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!

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.

Word a Week Challenge – Castle

Oooh, this week’s Word a Week Challenge is Castle!  Castles are one of my favourite things to visit, whether still intact or whether there are just ruins left to ramble through.  Many castles started off as pure fortifications but turned into more of a palace, a residence as the need for defence died down. Since palaces are not the traditional “castle”, for this post, I’ll just show photos of the more “industrial” versions with one or two exceptions.

Most of my castle experiences have been in the U.K. where castles are littered all over the countries that make up the United Kingdom. Welsh castles built by Edward I are huge and looming and forbidding. Often these and other castles were attached to walls that would surround a town/city to keep it safe from invasion. These castles were built to intimidate and you can see that they certainly would be.

Inside Beaumaris Castle, Isle of Anglesey, Wales

Conwy Castle, North Wales

There are still a few examples of even older castles. This one, Restormel in Cornwall, dates to the Norman period though became disused and fell into ruins after the English Civil War in the 17th century.

Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel, Cornwall

Edinburgh Castle is perched on top of volcanic cliffs. The old city ran from it’s gates down to the Royal palace of Holyrood. The newer part of the city lies across a loch which was drained and is now the park you see in this photo.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Irish Castles seem to mainly be boxy looking, one large squared tower.  Blarney Castle is fairly typical.

Blarney Castle, Ireland

Leeds Castle was defensive but remained a residential home through the centuries, into the 20th century. It’s surrounded by a moat which was a fairly common means of defense for castles.

Leeds Castle, Kent

Outside of the U.K., there are also many castles. The Rhine is a popular river for castle spotting from a riverboat. This castle, in the middle of the city of Rome, was the Pope’s stronghold for both security for himself and as a prison.

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

The Tower of London is arguably one of the most famous castles in the world. It started as a Normal fortification built by William the Conqueror after the 1066 invasion. It’s grown quite a lot since the erection of the square middle “White” Tower. It’s been a royal palace, a zoo and a prison.

The Tower of London, contrasting with the new London City Hall across the Thames

This one, in Copenhagen, was more of a palace though is still called a castle.

Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen, Denmark

Visiting Manchester

Manchester city centre

Manchester city centre

London is one of the greatest cities in the world and is one of the top tourist destinations. All roads may lead to Rome but there are a lot of flights that go directly to London from major airports world wide so getting there is fairly easy. There is a lot to do and see in London and a lot of tourists don’t go anywhere else in the UK from there unless they have specific interests. Of course lots of people also visit other locations and attractions, cities and regions in the UK but it’s always London you hear about.

I’ve been to London a lot. It’s one of my favourite cities, due to the history initially, and all the other reasons why people visit. But I’ve also been to the second largest city in the UK, Manchester, nearly as many times. The reason I went there for the first time, in 2000 was related to Coronation Street, my favourite television show which is filmed there. I have a lot of friends I’ve made via the internet over the years who are Corrie fans and several of them live in the Manchester area. My first visit was as a part of a large group of Corrie internet friends who headed there for a week long get together to meet, greet and celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary. My next couple of visits were also related in a way, visiting those same friends.

Then I met my now-fiance who, coincidentally, also lived in the Manchester area, in the next-door city of Salford. We met online through a mutual Corrie friend who knew him online through the heavy metal music forums and boards. Things clicked and here we are, still conducting our relationship between two continents for the time being. Since 2004, I’ve been to Manchester yearly and have grown to know the city a bit better. We have visited museums, attended theatre, shopped, and dined out, all in the Manchester area. Manchester has lots of similar attractions to London though on a smaller scale. I didn’t mention football as we aren’t fans but the two football clubs there, Manchester United and Manchester City, are also big draws.

Manchester is a little over 2 hours by train from London Euston. It’s a city with a strong industrial history with a strong Victorian architecture presence. I find it’s similar to Glasgow in many ways as far as the look and feel goes. There’s a thriving university presence and therefore, plenty of pubs and clubs, especially around the Gay Village quarter. The city centre shopping is very good and there’s a huge shopping mall/centre in Trafford. There’s a natural history museum at the university, a National Football Museum near the cathedral, and a great Science in Industry museum in the city centre though there are rumours that it may be closed to redirect funding to London museums. A crime if ever there was one! There are a couple of good sized galleries as well as quite a few smaller ones scattered about.

There are several theatres that produce some very good productions at prices greatly cheaper than London West End prices and you can find restaurants from a great number of ethnic choices. Nearby in Rusholme is the “curry mile”, a stretch of road lined with Indian, Thai and Chinese restaurants and there are dozens of good places to eat in the Chinatown area of Manchester. The Greater Manchester area towns and villages also have some good places to visit, a short bus or drive away such as the huge Bury market. There is also an interesting Jewish Museum in Salford, an old Tudor mansion (Ordsall Hall), also in Salford and a transportation museum in Salford as well. Salford Quays has outlet shopping, the Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry theatre and gallery. The MEN arena puts on top class concerts and other events. Manchester has a nice catheral as does Salford and there’s even an observation wheel, though it’s much smaller than the London Eye (and cheaper!).

Rochdale Canal, home of the Gay Village in Manchester

Manchester’s gay scene is hopping and it’s Pride events are reknowned. The Christmas markets in the city centre from mid-November to Christmas attract thousands. The Northern Quarter is where you’ll find the funkier side of Manchester. There are some lovely museums and galleries as well as some off the beaten track places to visit such as the medieval Chetham’s library, the Victorian John Rylands Library and the Hatworks museum in Stockport.

Manchester is also a good base camp for day trips to the Lake District, Liverpool, Chester, York, Blackpool, North Wales and the Peak District, all of which are a short train journey away or under two hours by car at the most.

Coronation Street is still filmed in Manchester, soon to be produced out of the new BBC Media City in Salford Quays (the BBC is sharing the space with ITV studios who produce Corrie), moving out of the old Granada Studios buildings this year. You never know when you’re going to bump into an actor from the show and with more BBC productions moving to the northern studios, star spotting will be more productive if you’re into that sort of thing.

Manchester might not be as exciting as London on the surface but it’s a friendly city, compact, pretty good transportation system around the city. If you’re looking to see more of the UK, the North is a good place to start and Manchester is a good starting point.

Photos I’ve taken in the Greater Manchester region
Photos I’ve taken at Granada Studios on the Coronation Street set
The Lake District
North Wales

The Next Time I See London

Sarastro, Covent Garden. A very theatrical restaurant

Sarastro, Covent Garden. A very theatrical restaurant

We haven’t visited London for awhile. Well, it’s not really been that long, I guess, but it feels like it. The last time we were there was in the spring of 2011. We saw Wicked, went to the Doctor Who exhibit, the Zoo, Camden, National Gallery, flew the London Eye and caught up with friends. That was two and a half full days.

We are doing a road trip in Scotland in October but we’re also thinking of a weekend in London, probably the weekend before I leave. I can go to the airport from the city rather than doing the Manchester – Heathrow transfer. It is a bit less hassle that way.

Providing that’s where we end up, I’m already scouting for hotels and making lists. Naturally.

I am pretty sure the Tower of London will be on the to-do list. G. hasn’t been there, or not since he was a kid. I’ve been but I know I haven’t seen all there is to see. I know I’ve missed the main White Tower and armouries museum, for instance. I’ve seen the Crown Jewels and I couldn’t care if I don’t see them again. They are impressive, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t change, do they? You see them once, that’s all you need. I’ve seen them twice!

I’d also like to get tickets for a new show, Book of Mormon. We would have done that in New York but the prices were sky high and tickets hard to get. I’ve seen the London prices and though still not cheap, are more reasonable.

Now … what else? I’d like to go to Hampton Court again because I only saw a few of the highlights while on a walking tour over ten years ago. That walking tour encompassed Richmond as well as a boat ride to HC which was neat, but then by the time the guide took us around to a few highlights and we could finish on our own, it was closeish to closeing time and after a rest with a cuppa, there wasn’t really time to see much more inside the palace so I walked around in the gardens for a bit as they’re open later than the palace. So yes, that might be an option.

I was also looking at the tours offered by London Walks. That is an excellent walking tour company. I’ve taken walks with them in the past, including the all day Richmond and Hampton Court one, and I can very much recommend any of their tours. There’s a few that interest me but all of them are on Sunday morning. How to choose!!? We’ll put our heads together and try to figure out the logistics. One of them is a guided tour *of* the Tower of London with a discount on the entrance fee which is considerable. Even if we don’t do that one, and do one of the others, we could still go straight from the walking tour to the train station to get to Hampton Court and have a few hours there in the afternoon.

I was also considering Churchill’s War Rooms as somewhere that neither of us have been before. My fella is pretty pragmatic, he’ll go along with pretty much most things I suggest as well as adding his own. We like a lot of the same things so it’s not too difficult to choose things to do and see. I’m very lucky to have a partner who likes history and art and enjoys museums and galleries.

It sounds like a pricey weekend but there’s a good way to save a bit of money. I think I might have mentioned the 2for1 website before. You need a valid rail ticket and a voucher from the website and you can get into most of the main London attractions at 2 for 1 which is, of course, half price. Only certain kinds of rail tickets, however. You can’t use Oyster cards, and if you have a day travel card it has to be issued by National Rail at a train station, not the kind you would get at a tube station or out of a machine. There’s a list of what you can and can’t use here.  You can also use the links there to find out which attractions are available. They include other things like restaurants and some of the West End shows, the older ones generally,  as well. Too bad they didn’t offer half price hotels!

Anyway, that’s the list for London as it stands today. As always, it’s a moving target and we could change our minds a number of times before we firm up our plans. That’s part of the fun of travel, though, isn’t it!?


Post-Holiday Blues

Loch Maree, Scotland

Loch Maree, Scotland

Have you ever come back from a really great holiday or vacation and felt down, felt in a slump, suffering from that lingering feeling of “I want to go back”? Of course you have. Even if a vacation turned out badly or had some things happen that spoiled it or some of it, once you’re home, you can at least relive it by telling stories, turning the stress into something you can learn to laugh at or at least gain the sympathy of everyone you know!

*Touch Wood* I’ve not had disaster trips but have had some that have not turned out very well overall. Still, they all offer something to look back on and remember.

And it’s tough getting back into your normal routine when you still have hazy memories (or the scars) to remind you that you’ve been away. How do you handle having to get up at 6 a.m. to catch an early bus to work, handle getting back into the after-work workout at the gym, paying bills, buying groceries, doing housework? It sucks, doesn’t it? All you really want to do is go back to the beach, hotel, campground, tour bus, or cruise ship.  You eventually forget about the sore feet, the pickpocketed wallet, the food poisoning, the lost baggage, the flat tire. You saw wonderful things, breathed fresh air, swam with dolphins, found an amazing bargain at a market, discovered a new artist, saw the world from the top of a mountain, ate food that was strange, tasty and wonderful and watched the sunrise/sunset somewhere that wasn’t your own backyard.

You have your souvenirs, your photos, your travel blogs, your memories. You can only tell your stories to your friends and family for so long before they begin to avoid the subject. You continue to throw that little phrase “When I was in…” into conversation as often as you can. You realize that nobody cares anymore and they think you need to move on.

So be it. When is the next holiday? Start planning it. Trust me it’s the only way to get over the holiday blues. Even if you won’t be going for a few years, you can still start thinking about it, where to go, what to do.  Research is at your fingertips.  We are always looking forward to the next trip and often have already decided on the one after that, possibly the one even further out, or, at least, put a few things on a list of possibilities.

Our next trip will be a road trip around Scotland in October. We are going to do something that I have never done. We are not going to prebook any accommodation. That’s scary for an uber-organizer like me but it makes sense. We don’t necessarily want to be tied down to being in a certain location on a certain day. We want to drive the roads, explore if something takes our interest, stop and enjoy the spectacular scenery. It will be off season and though some places might be closed, there are always hotels or Bed and Breakfasts or pubs with rooms for rent. We’re making a list of things we definitely want to try to see. The rest of the things are movable targets.

As will we be.

Fab Photos – Lostwithiel

I know it’s been quiet around this blog lately. I’m just waiting on pins and needles for our New York Trip, 2 weeks from today! In the meantime, I browsed my folders to find a “fab photo” and found this first one taken from the car window as we were driving cross country to the east side of Cornwall.

Cornwall isn’t all about beaches and coves. The inland parts have rolling hills and desolate moors (Devon), farms and some nice little villages.

North Devon, England

North Devon, England

We were heading from where we were staying near Camelford to Lanhydrock House and then to the east coast to see the little fishing village of Fowey. Our host at the Inn told us about Lostwithiel and said it was a lovely little place for a stop. After we left Lanhydrock, which, by the way, is superb if you like old houses filled with lots and lots of interesting things, we went to Lostwithiel which is only a stone’s throw from there.

We found a place to park and walked along the High street and saw this old church. Looked interesting and as we came into the church yard we noticed the path was lined with shoes filled with flowers. That’s odd…

Lostwithiel Floral shoe walk

Shoes along the path at St. Bartholomew’s, Lostwithiel

We went inside the church, St. Bartholomew’s (dating to the 13th to 14th century), and discovered it was the first day of a flower festival. The church was filled with flowers and elaborate displays of flowers. Local businesses and groups each had sponsored a display of flowers which was also accompanied by various items associated with the group/business. For example, one sponsored by a pharmacy had antique microscopes and old prescription and tonic bottles.
St Bartholemews arches
The church smelled amazing, not overpowering at all. We spent a good 3/4 hour looking at all the displays. This was one of my favourites though I don’t remember who sponsored it now. The displays would be auctioned off at the end of the long weekend for charity, benefiting a hospice and also the church itself.
Lostwithiel Floral stained glass window

Lostwithiel Graham

My fella enjoying his cuppa

Outside the church in the yard, they had a table set up with coffee, tea and cakes that you could purchase, funds going towards the festival and church. The sun had come out by then so, though it was still a tad chilly, we bought some refreshments to help support the cause.
Lostwithiel church lady

Lostwithiel is in the Fowey River valley and isn’t far from the coastal town of Fowey. Just outside the town is Restormel Castle which we also visited. There is an old arched stone bridge as well, crossing the river. They believe it dates to the 13th century. There’s a detailed history of the bridge here though the web page is a bit difficult to read due to poor single spaced text.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Change and London

This week’s WordPress weekly photo challenge is “Change”. I could get all philosophical about changing your life, changing your ways, changing your look… there can be many interpretations but this is a travel blog. Today, I’m picking photos out of the vault from my favourite city of London that all illustrate change in some way.

All Hail Change! A good motto to live by. London cabs are not all black these days. They've changed!

All Hail Change! A good motto to live by. London cabs are not all black these days. They’ve changed!

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, where you change terminals and flights.

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, where you change terminals and flights.

The city of London has changed and grown considerably around St. Paul's Cathedral, and there's no end in sight.

The city of London has changed and grown considerably around St. Paul’s Cathedral, and there’s no end in sight.

London was ruled by monarchs from the Tower of London. Now it’s ruled from the London City Hall, across the river.

London from a different perspective. Looking up!

London from a different perspective. Looking up!