Cornwall Cogitation, zipping A to Z

Post 21/2022 Saturday 21 May . . . We’re home again in Indiana. Travel went well until our connecting flight from Atlanta, Georgia to South Bend, Indiana, was canceled. Instead of departing for South Bend at 9:15pm as scheduled, by midnight we were told our flight would depart at 6:45am. Now what?

Carbis Bay beach, Atlantic tide, endless sky. One of the settings we left behind.

Our travel from Carbis Bay, Cornwall, started Sunday morning with Lynne Brereton graciously taking us to the St Erth train station for the five-and-a-half-hour journey to London Paddington, then a ten-minute walk to the Darlington Hyde Park Hotel to drop off our bags and head to Heathrow Airport for our Fit-to-Fly Covid tests (Heathrow because there was no availability to have the test done at Paddington). After the reassuring fit-to-fly results, we were off to Ask Italian for dinner and then turned in for the night.

The flight to Atlanta went well. Since we had a long layover there, we walked to our boarding gate rather than taking the train. Then the hitch. The pilots and crew on the late arriving plane we were to take to South Bend had obviously met their flying time limit–we saw them leave the plane with their bags. Midnight. No crew. Help desk closed. Only a lone gate agent to take care of matters.

About two dozen of us lined up for a food voucher, stayed calm, let the dilemma sink in, and then scattered to find an armrest-free row of seats or floorspace to stretch out for the rest of the night. I’m all for slow travel, but not the really-stuck-in-place variety.

Next day in South Bend we were met by Gwen Preheim-Bartel for the ride home. Enduring thanks, Gwen.

We received an apology from the airline with extra travel points for the inconvenience caused. The rising number of travelers means airlines are scrambling to secure enough staff.

The hitch made me think about the levels of distress one can face in such circumstances–home contacts, onward schedule, medicine, toiletries, change of clothes, etc. Best thing to do, I surmised, is to see one’s dilemma alongside that of others in the same pickle and make the best of it. We had companionable and commiserating chats with a few co-travelers–and filled out the evaluation survey.

Zipping A to Z with Cornwall highlights

We’re home, safe and sound, slowly connecting with the local scene. It’s time to note some of the people, places, pursuits and potages that were, or have been, part of our three-monthlong winter/spring stay in Carbis Bay / St Ives, Cornwall. If the pictures betray a heavy focus on food, you might like to know we’re going easy on meals at home right now. Good to be home. Good to recap our travels. Good, good, good.

Artists. We visited the Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance to view the 25-year retrospective exhibition, Jewels in the Crown. The displays ranged from paintings and social history to archaeological artefacts and photographs. The area offers other famed galleries, studios, sculpture garden, potteries, museums and stage venues. You get a rich feast of the arts in Cornwall.

Becks. It is our favorite fish restaurant, situated right along the main St Ives Road near the edge of Carbis Bay. In winter, you are greeted in the bar lobby by a real fire in the fireplace. Always by a smiling, efficient hostess. Sumptuous food. Community meeting place. Open Friday and Saturday.

A dinner plate of fish, half chips, half salad at Becks.

Cream tea. The Cornish cream tea includes a scone which you cut in half, strawberry jam which you spread on your scone halves, and clotted cream which you slather on top. Woe betides the person who reverses the order of jam and cream as is the practice in neighboring Devon. I speak softly in saying I enjoy a cream tea either way.

Daffodils. Grown commercially and profusely in gardens and in the wild.

Evaluation. Being back in Cornwall after a two-year absence felt good. Wonderful, in fact. We maintained a closer-in routine, only occasionally venturing further afield. Covid-19 and its variants were still present. We’re grateful to have missed a visitation from Covid–even as we missed the larger group festivals. Given the number of visitors to the area we saw a marked, though still fraught, return to normality. We basked in the joy of reunion with friends and acquaintances, sorry that we didn’t get to make the rounds with a few. We put on our boots and walked on paths old and new, covering 480 miles in the three months.

Footpaths. Footpaths took us along the coast and over land, through villages and areas of outstanding natural beauty rife with ancient sites and the remains of the mining industry. Footpaths are what first took us to Cornwall. Add to that the friends and acquaintances we’ve made, and you can imagine how strong is the call to return. We were connected. Car-free. Had old and new areas to explore. We were home from home, steps from supermarket, church, restaurants, minutes from a variety of footpaths.

Gardens. Home gardens, National Trust and English Heritage gardens, private estate gardens, community gardens, wild growth across varied landscapes all converge to dazzle the senses. Thank you to Steve and Marilyn Bowden who took us to visit three of the National Trust gardens.

Hepworth, Barbara. One of the late artists whose sculpture dots the area and whose sculpture garden/studio museum is a prize enclave in St Ives.

Isles of Sicily. We visited these Isles some years ago. They’re part of the Cornwall administrative entity. Enchanting.

Jelberts. Homemade ice cream in Newlyn. Vanilla is the only flavor. And what a creamy treat it is. We managed to get a dish on the way back from a last week walk to Mousehole (Mow-zle).

King Harry Ferry. The ferry is the best way, short of swimming, to travel across the Fal river between Truro and Falmouth, saving a 40-mile drive by road. Our first crossing some years ago was as walk-ons, over and back, just to claim we had ridden the King Harry. We later crossed by car when friends took us to see the lovely St Just-in-Roseland Church and St Mawes. It’s a chain ferry and takes 10 minutes to cross. The ferry is probably named after King Henry IV. His wife, Queen Anne, could have her name added to make it the King Harry and Queen Anne Ferry. Not likely, since the origin of the name is a bit lost in the mists of time. We saw the ferry this year through the trees at Trelissick National Trust Gardens.

Lost Gardens of Heligan. One of our favorites. Reclaimed from the brambles, vines, and bushes that hid the estate when the team that cared for the site was called to fight in WW I and did not return.

My love, my luv. A British term of endearment, common expression in a shop, restaurant or among friends. Also, “My duck,” thought to be a mutation of the word “duke,” and not a reference to a quacking duck.

National Trust. Conserver of many estates, gardens, and large land areas.

Obadiah Hicks. I was intrigued by the Old Testament name of this late farmer who once worked the fields that included an ancient footpath, we could access via a stile less than a minute from our chalet. His father was also named Obadiah and I think his mother was named Bethsheba. I’m waiting for more information from the St Ives Archive Research Centre. The Hicks genealogy runs deep in the Isles of Sicily.

Pasties. A Cornish staple, with several varieties. Main one includes beef chunks, potato, rutabaga folded into a pastry crust. It was the meal miners took to work and ate holding onto the thicker crimped edge which they tossed to prevent being poisoned by arsenic or lead on their hands. Pasties do make you think about the life of Cornish tin and copper miners in the 19th and early 20th century and their dispersion to many parts of the world when the mines closed.

Quick, John. He was two years old when his family in 1854 migrated to Australia. He was born in the parish of Towednack near St Ives. We’ve often walked through the farm on the miners, or church, path from St Ives to Zennor. There’s a plaque on the main house about John’s prominent role in the movement for Federation and the drafting of the Australian constitution. He was a member of the Australian Parliament for Bendigo, in office 1901-1913. We did the six-mile walk from St Ives to Zennor once this year, taking the bus back following lunch at the Tinners Arms. How sweet it would be to be able to visit Australia, a slow rather than a quick trip.

Rowena Cade. Artist and builder, who created the open-air Minack Theatre at Porthcurno. She was born 1893, moved to Cornwall in the 1920s, died 1983. The theatre is carved into the granite cliff overlooking the English Channel. She and a few helpers used hand tools to shape the theatre. This note from Philip Johnston in The Telegraph (2013): “…all who go there should look around, and remember the extraordinary woman who almost single-handedly fashioned this marvel from the cliff-face.” We have yet to attend a production, though years ago we visited the theatre while walking the coastal path.

St Michaels Mount. A rich history all its own, though shared with Mont-Saint-Michel (the latter an abbey on a tidal island between Normandy and Brittany, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel} across the channel in France. Worth looking up online. We walked from Carbis Bay to Marazion once this year (12 miles) and several times from Ludgvan, including a walk on the causeway to the Mount when the tide was out.

St Michaels Mount, accessible by foot on the causeway when the tide is out.

Tin. Mining for tin and copper put Cornwall on the map from ancient times to the industry’s heigh day in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Engine houses, their pumping and crushing engines invented and manufactured in Cornwall, dot the countryside.

Telegraphy. The Museum of Global Communications at Porthcurno tells a fascinating story, one we have yet to visit in person. It is the site of the first undersea telegraph cable that connected Britain to India in 1870 and later to other parts of the British Empire. Telegraphy operations ceased in 1970 and have been replaced optical fibre communication systems. Currently six fibre optic cables come ashore in the Porthcurno area.

Unstated. There is so much I haven’t covered in this brief summary. So be it. May this partial picture convey our sense of gratitude for the welcome we received, the wellness we were able to nurture, the fun we had, the sorrows and losses we were privileged to share among friends and people in the wider world, and the strength we found in worship services, Lenten study, and a wide set of interactions.

Villages. Cornwall incorporates many villages and hamlets, reflecting the places where miners lived and worked, going to work on foot. The issue today is that many homes in these villages are being bought and used as second homes–empty much of the year creating a loss of community and dirth of affordable housing for local people.

Weather. Invariably an engaging topic of conversation.

xx. It could represent the Roman numeral for 20 (but the Romans had little presence in ancient Cornwall), or the xx Dos Equis brand of Mexican beer (available in Cornwall, I think), or anything else, but here it refers to the symbol of kisses at the end of a text or email or letter. It’s a friendly sign-off to whatever one has had to communicate. Nice touch.

Yvonne Cons. A friend we first met at St Anta church. Yvonne not so long ago was a regular walker with the West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society and on occasion in times past gave us a ride to the starting point of the weekly walk. Yvonne is no longer able to walk long distances, but she is long on good nature, warm greeting, plant lover, care of others. She served as the local postmistress. xx Yvonne.

Zennor. We walked the six-mile-long field path from St Ives to this hamlet with a church, pub, a few houses, and surrounding farms. The route once had 60 stiles to cross, thankfully, their number has decreased, though a few wet areas remain. Lovely, lovely walk over fields sandwiched between moors and sea.

In sum

There you have it, a quick account of some of the people, places, pursuits and potages that enriched our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits in Cornwall 2022.

Our anniversary dinner at La Casita in Carbis Bay came complete with a bit of fireworks on the cake.
Dinner at Ask Italian, near Paddington Station in London, following our Fit-to-Fly Covid test.

Seeing people in person surely enriched our time away. I like this quip by the Bishop of Exeter in a gathering of 300 priests and church members from across Devon. The Bishop, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell, said how glad he was to finally see all the clergy gathered together in person rather than “across a crowded Zoom.” The bishop deserves a Cornish cream tea.

“The Lord bless you and keep you . . . the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24, 26.

xx

-John

14 thoughts on “Cornwall Cogitation, zipping A to Z

  1. Welcome home, John & Marty! We are looking forward to having dinner together on Friday at Essenhaus! Obadiah Hicks was very likely a Quaker.

    Monty ________________________________

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    1. Thanks, Monty. Looking forward to a chaw and “chew” fest at Essenhaus. Hope to hear more about Obadiah, may well have been a Quaker.

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  2. Sounds like a wonderful three months John and a great place to visit. I enjoyed your recap very much.

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    1. Thanks, Marlene. Home sweet home. There’s an Oregon connection in part of that name. Sweet to be home.

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