Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cornish Delights

Ed thought he had learned to drive on the left side of the road, but today’s travels really put him through his paces. We spent a good portion of the day driving down roads only wide enough for one vehicle. When you met someone coming the other way you hoped there was a “lay by” (pull-out) somewhere nearby so one of you could pull over or back up. Ed is doing well with driving on the left side of the road, but shifting with his left hand has proven to be more problematic than one would think.

Our first stop today was the Minack theater, an open air theater with a spectacular cliffside ocean setting. The water was so blue-green that it looked like the Cancun.

One of the amazing things was the variety of subtropical flowers that enhanced the setting. We learned that there is a warm microclimate that allows these plants to thrive here. I had imagined the coast of Cornwall to be much more inhospitable. It apparently rarely snows here!

The theater was the life's work of Rowena Cade who worked on it vigorously for years. The military installations on the coast put a stop to the building during WWII,  but after the war, she returned to the task with vigor. They host all kinds of plays, opera and concerts. There was no play today, as it is a "change-up" day. More about that later!

Ed and I enjoyed the weather today. It was supposed to rain all day, but it was sunny, breezy and temperate the entire day!

Next we dropped by at Land's End to see the southwestern tip of England. We enjoyed approaching it from Sennen, a cove about 1/2 hour away. The walk was beautiful, with ocean and cliffs along the way.

We rewarded ourselves with a nice rest (and an ice cream cone) on benches with a view of the "Peal", a set of rocks dribbling out into the ocean from the end of the land.

We had a little trouble finding the Chysauster Ancient Village, till we realized we could just put its postal code into Ed's GPS unit. After driving around in the hedgerows forever, we were surprised to find a well marked parking lot and an entry kiosk. This was a series of stone houses from the Roman times, long since lonely and abandoned.  The walk around the houses was another great opportunity to commune with nature.

We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner in Penzance. We were sorry that we missed the Pirate festival a few weeks ago, when 10,000 Pirates descended on the town. I guess the way to identify a pirate is by his outfit. If you dress like a pirate, you're a pirate. They were sad that they failed to break the pirate record achieved by the town of Hastings last year. Aarrg!

We found a lonely wooden pirate in a gift shop, but that was all.

Back to change-up day. The cottages here rent for a week at a time, from Saturday to Saturday. So, that often tends to be a day with less tourist traffic. So, many of the businesses shut down on Saturday! This included St. Michael's Mount, the very castle we had come to see! It has been in the same family since the 17th century, and is now operated in conjunction with the National Trust. It has been everything from a monastery to a military installation to a Victorian castle. It's location on the top of the island is impressive.

Since we are leaving tomorrow morning (and it doesn't open till 10:30) we didn't get to go inside, but at 5:30 p.m. the low tide came in, and we were able to walk out on the causeway and wander around the harbor at the base of the castle.

It was fun walking across the cobbled walkway to the castle. It was a really sensory trip, with the water splashing on the causeway, and the breeze blowing. Just being there was fantastic. We'll have to return to Cornwall someday if we want to see the inside. Meanwhile, tomorrow the adventure continues as we head for Wales. (Today's step count: 18,000, all of it outside in the most spectacular settings nature has to offer!)

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