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Published: October 24th 2007
Sunday October 21st
This morning we were away soon after 7am as the mist sat above the meadows. The countryside was amazing with an early morning frost evident in some places and the sun rising over the misty fields.
Timing was absolutely perfect, reaching Stonehenge, England's most famous prehistoric monument, just 5 minutes before opening time at 9.30am. Just as well,as the buses quickly started to arrive after this. I think we were second through the gate so almost had it to ourselves for a while. We were handed an audio tour as we entered so were able to walk around this 3,000 year old monument whilst listening to theories for its existence.
We left here and continued driving on the A303. Main roads here are all numbered rather than named. Stourhead was our next stop. This was really amazing, Stourhead House, sitting majestically in one of the finest landscape gardens in the world. Although we didn't want to spend too long here it was over 2 hours later when we returned to the car. We could hardly believe the ostentation of the Hoare family who built this house and laid out the gardens in the 1700's. It was
This house had to be reconstructed after a fire in 1902 and contains fine examples of Chippendale furniture as well as many paintings.
the first time we had heard of or seen an “Ice House” where ice was stored so the family could have such items as ice deserts to show off to their friends. Ice stored in here during winter could apparently last up to 2 years! The garden was complete with Pantheon modelled on the one in Rome and complete with statues of Roman gods, grottos, temple, church etc. Wow!
From here we continued until we reached Exmouth. Here we drove around and Judy called a family contact with whom we stayed in 2002 but we were unable to reach him. Kite surfers were out here and certainly weren't bothered by the 12 degree temperatures outside.
Continuing on we reached Bodmin just after 5pm where we found a B & B on the outskirts of town. We were looking forward to a meal in a country pub for tea but we'd forgotten it was Sunday. We checked all 3 pubs but none was serving food so we ended with a Chinese meal that we had to eat back in our room with plastic forks.
Monday, October 22nd
Today ended as it started with good
Why can't I get them to grow like this in Australia?
food being eaten. Breakfast was excellent at the B&B and dinner, at The Turks Head in Penzance consisted of delicious lamb shanks with treacle pudding to follow. The pub dates from 1233, and prides itself as being the first pub in England to be called The Turks Head!!!
Our first stop this morning was St Columb Major which with its narrow winding roads and old buildings was simply delightful. We felt like 2 children in the cookie barrel, exclaiming over the flamboyant medieval buildings that were a photographer's delight. We wandered around and found the huge 14th century church where we wandered amongst the old headstones. Judy found one attached to the church wall for the family she was searching for - Nankivell. We reluctantly tore ourselves away as we would have like to spend more time but we had many other places to visit on the agenda.
Newquay wasn't on our list of place to stop but we could see it looked worth it as we approached. Judy remembered from her reading that it was an English seaside resort. We eventually found a parking spot outside the tourist bureau where we picked up a couple of maps
Beautiful English countryside
Yes Diana, the sky is still blue!
of the area. The free information foldout was commendable for Newquay and gave a wealth of current and historical information along with a large easy to read map. The main street was pedestrianised and surprised us by looking very much like a popular tourist street with lots of glitzy tourist shops selling such things as self designed printed t-shirts, Cornish pasties, Devon cream treats, surfing needs, souvenirs, local ales including Scrumpy cider and fish and chips. It was packed with people. We'd hate to think what it was like in the high season. After sampling some of the goodies, we headed from here to the beach, only a street away past late night haunts that including a lap dancing parlour, and found this to be incredibly scenic. Time was slipping away so we headed out to Pentire where we ate some of the curried egg sandwiches Judy had made yesterday morning and drank coffee from the thermos replenished at the B & B this morning.
St Agnes, where many of the Nankivell family had lived was our next stop. Here we parked at Trevunance Cove, a small surfing beach along a rugged coastline. From the ruined harbour, we climbed
Based on the Roman Pantheon and most probably in better condition, it was incredible to see buildings like this in the gardens.
along the Jubilee Walk and then back on an inland route. We could see that the coastal path continued both sides of the cove and would have loved to have unlimited time to do these hikes.
Parking in town wasn't easy as the roads were so narrow but we found a park and walked up to the Methodist Church and old “Garden of Rest” where we strolled amongst the headstones now partially covered in the falling autumn leaves. The museum, and later the cemetery, were our next stops. This was fascinating, with its stories of tin mining in the area. The woman there helped us find resources for the family which we photographed to look at another time.
By now the day was drawing towards the end so we headed towards Lands End, England's most westerly point, arriving about 5pm. The wind was howling and it was cold but we could still enjoyed seeing this dramatic, wild landscape.
On the way back towards Penzance we stopped to enquire at a couple of B and B's but they were more expensive than we were prepared to pay. We approached Penzance through Newlyn and the beaches. Here we found
The lake was created from a group of medieval fish ponds. The valley was dammed to form this single magnificent expanse of water.
a row of double story houses with several displaying the B&B signs. The first was too expensive but the second, after Judy asked for a cheap room gave us the same price as we'd paid the night before. It was called “The Corner House Bed and Breakfast” and the room was superb, beautifully kitted out, not bare like last nights.
After unloading our bags Judy donned her scarf and beanie and we headed out to find the local pub.
Tuesday, October 23rd
After a very good breakfast we were on our way. Firstly though, we walked the main streets of Penzance admiring the architecture of the old buildings, walked along the coast passed the marina and the tidal swimming pool, and looked into a shop specialising in curios such as pirates and shells.
From there we drove to Marazion, a short distance away and the oldest town in England, where we walked along Mount's Bay until we reached the causeway that linking the mainland with the island, St Michael's Mount. Lots of people were walking across the cobblestone causeway but we were only just in time as the water was just coming across
Lots of temples and statues adorned the gardens
the centre when we reached that point and by the time we crossed it was well over the roadway. When the tide moves here it really does.
St Michael's Mount was a small abbey built by the Benedictine monks after 1066 and then became a fortress in the reign of Henry 8th . In 1659 it was purchased by Sir John St Aubyn, whose descendants turned the fortress into a magnificent house. Even now the whole castle just blew us away with its size, opulence, position and views.
Because of the tide we returned to the mainland in one of the many small boats plying between the two shores. This place is definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
Lizard's Point, was our next destination, for no real reason except it is the most southerly point of mainland Britain and yesterday we walked on the most westerly point at Land's End.
There is a lighthouse at the point as well as a small museum in the restored Wireless Station. Rather cold here today with a chilling wind coming off the ocean but we soon warmed up as we walked down to the old lifeboat station (and
From here we drove a few kilometres north to Kynance Cove. This has long been considered one of the most beautiful places in Cornwall with its white sand (on a tiny beach), turquoise water and the different rocks out from the shore. We walked the trail along the coast to the cove and then had to judge when the waves were out so that we could run across a small beach to the next part of the track without getting wet. This added some hilarity to the walk as we watched others trying to cross, many getting wet on the way. Amazing to see how worried people can get when they risk only wetting their feet!
It was late afternoon by then, the day having flown past, and we felt we still hadn't seen or
experienced anywhere near enough to do this area justice. We would love to return here one day and just concentrate on all the sights we have had to bypass this time.
Falmouth was the next town along the coast and it was here we found a pleasant B&B for the night. A walk around the harbour and main street helped
St Columb Major was full of ostentatious buidlings.
to build up our appetite for dinner as we'd had a large breakfast and Cornish pasties for lunch. We still managed lasagne and bangers & mash for dinner at a pub we found just on the harbour.
The blog, photos, and planning tomorrow's visits wound up an amazing day.
Wednesday October 24th
After an enjoyable breakfast spent chatting to the owner and her mother about the building, sites to see, today's young people and various other topics we drove up to Pendennis castle overlooking Falmouth. It was too early to get in but we walked around the perimeter overlooking the moat and went inside the grounds briefly to get a photo of the view. Falmouth stands at the point where seven rivers flow into a long stretch of water called Carrick Roads. The drowned river valley is so deep that the harbour is the third largest naturally deep harbour after Sydney and Rio so as you can imagine the views were amazing.
Truro, with its many gracious Georgian buildings and exuberant church was our next stop. An hour passed quickly here as it also did in St Austell before we finally arrived at our
main destination for today, the Eden Project, a massive environmental centre opened to the general public. It consists of a giant, multi-domed greenhouses or biomes that contain plants from around the globe. The site has already become a popular tourist destination that attracts thousands of visitors every day which we found out when we had to wait in a 200 metre queue to get in. We were a bit disappointed as we felt it didn't give the basics of how it was accomplished, only the finished product.
By the time we left we were feeling leg weary so were happy to drive for a while until we reached the little town of Calstock. Here we attempted to find a room but were out of luck. We were so disappointed as it was a charming little village on the banks of the river Tamar dominated by the imposing Calstock Viaduct.
In Gunnislake, an old mining town, Rags jumped out to investigate the sleeping options. Only the Tavistock Arms had rooms, a bit cheaper but no breakfast included. It was still too early for dinner so we unpacked the laptop thinking to download the pics from the cameras but we
With its isolated stone pier built in 1872.
picked up a wireless connection so we downloaded our email and uploaded the diary we had previously written up while we sipped on a couple of cans from the shop next door.
Dinner was had in the pub downstairs, a red prawn curry for Judy and wild boar sausages for Rags washed down by a cider and Guinness. Judy spent the rest of the evening catching up with email responses and her Scrabulous games.
Thursday October 24th
A fruit breakfast sufficed before we navigated down narrow twisty roads to the little towns of Bere Ferrers and Bere Alston where some of Judy's ancestors were born. These were both quaint little villages and we enjoyed wandering around and wondering about the lives of tin miners years ago.
Tavistock, where Judy's Nankivell ancestors were to be found at the time of the 1851 census was our next stop. After the Visitor's Centre we went to the huge market building nearby for a browse.
Here we saw a small cafe that had a great range of food at reasonable prices so we had a “Bob the Builder breakfast” that consisted of items including black pudding, egg,
beans, sausage, mushrooms, tomato, hash browns, bacon and fried bread. Boy, we won't need much to eat for dinner tonight!
We enjoyed walking around Tavistock and seeing the sights and old buildings before we headed off across the Dartmoor National Park. This is over 950 sq kilometres of open country, mainly rocky. Here we had to dodge sheep as there are no fences or hedges. We only spotted a couple of Dartmoor ponies.
From here we headed toward Bristol, intending on finding some accommodation here before going to Bath tomorrow but after leaving the M5 and heading toward Bath we hit the rush hour traffic and started talking about heading for home. (Great Bardfield). If we had seen a B&B I think we would have stopped but we didn't. We had a little B&B book that we'd taken with us but it only gave addresses which was of no use at all without a map of the area!
So we kept on driving, thinking that we'll return to Bath another day. We stopped at a “Services” area which reminded us of an airport restaurant area. Here we had something to eat and drink before continuing. Although we
heard the M25, or London ring road was congested, by the time we turned on to it we found it flowing well. It was about 9.30pm when we arrived at Great Dunmow and saw that Tesco was open 24 hours. Thinking it was a good idea to do our shopping, we stopped here and didn't arrive back in Bardfield until about 10.30pm. We'd had another long day but sat with a night cap and discussed where our next adventure might take us before hitting the sack just before midnight.
Friday October 25th
Today was spent getting over our time away, washing some clothes, washing the car and catching up with email, photos and blog. Lovely and relaxing. We are lookng forward to the arrival of Larni and Lynne on Sunday.
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