Monday, October 5, 2015

Cornwall Day 4 - Is This A Refrigerator?

(no plot revelations contained in this post)

I can't tell you just what a thrill it is to hear the Downton Abbey theme music as it hits the airwaves. With only this last season to go, whatever will we do when it is over? (I wonder if Netflix will pick it up as reruns?)

But please do not panic, my dear Readers, I will not be reviewing Downton, oh no, not just yet. But - I am watching it, here in Cornwall; watching the Abbey as it flows in whatever direction Julian Fellowes has predestined it should be. But since it is not airing in the U.S. until much later, I will keep secret the things I have seen and learned here. All but one tiny detail:
It is the small moment when Lord and Lady Grantham find themselves in the servants' quarters (a rare occurrence). While there, Lord Grantham becomes a bit 'peckish' (American for 'hungry') and begins foraging for a snack. He sees a small off-white cupboard looking thing, and says, "Is this the refrigerator?" 


The poor man. Imagine a life where you might not know if something is, or is not, a refrigerator! There clearly wasn't one Upstairs. So, obviously, no midnight snacks, no sodas to dig out at the beginning of a ballgame, no chocolate ice cream sundaes. What on earth did they do of an evening?

Utter misery.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Downton Abbey :-)</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="">SMEG</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cornwall Day 3 - Stained Glass and a Cross

Built between 1410 and 1434

A three mile walk, down and down toward the town and past the vast beaches of Cornwall, brought the SconeLady to church. As she approached the enormous tower, it suddenly began to clang with bells. People hurried inside where it would be warmer and protected from the brisk winds of autumn. For today, it was impossible to ignore: the chills had begun to settle in.

Stepping inside was like a coming home, so familiar was this place. The friendly greeter smiled and handed me the small hymn book, the printed readings of the morning and the liturgy. "It is nice to see you again!" said he. I found a spot to sit, one that would give me a good view of all that would take place this morning. For you do not want to miss any of it behind huge pillars. A huge pillar can prevent you from seeing any number of things that are interesting in church. There is the organist, playing with great gusto and talent up there on that enormous organ, there is the Processional behind the Cross (splendid!), the enormous red Bible from which the vicar reads the Gospel lesson - which is always brought forth with much gravity and incense - there is the sermon the vicar delivers from on high atop the tall pulpit, the Holy Communion with its opportunity and call to Repentance, and there are the Readings delivered by the laymen and women. All of it comes together in a marvelous hour of devotion I wouldn't miss.

And - I finally did it, Readers dear. I plucked up my courage and joined the congregants for a cup of 'tea or coffee, and cake' at the back of the church. I had not participated before probably due to a certain shyness, although I knew they would be enormously kind and chatty if I did. And they were, enormously kind and chatty. Everybody had a story about visiting the States. One elder gentleman told about how he owns a property in Florida, and spends 5 months there every year. And how the doctors there had taken such great care of his eyes during one visit. Then another gentleman said he had been in California when he had a massive heart attack and stroke, all at the same time! And how the emergency services took such good care of him, and how he was in surgery within one hour of the occurrence. And how since he had purchased insurance ahead of time, the $1.7 million dollars was all covered. Goodness! He was thoroughly jolly and still so happy to be alive that his entire aspect was one great smile. It was the sweetest thing.

I stayed back there chatting for ages. No one wanted to leave. The people, the chatter, the tea, and the cake were all so very satisfactory that I determined to join them every week. And strangely, I participated in not one, but two conversations about Rosamunde Pilcher! It just does not get any better, my friends, than that.

The only sad part of the whole thing was walking back out there and into the chill winds for that 3 mile walk back up the hill. Wow.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

You can see the tall pulpit to the left

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cornwall Day 2 - Better Than a Theme Park

On A Bright October Morning

A graceful sailboat drifts by as the gulls wheel lazily above, and the SconeLady has no worries. Who could possibly worry on a day like this? It is nothing less than captivating.

What better place to pen the chapters I have been longing to complete? I am not unaware of the blessing it is to face such a task, and pray that I may be worthy of it. 

Today, as always, the Brits and their dogs are out in force, climbing the cliffs while eating ice creams. By the by, the ice creams are marvelous here. Cornish creams of all sorts hover in little cafes, waiting to be consumed by us all. The combination of sea, salt air, boats, gulls, and ice cream has everybody mesmerized. Whatever Disneyland might say it is, just now this is truly the happiest place on earth.

Since it is a Saturday, and since the weather is sensational, the place is crowded. People from far and near have left their monotony behind them and arrived here in their droves. Not that I mind. I don't in the least blame them. It's just a wee bit cramped in spots, that's all. But these crowded days are numbered, of that I am certain. On Sunday afternoon we locals will see the disappearance of the hordes, and have it all to ourselves once more. 


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cornwall Day 1 - Sights, Sounds, Tastes of Cornwall

I don't see how such a thing is even possible, but it must be because the scone I just consumed was even better than before!

I arrived at The Digey in high anticipation this afternoon, having waited for it for simply months. And what with the ultra blue skies and the warmth, I fairly floated through the door. 

While ordering my Cream Tea I glanced about in search of Josh, superior scone-baker and earner of the Best Scone In Cornwall - according to the SconeLady. But soon I caught a glimpse! There he was in the back, hard at his work, managing his ovens which were baking up a storm. 

"It's Josh!" I said to the man at the counter. 

"Oh, yes, he's always here," said the man. "I'll have him deliver your scone, shall I?"

For they know the SconeLady there, and understand her enthusiasm for the Hunt. I sat very calmly, awaiting my treat and gazing around at all of the other splendid items to consider eating. The Digey happens to produce all kinds of fresh delights, not just scones. It's just that I can't seem to move beyond them or to expand my tastes. I keep thinking that soon I shall try their soups, their quiche, their varieties of salads, their gingerbread, and the many drinks they have on offer. I absolutely must. One Day.

And then upon bringing the scone to my table, Josh once again patiently allowed me to take his photograph, the dear man. This won't be the only visit I make to the Digey, but it will be the only time I ask for his photo. I feel that once per journey ought to be enough. I don't get the feeling that he seeks out the attention. He just quietly and calmly makes delicious foods day in, and day out.

Can you believe the amazingness of this scone??

Besides this utter excitement, today I also:

  • consumed a delicious breakfast at the hands of my delightful hostess (Muesli, strawberries, grapes, coffee, poached egg, sausage, and toast - for my inquisitive sister!)
  • walked 10 miles
  • had Italian coffee while writing post cards at The Pier Coffee Bar, the best coffee in town!
  • rode the sweet little coastal train to the nearby town of Penzance
  • scouted for cottages while there

  • stared unbelievingly at the blue of the ocean and the skies in a mesmerized fashion
  • watched the Brits sitting along the Wharf, not moving a muscle while soaking up the sun while it lasts
For I am told by my hostess that it won't last. This is news I do NOT like to hear, and so I do my best to instantly forget it. I refuse to believe such shocking things and will anticipate this loveliness to continue unabated, just for the SconeLady (I will keep you posted).

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, October 1, 2015

England Day 11 - What I Could Have Done With That 15 Pounds

I was quite comfortable there, next to the window of the train. It would take me to a town, Westbury, where I would transfer to another train and step in to First Class - surprising, isn't that? I had been surprised when I found the ticket weeks ago. First Class for hours while heading south and west, complimentary food and drink - the works! I did not hesitate. I hit 'purchase'. And it was only 18 pounds.

I was so excited about getting to Westbury. On the way, we stopped at a cute little train station, and I started to take a photograph of it. But suddenly, I noticed that the station I was photographing WAS Westbury, and I was meant to be OFF THE TRAIN. 

I began grabbing my belongings and calling out to the conductor, "I have to get off here!"

A flurry of excitement greeted this statement, but just as I reached the door, it closed. And it locked. The conductor looked stricken, and said, "But why did you not get off at Westbury?"

"There was no announcement of Westbury!" I gasped. This was true enough. But one really should be watching for one's own station and have one's own wits about them. Oh dear.

"And what am I to do now?" I sort of wailed. The conductor said that there was nothing for it but to get off at the next stop, dash over the tracks, hop aboard the next train back to Westbury, and get on the train to my destination. But, oh woe!

"It leaves here AFTER my own train departs from Westbury!" I exclaimed to myself with a moan. My First Class fun was slipping through my fingers and I was about to cry, when suddenly a taxi cab drew up to the curb. I didn't even think about it, I RAN toward him and babbled out something that resembled my dilemma. "Right," he said, "In you get. We'll make it, never fear," and off we sped.

Here is this good man's photograph from my vantage point in the back seat. He is talking about his first grandchild (who is a one-year-old boy) in order to distract me from my nerves.

We arrived just as the train pulled in, I threw the 15 pounds at him, and ran. I could hear him calling after me, "Have a wonderful time in Cornwall, my dear!"  I wanted to hug him but there was no time.

The conductor conducted me to my First Class car, helped me to my seat, handled my bag, and instructed the trolley lady to give me some free food. I think I could get used to First Class trains.

The entire trip from that moment on was a delight. The seats are soft, and spacious, and dreamy to sit in. Every now and again the trolley lady comes by with more goodies (all complimentary, of course), and there is absolutely no crowding and no lines at the loo. The loos in First Class, BTW, are spacious too. I cannot think of any bad thing associated with traveling First Class.

And just look at what was peeking out at me upon my arrival in Cornwall!

Gazing out over this scene, I suddenly remembered the lyrics to a Carpenters song I once sang:

Such a feeling's comin' over me,
There is wonder in most everything I see.
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes,
And I won't be surprised if it's a dream.

And I'm on top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find,
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around,
Your love's put me at the top of the world!
-Richard Carpenter, John Bettis, 1972

That is exactly how it felt, Readers dear. The sweetest, sweetest thing.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

England Day 10 - Stonehenge, and a Service

 Lots and Lots of Probablys


if you have ever been there, you will have heard them too. The 'probably' explanations about how Stonehenge got there. These are just a few:
  • Merlin had something to do with it
  • the Stones were magical and partially weightless
  • the Druids moved the stones all by themselves from west Wales although they weighed thousands of pounds
  • aliens from outer space schlepped the stones into place by the art of levitation (this was stated mostly tongue-in-cheek)
  • slaves did it all 
  • everybody just pitched in and worked together in an early effort at team building. This would have taken a cast of thousands simply years to accomplish
We heard all of this and more today, and at the end of every explanation was the word 'probably'. I had heard it all 25 years ago, and nothing had changed.

The hideous Stonehenge visitor centre
I turned my hand-held lecture guide off, and then had a great time walking. 1.5 miles from the hideous visitor centre out to the stones; the pathway around several 'barrows' not far from the site; the circular pathway around the stones themselves. It didn't even matter that there were scads of other tourists there - I loved it anyway. Blue skies, a brisk breeze, cows and sheep galore standing around watching all the people go by with strange looking devices stuck to their ears.

The Salisbury Plain itself is just gorgeous. You really should go there. It will give you a bit of comfort to see that the earth is not dangerously overcrowded. At least not yet. Looks like we still have some space left!

Salisbury Cathedral

The Stonehenge Tour was a good one, but nothing as exciting as what happened after it. The bus dropped me off downtown near the imposing cathedral, and I entered there. For three and a half hours I wandered it through and through, had a delightful free tour, then staying on for the Evensong service at 5:30. It was all very meaningful, like different pieces of a puzzle that you can put together successfully and without frustration. 

At one point during the tour, a lovely vicar stepped up to the podium (you should just see that podium!) and welcomed all visitors to join in a prayer together. He shared that Christ is the reason for the cathedral, and that it was right and proper to thank Him. And then, he did. We all soon joined him together in the Lord's Prayer, and then continued our touring. It was the sweetest thing.

There was a hush as a small crowd approached for Evensong. The bells began, and rang on and on calling the faithful to come. We were invited to sit near to the choir, so I had a lovely view of the singers. None were adult, and all were girls. They were directed by a splendid elder chorister, reminding me of the famous Barchester Towers (remember Mr. Harding?). It was lovely. 

The Bishop's Seat!

Within Salisbury Cathedral the mission of Christ is clear and unforgotten. In fact, within all of the cathedrals I have visited the message comes through steadfastly. The epistle lesson tonight said it rather well, I thought:

"Whatever you do, in word or deed do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Put on compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you. And above all these, put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts - and be thankful."
-Colossians 3:12 - 15

What else can a person possibly need?

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

England Day 9 - Salisbury Cathedral

It may be the most stunning, and is certainly the most massive that I have yet seen. This stunningness literally towers over every other building in the town, and is never without its crowd. I spotted it as the train drew nearer to Salisbury today, and my fellow passengers suddenly leaped toward the windows to catch a glimpse (the most demonstrative were the Americans. Of course!).

"Mummy. What is THAT?" said one British tyke, whose mother was gazing at a fashion magazine.

"Oh, that is called a Cathedral, darling. It's like a huge, enormous church, only they call it a cathedral because...well I think it's because a Bishop lives there.."

The tyke watched it go by with her nose pressed against the glass. "May we go inside of it?" she queried. But her mother had gone back to her magazine, and the massive building drifted out of our view.

A cathedral is always a magnet. It has certainly drawn me here from thousands of miles distant, and from the look of the crowds I am not alone.

 The Cathedral has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom

But just at the moment I am sitting in the lounge room of a small hotel nearby, where I had hoped for some peace. Instead I am at the mercy of the television channel someone else has chosen. There is an almost deafening report about the horrific things that are happening in the Middle East, and what the reporters think everybody should be doing about it. It isn't very easy to think of cathedrals with that blasting away at my head. But this is where the Wifi is!

In the meantime, may I interest you in some beautiful fan-arching?!

Salisbury Cathedral peeking out from behind a tree in the Cloister

Salisbury Cathedral has the largest Cloister in Britain

Awe-inspiring design crafted beginning in 1220 AD

The best surviving of the four original copies of the Magna Carta is housed at Salisbury Cathedral. 
(It's in that little tent, above)

And even with all of this enchantment, I have not yet gone inside of it! That will happen tomorrow, after a visit to Stonehenge. So tomorrow is a big day. A true embarrassment of riches!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady