Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Laying Claim to Home

Climbing up out of a strange jet lag is rather an effort, I find. Things will be going along as normal, and then all at once...there is a definitive slowing of the abilities. But I think we are defeating it now. By tomorrow we should both be ordinary Californians once again. 

But I did actually leave a piece of my heart far away, in England.

To comfort myself I have had sweet welcoming arms around my neck at various intervals. Tiny kisses, squeals of delight, and satisfying conversations all make it worth any amount of jet lag, just to be home again. And as I walk the miles here, the scenery is different than Cornwall (it can't be denied). Maybe it is an Asphalt Jungle, but here is a sampling of the non-asphalted parts of it that surround me here:

 The rock formations just above our home; the fall colors just beginning to show; the backyard pool and lake at sunset. All charming, and even stunning, in their own way. 

And there is a Brit-style celebration on the horizon: a party, with Cornish Pasties! Cream Scones! Tea! The family of the SconeLady have been eager to try out all these wonderful tastes, and I can't wait to share it all with them.

But for now, 'the sun has gone to bed, and so must I'..

And as it goes down, I squint out at the water and am reminded of the awe inspiring seawaters of Cornwall; where the gulls are the noisiest, and the ice creams are the creamiest...and the people? the luckiest, in this wide world.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Porthmister Beach, St Ives, Cornwall
October, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Upon Return

As usual, the first thing I did was to take a selfie of self, with the rather stunning son. The SconeLady cannot help but take this photo, whenever she first sees the rather stunning son. It must be in her DNA.

And he always patiently stands and smiles, right on cue. 

Coming back to the asphalt jungle has its upsides.

After a bouncy landing on the tarmac at LAX, after long lines at Customs, after being briefly detained for the possession of two apples (but I must always have an apple about me!), and then kindly let go, we ventured out onto the freeway.

We were understandably anxious to make our departure and to reach home. For a birthday party was on hand! A newly minted three year old waited in his front garden to welcome these weary wanderers. As our car approached, not just one but three blonde heads were seen bobbing down the drive, headed our direction. Hurray! The sweetest welcome of all.

There's an awful lot to be thankful for. 

I tried, while walking this morning, to listen to something on NPR but found I was restless with it. It seemed all to be about unpleasantness. I wanted to hear about Nice things and not Icky things. So after one-too-many Icky things, I shut it all off and deleted NPR from my playlist. Freedom!

I could go back to it, but just not for a while. For a while, I want to think over the astonishing scenery I just spent 5 weeks absorbing. I want to try out a recipe for Cornish Pasties that Rosie has. I want to make a lovely cream tea for people that I love. I want to  remember!

On the train from St Ives to London Paddington, we two enjoyed Cornish Pasties made by our favorite bakery. In one way it was rather mean of us, having two delicious Pasties inside the bag, no one else quite knowing where that lovely aroma was coming from. It was hands-down the best lunch on that train.

If you have never tasted a pasty, it's sort of like a hand-held pot pie. A proper pasty is on its side, and crimped along the side edge, not along the top. They are very insistent on this small detail and feel that it will taste right only if the crimping is done right. 

I don't know about any of that, truth be told. What I do know is that there is a real advantage to having your pasty on a train..

No seagulls.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

                                        Naughty seagull watching for a bite

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalwallpapers/2694823001/">Digital Wallpapers</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Sunday, October 19, 2014

England, Itself

Somewhere deep within the confines of Heathrow Airport sits the SconeLady, and her husband. A shuttle bus has been ridden, lines have been waited in, and coffee (with a croissant) has been consumed. All that remains is to be herded aboard a massive aircraft, strapped in, and then the long long ride. Everyone around me looks tired.

And although I too might be tired, sleep alludes me in this airport chair. It is comfortable enough, but there is just too much to remember!

Friend Rosie wrote from Norfolk, with her farewells and her wishes, this morning. By now she is probably out there feeding and grooming the 'Donk', with two curious horses standing by (hopeful for an apple, perhaps?).

The scenery of that spot is far preferable to where I now sit, it is true. But while this may not be the most attractive or enticing spot in this wide world, it puts me one step closer to home. Which is where I belong.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cornwall, Day 23: Roller Bag on Cobblestone

Our last day in St Ives, Cornwall. Sad! In fact, we have 25 minutes left. The SconeLady is leaving and is sorry; she is also happily thinking of the loved ones who await. 

The bitter with the sweet.

But the sweet is what I am thinking about, now. They are sleeping peacefully as we pack our bags and prepare to walk up the road for the train. Ours will be the roller bags on cobblestone, this time.

 And what will I think of when I think of St Ives?

  • the never changing, ever changing harbor
  • the friendly Cornish*
  • the startling blue of sky and sea
  • the fact that cars, rather than pedestrians, seem to have the right-of-way
  • Cornish pasties
  • chocolate sorbet
  • cliffs
  • taking trains to places you like
  • taking buses to other places you like
  • Rosie and Ted
  • cream teas!

          *Artist Malcomb Bowmer                      
During the entire three weeks of our stay, we  have never heard a harsh word. Everyone was happy and endlessly kind. A favorite word here is 'Cheers!' - used by just about everybody for just about everything. We have taken it up ourselves. It's another way of saying 'thank you', or 'have a good day', or 'to your health'. Endlessly kind.

If you read too many news articles, you can get the view that everywhere there is chaos; guns; screaming; illness; despair. But we mustn't give the chaos more than its due, dear Readers. It is there, but it does not predominate.

Therefore, this 23rd day of Cornwall is a farewell with a promise: it may take her a year, but the SconeLady will be back in Cornwall, looking again for that perfect scone. She and Rosie are already scoping out the ideal cottage, finding the ideal dates, and - this just in! - even dreaming up a visit to Port Isaac, home of Doc Martin! We heard you can get there for only 11 pounds ROUND TRIP. 

(I wonder if I dare stretch this one into four weeks...?)

See you along the way!
the SconeLady
*St Ives tour guide Tony Ferrell      

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cornwall, Day 22: A Salute to the Fishermen


There used to be many more, but now there are only 3. These lodges of St Ives remain a testament to their fishermen, and we met some of them today.

The lodges were tiny one room huts along Wharf Road into which the town fishermen could escape; perhaps eat a pasty; rest from the weather and the storms. They came whenever they could, and may I say? their wives did not. There was no rule that their wives could not, it was just understood that they would not. One of the ladies and I discussed this, and decided that the lodges probably didn't smell great, and the women didn't even want to go in there. 

(Ladies, doesn't that sound logical? Just sayin'). 

But I think the wives would have liked the rule against swearing. It was forbidden, and if someone did slip up, or got mad and let fly, they had to pay (see the 'donations' box).

We know about this because today we went along on our second St Ives walking tour, following the strides of guide Tony Ferrell. He traced for us the fascinating history of fishing men in Cornwall, and of how their livelihood has diminished over the decades. The smell of fish no longer chokes the air, as it once did.

But the fishermen didn't mind that smell because it meant work, and feeding their families, and holding one's head up. The men are growing older now, but still they come back to their lodges. It's a way to catch up. Regroup. Gaze out at the tides which never change, and yet are always changing.

The walls of the lodge we saw today were filled with old photographs. There were pictures of fishing boats, of ship wrecks, or of people they had lost over the years. There was even a photo of Tony's great grandmother, sitting in a boat surrounded by men. 

It all spoke to the pride they had in what they did; the competition for who would come in first; and the camaraderie of the men. It was splendid. 

And it was a privilege today to meet two of these fishermen. They were kind, and funny, and opinionated in the best possible way. Surrounded by the photos of their past, they looked content; and I'm sure we won't be forgetting them anytime soon. Maybe we'll get out the old film, Captain's Courageous. Remind ourselves of a different day when the work was hard and the men were grateful for it.

'Courageous' is exactly what they were. And we could sure use some of that right about now. 


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/13481191@N06/8070709805/">saffron100_uk</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rumpleproofskin/107685167/">Del Adams</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cornwall, Day 21: Truro Cathedral


The SconeLady is having difficulty just thinking up enough adjectives to describe what she saw today. None of them suffice.

But I shall give it a try, all the same!

Yesterday we were blown back to our fisherman's cottage while attempting to get to Truro Cathedral. Rain and wind had done their best and defeated our efforts, but we made it today - and I am so thankful that we did. After our train ride and our walk to the city center, then coming around the bend and finally seeing it, I felt speechless. You can see its beauty here, but it is truly something you must experience in person to believe. 

Our first view of the inside revealed this loveliness:

You see? No adjectives.

We arrived in time to take part in the free Cathedral tour on offer, led by this very kind and knowledgeable tour guide:

He described to us the significance and design of the stained glass windows; the beauty of the preserved south aisle of the old St Mary's parish church (incorporated in the design); the magnificent organ, which was intermittently being played as the organist practiced; the marble figures behind the altar, and much much more.

But best of all was the terra cotta frieze by George Tinworth. I have spent time trying to find a really good photo of it for you, but the best I could find is the one I took myself - not that good. In fact, no photo could really replicate this wonderful piece:

'The Way of the Cross'

I couldn't believe there was a pillar in front of it! It was created in 1880 and given to the Cathedral some time later. But it was placed behind a pillar, right where Christ is standing. These figures display the events of His journey toward the Cross. Beginning on the left with Pilate and his wife; to Simon, who was called upon to help carry the Cross (the centurion pulling his ear); to the man who tried to get a higher elevation to see; to the centurions and pharisees; to Christ here in the middle, comforting his mother Mary, and Mary Magdalen; a fight going on along the way; and the two malefactors who would be crucified with Him.

The frieze became my central focus within this fabulous Cathedral. It, and everything we saw today shows what inspiration existed in the hearts of those who created it all. And we learned that there are something like 42 Cathedrals in the United Kingdom. How great would it be to go on a Cathedrals Tour, one day! Doesn't that sound grand? Let's see, there are a few I have seen already, over the years:

  • Canterbury Cathedral
  • Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
  • Ely Cathedral
  • Peterborough Cathedral
  • St George's Chapel, Windsor
  • St Paul's Cathedral
  • Truro Cathedral
  • Westminster Abbey
  • York Minster

It's a good start! The chase is on.

We didn't get to ride on any more trains or buses with our day passes, but we did find the dearest tea shop:

 Charlotte's Tea House, Truro  

Charlotte's Tea Shop was everything any cream tea lover would love: white tablecloths, white porcelain tea sets, waitresses with Georgian clothing, and antiques. Not to mention the scones! The Georgian waitress called especial attention to the protocol - that one must (absolutely must) spread the jam first, and then the cream. She would be watching, just to make sure.

Thus ended our day in Truro. The Cathedral, the tour, the terra cotta frieze, and Charlotte's Tea Shop were all terrific. Impeccable. Exquisite!

You see? Adjectives just don't suffice.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Train ride to St Erth, then Truro

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ennor/457541099/">Ennor</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cornwall, Day 20: Is It Really Raining Sideways?

Oh, no.. our lunches were ready and packed; we had sussed out the train times, and at least one hand was on the doorknob. But the rain had launched itself against that door and would not be ignored. Out onto the wet cobbles we crept, hood and umbrella at the ready. But the umbrella turned inside out and the SconeLady's hair completely scare-crowed itself in jig time. What a mess!

But we persisted on toward the train station, planning our stop for breakfast along the way. And yet as we sat in Pedn Olva's dining room and gazed out their plate glass, our resolve drooped just a bit. Perhaps the Truro Cathedral would need to wait. Perhaps we could see it tomorrow.

Dreary SconeLady stares out dreary window

And so back we trudged to our warm little cottage, regretful of the missed moment. Rosie and Ted had always said that in England, you don't base your choices on Weather. We had based our choice on Weather! But I think maybe even they would have done the same, for we seemed drenched from behind within minutes (perhaps we should have followed the gentle suggestion of a rain slicker). It felt like the only thing to do right then was to give it all up - and take a nap.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up to brilliant sunlight beaming in. Yay and hurray!

This new day-within-a-day opened up a whole fresh view of St Ives. I tramped along cliffs, paths, and granite steps until momentarily stopped by a sudden sheer plethora of surfers. They were running again. Toward the waves. All shapes, sizes and ages glommed onto those waves and gave everyone a really fun show. The rather stunning son would have loved this, if only we could get him here.

The SconeLady stopped counting at 80 surfers

As I finally walked away, a sign indicated that the Barbara Hepworth museum was just ahead. Have you heard of Barbara Hepworth, dear Readers? She is fascinating! You can learn about her here but just to give you the brief, she was one of St Ives' most renowned artists/sculptors and is known world wide for the magnificent pieces she has produced: 


The skills and ability of this lady astounded me as I wandered through her St Ives home and studio. In fact, you can still view the pieces she was sculpting at the time of her death in 1975. They are set up with her tools, just as if she were on her way back in to work on them once more.

Sculptures Barbara Hepworth was working on when she died:

The Museum, and the cliffs, and the surfing beach were just the most lovely gifts. I know the rain, too, is a gift (especially in the view of thirsty Californians), but it might be a gift that just keeps right on giving. And it would be nice if it would give just a little bit later. 

November, perhaps?

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mind_the_goat/127024303/">mind the goat</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>