September 21, 2001
Leaving Truro, we headed down to The Lizard, which is the southern most point in England. The drive was beautiful and we saw many villages that we would have loved to explore if we had the time. Jean has promised us the best pasties ever and since we’ve never tried them before, Marcie and I are looking forward to it.
We left Jean to write her postcards in the car and hiked down to the shore on this spectacular sunny day. The photo of me that I use for this blog was taken there on the cliffs.
We discovered an old boathouse and lots of small fishing boats. I found a shell and we searched all around for another one to no avail. I still have it, the only shell on the boat landing at The Lizard! The rocks here are embedded in the sand like cement from so many hundreds of years of pounding against the shore.
We found the pasty shop that Jean was raving about, called oddly enough, The Lizard Pasty Shop!
They didn’t disappoint. Piping hot, flaky crust and filled with potatoes and cheese, amazing, my new favorite food. After lunch we hit the road and head for Land’s End.
Now, I suppose you need to go here if you’ve never been, but I found it too commercial. You can get your photo in front of the famous sign for a five pound note! The view from the shore was nice and there was a good bookstore there. I found a book called “Daphne DuMarier Country”, which seems to be a biography of sorts, at least of her writing. It tells about the settings for her books and how she came to write them. We didn’t hang out too long here. There were too many people and we were excited to drive through Bodmin Moor on the way to St Ives. The moors are wild and beautiful and if you have a great imagination, just a little bit scary!
The great thing about Jean having been here before is she knows these fantastic places to visit and how to navigate in and out of them the easiest way. By now Marcie and I have gotten the hang of driving here. The trick for Americans going to St Ives is to find the car park with the sign for a bus that will take you into the actual city. We found this to be true in Oxford later as well. So much easier to park this way.
St Ives is built on the side of a hill and the streets would be hard to get through, especially not knowing your way around. This town is famous in our family because of the trip that my middle daughter and her cousin took a few years ago with Gramma Jean. Their bus tour stopped here and they were having a pasty lunch down by the shore. While they were eating, a very bold seagull swooped down and stole my daughter’s pasty right out of her hand! The bus driver had to tell the story when they all got back on the road. I have visions of her face, much the same as when she was about three and a frog jumped on top of her head. The big blue eyes looking up with a completely shocked look on her face. At that time she didn’t know whether to be scared or tickled, but losing her lunch to a seagull just annoyed her!
We had an early bite to eat here and then had quite a drive to Bideford where we booked our B&B for the night at a place called The Four Winds. It was a gorgeous drive, but we arrived after dark and could not find the place. We were cussing everyone involved at the travel center and by shear luck found it. We couldn’t really stay mad for long because the host is so gracious. He looks like Steve Martin and is by coincidence also named Steve. The house is gorgeous and he tells us that he grew up there and inherited it. We had a very comfortable night and woke up to a luscious full English breakfast with sausages and beans. I spent the whole of breakfast watching the innkeeper’s sons out the dining room window. It seems that during the night the chickens escaped their enclosure, so it’s up to these two to corral them. One is about ten and his younger brother around eight. The older one is very persistent, taking boards and wire fencing and trying to get it all attached with no holes. The smaller one works half hardheartedly for about ten or fifteen minutes and then is bored with the whole ordeal and sneaks off back to the house. The older brother doesn’t give up though, he keeps at it until he’s satisfied that those darn chickens are safe inside and can’t get out again. It must have taken him an hour, but he was determined!
We couldn’t really see the outside of this wonderful home last night, arriving after dark like we did. It is a lovely large house and the front is completely covered with Virginia creeper in all the greens and reds and golds that you can imagine.
There is an interesting sculpture of a dragon in the front garden, done, we’re told by his father in-law who is an artist. It’s a little difficult to see from the photo because it turned out so light, but there it is to the right.
Steve is very helpful when we explain that we’re heading up through the Cheddar Gorge and on to Wales to the town of Hay-On-Wye, “the town of books.” The Brecon Beacons is a mountain range in South Wales and Steve happens to have a cousin that runs a B&B there so he calls her and books us a room.
On the way we stop at Glastonbury which turns out to be a very organic, spiritual, hippie like town. There are ruins of an abbey there and we go to see them and have a nice vegetarian lunch. At the time, the organic, real food movement hasn’t taken off like it has now, so this was different and unique to us. There were loads of travelers here with dread locks and crystal jewelry.
The ruins are beautiful and the site is huge, very quiet and has stunning grounds.
Of course we found an excellent bakery and were amused by the name of it, “Burns, The Baker”!
We drive on to Wales and across a fantastic bridge and are happy to find it a bit easier to drive here for us. The roads seem wider and the signs give you more time to process where you need to turn. What exquisite country this island is, we couldn’t be visiting a better place on earth!
Steve’s directions were easy to follow and we found Glyderi, our B&B for the next few days quickly. It is a large manor house with an absolutely gorgeous conservatory on the back with a view across a meadow and horse paddock. There is a walled garden here and an old greenhouse that has seen better days but is still very interesting and attractive. Jo, Steve’s cousin tells us that she inherited from an aunt and the greenhouse is circa 1930s. The rooms here are clean, attractive and comfortable. I am in love with the large bathtub in our room with a skylight above and am determined to relax in that after dinner. We decided to splurge and have the dinner that Jo offers for 20 pds. It was well worth not having to go out, but also very delicious and filling.
Tomorrow we explore castles in Wales, stay tuned….