Friday, October 24, 2014

Cornwall: Coinage Hall

These are the great lengths we will go to in order to find the perfect scone. We will go to Coinage Hall, Truro, Cornwall

It was a day of clouds, no rain. And so we felt safe to climb aboard the First Great Western Railway east (and slightly north), toward Truro. One first passes through a number of sweet towns and villages: Carbis Bay (fabulous beaches!), Lelant (Rosamund Pilcher was born there!), St Erth (the cutest little train station EVER),

Camborne, and Redruth. Redruth was remarkable in its plethora of old tin mines, clearly visible as we sped by. Tin was once a major economic staple for Cornwall, until it became known that tin was cheaper when imported from South America. Tin mines in Cornwall began to close, and its miners went wherever else there was tin.

Passing by Redruth, we soon came upon Truro and toured the Cathedral. After being dazzled by it and by the kindly tour guide, we walked through the town until we found Coinage Hall, which houses Charlotte's Tea House:

You will note that Charlotte's is not only a Tea House, but also an antique shop. It's not your ordinary antique shop, either. Upon the two floors we were able to see, there were several rooms arranged as a comfy Georgian home, filled with antiques. Books lined the shelves, and quaint antique pieces were artfully arranged on the shelves, tables, walls and floors. It was enchanting. Made you want to curl up and read by one of the antique fireplaces.

The town itself is proud of Charlotte's, and we thought it as sweet as it could be. Although the scone was cold (which shocked and amazed the SconeLady), Charlotte's won every contest for ambiance. It is well and good to note that The Digey Food Room (not in of itself a tea shop) bears the best of the scones, Charlotte's is the best of the tea rooms. If the scones of the Digey could but make their way along the rail to Charlotte's, we would have a Cornwellian dream come true.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, October 23, 2014

All This For a SCONE?

It's true. We here at SconeTherapy do go to great lengths for a scone, and are unapologetic. We love them. We study them. We seek them!

The SconeLady might lead this charge, but she is in good company and that company is growing. All over this globe, people are joining her in not only finding great scones, but actually baking them. And they watch this space. There is nothing about scones that they won't discuss.

There is a certain conversation that takes place among scone lovers in the South West of England - Devon and Cornwall. Both areas laud the Cream Tea and hold it high. Both have their unique approach to the serving thereof. And both are wonderful. The difference between them seems to be in the way they dress their scones. I'm not sure it makes a huge difference in the taste, but that is a hotly contested point.

Here are photos of both:

Scones from Devon

Scones from Cornwall

Do you see the difference?

I didn't get to Devon this trip, but have learned that there the cream must be spread on the scone first, then the jam on top of that. In Cornwall it is the opposite - you must spread the jam first, and then the cream. I asked friend Rosie about this, because my opinion was that it is harder to spread clotted cream on top of jam. Rosie replied that she really actually likes the taste better with clotted cream on top. She likes the messiness, too. Have you tried it both ways? I'm totally curious. 

But I can see her point about the cream being on top, because it is superb; there is no getting around it.

May I add another point as well? I like clotted cream just fine. But I like whipped cream even better. And if you do use whipped cream, then placing the cream on top of the jam is easiest! 

These are the finer points of scone-eating. My personal favorite afternoon delight is a warm scone with butter, jam, and whipped cream on top; add to that an egg salad sandwich with white bread and the crusts cut off; a cucumber/cream cheese sandwich with brown bread and the crusts cut off; and a chicken sandwich with white bread and the crusts cut off. THAT is my dream of a meal.

Try it. See what you think. I'll bet it will become a swift fave, hands-down.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">James Cridland</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Klara Kim</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Cure for Loneliness

Walking into the house after a 5 week journey, I came upon a drawing. It sat on the kitchen counter, revealing a little girl, arms held out, smiling. I asked, "What's this?" to which my husband laughed and explained that the 4-year-old granddaughter had drawn a self portrait, for him.

"Grampa?" she had said, "Where is Grandma?"

"Oh - she is in England, and I am going to visit her there in 2 weeks."

"But won't you be lonely here without her?" she piped.

"Well yes, I suppose I will. But it won't be for very long."

She thought about this for a bit and then said, "I'm going to draw you my picture and leave it here so you won't be lonely."

And this, dear Readers, is the picture:

Needless to say, it is a prized possession and always will be. 

Today we drove across town in order to watch this darling for a couple of hours. The same smile shining out from the drawing above, was there on her face as we came in. "Grandma! Grampa! you CAME!"

Yes, we came. We would always come. What grandparents wouldn't?  there is always so much to see and to hear. You get to watch a small girl climbing a pole as quickly as any squirrel. You get to see that girl on a bike with no training wheels, zipping up and down the asphalt drive until you become dizzy with it all. You hear all about the latest excitement on the horizon: "I get to go to GRACIE'S house!"

She quickly showed us her newest puzzle, still in its wrapping. Her concentration was impressive as she worked out the four corners, the 'straights', and the intricacies at the center. There were ladybugs, and spiders, and bees, and wasps, and dragonflies all randomly placed, and she had it figured out in jig time. I learned that it takes me far longer to find pieces than it does a 4-year-old (and how is that fair?). But she was appropriately encouraging whenever I accidentally did come across something that 'might work'.  

In short, it was two hours of the sweetest fun!

These are the things that will always bring the SconeLady back home, after the wanderings of a true Bohemian in a foreign land. Travel has its place. Walking tours, and scone-seeking, and astonishing Cathedrals may call out and beckon this wanderer. But it is only a matter of time before the ties that bind pull me inexorably Homeward.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Train from St Ives to London Paddington

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="">Digital Wallpapers</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">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