Thursday, 23 February 2012

Our last day in Cornwall

Today we thought we’d head west and visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan.  We went the scenic way and took the Bodinnick ferry across to Fowey for a quick look round.  As usual, the place was full of high priced clothing shops and tourist “items”!  The main square was full of contractors vehicles and cranes and so gave us no chance of a decent photo.


The view towards Fowey from the ferry.

We moved on towards St Austell and took a detour down to Charlestown where we have always enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of the old place.  This time was no exception and we were treated to three tall ships in port.  We enjoyed a cup of coffee and a piece of Doug’s birthday cake – and imagined we were on the set of the Onedin Line………


… what a scene!

We motored on to the Lost Gardens of Heligan as James was eager to see the changes since his first visit in about 1995.  At that time they were only a few years into the restoration since its discovery in 1990 when the whole garden had been overgrown and almost lost.  The gardens are now fully restored, of course, and we enjoyed a really nice, out of season, quiet walk round.


Lemons growing in one of the many specialised greenhouses.


Another Victorian green house which is virtually original.  It has been imported from another large country house garden and reassembled and restored.


A walk through the woods and we came across the ‘Mud Maid’

Back in its Victorian heyday Heligan had a fantastic “jungle” which filled a valley on the estate and, because of the mild climate, they were able to grow tropical trees and shrubs.  All this has been lovingly restored over the last twenty years and the atmosphere is really interesting.


A jungle view.


Another jungle view!

Our last ‘port of call’ was Mevagissey.  It has a very nice harbour but the shops were generally full of the most appalling tat.  However, we had a nice relaxing drink in one of the pubs before making our way home.  Our last full day and another thoroughly enjoyed – the weather was very warm, if a little overcast.  A change from yesterday when it rained most of the day.  We’re not complaining though as this week has been really great.


Mevagissey harbour.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Happy Birthday Doug!

After opening numerous presents this morning Doug was ready for today’s adventures.  Within an hour of leaving our little cottage we were in Padstow – we quite like Padstow (and the Cornish north coast in general).  Having said that the shops are now full of high priced clothes and tourist tat but there are some lovely walks along the River Camel estuary especially on the sands when the tide is out.


Looking across the very wide Camel estuary to the very over priced village of Rock.  In the dunes to the left of Rock is the little church of St Enodoc,  Trebetherick where the poet laureate Sir John Betjeman is buried.


The outer harbour at Padstow with tide out – very muddy!


The inner harbour – not so muddy!


We wandered around some of the back streets (giving Oscar a reasonable walk) and found this delightful mews of Alms houses built in 1875.

After a little more walking we decided on where would eat (Oscar having to be allowed in as well!) – so we had a very nice lunch at the Harbour Inn.


Here’s the birthday boy after lunch.  The big coat seems to suggest it was cold today but we’ve had temperatures of 10 degrees – very lucky.

After lunch a thick drizzle came down the estuary so we decided to motor on to another old haunt of ours – Port Isaac (where Doc Martin is filmed).  Like so many of the lovely old fishing villages of Cornwall, this one has succumbed to the dreaded “holiday home” blight and is now virtually a museum piece. 


The is the view across the natural harbour of Port Isaac.  The white house on the right is one we rented for a holiday about 10 years ago.  It is perched on the rock edge and felt very much as though we were in mid air as we looked out across the water.  The small cottage to the left of “our” white house is Doc Martins’ surgery in the TV series.


A view showing the harbour and old village.  Much of the old village has only very narrow streets and alleyways and anything big has to lugged by hand to the houses………..


Here is James (looking very worried for no reason!) about to walk down the narrowest “street” in the village.


A last picture of birthday boy.  We had another great day today!

Monday, 20 February 2012

A visit to the Rame Peninsula

We’ve had a great day on the Rame Peninsular which is just to the west of Plymouth.  We first visited the very picturesque twin villages of Cawsand and Kingsand which are delightful but sadly they are deserted during the winter months as most properties are holiday homes or lets and the heart of the community now seems all but lost.

The villages look out over the dramatic backdrop of Plymouth Sound where there are regular passages of naval vessels.


Doug and Oscar on the beach at Kingsand.


The main street Kingsand in the rush hour!


The British Navy arrived in Plymouth Sound while we were there!  This is HMS Diamond a new “stealth” destroyer. We left Kingsand and Cawsand and headed west on to Rame Head, stopping to have a look inside Rame Church.  Very much a typical Cornish church – tucked down below ground level!



Just one picture of the inside of the church.  There’s no electrical power to the building so each pew has a candle holder and the organ has to be pumped by hand.  Later we spoke to a lady who was manning the Coastguard station who said that at services held during the winter months the only person who was warm was the one who pumped the organ!

When we got to Rame Head we decided to do a bit of geocaching and we eventually found our”cache” in a wall near to the coastguard station.  In the background is a field of daffodils almost ready for cropping.


Doug with his “treasure”.


Here’s Doug pointing out the the location of the Eddystone lighthouse, eight miles out, which we could see quite clearly but hasn’t appeared on the photo – sorry!  In the background is a 14th century chapel on the highest point of Rame Head.  It was originally painted white to serve as simple lighthouse and it was from here, in 1588, that the arrival of the Spanish Armada was signalled to the English Fleet in Plymouth Sound.  Further to the right, by courtesy of the people in the coastguard station who allowed us to use their super powerful binoculars, we watched a new £10 million pound yacht going through it’s sea trials.


The Rame Peninsular is really the start of Cornwall’s dramatic coastline and is stunningly wild and beautiful.  We had a great day!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A week in Cornwall

On Friday we travelled down to Cornwall for a week.  We are here to join our friends Ian and Yvonne and their family to celebrate Yvonne’s birthday on Sunday and Doug’s birthday on Tuesday.  We are staying just outside Looe at a cottage in Morval.


This is our little cottage for the week – sleeps two – very cosy.

We had a quick excursion out to Looe and Polperro on Saturday – this brings back some distant memories for James who had a holiday cottage near here a long time ago.  The weather was a bit damp as we did our bit of sight seeing around Polperro and, as the weather turned even damper, we hunkered down in one of the pubs for a spot of lunch.  The open fire was a great treat!


James on the slip at Polperro harbour.  A typical little Cornish harbour village with very picturesque cottages and tiny, narrow streets – and it’s even nicer out of season!


A view out to sea from the natural harbour entrance at Polperro.

The coast road out of  West Looe takes you to a dead end at Hannafore Point.  It’s a very quiet area with a few very nice houses and a view across to St George’s Island.  With the tide out you can explore a large area of rocks and rock pools and, although the island might look very close, you still need a boat to get there!


The sun was very bright, hence the dark picture – this is Doug and Oscar enjoying the rock pools.  The island used to be owned by two ladies (sisters) who used to pack off some of the earliest daffodils of the season to the London markets.  The island, with just one house on it, is now held in trust to keep it in it’s natural state. 


Looking from the island towards the mainland the small community of Hannafore enjoys a fantastic position facing south towards the island, with the hills behind shielding them from north winds.  Very nice!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

An Icy Check on ‘Chance’

Yesterday we went up to Brinklow Marina to check on ‘Chance’.   As it’s been a few weeks of cold weather since we were last there and thought we’d go back to check that things were ok – especially to make sure the heating has been working properly on the frost – stat setting.  This was the scene when we first arrived…………….


….’Chance’ beautifully preserved in ice!

The heating had been working well and everything seemed to be fine.  James checked the glow plug on the Mikuni boiler and it was as clean as a whistle.  We also got the part numbers from the various engine drive belts so that we can order spares for this year’s cruising.  James popped down to Brinklow village for fish and chips at lunchtime……..


… and we ate them in the relative comfort of 5 degrees C! inside ‘Chance’.

We left after lunch to travel the 30 miles to our builders (MGM Boats) at Thurmaston, Leicester.  As we were “up north” it was nice to catch up with them and to see their latest boat taking shape and destined for this years’ Crick show.

We left MGM and headed south to Faringdon where we stayed with youngest daughter Frances (and Kel) for the night.

Today dawned bright and cold and we headed towards Newbury where needed to do some shopping.  It was too cold to leave Oscar in the car for long so we quickly shopped and then took him for a walk along the canal.


Here he is, wrapped up against the cold, with the lovely old cottages of Newbury Wharf in the back ground.  This is actually the River Kennet here and, due to the low rainfall this last summer, it is running extremely slowly ( but still fast enough not to freeze).


A walk along the towpath in the Aldermaston area, by chance, we came upon nb ‘No Problem’.  Sadly, fellow bloggers, Sue and Vic were not on board – sorry we missed you, it would have nice to have met you both at last!

We headed further towards Aldermaston Wharf and briefly met up with Tom and Jan on nb ‘ Waiouru’  and check on their progress.  The boat looks much, much better now that Tom has put on the undercoat and blacking.  We found Tom on board working in sub zero temperatures.  10 out of 10 Tom!

The bitter cold had taken it’s toll by now and we got back into the car for a nice warm trip back to West Sussex.