Sunday, March 1, 2015

A cape, a mount and a fish pie

This past Thursday my pen friend Alison and I made plans to get together. We have written for over twenty years but had ever met - that was soon to change!  Alison, her husband Ken and one of their four dogs (Keisha) drove over from Devon to meet me.  I was so happy that they would even consider that and when she asked if there was someplace special I wanted to see I just said "anything"!  I was just looking forward to meeting her at long last and getting to meet Ken and Keisha as well. 

We headed off towards St Just stopping at  Cape Cornwall.  As you can see it was absolutely stunning.






Even Keisha was impressed! 


  
 
We then walked back across a field passing a structure that must have been a place of worship at some time....I love old ruins...it reminded me of the ruins of crofts in Scotland.....only with a cross!
 




 
All that walking in the brisk sea air makes you a bit peckish so it was off for a pub lunch in St Just....
 
Fish pie made from fresh Newlyn fish...delicious
We then headed over to Marazion (just outside Penzance) where St Michaels Mount sits...this place is a confusing story of history and myths.  It was said that a mythical giant named Cormoran once lived on the Mount, and he used to wade ashore stealing cows and sheep from the villagers to feed his gargantuan appetite.  One night, a local boy called Jack rowed out to the island and dug a deep pit while the giant was asleep. As the sun rose, Jack blew a horn to wake the angry giant who staggered down from the summit and – blinded by the sunlight – fell into the pit and died.
 
It is said that fishermen saw a vision of Archangel Michael around 495 AD.  Benedictine Monks were granted ownership in 1070 and a stone church was built on the site in the next century.  It has had many owners and incarnations over the years and it is now privately owned however the National Trust oversees the running of it. 
 
It has the unique situation of being on an island in the sea...only accessible during high tide by boat or in the winter....a large amphibian type vehicle that goes in and out of water.  Luckily it was low tide and we were able to walk out to see it on the causeway.  It wasn't open that day but we were still able to walk around some of the grounds. 
 
St Michael'sMount ...looking quite formidable

Heading out on the causeway to the island

Looking back towards Marazion





Time to head back!
 We then headed back to St Ives and all too soon it was time to say goodbye to my friends..what a wonderful day it was.  Thanks again Alison and Ken!!! 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A tour of the east side of Madeira

Disclaimer:  This is being written a month after the date and my memory isn't what it used to be.  Sadly I haven't been keeping much of a written journal on this trip...so things may be a bit mixed up but you'll never know...only one person will and she won't tell...right June? 

Besides trying out a few walking trails June and I wanted to see more of the island and figured the easiest way would be to take a tour. We both thought the Eastern tour sounded the most interesting so on Sunday January 25th off we gallivanted for the day. W got picked up at the nearby Hotel Orca Praia and after picking up a few more sightseers we were off....

Our first stop was the Church of our Lady of Monte in the nearby town of Monte...high high up....it was certainly a distinctive looking church,,


The view of Funchal below wasn't bad either!
Nearby you can ride a toboggan down into Funchal - it is a popular touristy thing to do.  Unfortunately being Sunday it was not possible to do this as they only do it on Sundays when the cruise ships are in town...it is on my bucket list but having heard the drivers for these crazy rides spend their time between runs down the hill in the pub I thought "um..maybe not".  Now whether this is true or not I don't know but I think I would need to spend plenty of time in that pub before I got onto one - having seen the beginning of the route...let's just say it's not straight!

Then it was on to Camacha which is known as the culture capital of Madeira and home to wicker products done by hand.  Most wicker products are now mass produced in China (isn't everything these days?) and there were many tempting things on offer.  I lusted after the beautiful wicker chairs and kept saying to June "that would be a perfect reading chair for my balcony" but as I didn't want to pay the shipping costs home nor travel with a chair (needless to say) I settled for a wicker egg cup. (very impractical as I tend to be a messy egg eater but oh well).  I do love wicker so guess I will have to settle for a mass produced one from China when my "nesting project" starts later this year.  (but we won't talk about that right now okay...)



Our next stop was Ribeiro Frio which is probably the most famous levada walk for tourists in the country.  Due to the drizzly weather that had sprung upon us most people went into the cafe for a warm drink and perused the souvenir shop.  Not June and I...we walked along the path for about fifteen minutes before having to turn back or get left behind.  I think this would be a great walk to do with a guide.  It is a 11 km walk to Portela. 




Then we climbed into the sky through pouring rain and it was rather a scary drive to be honest - I was certainly glad it wasn't me driving but the driver was experienced and calm. (June and I were sitting up front with him)   It was supposed to be a wonderful look out but most of it did not even bother getting out of the car.  I don't know why he bothered with the stressful drive to be honest. 

Then it was on to the town of Santana which is known for its uniquely shaped houses....we were taken to one that the guide jokingly said was his mother-in-laws.  Inside sat a man who was selling coffee liqeur for a euro so of course we purchased some - tasty!   We carried on to a group of them which was a tourist trap.  It still was very interesting though.







 


Time for lunch.  We could have paid 10 Euros more for our tour and have lunch included  but it was a 90 minute break and June and I figured we would pack sandwiches and explore.  What the girl didn't tell us was that the restaurant was in the middle of nowhere. So we sat with our sandwiches, ordered soup and sat at our own table while our travel companions had a three course meal complete with wine (damn!) for 10 Euros..ah well live and learn. 

On the way back to Funchal we stopped at a few viewpoints - not knowing we would be walking in the area the next day! 
 





 
 
 
We got a deal on the tour for 27 Euros and it was well worth it - the weather could have been a bit better but those are the breaks.  Despite being a small island the weather systems vary widely - Funchal was sunny all day!  Our guide was great and filled our heads with all sorts of information which of course I promptly forgot.  It was good to see more of the island though and I look forward to seeing more of it in the future because Madeira, I love you!  
 


By the sea again..

Yes I am by the sea again...I love the sea, ocean, whatever....I love big bodies of salt water!!!  I nearly called this blog Misplaced Ocean Child but then I thought "well London doesn't have an ocean.."...anyway here I am.

My journey down to Cornwall was good, it went so smoothly I kept thinking "okay this is going too well, something major is going to happen" but it didn't.  I didn't fall between the train and the platform at Crofton Park..  I was able to lift the monster..aka my suitcase...onto the train and a fellow in there moved his briefcase so I could haul it in...yep chivilary is not dead..uh huh...I hauled myself in and off we went to Blackfriars, I got my change onto the Circle/District  line platform and low and behold there was a Circle line train via Paddington three minutes later.  I couldn't believe my luck as it doesn't come too often.  I got to Paddington station in plenty of time - way ahead of time actually but I'd rather do that than be rushing.  That's when things happen.  Bad things.  I was able to get a coffee and a pastry and sit and relax for a bit. I then picked up a sandwich and some grapes for lunch.  I gave my regards to the statue of Paddington Bear who is now under the clock on Platform 1 where he should be.  I then went into the waiting room because London's train stations are so freaking cold and there is nowhere to sit.  The waiting room was hot but oh well...I got into a conversation with a woman who had just come back from cruising the Caribbean.  Turns out her husband works on a cruise ship and she goes with him for months at a time.  She said it's her turn  now - he was in the Merchant Marines and would be gone for months at a time and she was at home for 22 years raising children and holding the fort.  We had such a good time chatting that the time flew by and soon it was time to board our respective trains.- hers went three minutes before mine. 

I sat opposite a sweet couple who were going to visit the Eden project so we had a quiet conversation as we were in the quiet coach.  Oh how I love that - your mobile has to be turned off so no phone conversations or loudness.  Bliss!!! 

Nearly five hours later we arrived in St Erth where I got a connecting two coach train to St Ives.  The train ran along the sea the entire way - I remembered the journey from my two previous trips in 1982 and 1999.  Spectacular.  It had rained on and off during the journey but I arrived to sunshine. 

I found my way to my bed and breakfast and the owners were so lovely and welcoming.  My room is adorable and has everything I need. 

I quickly headed out to take advantage of the sun - I am literally steps from the ocean and a three minute walk from the harbour.......this small beach is a couple of minutes walk from me....


I walked around the town a bit and then had fish and chips for supper.  On the way back the light was absolutely amazing...



I had a fairly early night as I've been battling a "throat thing" as I call it...I don't like to admit that I am ill...I woke during the night and I swear I was snoring "in my chest".  I was very congested.  Luckily it has improved but I know I have to take it easy and not push myself...

Trish prepared a great breakfast of my choice...bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and brown toast.  And wow it was proper wheat toast with seeds and everything - not the brown tasteless crap they usually serve here in bed and breakfasts...

Fully sated I headed off to do some exploring....they have been having high tides here and all I can say is WOW!!  I was going to take a short cut along this water front path to the visitor centre but decided hmmm...maybe not!


These birds are called Rock Terns - aren't they adorable? 



I  made my way to the tourist office and got some great information in regards to walks in the area.  I asked about bus schedules and she gave me a book of the times and buses "because you're from Canada".  That was nice!!

I then headed back to the bed and breakfast to change into my hiking boots.  Here are some photos I took along the way..





 

 
 
Once the boots were on I headed down East Back road to Poerthmeor Beach and The Island.  This is the Atlantic ocean side of St Ives.  The waves were spectacular and it was absolutely fantastic, I could have happily sat on a bench all day watching. 
 
Porthmeor Beach


The path around The Island







St Nicholas chapel - no known date of it being built but it's been around since the 15th century - it's been rebuilt recently. 

View of the harbour from the other end of town - yes I got around!

Famous local sculpture Barbara Hepworth's work

Porthminster Beach
I've had many a cream tea in my day but not with this view!