Thursday, October 28, 2004

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now.

We got back last night from several days in Cornwall. I proceeded to stay up way too late, after lots of motorway driving and coffee, to write a job application… it's done, but really not my best work. I hope the inevitable stupid mistakes are forgivable ones.

The extra long weekend started with a heartfelt warm welcome from second- (or is it third?) cousins-twice-removed and later, much drawing of family trees. This site has a map of the Lizard Peninsula which shows Gillan, where we stayed with Aud.

Tubby the West Highland terrier was sweet company in the absence of Elvis and Mia-belle. We went for walks along the coastal path, which Tubby tended to lead from well behind for the first 20 minutes or so, when he would suddenly build up to explosive, joyous speed. In literally every direction it is a postcard view: sailing boats in harbour or stranded well up on dry land at low tide, and picture book farms with patchwork fields and black & white cows, autumn colours in the trees. Actually it's nice to enjoy an Autumn without the Winter hanging over me! I fell in love with the Scots pines - will try to find a suitable picture to show you what I mean. My favourite activity was sloshing around in Gillan Creek at low tide in Aud's knee high gumboots.

Western Cornwall was just as incredibly beautiful and quaint as last time, and I saw a bit more of it, including a tour of the Lizard Peninsula on Sunday, stopping at Kynance cove and Cadgwith, one of several tiny little fishing villages perched on the edge of the sea. This was in the afternoon, following a huge feast at the golf club with the cousins (two different vegetarian options, both delicious. Yes I tried them both. And steamed chocolate pudding).

I was fascinated with the hedges and the beautiful gnarled windblown trees growing out of them. Many of the roads are very narrow winding lanes walled by thick hedges, room for one car only, with foot hovering over the brake at all times.

Another trip on Monday, further west, first to Penlee House Gallery in Penzance – a nicely sized gallery of various Cornish art, just the right number of paintings to take in in one go – going on to Land's End, great views if you avoid the tacky tourist centre/amusement park, and then the charming town of St Ives for a Cornish pasty and to rub shoulders with many tourists from the north of England down for half-term break.

A quiet day on Tuesday with another walk and some reading of Daphne du Maurier (Cornish of couse!).

Yesterday we drove home in rain and howling wind. The weather settled down a bit outside Cornwall but it was still raining and windy at times. We drove through Bristol so I could see the area where Dad was born, and check out the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge. (but I didn't see as much water under it as in that picture) A drive through the city centre and then on to Bath for a couple of hours of wandering around the town. I didn't go into the Roman Baths, for £9 I would have wanted to spend a long time in there! Next time maybe. I did peek into the Assembly Rooms where Austen set her society balls. Although it was rainy and late afternoon, I thought the town centre of Bath was beautiful. Higlights included the abbey and the Pulteney Bridge with buildings along it, reminding me a little of old town Edinburgh. The 'Bath stone' from which most of the buildings are constructed is a warm creamy colour and even after dark, it glowed in the streetlights. A short but very memorable visit.

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