Saturday, May 3, 2008
It's chilly and rainy today, not the bright spring weather we long for. The daffodils are trying hard to bloom, and my magnolia tree is trying to blossom, but the rain is knocking the blooms off the branches. I had to go out and run errands and I didn't appreciate the wetness. However, just over a week ago, I was experiencing very similar weather and I didn't mind it as much. I spent my April break in Cornwall, and for much of the week, we had drizzly, misty, rainy weather.
It didn't stop us however from having a terrific vacation.
We flew to London and took the train to St. Ives. I am still amazed how much open land there is in Great Britain. We stayed in a guest hotel called The Old Count House. We had a very comfortable room with a sea view, although it wasn't until the 4th morning that we could see the whole harbor and Godevry Light! There was too much "mist." Our hosts were very friendly and hospitable, and they served a wonderful breakfast every morning. They live in one part of the house which at one time was the home was the "counting house" for the owner of a tin mine.
Every morning we walked down the hill into town and explored the area.
The first day it was pouring so we took the train to The Eden Project, about an hour from St. Ives.
An exhausted clay pit has been reclaimed, several enormous geodesic domes have been built, and they have created several biomes inside. We spent the good part of the day exploring the rainforest and Mediterranean biomes. Another day we took the train to Penzance. From there we went to St. Michael's Mount. This is a small island off the coast that you can walk to at low water across a manmade causeway.
On the top of the island mount is a castle! We climbed the path to the top and although we didn't have the view that one would get on a clear day, we were quite impressed.
Another day we went to Land's End - the most westerly point in England. Incredible scenery!
I took a ton of pictures. I wish it were easier to upload to my blog. (I have dial up internet, so it can take forever to get a picture uploaded!) If you 're interested you can view my album at my Picasa web page here
A few random thoughts generated by our trip:
1. We were incredible impressed by how easy it was to travel around using public transportation. We did not rent a car. If we wanted to go somewhere we either walked or took the train or the bus or a combination! In my part of New England this is next to impossible. It's too far to walk to work or to the grocery store or anywhere else for that matter. Even if I lived in town, there is no public transportation available.
2. I was also incredibly impressed by the availability of bathrooms everywhere we went - at the train stations, at the bus stations, in the villages themselves. They all were open and CLEAN!
3. Kids are kids everywhere. One time we were in Penzance at the bus station awaiting our bus back to St. Ives. School let out and all the kids (middle school age) ran to the bus station. (They use public transportation too) There about 20 or so kids, boys and girls. They split into groups -- one group pulled out a hackey sack, another group started chasing each other around, the girls huddled together, some pulled out candy bars, etc. A couple of the boys were teasing each other, getting a little rough. My teacher-y voice almost broke through my vacation mode, but I caught it in time and enjoyed the fact that I wasn't supervising recess!!
4. I finally got the hang of the money on this trip. By the end of the week, I wasn't inspecting each coin to be sure it was the right amount. It really showed me how much we take for granted in our every day life. When was the last time you tried to make/change and carefully inspected each coin to be sure the quarter was quarter or the dime a dime?? If something cost 50p (like the shuttle bus to the top of the hill) I can now visualize the 50p coin, or 2 twenty p coins and 10 p coin.
5. I love hearing the differences in vocabulary and idioms. We were often asked if we were "on holiday", and we were frequently asked to "Mind the gap" or "Mind your step." People will "phone" you and offer you "sweets" or "puddings" instead of dessert. Appetizers are "starters" and entrees are "mains". Cars are put into "car parks" and the restrooms are usually called what they are " toilets." It makes me smile though that often they are labeled "female toilets" or "male toilets" or "gents". Tips are called "service charges" in restaurants, and are usually only 10-12%.
6. Cornwall is the poorest area in England, or so I'm told. Tourism is the number one industry, and there is a small fishing industry and some agriculture. Cornwall is doing a good job of "branding" itself in an effort to boost agriculture and fishing. In almost all of the pubs and restaurants we visited, the menus advertised that the produce and meat were from local sources. I certainly enjoyed the local products immensely --- especially the locally brewed ales (Cornish cream, Doombar, and Tribute, to name 3 I sampled), the ice cream (the best I've ever eaten in my life!) and Rhodda's clotted cream. None of these are exactly good additions to a WW plan, but they are delicious! We sampled some "made on the premises" apricot saffron almond ice cream that was absolutely heavenly. And there's nothing like a good pot of tea, flaky scones, homemade strawberry jam, and clotted cream. Clotted cream, in case you're not familiar with it, is hard to describe. It's not whipped cream, and it's not butter, but it's like both! We had a Cornish cream teas in the place of a meal on two occasions. I don't know if I can find clotted cream anywhere around here. It's probably best if I can't!!