Saturday, June 26, 2010

Part V - 1st Time European Travel - Impressions (Cornwall Part II)

My morning began with the sound of birds, seagulls to be exact, and not just the occasional seagull, but a damn convention of them. Now keep in mind that at this time I was still unaware that the window was open, I was plenty warm thanks to the extra comforter.

Contrary to my good-natured friends, who found it quite amusing that I would be surprised by seagull chatter near the ocean, I am well aware that they are the predominate majority species of bird for the area. It still doesn't change the fact that I didn't ask them for a wake up call! If you want an example of how loud they were, go rent Hitchcock's classic "The Birds", and take the scene from where the kids were running from the seagulls, and then amplify the seagulls cries by a factor of three.

Oh well, just so long as my suffering provided some small measure of comfort, and entertainment to my traveling companions who'd actually had a far worse first night than I...

Breakfast was served, I had ordered...yes the favored English breakfast. It was tasty...but I must say I found the sausage (local & farm raised) to have an odd flavor. So with food out of the way, two of us headed off for a walk towards St. Michael's Mount. We'd already determined that there would be no actual visit as it was still closed for the season. Still, I thought it would be nice to try and walk to Marazion, a small coastal town directly across from the island. It can be done, and I would have done it too, but it's 3.4 miles and we were supposed to be visiting a friend in St. Ives that day, so we went...a third of the way?

It was a nice walk, though a bit cold...there was a breeze and with the typical early morning seaside overcast. I did manage to take a few pictures before the batteries in the camera died...

This was a shot of...the Jubilee Pool, very popular in the summer...but closed now... :(

Here's the Penzance WWI memorial and a picture of an old coast guard house, apparently never used but made for a nice pic. :)

This was looking back at Penzance as we headed toward Marazion.

And lastly our unreachable goal just before my friend declared that we'd better head back if we were going to make it to St. Ives on time.

So, swearing to one day to return and to give the Mount it's proper due, we turned and headed back. Trekking up Jew Street, where I caught my first glimpse of real life in the thriving little town.

Keep in mind that this was still early in the day and of course we are not yet into the typical tourist season that Penzance has come to depend on. There were a lot of nice little shops that I was just sure my mother could easily kill an entire week to explore, and oh look...a jewelry store...yeah she could spend a good hour or three in there alone...

Of course my favorite shops were the bookstores and the cafe's with their wares shamelessly displayed in glass cases for everyone to stare at...

At some point we turned left heading down Morab Street and back in the direction of the Warwick House. I'm never quite certain why, but it seems that every sea side village that I've ever visited always seems to be a haven for artists. Proof positive as we walked past the old Penzance Public Library and School of Art...

Seeing this place and others like it always reminds me of my grandmother, these little towns with their artist colonies were her bread and butter, she would have loved Penzance. Further down Morab street, we took a quick look at the Penlee House Gallery and Museum, well the grounds, which were beautiful. This looked like a place I would want to revisit in the future, but all I had time to do was take a few quick pictures.

"Penlee House, Penzance, is the only Cornish public gallery specialising in the Newlyn School artists (c.1880 - c.1940) including Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes, Walter Langley, Harold Harvey and Laura Knight."

The garden was lovely but we had to get back quickly by this time as we still had yet to call for our cab. Having returned to the Warwick House, with the taxi on it's way we had just enough time to freshen up before Stuart arrived in his trusty cab. And so we were off...on our journey to St. Ives.

With a deft hand, our man at the wheel did navigate us beyond the village and into the rolling hills beyond, promising to provide us with the most scenic of routs possible. He did not disappoint...
Stuart knew these roads like the back of his hand, and wasn't afraid to admit it. Lived in Penzance all of his life, and with nary a thought of ever leaving it. Course that didn't stop him from marrying a fine Tattler Girl from the big city, way to go Stuart! :)

At some point early into our journey Stuart pulled over at a spot he knew we'd want to take pictures from, it was fantastic!
Back into the car and we were off again, next stop St. Ives... there it is just over on the left, but first we must meet up with our friend and local who's going to give us the grand tour.
Now without giving too much away about our friend, he wasn't someone I knew before this but a friend of one of my traveling companions. They met in London many years ago, they both had a common love of art and theater.

Most interestingly, is his mothers history as a well known puppeteer. The two of them had been working on a new project, the remains of which were all about the house and simply demanded an explanation. In an ode to the English language nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, the two of them have done a little rendition of their own. The pieces are fantastically crafted, and the story line from the rough cut that we were given a screening of, was charming. So of course we took lots of pictures! :)

Sorry no video available, but perhaps we can talk them into providing us with a clip of high-lights or perhaps a video trailer? Stay tuned. Powered up on chocolates and tea provided by our gracious host, we set out on our grand tour of St. Ives...
Our journey took us north along St. Ives Road, where we took a right on Pannier Lane towards the sea. After a bit of a gloomy morning, the day was really shaping up to be quite spectacular. Our guide was leading us to a lovely little path called the Hain Walk, that runs parallel to the coastal train tracks and offers a fantastically serene view of the coast.

This path can be a little precarious at times, with a few steep slopes and loose gravel, so wear your sturdy shoes. Trust me though, the views are well worth the effort!

There were really nice homes nestled along the way, and you could not help but feel extremely envious of the folks who lived in them.

Here's something that I thought was uniquely British, I was resoundingly corrected on this assumption by my fellow travel companions. Apparently this sort of thing is done in the States too, I'd just never seen it done. As we were traveling down this lovely section of the walk, we came upon a row of small stone buildings, at the end of which was a little hutch containing chicken eggs. It's all based on the honor system, note the little change jar in the corner.

Everywhere you looked along the way, there were pretty things to look at...

Finally in the distance we could see our destination...

St. Ives (old city) came into view and it was truly beautiful. Oddly it was more like looking at a Mediterranean fishing village, and not the Cornish coast of England. The water was this lovely shade of green against white sand beaches, coupled with the mortar and stone buildings of the village, it could have been a village on the Med.

More to come...

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