Thursday, 9 April 2009

Cornwall highlights

From arriving here last Saturday, we've actually accomplished quite a lot. The weather on Saturday and Sunday was really good and we simply sat around and read and enjoyed the good weather. (Written while in Cornwall. The later part of this posting was completed retrospectively from home - in case the change in the verb tense used causes any confusion!)

Monday, on the other hand, quite suddenly became atrocious as regards the weather, with torrential rain and wind. We postponed our visit to the Eden Project and visited St Ives, which is a typical coastal Cornish village. The sloping town is full of the narrowest winding streets that you can imagine lined with small shops of varying descriptions. Cars and other vehicles compete in managing to get up or down the streets, with pedestrians squashing themselves against the buildings or ducking into doorways to allow the vehicles to pass without causing injury. It's a bit precarious. The first things Susie did was to go into a charity shop and buy an umbrella and one of those all encompassing waterproof smocks (the type of thing that cyclists used to wear before they became all 'lycrafied'). I'll say no more about it except that I don't think it will catch on as a fashion item.

We had fish and chips in the upstairs of a takeaway shop, which was very nice, promptly served and very fattening, then headed back to the guest house.

Tuesday, we went to the Eden Project. This is a feature well worth visiting. It's quite expensive to get in (£16), but, if you like plants flowers and general nature things, then it's for you. It's built in the crater of an obsolete quarry. Several 'biomes' have been constructed which house plants and trees in mimicked 'natural' conditions. There, for example, is a 'temperate' biome as well as a 'tropical', etc.

It really is a phenomenal achievement. There are outside displays as well as those indoors. Beautiful flowers and plants, information on Nature as well as conservation and recycling. There are several coffee and eating places and a gift shop. We never had to queue and our ticket lasts for a year, so, if we were here again we could get in for free. It's a full day at the Eden Project and we were ready for a good rest on our return to the guest house.
Click on any of the pictures to see 'full size'

Wednesday, we went to the Minack Theatre, which is an open air amphitheatre, we first visited when we were first in Cornwall two or three years ago. This was the highlight of our visit. It was built by one lady in particular (Rowena Cade 1893 - 1983, read about her here), who saw this particular piece of coastline and thought it resembled an old fashioned amphitheater. She then set about building it, and it's grown since then to the remarkable size it is today. Both times we've visited the weather has been stunning, with sunshine blazing down upon the water giving and providing us with a lovely experience and the opportunity of taking good photos!
In this photo, you look down at the theatre stage from way up high just behind the back 'row'. This picture shows just how close to the sea and how stunning the location is.

Susie sat and read for ages in one of the 'boxes' (again built into the rock) and I sat about five rows back in a seat literally carved into the rock. I quite happily sat and gazed at the waves and got lost in my own thoughts.

This photo was taken from where I was sitting and shows some of the permanent on-stage 'set'. Looking carefully, you can just see part of the 'box' that Susie was sitting in reading on the left. Obviously, both times we've been here there have been no productions on - as we've visited during the day and the performances are on at night, but you can imagine (weather permitting) how dramatic these productions would be - having a backdrop that most producers could only dream of.

At the top of the Minack Theatre there is a tea room/cafe, in which we felt obliged to partake of scones, jam and coffee. I don't think I've ever been in a cafe with a more dramatic setting. It's literally on the clifftop with windows overlooking the water and adjacent beach.

There is an 'inside' part and an outdoor area where I took this photo of Susie, which I don't mind saying is pretty good!

I'm proud of this photo as I've got one of those 'point and shoot' idiot-proof cameras and nothing fancy, and I still managed to do this one quite nicely!

There are two places in England that we both really like: one is the Minack Theatre and the other is St Peter's on the Wall, which is the oldest standing Church in Britain. I think it's 7th century, built by St Cedd in Essex. When you sit in it for a few moments you can feel the holy atmosphere draw close. It really is a gateway into heaven. Perhaps more about that another time.
Thursday, was a bit wet and windy in Cornwall, so we did go out for a coffee to a little town called St Agnes (to a strange little tea room that had a collection of teacups suspended from the ceiling - probably in excess of a thousand - and a notice reminded patrons that tap water would only be provided for customers taking medication). After that, we went back to the B&B and had a restful day reading and dozing!

Friday, we packed up in the morning as we were going home later on that day, took a run to Bodmin, where we visited Shire Hall, which is actually a court house (I think still in use) cum museum. There are displays explaining law and punishment over the ages, and has evidence on show from a murder trial following the death of Charlotte Dymond in 1844, and also a photograph of a man in village stocks in 1870 - the last year that they were used.

Shire Hall, Bodmin.

The location of the trial of Matthew Weeks, following the murder of Charlotte Dymond in 1844.

Later on Friday, we checked in for our flight home to Glasgow. We flew both ways with Air Southwest, which I had never heard of before. We flew in a Dash 8 aeroplane, twin turboprop, with wide leather seats and lots of legroom! It was noisy, but very comfortable.

We landed back in Glasgow about 4.30pm, headed home and after a very quick turnaround, drove to Greenock for the start of our Church Easter Conference, which I'll talk about next!

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