Memories of Cornwall – Towards the east side of Cornwall

We had seen some of the north Devon and Somerset coasts on the way into Cornwall. We’d then spent a full day down the west coast and to the south coast. Today is our second and last full day in Cornwall. We definitely wanted to see a nearby historic house, Lanhydrock and also thought we might venture to the coast, maybe see another of the quaint little seaside villages with steep streets and winding lanes, Fowey. Our host, Nigel, gave us an idea for another place to stop and a good hint about parking in the seafront town of Fowey. In spite of our plan to have a less busy day, we still ended up doing and seeing quite a bit though we didn’t travel so far at least.

The weather ended up being mostly overcast with a little sun breaking through at times and mostly dry. We stopped to fill the tank and then to Lanhydrock, an estate near the Bodmin moors in east Cornwall.

Lanhydrock House, Cornwall

The house dates back to the mid 1600s and stayed with the same family, the Robartes, until 1969 though the National Trust has run it since the early 1950s. One descendent still lives in a cottage on the grounds. The house was originally four sided around a courtyard but is now a U shape around that same courtyard.

In the late 1800s it caught fire and was rebuilt with the most modern conveniences available at the time. They had a huge staff and were able to save a lot of things from the fire, from furniture to paintings to books and all sorts of decorative items. The Long Gallery is still original, is lined with old books, and has an amazing carved plaster ceiling from the 17th century showing Bible scenes from Genesis all over.

The Great Hall at Lanhydrock dates from the Jacobean period in the early 17th century

The parking lot at the estate is near a garden shop, entrance and gift shop. It’s a 600 yard walk down a gentle incline to the gatehouse but there’s also a little shuttle buggy that can take you back and forth if you want, for a small price. There is disabled parking closer to the house but you have to pre-arrange that at the entrance building. There is an old chapel and an elaborate gatehouse and the grounds have acres and acres of garden and woodland park.

There are over 50 rooms over 3 floors to see including various kitchens and food prep rooms, family rooms and servants’ quarters. So many wonderful pieces of furniture and thousands of items to look at. We both thought it felt very “homey” and lived in which it had been, but it didn’t have that sterile or musty museum feel to it. I particularly liked the Nanny’s room, the nursery and the childrens’ rooms, with the toys and doll house set up, framed photos and a crib in Nanny’s room. The kitchens and sculleries have all kinds of Victorian items, dishes, pots and cooking implements. The estate manager’s office is chock full of books, ledgers and papers. The bedrooms still have shoes and clothing on display and there’s even a room in the top floor filled with old luggage!

The Nanny’s room, Lanhydrock

The kitchen scullery, Lanhydrock

We spent a wonderful couple of hours exploring and then from there, we drove to the town of Lostwithiel, a place Nigel had recommended. It has a very old bridge over the River Fowey and has some nice little shops and restaurants. We walked a little, and went to look into the old church, St. Bartholomew’s and the first thing we noticed was shoes lining both sides of the path, mostly children’s shoes with flowers in them. Inside, the church was filled with all kinds and sizes of flower arrangements, sponsored by many local businesses. We had stumbled on a Floral Festival with the proceeds benefiting a hospice and the church. Wow, some of them were quite inventive or had items in the arrangement that represented the sponsor’s business such as a microscope and little antique medicine bottles for the pharmacy. All were so beautiful! There were flowers outside, too, in the porch, representing the River and old bridge and another around the base of an old Celtic cross.

Outside there were a couple of tables with chairs and you could buy tea or coffee and cake, which we did, as the sun was more or less out by then. Besides, it benefited the charities!

Restormel Castle, Cornwall

We had also noticed on the map a sign for a castle nearby so we decided to check that out. A mile or so up a very narrow road from the centre of Lostwithiel we found the ruins of Restormel Castle, an English Heritage property. It’s a round structure on a mound and looks more like a castle keep. It was more of a fortified stronghold for Edward the Black Prince, who was the oldest son of Edward III. He died before he could become King. We poked around there for a bit and left when it started to sprinkle. We were getting hungry and it was past mid-afternoon. Surely there would be some old historic pubs in the centre to choose from?

We got on the way to Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’) and, following Nigel’s advice (and more very narrow roads) we found a parking lot down by the water but not right in the centre where the narrow winding streets were. We really wanted to avoid the situation we’d got in back at St. Ives! The other main tourist parking lot is at the top of the town. Downhill to walk but a steep hike back up afterwards though I think there’s a shuttle! Where we parked there is also a ferry to a village across the sound.

Narrow lanes of Fowey

We walked through the little streets, barely wide enough for a small car, squashing against doorways of the cottages when cars or the town mini bus (!) came along. By the time we got to the main square it was nearly 3:00 and guess what? It turns out, at least this time of year, the pubs all stop serving food at 2:30 and don’t start again until evening!!!! We were directed to a cafe…closed. Most of what else we saw were little cafes and tea shops but we wanted something substantial.

We finally found a restaurant with a full menu and had a late lunch there. It was actually more like an early evening meal judging from the cost of it. I had fish and chips and Graham had a steak and we had a cream tea with scones for our dessert. It was very good and we were very full. I had one of the scones wrapped up to take back to the hotel because I was very sure I wouldn’t want anything more to eat in the evening than that. Graham bought a sausage roll at a bakery for the same reason.

Fowey along the waterfront

Fowey along the waterfront

Trafalgar Square, Fowey

Trafalgar Square, Fowey

We walked a bit more and looked in the shops. I got a couple of prints and a few little bits and pieces in the tourist information shop and we took the mini bus back to the parking lot. There were only two others waiting but when it arrived, all these people came out of nowhere including someone with his elderly mother in a wheelchair! They had been parked at that other parking lot way up the steep hill. We all squeezed in and we made it back to the car in one piece.

When we got back to the hotel, we actually had a bit of a nap then later had a drink in the bar. We are the only guests in the hotel tonight so we have it all to ourselves. We took our beer down to the cellar to play a few games of pool which was fun. Sort of. I lost every game!

In the morning we packed up the car and headed out after another wonderful breakfast. I would highly recommend the Pendragon Country House! We made good time to our next destination, the lovely city of Bath where we were to meet some friends and have a wander around the city. Graham had never been there though I had but both of my previous visits were less than successful, the first being a short stop during a bus tour of the UK and the second one with me fighting off what turned into a bad virus. It broke up the trip back to Manchester nicely. I really would like to go back to Cornwall again, there are so many little villages and coastal areas to explore with spectacular scenery everywhere!

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV

Here’s my answer to WordPress’s weekly photo challenge:

One of the things that makes your photos more interesting is taking them from a different point of view. Maybe framing them through branches or doorways, maybe on a diagonal (but don’t  just make the horizon a slight bit off, that’s just distracting), or you can take a photo from the top looking down or vice versa or even from ground level. There’s a good blog post here about point of view.

Hard to choose just a few photos that I’ve taken from various points of view but here goes:

Public Gardens bandstand, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Katherine’s Window Quebec City, Canada

SoHo Balconies New York City


Manchester Wheel Manchester, England

You can see the light refracted in the drinks, with the trees from beyond showing upsidedown

In the distance The Louvre, Paris

Buoys by the wharf from underneath

Outside our hotel, Copenhagen


I bet she had a great POV! Pride of Baltimore (Tall Ship), Halifax, NS


Ginger’s nose

Travel Theme: Hidden

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack Has a weekly photo theme and this week’s is Hidden. When I travel, I often steer my fella down lanes and alleys, into courtyards and following little signs for something that might be interesting. You never know what you’re going to find hidden off the beaten track.

I spent a morning wandering the City of London once, which, you might think, is mainly tall buildings, office workers and the occasional church but around a corner and through a stone gate I found the remains of a bombed out Wren church, just the clock tower remaining, with the space landscaped with grass and trees and benches. A little oasis of calm in the middle of a very busy city. My photos didn’t really turn out sadly, the film got exposed.

In Amsterdam there’s a little courtyard called the Bejginhof where women used to live in seclusion. They were not nuns but lived in a similar way. This too is a peaceful closed off spot in a busy neighbourhood.

Many cathedrals have cloisters around which the grand walls rise. Cloisters sometimes have little cemeteries in them, too.

Here are a couple of hidden delights that I discovered on my travels.

First. The Lake District in England. This is Keswick, a market town near the north end of the district. We walked along the pedestrianized town centre square, lined with shops and pubs. There was this very narrow alley between two stores:

Keswick. Remember that blue shop on the left.

Through that alley, you find yourself in a parking lot. This bright sweet shop is not the same shop as on the other side.

Cafe this way! Ambleside, The Lake District


When we were planning a trip to Copenhagen, I watched a Rick Steves travel program on the city. In it, he walked with a guide to a little hidden courtyard where some of the oldest wooden houses in Copenhagen were. They didn’t say where it was, probably because it was a private residential place but I hoped to find it and, walking through the old Latin Quarter, I recognized this street:

Latin Quarter, Copenhagen

You see that reddish building with a doorway? Go through that doorway and this is what you find:

A Word a Week Challenge – Ornate

This week, Susie’s word challenge is Ornate. You don’t see as many ornate details these days. I guess it costs too much to really put the flourish into things. But go back, even less than a hundred years to the Art Deco period and you see wonderful detail. Go back even further and you will see ornamentation everywhere. The Victorians and Georgians were over the top. Baroque’s middle name is “Ornate”. The rich details in the Renaissance era are astounding.

One place you can always find lots of ornate details is in a cathedral when more was better, and all to the glory of God. The architecture, the decoration, the stained glass, the altar. Statues and tapestries. Everywhere you look you’ll find intricacy. Architecture is a great place to spot it, even just a little swirl on a window frame or door.  The Vatican Museums are lined with intensely detailed paintings and moldings along the walls and ceilings of the hallways. Whole rooms have every inch of wall space covered in murals and frescos.

Palaces and old manor houses, the owners all seemed to want to out-do each other but not many can match places like Versailles but there are a lot who gave it the old college try including Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.

Below are a few photos I’ve taken of ornate bits of architecture, decorative items and interiors, including a door from Georgian Dublin, details from both Wells and Canterbury Cathedral exterior, Galleries Lafayette (a Parisian department store), some Belgian lace examples, and a few shots from Rosenborg Castle.


Memories of Cornwall: Down the west side of Cornwall

In May 2011, we took a road trip to Cornwall, the lovely peninsula on the south west tip of the U.K.  We drove down from Manchester and stayed overnight in the small cathedral city of Wells, with just enough time to explore the cathedral and a bit of the city centre. From there we crossed to the north Somerset and Devon coastline and traveled down into Cornwall, with a stop at the ruins of Cleeve Abbey and the twin towns of Lynmouth and Lynton along the way.  The sea was on our right and the moors of Exmoor spread across to our left. Needless to say the scenery in this part of the country is spectacular!

We stayed at a wonderful inn, Pendragon Country House which is a couple of miles from Camelford on a quiet road off the A39. They are winning awards and well deserved, too! The rooms are all filled with antiques with lovely fitted bathrooms. They have two big lounges with an honour bar in one and games and movies you can borrow. They have a small games room in the basement with a pool table and a video game console and there is a new conservatory that was being built when we were there that now houses their dining room and overlooks the Devon moors. For a luxury B&B, the rates are still affordable and it’s a good base for touring around Cornwall which isn’t that big. There’s a motorway straight up the centre through Truro, the capital of the area, though it’s not nearly as scenic as the lovely coastal roads.

After a hearty breakfast, our first stop was nearby Boscastle, a tiny fishing village. Almost 10 years ago, the village was devastated by flash floods. We saw some of the video in their visitor centre and it’s horrific, watching cars being tossed by the raging waters. There was a huge amount of damage but the village is slowly returning to normal now.

This is the tiny river that turned into a raging torrent of water in 2004 as the flood waters came down from the surrounding hills

This is the tiny river that turned into a raging torrent of water in 2004 as the flood waters came down from the surrounding hills

Boscastle's harbour looking towards the breakwater.

Boscastle’s harbour looking towards the breakwater.

Boscastle has pretty little shops and quaint Bed and Breakfasts. The harbour is pretty and it’s sheltered. You can walk up over the breakwater to see the sea itself but you don’t see it from the harbour.  We walked around taking photos while waiting for one of the museums to open, the Museum of Witchcraft. That was the main reason for our visit and we were not disappointed!

What an excellent little museum! They warn you right from the start that some of the exhibits may upset as they can be controversial.  The Museum of Witchcraft tells the story of how witches and the “black” art of witchcraft have been perceived over centuries. It shows many different images all through history along with related items such as talismans against curses, and mandrake root carvings. There are stories of the torture people accused of being witches were subjected to, especially in the 17th century. The museum explores all aspects, good, bad and stereotype and was very interesting! It’s a small museum but it’s packed with things to read and look at including a large Book of Daemonolgie written by King James I. Graham said it was one of the coolest museums he’d ever seen and he even bought a t-shirt with a pentagram (five pointed star) on it.

The book of Daemonologie, written by King James I

The book of Daemonologie, written by King James I

Second floor of the Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle

Second floor of the Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle

From there, we drove through Tintagel but didn’t really stop. Due to its associations with the legend of King Arthur, it’s a major tour bus stop and is thronged with people. It feels very much like a tourist trap. We aren’t hikers so didn’t go up to the ruins of the castle, either.  We wanted to stop in Padstow, a popular seaside village but it was so packed that we couldn’t find a parking spot and it, too, felt too crowded to properly enjoy. We followed the coast a bit further and found a little beach at Mawgan Porth with a couple of seaside restaurants that were quiet. Perfect! We had lunch and the walked over to check out the beach.  It’s May and it’s not really beach weather but there were people sitting on chairs and socializing and another person nearer the shore in a chair watching their dog run.

Lost shoe at Mawgan Porth beach.

Lost shoe at Mawgan Porth beach.

We really hadn’t got as far down the north west coast as we thought we would have and I still wanted to go all the way to the south coast to see the open air Minack Theatre so we took the motorway down to save a bit of time.  The plan was to see the theatre then come back up to St. Ives and have dinner there.

The Minack is an open air theatre created by a woman called Rowena Cade who built it starting in the 1930s. She lived in the area and wanted to start a theatre company. The theatre is created with local granite blocks, filled in with earth and has grass grown along the tops of the seating rows for comfort. The granite stage is at the bottom and the rows of seats fan out up the side of the hill from there. It almost looks as if it was carved out of the side of the cliff. There are gardens and rock gardens on the site, and you look down over the sea with a wide beach off to the left. It would be really something to attend a performance here but you are open to the elements! It was beautiful under the warm sunny skies and we poked around taking photos. We had a hot drink before leaving in the cafe that also overlooks the theatre.


Minack Beach P1050015

We went back to the motorway via Land’s End just so we could say we’d been there. It has a huge visitor centre and is another one of those tourist traps that see dozens of tour busses daily. By the time we got there, it was closed or nearly so. We just took a photo from the parking lot over the end of the coast rather than walk into the visitor centre and walk down the paths. Good enough. Back to the motorway and up to St. Ives, which is a very nice little town but there are a lot of *very* narrow streets that a car can barely fit through. We discovered this because our GPS kept sending us in confusing directions and we nearly got stuck a couple of times before we figured out where we needed to be and told the infernal machine to shut up!

The harbour front is lined with pubs and restaurants and we walked along trying to decide on which one to try. Most were fairly crowded at this time of the evening. The one we ended up at wasn’t probably the best choice but the food was ok. Not great, but ok. We were tired and hungry and out of energy to walk too far.  Of course the shops and museums and galleries are also closed but we did walk around a bit just to see the place. It’s a historic town and a centre for artists. Unsurprising given the beautiful coastline and light.  The old centre contains narrow roads lined with old stone cottages and whitewashed ones with cute house name signs on them like “Buttonhole”! There were a couple of main shopping streets and a little market square with a church and a war memorial cross.  There is even a branch of the Tate Modern Art gallery here. But that was also closed by this time.

St Ives low tide lampost

St. Ives at low tide

St Ives lane white van

One of the narrow lanes we did NOT try to drive through!

St Ives doorway

One of the little stone cottages in St. Ives

Graham is a talented artist and draws me a cartoon for my birthday every year. This one, from 2012, commemorated our experiences in St. Ives the year before

Graham is a talented artist and draws me a cartoon for my birthday every year. This one, from 2012, commemorated our experiences in St. Ives the year before

We were done. It was time to hit the motorway and head back up to the B&B. We had a drink in the bar and relaxed after a long day on the roads. We always seem to try to fit in too much! Tomorrow we’re going to a historic house and another little village and maybe some more coastal drives, depending on time and energy. But that’s another post.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

This week, WordPress’s weekly photo challenge is the sea. Couldn’t have picked a better one. I was born and grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, a small province over 90% surrounded by the sea and it’s always been part of my world.  In addition, I’m a water sign, Pisces, so it’s in my stars too!  My city, Halifax, has one of the largest ice free harbours in the world. It is a busy place. The Navy has a major base here. There are major shipping piers and container ships up and down the harbour. There are marinas with pleasure boats. It’s a working harbour and a place for leisure. When the Tall Ships come, it looks like it must have looked 150 years ago.

Most of where I travel, however, isn’t often by the sea so most of my sea photos are from the east coast of Canada with a few taken on a trip to Cornwall, England.

A beach in Blomidon, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. The Bay of Fundy has a lot of clay in the soil so the sand is red. This is the same type of soil as in Prince Edward Island with the “bright red mud”

Surf’s up! Lawrencetown beach, Halifax County

The sea can provide fun for the whole family

The sea also provides a living. Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

The power of the sea is evident here at Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick where the water has eroded the land over time. You can just see a person at the base of the smaller rock for scale.

Mawgan Porth beach, Cornwall, England

The coast in many areas can be dramatic. This is the coastline near the Minack Theatre, near Porthcurno, on the south coast of Cornwall