Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You Can Always Count On BBC ONE


Once again, I have come to the conclusion that the Brits do it best.

One thing they are doing best (in my opinion) is the creation of fun and unique television. There are series galore! I personally know scads of Americans who scour the airwaves for British TV series, and when they finish one they start scratching around for another. A scary moment happens when they fear they have finally come to the LAST SERIES EVER. But it really never is the last series, because those Brits come along and produce another, just in time. It's like clockwork.

The series I am looking at right now is not a murder mystery (they do these extremely well) or a legal treatise (also superb). It is, in fact, called Escape To The Country. Brilliant!

Escape To The Country is just the way it sounds: A handsome or beautiful host gives a couple the opportunity to view 3 properties in the countryside that they might wish to choose from, thereby escaping to the country. Since the entire countryside of England is gorgeous, true Anglophiles tend to fall in love with almost all of the properties and wish they could be on the show. I wish I could be on the show. But since I can't be on the show I do the next best thing. I go there.

In fact, in a matter of weeks I shall be there! So when I found out today that there are several episodes of Escape To The Country, Cornwall available, I immediately started binge-watching them. They are so sweet! One of my personal favorites can be found by clicking here because it features my particularly favorite end of Cornwall, St Michael's Mount, just a few miles from St Ives. You will love ALL the scenery and will immediately want to go there.


And just wait till you see the very amiable husband on this episode. He is calm, and kind, and everything his wife forgets to be - until she sees him being it. And then she becomes calm, and kind, and settled. It is the sweetest thing. Just the effect people should all have on one another, rather than getting grumpy. Getting grumpy gets others grumpy back. And that, my dear Readers, is never sweet.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39103588@N00/207491152">PICT0080</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30409117@N07/6090786112">The Haven</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

Monday, August 31, 2015



Grandma had been gone the day before, off on her Metrolink excursion, and so they were especially eager and sweet. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to sit next to her. 

One might have thought I had been gone for years.

It was a good day for lots of visiting. There was Church, during which each of them sang songs, and heard Bible stories, and made a Craft. They excitedly showed me their Crafts after squealing when I came round the corner, "Grandma! You CAME!" 

It had been arranged that Grandma and Grandpa, after Church, would escort the children off to the local iHop. They had already had a breakfast so I suppose this would be called 'second breakfast', or perhaps even 'elevensies'. The children simply love iHop. The eldest once called it 'MyHop', I think because of the appreciation he has for their kids menu. There is just so much to choose from, and they don't fuss at children about squirming, and they give each child a floating balloon as they leave. What's not to like? We perused our menus, taking our time to decide just which morsel would suit us best. Then the nice lady came and took our order which was altered a few times during the telling, but eventually everybody had it figured out. Then while we waited for our food and drank our drinks, we looked at Grandma's phone pictures and laughed at them. There were lots of silly photos of blond people making silly faces into the camera, and these were apparently hilariously funny. More hilariously funny photographs were taken and laughed at, until the nice lady came back and gave us all our food.

Silence reigned for a time, and all was right with the world. Lovely behavior fairly poured out of them, and in the end (you will find this surprising), NOBODY SPILLED. The iHop staff smiled at them and handed each a floating balloon on their way out. You've gotta hand it to iHop. They've got this thing down.

We all piled back into the van, clutching tightly to our floating balloons, and Grandpa took us all home. As we were getting out of the car, the 5 year old took my hand and whispered in my ear, "Grandma? Are you a Christian?"

I smiled, and bent down to place my hand on her shoulder. "Yes, my darling girl - I am."

She suddenly hugged me and did not stop hugging me for a space of time. And then, "I knew it! I am SOOOOO glad!" 

Hand in hand we walked into the house, chummily talking about her little thoughts and concerns as if we were the best of friends. However many years there might be between us, they are not the kind of years that separate. In fact, we hardly notice things like years, at all.

And I am SOOOOO glad.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39160147@N03/14334011932">IHOP Restaurant</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Sunday, August 30, 2015

All Kinds Of Weather, We Stick Together

Taking the southern California Metrolink south on a Saturday in August is not for wimps.

But it was our great experiment! We two sisters would board the train in the early morning, the crispness of the air a comfort after so many days of punishing heat. We would drift smoothly southward toward another sister and meet her a reasonable distance away. We would most certainly shop, and most certainly have lunch somewhere smashing, with lovely time to talk through whatever it is that needs talking through while we eat/shop/sit/have ice creams. A much needed change of scenery.

All of the important elements of this dream did, in fact, come true. We did drift smoothly southward, we did most certainly shop and have lunch at somewhere smashing, and did have ice creams (well, frozen yogurt) while we chatted. All of this was just as we had hoped. But the cooler beachy weather somehow had not materialized and we languished under hot skies, my dear Readers. As well, Metrolink and Amtrak produced a plethora of travelers! They were everywhere and we all crammed ourselves together into train cars that were crammed already with people from before when we go on. Don't these people have homes?, I wondered. 

And then, I realized: it was a beach Saturday, of course! As a southern Californian I should have known. The beach IS their home, on a Saturday, in August, with cheap weekend fares and the promise of sea air. It was perfectly understandable. IF ONLY IT HADN'T BEEN SO HOT.

But gathering with one's sisters has the immediate effect of brightening one's aspect. Distracting one from any outward discomfort. Bringing out the laughter at the drop of a hat while celebrating someone's birthday in real style. Brilliant! Who cared if at the end we would probably all look like we had been in a sauna for days? We were with our sisters, and as such, were blessed. All other concerns shrank next to this utter truth:

Sisters. Sisters. There were never such devoted sisters.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

P.S. As we traveled in the morning, there next to us at a train table sat four young school boys, studying together. For over 2 hours they worked on Algebra, quizzing one another, text books opened, notebooks and pencils in constant use. The eldest helped the youngest. We guessed that they were related, perhaps brothers, or cousins. They were somewhere between 13 and 17 years of age, and were astounding. They didn't think they were astounding, they were just doing what needed to be done. All of the crowds and all of the heat of that day were worth it, just to see those hard-working boys - diligent, smart, and bilingual. America is better off today because of young people such as these. Yay and Hooray!

(The ticket machine for Metrolink is an I.Q. test)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Venturing Forth

And speaking of cottages, I found such a darling one just across the water from this gem:

St. Michael's Mount, Marazion, Cornwall

It is a new and surprising turn of events, venturing somewhere other than St Ives. It is only for a week, though. And it looked so charming that I just could not resist it (I'll take photos for you when I get there). For one thing, it is close to the water and you can see St Michael's Mount just outside your window. For another, the colors inside the cottage are smashing, and I feel it is perfect for writing the sweet story that deserves to be told. Ambience. You must have ambience for these things!

Something else that I will like about staying in this particular spot is the lovely walking one can do here. One can walk to and from Marazion right along the beach! In all winds and weathers! One can walk from Penzance to Newlyn to Mousehole, never needing to hike up steep hills or cliffs. There are cute little tea shops and Tobacconists and galleries galore! And just look - it isn't very far up to St Ives (see below). All one need do is walk a few yards to the Penzance railway station, jump aboard the Great Western (perhaps after enjoying a pot of tea in the station), and you're there! It just couldn't be any more satisfying.

Mousehole, Newlyn, Penzance, and (not listed on the map) Marazion.
(St Michael's Mount is the little peninsula-looking spit of land, to the right.)

I just remembered, now, that the Tobacconist is no longer open. Upon my last journey I stopped in to see him. He and his wife were looking somewhat forlorn and I gently said, "I heard that you may be closing..?" They both said, at nearly the same time, "Yes. It isn't a great time for Tobacconists just now. We had to post so many dire health warnings that after a while, we just lost steam. We retire next month."

The poor things! They had such lovely pipes. (Do pipes do so much damage? I just don't know..).

Once while walking from Penzance to Newlyn I came upon a Gallery that was free because my sister had given me a pass to it. When I arrived, no one was inside but a sweet Docent, sitting near the door. She was relieved to see another human being and jumped at the chance to tell me about the Art and where it had come from. There wasn't very much of it (hence the lack of visitors), but it was kind of her all the same. I remember feeling that if I were to work in such a place, I should go stark staring mad.

So it is with great anticipation that I approach this particular week of my journey. There is so much 'scope for the imagination'! Just think of riding on trains, and getting off whenever you wish, and all of the jolly walking to and from interesting and quaint villages along an English sea wall. 

Just think. 

Amazing cliffs of Cornwall

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, August 27, 2015


What activity most captivates the SconeLady today as she prepares for her travel adventures? There are so many to choose from that I can hardly be expected to single out only one. But (since you're asking..) the captivating thing that comes to mind right now happens to be cottage hunting. There is nothing quite so fun as cottage hunting, and even though I have already hunted and already found all of my cottages, I continue hunting on. It never really ends.

I like thinking about it. First of all, there are more options for the traveler than just the cottage option. There are other spots available which are worthy of your attention. I would say that the lodging options worth looking at in St Ives Cornwall might include:

  • self-catering holiday cottages (containing kitchen/diner, lounge, bedroom/s, bathroom/s, and so on) (typically one to three weeks but can be longer if wished)
  • long term rentals (must be 6 months or more and may be furnished or unfurnished cottages, houses, apartments, or semidetached houses)
  • Bed and Breakfast lodgings which might be found in cute small hotels or homes of substance
  • hotels (which typically include breakfast) that might be large and imposing, or small and unique - or maybe even look like a castle:

Tregenna Castle, St Ives Cornwall

If you are like me you might wonder about the expense of it all, because it really does add up. The frugal traveler has his or her work truly cut out, for the many options come with diverse price tags that can become confusing - even shocking. Luckily, this type of research is intensely interesting and never becomes confusing or shocking to the SconeLady, no matter how long she does it. There is always a deal to be found, somewhere.

One year the SconeLady and her sister stayed in the Tregenna Castle, above, which was smashing. It was a little bit expensive, but in the end we were given a much better deal for our room than we had expected. Yay and Hooray! These sweet surprises are out there, believe me, and what you must do is seek them out. You will certainly be surprised.

Since then it has been self-catering holiday cottages, for me. I highly recommend them. The ones I have tried, and which have been great choices, are:

I highly recommend them all! You simply can't go wrong. Just - click! - and make your way across the Atlantic, landing at Heathrow, grabbing the train southward to Cornwall, and make your way to the sweetest town in this wide world. 

Satisfaction guaranteed.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Imagine my delight upon finding a Rosamunde Pilcher book I had not yet read! To a lady-Anglophile, there is almost nothing finer. And within its pages are chapters centered upon such places as Islington (featured in other of her books); and Paddington (gateway to Cornwall); and then of course, Cornwall itself! It was an immense surprise, and so rather than rushing through it, I am reading it in a state of ease - gradually, so as not to finalize it too quickly. It is already intensely sweet.

To make this discovery on the eve of a flight in that direction has me utterly overjoyed. It is a sort of coming home, not only because I will be actually there, but as a homely 'read', as well. I had thought years ago that there were no further Rosamunde books to be had; that every last one of them were dog-eared and had been consumed multiple times, by me. And then yesterday as I idly perused our bookshelves, straightening and dusting, my eyes lit upon a title I did not recognize. The Carousel

What was it doing, sitting there? I hadn't heard of it, let alone read it. It must have been meant! I thought. Upon the cover were lovely green apples (featured in the book, I am discovering) on an outdoor table, and the green grasses, blue skies, and white wispy clouds of Cornwall. Oh, blessed discovery!

It is only 233 pages and so won't take up very much of my time. I am on page 54, in fact. But each page already shows the promise of every Pilcher novel along with the ability to draw one in, as only she can so consistently do. 

I do so love a Pilcher.

If you are one of my dear German readers, you will know and love Rosamunde already. This is because German film makers have made numerous films from numerous of her books, and the public simply cannot get enough of them. When I researched free photos of Rosamunde, only one popped up. And it wasn't of her. It was of a film set, in Germany, that was meant to depict St Ives, Cornwall:


It does nicely depict St Ives, except that the colors are somewhat brighter than the actual cottages in St Ives. This photograph is probably even more ideal than the place itself, but then a film must have that quality of surrealism to carry it off. To make you want to go there yourself.

But I already want to go there myself, as you well know, with only weeks to wait. And then the walking, the scone-ing, and the writing can commence forthwith. So much to do, so little time. Somewhere in this house there is a passport; a rail card; some pounds and pence; warm clothing (perpetually stored away between trips); rain gear; a spare smart phone; a copy of 'Rick Steves' England'; and so, so much more. It'll be fun to get it all together. I will write to you as I prepare; maybe not every day, but as something pops up that I think you would like to know. 

Stay with me.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

The SconeLady along the paddocks and pastures of Cornwall

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/12811454@N00/114663691">Fischerdorf Eyeries auf der Halbinsel Beara</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Sunday, August 23, 2015

But I Only Ate Half

We had been encouraged to check out the beauty and abundance of Laguna Beach, and finally - yesterday, we did. It is beautiful and it does have abundance, beyond anything I see as I walk my humble way day by day. I am fairly certain I visited Laguna Beach at some point during college, because who wouldn't have? If you go to college anywhere near it, well, you would hardly be able to stay away. It is unbelievable.

One particular college, at one particular time, was 33 miles from Laguna Beach. Fairly far for someone with no vehicle and not even a bike. But we college types (hippies) used to make our way to the many beach towns along PCH at the weekends, and maybe, perhaps, Laguna Beach was one of them. Certainly Manhattan Beach, Huntington Beach, and the ever-strange Venice Beach were frequented. Ah, the memories of strolling along boardwalks in our Granny dresses and sandals, stopping along the way for a 10 cent cup of coffee. How nostalgic I feel.

Well, yesterday we checked it out. We were driven by kind friends along the coastline, and marveled at the magnificence of the homes high up on the hilltops. We said 'Are you kidding?' upon seeing one such place (palace?) which seemed impossibly suspended up there, high above. How on earth could cranes, and cement trucks, and contractors ever have held on whilst putting that thing together? Whatever or however, it must have views that are as unbelievable as the structure itself.

The massive homes on hills are not the only notable thing we observed. Restaurants, dress shops, cute tea places and chocolate stores were abundantly sprinkled about, just waiting for us to wander in. 

But first we were feeling hungry for Barbecue and so our hosts took us to Wood Ranch BBQ&Grill at the Irvine Spectrum. Do you know what the Irvine Spectrum IS? It is an outdoor shopping center that contains truly any store or restaurant a person could ever want to visit, and a person could spend literally days - no, weeks - in there. As it was, we only spent a couple of hours, eating. If we had ventured further, just to look? we'd never have made it out without major expenditures.

You see my pulled pork sandwich, here (but I only ate half!), which was excellent:

The splendid friends we were with are actually our splendid in-laws - or rather, the in-laws of the lovely daughter, with whom we have excellent times! Everyone should be so fortunate as to find themselves such relatives.

Almost entirely full, we drove on down to Laguna Beach seeking - can you believe it? - ICE CREAM. Well, we decided upon gelato at Gelato Paradiso, the most delicious I've ever had (I only ate half! well, just a teensy-weensy bit more than half, but it was close). While we waited in line there was a darling chocolate shop to look at and, if one wished, to go in and try. La Rue Du Chocolat. I was tempted, but resisted.

We walked along the sands, watching the sun set along the waters in its most impressive and perfect timing. It couldn't have been a more ideal setting for a sunset. 

The day was, for us, delicious fun, and we hope to repeat the experience. At the end we all agreed that we share the most fabulous family together - the three eager blonds and their two remarkable parents; the kids'  generous uncle and auntie who make life so much more interesting, and the spread of other family members, looking to God, who form a cheer team none of us could do without. 

Excellent! What a way to step through Life. Thank You!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady