Sunday, April 26, 2015

Upstairs (Downstairs)

There was just enough time, and I might just make it. The number 165 beckoned to me on account of having just finished seeing the newest seasons of Upstairs/Downstairs. It was all still fresh in my mind and I could not stay away.

Rosie sent a quick text: "Are you still going to Eaton Place?" I had to think: was there really enough time? Mine was an international flight that afternoon, and one really must not risk looming flights merely because of a television show. 

But it was doable so away I strode with purpose, walking down toward Belgravia. It was a picture perfect day in London, a slight breeze keeping the Springtime sunlight lovely and mild. I began to notice my surroundings. Knightsbridge, where sat Harrods department store, huge and imposing. On a different day I would certainly have dipped inside, to 'shop' (a.k.a. gawk at all their loot). Then, Belgravia where the buildings are deliciously luxurious and utterly out-of-range.

And suddenly, there was all the scenery and architecture that is Upstairs/Downstairs - Georgian, stately, flowery, upscale. A text bing-ed at me from Rosie: "Don't forget, the address is 65 Eaton Place, not 165. They added the '1' to disguise the location!"

Aha, perfect timing, Rosie! I quickly adjusted just slightly left toward 65. And there it was.

Everywhere you looked, there were the lovely and stately buildings making up Belgravia. Creamy white and scrupulously clean with posh cars parked out front. I stood, gazing. It brought back the memories of recently watching with my sister the 1971-1975 series, on Netflix (it was our way of escaping the reality of teaching middle schoolers). The new series starting in 2010 only made me more excited to see it. 

There was a lot of talk about the differences and similarities between Downton Abbey and Upstairs/Downstairs, this go around. Apparently Downton won the ratings and outlasted Upstairs (but I liked them both and didn't know why they could not coexist. Has anyone figured that out?). 

After a short few moments I began feeling conspicuous, standing outside number 65 with nothing whatsoever to do. No one else was hanging about taking photographs. The series appeared to have been utterly forgotten. So, reluctantly, I took one last snap, and moseyed away. Walked back toward Harrods and the AGA store and my own hotel 2 miles distant. 


But, for those short few moments I could remember: Mrs. Bridges the cook, scolding the maids and especially Ruby; Mr. and Mrs. Bellamy, so stately and upper class as they dealt generously with their servants (even Ruby); Rose, the faithful servant who survived from the early series to the late; and most of all Mr. Hudson, the Butler who ordered everyone's lives and kept honor in the household. Each played their part, faithfully. Even, surprisingly, Ruby.

I stood there for a moment at the front porch, imagining myself as a part of it all. Would I be Rose? Lady Bellamy? Mrs. Bridges? 

Any of them would suffice. Any, that is, but Ruby. 

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, April 25, 2015

And It Also Rained

It was a veritable whirlwind, and I am still breathless. Children and adults, friends and family - nonstop. 

For the rather stunning son appeared, and (are you ready for this? I am) he was not alone. A rare beauty came through the door with him, and I saw at once the reason for his rather stunning smile. Yay!

It was a family kind of day, complete with long walks, swimming, and the feeding of recalcitrant ducks (did any living duck actually eat bread today? Some small persons certainly did). These three small persons acted as a posse to the two wonderful young people pictured here. Wherever they two went, those three followed. They were like young gnats buzzing around the light. Popularity isn't half the word.

Perhaps the pinnacle of the day turned out to be the dinner. Unbelievable! After gathering a plethora of tasty ingredients, the lovely daughter and her brother concocted pizzas of the highest quality. It was shocking the amount of work that went into these gems! And the exciting bit was that they were cooked by the SconeLady's husband IN THE BARBECUE! Not the oven. I kept an oven heated and ready just in case the whole thing fell through. "Ah, do you think you will be needing the oven? It's hot. It's ready. No problem.."

But no one took a bit of notice notice, because the barbecue was just fine, thank you very much. I think we ate pineapple and ham, Chicken Alfredo and sausage, pepperoni and salami, and something else I can't recall. 

Oh - cheese. With children you always need cheese.

There were four pizzas, and when it was all over no one could possibly eat another bite. Complete and utter satisfaction. Have you ever cooked a pizza in a barbecue? What about in a Big Green Egg barbecue? It was our first 'go', and I thought it smashing. You must heat it high and then let it work its magic for about 7 minutes. Splendid!

They have all gone home now, including a great aunt and uncle, as well as friends and 'parents' of PUN, a distinctive doggie you have met before in this space. Someone asked why they hadn't bought along PUN. The women in the group looked shocked at such a question. One might love PUN, and perhaps appreciate his many fine qualities. 

But - bringing him along? I highly doubt it. Only a man would ask.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Child Shall Lead Them

"Do you have a ow-ee on your hand, Grandma?" said the small boy. His face wall all concern as his hand patted mine gently.

I glanced downward. "Oh, yes I suppose I do, my darling," said I. "But I'm sure it will be just fine real soon." He looked dubious, and disappeared somewhere. The 'ow-ee' had come by accident and looked worse than it actually was. But to a 3-year-old, if it was 'a ow-ee', then it was BAD. He has had many, and knows.

I was momentarily distracted, but soon felt a steady tap-tap-tapping on my leg. "Here, Grandma! Your bandaids!"

I looked at him and sure enough, there were two bandaids clutched in his hand, extended toward me. With his help, they were soon in place and his smile beamed deliciously. He has a 3-year-old's inherent faith in bandaids.

There is something about this small one that softens everyone who knows him. He notices, then acts. It is a handy quality to have around a busy home, because it lifts the hearts of the people inside. It is the sweetest thing.

If only all of the ills in this world could be healed by bandaids such as those so kindly proffered to me. Oh, wait! - maybe the sweetness and good will that motivated that small gift is the Gift itself. I can testify right now that the ow-ee felt better after such nice hands placed them on my wounds. The heart behind the hands.

As good Abe Lincoln said at his 2nd inaugural, it is the right thing to bind up one another's wounds, large and small. Whatever the quarrel, if there was one. Let it be the first response, and those who come after us will learn to do the same.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You'll Love Spinacio's

We knew about it, but hadn't the time to visit. You see, daughter-of-Rosie was there for 4 days, and made such terrific meals that we didn't really need to go anywhere to eat. Well, when it came to breakfast, we did trot up to the Norway Store for our warm croissants and chocolate twists. And then, at lunch time we quite liked grabbing a pasty. Or sometimes just a tomato-cheese baguette (doesn't that sound scrumptious? The SconeLady's mouth has just watered).

But there was one spot in St Ives that we might have liked checking out. It is an upstairs vegetarian restaurant right along the harbor front called Spinacio's. Now, ask me if I have EVER walked into a vegetarian restaurant. (Have you?). No... But this one sounded intriguing and I thought I just might.

Daughter-of-Rosie does tend to eat along those lines, and our meals during her visit were smashing and I loved them (grilled Hake and fresh roasted vegetables!). So after her visit, it seemed only right to give Spinacio's a go.

You have to go up some steep steps (granite, I think), and then look for a green door with a very friendly OPEN sign:

When you walk in, you come face to face with a very nice man in a kitchen area, whom I assumed was the Chef. He looked at me inquiringly, and asked if he could help. Eventually he was able to get me guided into the correct room, where I found several tables next to the wide windows. 

"May I please sit near one of the windows?" I asked the waitress.

"You may, but only if you think you will be finished by 7:30. I have another group coming then."

 So of course I would be done by 7:30, it was only me, and I was only having the soup. So the soup was ordered, and it was going to be Carrot and Coriander. A favorite! With fresh homemade bread, and Cornish butter. Any item with Cornish butter, and you have me. Here was my view:

View from Spinacio's Restaurant, St Ives Harbor

Right now you can't see the sea water because it is far away with the low tides. But before the soup was in front of me, the tide was beginning to creep back. And before I was finished with the meal itself, it was all the way back. When it gets moving, it is fast. Sweet.

There was actually no other patron there, so the waitress was very helpful and hovering. I assumed the clientele of this restaurant prefers to visit after dark. But it was perfect for me, being quietly left alone to think my thoughts and dream my dreams. Soon, the soup appeared:

If you have never had Carrot-Coriander soup, well, then you simply must! It was lovely. As was the bread. And the Cornish butter of course. But at the end of it, I was feeling just a bit peckish, still. 

"Have you any lovely and decadent chocolate desserts, perhaps?" I asked the friendly waitress.

"Oh yes of course! I would recommend the flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream."

The perfect choice! And here it is:

It was good, dear Readers, it really was. But it wasn't very chocolaty. It looked chocolaty. But maybe they left some useful ingredient out of it on account of it being a vegetarian restaurant and all. Anyway, I liked it well enough and the ice cream was dreamy.

So Spinacio's Vegetarian Restaurant was very nice and worth the visit. My only regret with it is that I did not take daughter-of-Rosie to it. But the story isn't over yet. Future visits still loom! And we shall try, we shall truly try. And maybe I will order the Chocolate Polenta Cake and Hot Choccy Sauce, next time. It sounds like it will be absolutely plenty 'choccy'.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rosamunde Pilcher, a Home

'Riverview House', as described in the book, COMING HOME, by Rosamunde Pilcher

For sale?! I dove at once for my cell phone, ready to call the kindly husband and make my case. But - oh dear, he would be asleep now, wouldn't he...and wouldn't it be rude to wake him..

So I will stand there, and contemplate. It is a nice house, yes, a very nice one. Tall, and stately, and surely just as nice inside. But that is not why I was so interested. It isn't just any house, dear Readers. It is HER house. The house of the lady who is the reason I came to Cornwall in the first place. Rosamunde. Pitcher. Her house.

I took down the particulars, and saw a little orange sign just below the 'for sale'. It said, in a faded lettering, 'PLOT'. I had no idea at all what they might mean by 'PLOT', and so promptly forgot it. And on we walked.

Later in the week I happened to be near the Bradley's Estate Agent office and thought that I really should go in. Even if they thought I was crazy, I should really go in. And ask.

And, I did sort of tiptoe in. A lady sat, regarding me kindly, and said, "How may we help?"

"Well, I was out at Lelant, and came across the house right next to the Lelant Railway Station. Do you know the one?"

Oh yes, she knew it. 

"And, it is for sale?" I queried.

"Oh well, no, actually madam, the house is not for sale. The PLOT is for sale."

Oh. We discussed PLOTs, and houses, and land. It turned out that the PLOT is the green grassy area just below the house, and just above the sort of hedgerow, you see. It is only a part of the land, it is not the house that is for sale.

"But why would anyone want to sell just that plot?"

The SconeLady can see herself sitting with scones in front of the fire, of a chilly evening..

It was because the house currently needs repairs, and the only way to do that is to sell part of the land. And whoever buys the plot of land will likely come and build something on it. And block out HER house.

"Does she know it used to be Rosamunde Pilcher's house???" I asked, a bit of desperation in my voice.

"No, I don't think she knows that. I did not know that until this instant."

It boggles the mind. If this were in the States there would be neon signs announcing the home of Rosamunde Pilcher. The street would probably be named after her. That house would probably be on a 'famous homes tour', with noisy buses driving past it day and night.

But this is Cornwall, dear Readers. One can actually, simply live, here. (Who knew?)

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Highly Effective

There is a lonely beach just outside the window where I slept. It is a beach that would mesmerize any wanderer, day or night, and the SconeLady was no exception. In daytime there were the surfers, running swiftly down and down to where the waves awaited them. Strangers all, they were still a sort of 'team' with one plan in mind: catch it, and stay on it for as long as possible. However cold it may be, they are never deterred.

And then there were the children, jumping in and out of the coldness of the water - in swimsuits! As I walked past in my layers and thick coat (+wool scarf and perhaps even gloves), there they would be, splashing, undaunted and bold. And the parents? BUNDLED. Sitting snuggled up at a distance. Watching with awe as their offspring immersed themselves in the freedom that is a beach.

The 'lonely' part of this beach comes in the early mornings and evenings, when the crowds drift away and the lone walker can take it all in undisturbed. This, alone, is probably what brings the SconeLady back. The ocean. Filled with change, and yet changeless. Usually I don't listen to anything whilst wandering here. It seems a waste to have an audio source disturb this peace. 

But once, accidentally, I was listening. And someone was going on about how if a famous and frightening group of people (unnamed here) would only read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, they might stop their evilness. This brought me up a bit, and I kept listening in spite of myself. The idea was that if they would only 'Think win-win', 'Seek first to understand, then to be understood', and 'synergize' (work together with others and be nice), their badness could become goodness. I was astonished. WHY hadn't someone THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE?? Just tell abductors and murderers to 'be nice', 'work with others', and be understanding, and they will!

I switched it all off, and gazed out. A walker strode along with his dog. It was a Golden Retriever, heeling faithfully and wagging his doggy tail to beat the band. The whole idea of learning a list of 7 different habits in order to be effective was suddenly exhausting. I strolled, praying, and thought of how perhaps the Ten Commandments might be of more use here. Starting with 'you shall have no other gods before me', that list pretty much says it all.

Much more sensible.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Monday, April 20, 2015

London? Paddington? Shaftesbury!

Just friendly advice

An excellent idea for anyone who is coming from or going to Cornwall is to stay someplace near to Paddington Station. This I did, which helped me to enjoy London rather than staying out at the airport. Staying out at the airport is something I do not think I will EVER DO AGAIN. It is complicated getting to the airport hotel, and then once you are there you are STUCK there. Until time to be carted off to the airport, kicking and screaming.

Therefore, I looked up and found a spot my sister and I had stayed in before: The Shaftesbury Premier London Paddington Hotel! It sits within .2 miles of Paddington Station. This is very handy, dear Readers, because the train from Cornwall takes you straight to Paddington. And from Paddington, the next day (or any day) you can quickly get to Heathrow by taking the Heathrow Express, a 15 minute train ride, no stops. It is brilliant. And that is why the Shaftesbury Premier London Paddington Hotel will be my destination from now on.

The following will give you some idea of what I did with the half day I was able to wander around London, after having left St Ives:

The SconeLady says goodbye to St Ives

Darling train arrives to carry me off once again

Hot Cornish Pasty on the train! St Ives Bakery does it best

On departure morning, time to visit film location for Upstairs/Downstairs

Walking through Hyde Park, stumbling upon Peter Pan

The Serpentine, Hyde Park

Altogether awesome! I highly recommend it!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady