally a small but influential Cistercian monastery.Two of the most famous owners were Sir Richard Greville and Sir Francis Drake. According to one of the Guides, the latter bought the property from Sir Richard through a third party, as they were not on the best of terms and he knew that there would be no sale with Drake’s name attached. However, I have since learned that this is most probably a myth. Buckland then remained in the Drake family until the 20160527_132023.jpg1940’s. A very full description of the buildings and their history is given at Heritage Gateway. On of the most impressive buildings is the 15th century Tithe Barn, but there is so much else besides. It is not a huge estate, when one bears in mind that Drake was one of the wealthiest men in England on his return with pilfered treasure. So there is a nice homely feel to it all, just as I like. There is a small museum to Drake in the house containing ‘Drake’s Drum’. Reading the sources it is not clear to me whether this is a replica or not (with the original stored for safety).  Here is Newbold’s famous poem…..

Drake he’s in his hammock an’ a thousand miles away,
(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)
Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,
An’ dreamin’ arl the time O’ Plymouth Hoe.
Yarnder lumes the Island, yarnder lie the ships,
Wi’ sailor lads a-dancing’ heel-an’-toe,
An’ the shore-lights flashin’, an’ the night-tide dashin’,
He sees et arl so plainly as he saw et long ago.

Drake he was a Devon man, an’ ruled the Devon seas,
(Capten, art tha’ sleepin’ there below?)
Roving’ tho’ his death fell, he went wi’ heart at ease,
A’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.
“Take my drum to England, hang et by the shore,
Strike et when your powder’s runnin’ low;
If the Dons sight Devon, I’ll quit the port o’ Heaven,
An’ drum them up the Channel as we drumm’d them long ago.”

Drake he’s in his hammock till the great Armadas come,
(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)
Slung atween the round shot, listenin’ for the drum,
An’ dreamin arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.
Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound,
Call him when ye sail to meet the foe;
Where the old trade’s plyin’ an’ the old flag flyin’
They shall find him ware an’ wakin’, as they found him long ago!


Also, magnificent to see was Buckland’s Rembrandt recently restored.

harry-dempster-8-the-rembrandt-painting-3-credit-steven-haywood.jpg“Previously thought to be ‘school of Rembrandt’, Ernst van de Wetering, the world’s leading Rembrandt expert, concluded that the painting may well be a genuine after seeing it again in 2012. His assurance led the NT to send the painting away for further scientific analysis.

Christine Slottvedd Kimbriel, Paintings Conservator at HKI said: ‘When the painting arrived we felt that a thorough technical examination would aid the reassessment of the painting’s authorship and we hoped that the findings could help to verify if it was definitely by Rembrandt.

‘The self-portrait went through a series of investigate analyses to include close visual examination under magnification, infra-red reflectography, x-radiography, raking light photography and pigment and medium analysis.

‘Careful cleaning and removal of several layers of aged and yellowed revealed the original colours and painting style beneath which was much more detailed and gave a three-dimensional appearance to the fabric in Rembrandt’s cloak.’

The artist’s signature was also analysed and other processes used for further investigative work.

David Taylor, NT paintings and sculptor curator said: ‘The debate over whether this is or isn’t a Rembrandt has been on-going for decades.

‘The key element for me has been the cleaning. The varnish was so yellow that it was difficult to see how beautifully the portrait had been painted. Now you can really see all the flesh tones and other colours, as well as the way in which the paint has been handled – it’s now much easier to appreciate it as a Rembrandt.'”

The painting sparkles…it is worth a visit to Buckland just to see it.

The gardens are a treat in themselves, and whilst there we came across a swarm of bees20160527_150910.jpg wrapping themselves around a fence. I didn’t want to get too close to take the photo! All in all a most pleasurable day.20160527_150944.jpg

26th May 2016…visiting Golant

20160526_142820.jpgA lovely sunny day, so after walking around Fowey we moved up-river to the little coastal hamlet of Golant where we shall shortly hire kayaks. We checked out the Cormorant Hotel on the hill above the river. What a location, fabulous! In reception we overheard the Manager talking to someone booking a room for their brother on the telephone and asking  could he guarantee it would be quiet. ‘I think we can guarantee that’ said the Manager. There was not a single sound to be heard apart from birdsong, and it didn’t seem as though the silence would ever be shattered in this spot!

Here is what the village web site has to say….Golant is a small Cornish waterside village, bounded on the west by the Lostwithiel to Fowey road the B3269 and on the east by its focal point the River Fowey. Daphne du Mauriers family had a second home a mile down river from the village and in May 1907 Kenneth Graham wrote “Tales of the Riverbank” inspired by a boating trip from Fowey to Golant. “The Wind in the Willows” was published in June 1908 and it is believed that this stretch of the River Fowey inspired this extraordinary tale. Located in the parish of St Sampson, Golant has around 110 dwellings with a population of circa 220 people. It has a 13th century Parish Church dedicated to St Sampson, the Fishermans Arms Pub, the Cormorant Hotel, and a retail art gallery. There is no public transport that serves the village but it is still a working village, some holiday or weekend homes, but certainly not a ghost town for eight months of the year.The Church and the village overlook the tree clad and winding Fowey estuary less than two miles upstream from the coastal towns of Polruan and Fowey. An area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) full of scenic views all year round. The rivers east bank is owned by the National Trust. In the summer the river is a hive of boating activity and in the winter left mostly to cormorants, egrets, mallards, swans, herons and kingfishers that make the river their home.There are regular pleasure boat and canoe trips available from the port of Fowey to the small picturesque hamlet of Lerryn a further 2 miles up river. A single track railway line alongside the river transports daily cargoes of china clay to the waiting ships on the quays at Fowey.20160526_142742.jpg20160526_142857.jpg

24th May 2016…dog walkers and Welsh at Hannafore


This is the sea defence wall which we walk along to get to Hannafore. You see it at a particularly high tide which is also indicated by the height of water at Looe bridge. There is at low tide a quiet, south east facing beach predominantly  shingle that reveals some coarse sand and an extensive reef with rock pools at low tide. Most people visit the beach for these fantastic rock pools that are uncovered twice daily, but it also a great suntrap due to its positioning.
Hannafore never becomes too busy, partly due to its location (across the river) and partly dues to its lack of facilities and golden sand like neighbouring beaches. It is popular with 20160524_193222.jpgdog walkers though as it is one of few dog-friendly beaches around Looe. Occasionally we stop to talk, on one occasion to a 90 year old who did his service in wooden huts on Bodmin Moor just as Alan Bennett did in the book I have been reading. They both learned Russian there too! There is a large hotel in Hannafore which attracts coach trips especially from Wales (we are always hearing Welsh accents), a Bowling Club, a kiosk and a nice cafe, and apart from that just expensive houses with enviable views! Back at home we relax in the garden which is really coming into its own now…..the profuse amount of Spring flowers in the banks and hedges may have come to an end now but the green lanes and surrounding countryside look very ‘English’.20160525_175722.jpg20160525_175832.jpg20160525_180226.jpg20160525_183103.jpg


22nd May 2016….walk near Duloe

20160522_134443.jpgHaving looked at the local map Explorer 107, we did a short walk in the woods below Duloe which is the next village to ours on the way to Looe. The lanes were beautifully flush with spring flowers as the picture shows.  After parking the car near a couple of others who 20160522_141947.jpgwere out dog walking, we walked through Tremedart wood, down to the stream, crossed into Penquite wood and back along the opposite side of the stream in Lantundle wood 20160522_142442.jpg

to the car. I say stream. It is actually the early part of West Looe river. And very pretty too. Salmon, brown trout and sea trout can be fished for. I always have a hankering to do some fishing – whether I’ll get round to it is another matter. Back in Duloe, we park and visit the  stone circle…Cornwall’s smallest, it is indeed titchy! See Historic Cornwall for details. I don’t think I have mentioned The Plough in Duloe which is our nearest pub, great for eating, but not a drinker’s pub as there are just a couple of stools at the bar.20160522_160030.jpg



20th May 2016..A day out to Penzance and Mousehole

20160520_143436.jpg . There is a very pretty walk from the one to the other. However, one thing you pass on the way is the memorial to the Penlee lifeboat disaster ……

Unknown-1.jpeg‘On 19th December 1981, in average winds of 80 miles per hour, the Union Star, a Dublin-registered coaster, making its maiden voyage to Holland with a cargo of fertiliser, and an RNLI Lifeboat, Solomon Browne, were lost at Penlee Point with all hands. 8 Mousehole men were lost, which had a huge impact on a population which is still, to this day, only around 500.

The disaster is commemerated in two different ways today. The old lifeboat house at Penlee Point, in which the Solomon Browne was housed, stands empty as a permanent memorial to the men who were lost. As well as this, on the 19th December every year at 8 PM, Mousehole’s christmas lights are turned off for 1 hour. It is well worth witnessing either of these two to pay your respects to arguably the worst maritime disaster of our time.’ Indeed it is. A solemn reminder of Cornwall’s constant battles with the sea which surrounds it, gives it its living and character, but can cause tragedies like this.

20160520_123945.jpgThere is another of Cornwall’s excellent hotels in Mousehole – The Old Coastguard – and in we popped for a well-earned drink and light lunch. Mousehole is a delightful place with its little harbour and pretty cottages built from the local finely grained Lamorna granite. Dylan Thomas (1930) described Mousehole as ‘ the 20160520_143621.jpgloveliest village in England’…..impossible to argue with the great man. The bus just about manages to get into the narrow streets of the village, and that is how we returned to Penzance, where we wandered around the shops for a while and had a cup of tea in Penlee House Museum which is full of Cornish art and artefacts and has lovely gardens. Penzance has rather a workaday feel about it, and with its neighbour Newlyn is a very busy fishing port, and there are some great highlights like the Art Deco outside swimming pool (just being renovated), and the so-called Egyptian House which is very striking, now that it has been restored by the Landmark Trust. 20160520_154755.jpg


14th May 2016..walk to Hannafore


Today’s walk was in a blustery wind. The resident gulls are regarded as a nuisance, and indeed can get quite aggressive.. We have seen a few successful dive-bombings on visitor’s pasties, chips or ice-cream which can be quite dramatic for the 20160514_104128people involved. The weather didn’t stop the races around a course just outside Looe harbour marked out with buoys…these take place every week in Summer. The end of our regular walk sees us opposite Looe island which is a nature reserve after being donated to a Trust by the two sisters who lived there for many years. We haven’t visited yet (there are constant boat trips from Looe), but at certain times of very low tide you can walk across to the island from Hannafore. Apparently on the opposite side of the island there is quite a large seal colony, and we notice that the glass-bottom boats stop near the island over some of the many reefs. The rocky foreshore at Hannafore holds hundreds of rock pools some quite large, and we often see collectors. Talking to one man he was gathering sea lettuce and other goodies for his restaurant, it must be very satisfying to have free fresh produce.20160518_172519.jpg

13th May 2016…The Duchy Nursery and Garden Centre

20160513_160851.jpgVisited today The Duchy Nursery and Garden Centre. In the middle of lovely countryside, with a brilliant cafe and quality selection of plants, if you sit out on the terrace there is a wonderful view across the valley to Restormel castle perched on its hill like a fairytale castle. On another occasion, when cold, we sat inside the cafe on a large sofa in front of a roaring log fire. Brilliant! And of course we couldn’t get away without purchases….20160513_165851.jpg


Monday 9th May….More Reading

Unknown-7.jpegWell the date is Monday 9th May and no entries for the past couple of months because….we have been emptying boxes, visiting the tip, taking about 50+ boxes of books and miscellaneous items to BHF, planning our new kitchen, seeing workmen, suppliers, etc, getting the house in order and gardening to name just some things. Not a great deal of reading but as far as I can Unknown-2.jpegremember two large Rumpole Omnibuses (very very funny and very very good, they were certainly worth the re-read) and ‘Death Under A Tuscan Sun’ by Guitarri ex Head of Florence Police and a guy who knows what he is talking about (well hopefully anyway). I pushed Giuttari right from the start in ourUnknown-2.jpegbookshops and he has lived up to expectations up until now….this sadly wasn’t him at his best….the whole thing felt rather tired and lacklustre and badly put together. Apart from that I have tended to read things which help us explore our localunknown-1
area such as Simon Jenkins’ ‘Thousand Best Houses’ and ’Slow Cornwall’ , both like Mr Kipling, exceedingly good. In reality I have consulted dozens of books on Cornwall and things Cornish as, like anywhere we have lived, I have built up quite a library.