Saturday, November 12, 2016

Another Airport

The kitty followed me in one early morning, and then kept following. It always happened just as I walked down Rose Lane toward the Norway Store for the inevitable. I would pass the Methodist Sunday School, which had the words 'Jesus Saves' clearly etched into the granite, and then out would pop kitty-woo. 

"Kitty kitty,"  I would murmur. And behind me it followed. It really was the sweetest thing.

The first time I stepped into the shop, it followed boldly behind - and I was nervous, for Americans become nervous whenever animals enter a food establishment, for fear of recriminations. I needn't have worried, though, because nobody took any notice of it. Just in case, I spoke to the boy who was organizing something behind the counter. 

"Um. Is it allowed for a cat to be in here? It followed me.."

"I don't really know, Miss, but - I think it is." He went back to his organizing, and I went over to pick up the milk. And that day, a precedent was set. Morning after morning kitty-woo saw me coming, and pounced. Not upon me, but behind me. It was hilarious.

Kitty-woo is only one of the sweet and hilarious things I will miss, for here we are, at the airport. No longer in St Ives. And true to tradition, we got ourselves to the airport a full FOUR HOURS IN ADVANCE. People around us are either on their laptops, or smart phones, or are comatose with sleep, or herding their children. It is quite possibly the least favorable part of taking oneself off to Cornwall each year.

But I can sit here and dream. Dream of the fun it will be to see wonderful family members, small and tall, heads bobbing and smiles broad. Yes. That is what I shall do with my four full hours. Dream away, until the dreams become a reality and thoughts become hugs.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Along the way

Friday, November 11, 2016


There was nothing to decide. How could I not dash around the corner (stick in hand) toward the Norway Store and a yummy chocolate twist that would be my last one of the season!? The twist lady had asked on Tuesday, "What day will you be leaving?" 

"Friday," I'd said.

"Be in for a twist that day, will you?"

"Oh yes Ma'am, I wouldn't miss it." 

"Alright, I'll see you then, warm twist at the ready." And so there was nothing to decide. 

As I dashed, dear Readers, this greeted me:

It was St Ives coming out in its finest to send me off royally - back to California, back to weird protests, back to wonderful family and sweet hugs. And for all of it, I am thankful. ...well, maybe all but the weird protests. Hmm.

I paid for the twist, and said farewell. "See you next year!" the lady said as she handed me my change. "Always good to have you back." It's like that every time I say goodbye here - endless kindness and good wishes. It's the 'layering' of St Ives, I think - the getting to know its people and creating relationships. That, above all, is what keeps me coming back for more. 

But it was time for us to head to the train station, and so we made our way down the stairs and out onto Fore Street. Roller bags on cobblestones, the familiar sound of Friday mornings in St Ives. Along the way, as my husband was dragging both of our bags and laptops (endless kindness) we saw Josh, scone-baker extraordinaire, hurrying along toward his Digey. 

He saw our bags, and paused. "Going?"

"Yes! Home to the family. Back to California.. goodbye..!" We waved.

I turned to see him fading away into the distance, as St Ives itself was fading and the train whistle blew. From St Ives to St Erth, and its pot of tea while waiting for the London Paddington. Then from St Erth to London, gliding along in the smoothest ride I've had yet, as only the Great Western Railway can do. 

And then - what was this? In London, a loud voice on the P.A. system ordering us all to do something..I couldn't quite make it out..

"All passengers are required to leave the station. Due to a reported emergency all passengers must evacuate. Get to the nearest exit immediately."

Exiting the train we were instantly swept along with the crowds, I keeping my eye closely on my husband's back so as not to become separated. Crowds of people everywhere trying to get out. But no panics or shoving or shouting. Just efficient movement along toward the exits. I kept thinking that if this were happening in L.A., there would likely be pandemonium and all manner of hysteria. But we all just followed the crowd, and eventually found ourselves outside and breathing sighs of relief. 

It was all fine, but that doesn't mean it was fun. Thousands of miles from home, and a loud voice shouting orders?

I want my momma.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

tea at St Erth railway station

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cornwall, Day 40 (Small Tasks)

The SconeLady's suitcase is out and ready, even if she is not. Going home is lovely. Leaving here? Not so much.

Someone today mentioned in passing that instead of always coming back to St Ives, why don't I try another spot. Perhaps someplace like Brixham

"Where is Brixham?" I asked.

"Oh, it's up in Devon somewhere. They say it's another fishing village."

I pulled out my phone, tapped in 'Brixham', and waited. A photograph flashed itself onto the screen, and it was fine, even pretty. But I didn't know anybody there and didn't have a feel for the place. There wasn't a bevy of pretty fisherman's cottages that I knew of to choose from and somehow I didn't have the heart to even try. St Ives has my heart, pure and simple. And so I do not think Brixham will be replacing it anytime soon.

I spent this day dashing from place to place, searching for those last minute bits and pieces to take with me; collecting medical records from the doctor who had cared, and taken time; having that last pot of tea at the Digey; picking up Cornish pasties for the train ride; and so on. The gleam of the sunshine makes these small tasks that much easier - although it makes saying goodbye that much harder.

And all throughout the day were the scattered questions of good hearted Brits, asking us about the election. It was really rather sweet. They seem genuinely baffled by what the Americans have gone and done, and wish to somehow help save us from ourselves. But they can't and probably don't need to, because the Americans have been through it all before and we will figure it out again. 

Still, it was kind of fun to talk about. It's going to be rather tame when all that dust settles and life returns to normal. 

I'm actually looking forward to it.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady 

St Ives, today

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Cornwall, Day 39 (to the Chemist)

I awoke to the sound of a news channel at low volume, and realized that the results must be in. Should I or should I not get up? Should I or should I not go in and find out what on earth had been happening overnight? It could have gone either way, but by bedtime last night the British newscasters were already saying 'Madam President', and so I figured that would be it. They must know. So I waited under my comfy duvet for a bit, and then jumped out and took the leap.

"What's the news?" I said, poking my head out into the living room and addressing my husband.

And he said the most remarkable thing. He said, "Trump's won it."

What? But - what? "No joke?" I pressed.

"No joke."

"Then I must go and see the Chemist!" For on October 28 I had had a discussion with the local Chemist about who would or would not win the American election. As I recall it, we had discussed the conundrum of having two people on the ballot that so many disliked. That it was going to be a tough one. That I would come back to him on November 9 and discuss the resulting mayhem. Remember?

So down to the Chemist's I went, and there he was, his back turned in earnest discussion with his boss.

"This lady wishes to speak with you, sir," said an assistant.

"Oh? Alright, I'll be right there." And then he turned, and saw me. The American lady.

He smiled. "And what did I tell you?" he said, approaching. "I said Trump would win it, and he did!"

It was true. He had been the only Brit to say it, and I'd been surprised. From somewhere behind the Chemist, his boss mournfully interjected.. "Well, God help America."

There was a small silence in response to this, and then I said what we've said for over two hundred years now. Through the ups and downs, through the wars that seemed endless at times, through all the changes and fears.

"Oh, I think we'll survive, sir." And we will. 

But we do, as always, need God's help. The boss was right about that.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

today in St Ives

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cornwall, Day 38 (Another Day at the Leach)

Ages ago I had had an invitation, and decided to accept. The Leach Pottery had announced that any who wished might come for a 'taster' session of pottery making. Taster, meaning that if one had never done ceramics, they could give it a go. At the Leach Pottery. For a fee. I signed up.

Yesterday was the day, and when I showed up and found that I was the only student in that morning's class, I was thrilled. A whole potter of my very own, to teach me! Her name was Jacqueline Clark.

It was a session on the basics of 'throwing', and I had all sorts of visions in my mind, of throwing clay around and watching it come out as a pot. It took a lot more than just throwing, but a pot did, because of Jacqueline, come out. 

She took me through the steps, demonstrating each one on the potter's wheel as I watched. It looked smooth and rather easy in her hands, but when it became my turn to do the same, it was a different story! There is quite a lot of strength used with both hands, and if you don't use that strength a pot won't come out. Or at least nothing that resembles a pot. The SconeLady does not have her full issue of hand strength anymore, but with Jacqueline's guidance and correction, we came through and the first pot was presentable. The second one was even better. Here are both pots:

It was a lovely way to spend a morning in St Ives, and I highly recommend it!

This pottery making was hands down the high point of the day, for when we went to meet my new American friend at The Digey, alas, she was unable to come! My questions all lay unanswered and the friendship lingers on pause. It was a sad moment. Still, the scone was good, and soothed the SconeLady considerably. After all that throwing and pottering.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Cornwall, Day 37 (Kindred)

Sunday is always a spectacular day, whether it be rain or shine. This day it was shine, so one could not help but dash out and be in it. And then there was a toast party, and then - church! It would be our last visit to St Ia this year, so we were certain to be there on time seated in our ancient pew like all good parishioners. 

This time we were bowled over by the organist, who is as good as any I have heard in a Cathedral. Including St Paul's, London. It made me a bit sad to realize (again) that I do not even know of any organists, anywhere near where we live in California. I'm sure they must exist, but I never run across them or hear of them. This one, whose name is Peter, is splendid. And, he is a Choir Master as well, directing everything from his perch at the massive organ, playing all of the parts including the foot pedals, changing organ sounds as befits the music. He directs the choir from there as well. I don't know how he does this, but he never misses any notes while using an arm to direct the beginning or the ending of a piece. Heaven.

After church everyone was invited for tea or coffee and biscuits, so of course we stayed. I like the biscuit part because they always have my favorite 'Rich Tea Biscuits', which taste smashing with a nice hot cup (two biscuits is just perfect with one cup). While we stood chatting away, someone spoke to us about the choir and the organist and how there was an American woman in the choir today.

"What!" I exclaimed. "Is she still here?"

"Yes," said the woman telling us. "She is right around that corner, there."

And around that corner came the American. Within moments I realized I was being introduced to a kindred spirit. It was obvious, dear Readers, because it was revealed that she travels to St Ives every year for THREE MONTHS. On her own. Nobody but me ever does such radical things. She comes during the late fall and stays until February, which (to me) is a very cold time to come stay. But she doesn't mind it. She says she escapes the greater cold of Kansas by coming to St Ives.

There was so much to discuss! What kind of lodging do you use? Where do you eat? What do you do? Everything, in fact, that I am asked whenever someone discovers what it is that I do every fall. But - now the coffee, tea and biscuits were being packed away and the church was emptying. No time to talk! So an arrangement was made to meet the next day at the Digey Food Room, as she had never yet been there! We would meet, and talk. This kindred spirit would discover the best scone in Cornwall, and I could hardly wait.

I thought about it as we walked back to the cottage, and then as we went to the Sunday Carvery at the Castle Inn (you can see the ridiculously huge amount I took, there>). I thought about it as the rains came tumbling down outside all afternoon long. It would be lovely to speak to someone who felt the same about this gem of a Cornish town.

In the meantime, I must tell you the list of tasty foods on offer at the Sunday Carvery:

  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • roast potatoes
  • roast parsnips
  • carrots
  • peas
  • cauliflower cheese
  • roast onion
  • mashed potatoes
  • dressing
Are you shocked? Well, I didn't finish it, but I certainly did give it the old college try. 

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cornwall, Day 36 (His Newspaper)

We are entering our last week in St Ives, and must therefore squeeze in as many cream teas as possible. Having fairly well given up on anyone else's, it's got to be The Digey so we headed in, through the rain. The place was hopping. There were people and kids and prams everywhere, but we managed to squeeze ourselves over to a tiny table at the back. Ordered. Were brought our tasties. And then settled in to watch. It is the SconeLady's favorite pastime. But once in a while she sees something she wishes she hadn't.

One tiny girl was standing, hovering, between two tables and looking solemnly in my direction. I wasn't sure which adult she belonged to but thought she was utterly sweet and so I said, "Hello! How are you today?" at which she promptly cried. I must be losing my touch.

Or perhaps it was the accent that scared her. We Americans can be frightening if you don't watch our movies and feel familiar with us. She was heartbroken for a time as her father put down his paper and comforted her. When she was happier she began wandering quietly from table to table, and ended up standing in front of the door. I do not like to talk about this part, because standing in front of a door is not a good idea when people, who do not know a tiny girl is there, may be opening it from the outside. "Oh dear, someone is going to open that door.." I murmured to my husband.

And in hardly any time at all, someone from outside did open it! I wished so badly that I had said something in time, but - what would you have done? People do not like people to interfere or lecture them in public about their children. The girl did fall and did cry, but was, in the end, comforted and calmed once again. But it was awfully hard to watch. It is as though the thing was happening in slow motion and we were unable to stop it. 

I don't really know how to end this one, except to say that I won't forget that sweet and tiny girl, whose only mistake was to stand in the wrong spot in a restaurant. The real mistakes were made by the one person who was supposed to have been doing something much more important than reading his paper.

See you along the way,
the SconeLady

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Cornwall, Day 35 (In Between)

Yes, this was actually, surprisingly Cornwall yesterday. It does happen sometimes during the month of November, in between the torrential rains.

We walked through this sunshine for a couple of hours, with only a drop or two from above. It's like that here in the southwest of England - whenever the sun comes out everybody grabs their Wellies and rain gear and lunges for the door. One must catch each ray while it lasts! We had no Wellies, but snuggled up as cozily as we could in our jackets and hoods. 

We had climbed aboard the train to St Erth to start our walk, and sat down where we could eyeball the house where Rosamunde Pilcher had grown up. I always eyeball it, no matter how many times I have already. It is iconic.

We hadn't heard much about the American election these past couple of days, until the train conductor came and sat down with us. He is a very busy man but when he heard our voices, he came straight over. "What do you think about your election?" he asked, with keen interest. "I mean, what do you think might happen?"

No matter how hard you try, you really can't answer that question, can you? It's impossible! All I know is that one election does not a disaster make, not when you think of  all the things in life that really matter. And besides, when it comes to what 'might' happen, we are under orders:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18)

I was just thinking of this, and of how no matter who it is that wins, they are to be lived peaceably with - when the train whistle blew, and our conductor had to dash. "Nice to meet you!" he said with a wave. "Have a good day!"

He really was a very nice, very kind man. Someone whom we would find easy to live peaceably with. But what about those who could be a bit more troublesome..?

Perhaps we need the practice. 

See you along the Way!

the SconeLady

Friday, November 4, 2016

Cornwall, Day 34 (The Other Closure)

My sister will likely be curling up into the fetal position thinking about all these closures. We both will be, for we do not like them. We wish for shops, and galleries, and other places of purchase to stay open. Otherwise we get twitchy.
Tregenna Castle Hotel
When we first came to St Ives we wandered around down the town, having walked from the Tregenna Castle Hotel. Somehow we had gotten signed up to the Tregenna Castle Hotel, even though it looked terrifically expensive and harshly unattainable. It, however, turned out not to be unattainable, but very attainable instead. The SconeLady had gotten a 'deal', and snapped it up.

The very first thing we took notice of (besides the Uys Gallery) was Madeleine's Cafe and Tea Shop. We could see in the window the rows of cakes! What we really wanted was a scone, but the cakes looked promising. We entered, and found a tiny table next to a window which opened out onto Fore Street. The whole effect was charming. The tea ladies were also charming, laughing with us and commenting, "From America, are you?" There was quite a lot of laughter throughout the whole place, including other ladies who had dropped in for teas, coffees, cakes, scones, tea cakes, pastries, and buns. It was a party.

unknown patron at Madeleine's
Which is why it came as such a shock when Madeleine's closed up shop just weeks ago. Madeleine's had been there for years, and everyone on Fore Street was just as sad as I was. I learned that the owners of the building had decided to up their rent, and Madeleine's were not willing to pay it. It was as simple as that. And the shop is just as empty and barren today, with nary a cake crumb in sight.

But I have hopes for St Ives, however disappointed I might be. We could probably even predict that those two closures will have little, if any, effect. You should just see Fore Street! It is hustling and bustling to beat the band, crowds of tourists still combing the streets and shops in their never-ending-quest to purchase. This is a deep need in a tourist's life, dear Readers. Purchase, purchase, purchase. Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. It is good for St Ives. And whatever is good for St Ives is good for the SconeLady. And her sister.

Otherwise we get twitchy.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

the empty, and bereft, Madeleine's

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cornwall, Day 33 (Uys)

It was our favorite gallery. I had passed it several times this week, seeing nothing untoward and even waving to the proprietor's wife. She cheerily waved back. And then today, the place was suddenly empty. The place where I'd seen her smile and her wave. Abandoned. Closed! Such a shock.

My sister knew of this spot and loved it as I did, for we had gone in many times to peruse their wares. We were on a hunt! Friend Rosie had offered, and was giving, her marvelous hospitality in Norfolk and we wanted to thank her when we got there. And what better way to thank than to find something uniquely Cornish. Uys!

His name is actually Roelof Uys, a wonderfully talented South African Potter living and working in St Ives. We chatted with him and with his wife Melanie, a fabulous artist in her own right. They were lovely. We found just the right piece of pottery for Rosie, and they packaged it well and sent us on our long train journey - Cornwall to Norfolk. But (and we couldn't believe this) one of the engines of the train went *bonk* and so we were all massively delayed. We also had to rush ourselves from Paddington Station to Kings Cross, dragging suitcases, backpacks, shopping bags and Rosie's gift, and catch the next train north. It was all very hurried and harried, and we hoped our treasure was not being harmed in transit.

When we arrived, and after Rosie's gracious dinner, we all gathered in the lounge near the fireplace, for the 'reveal'. As she opened it, we sat perched on the couch watching her face. But - what was this? a sound. A rattling. The noise from within that packaging was not at all pleasant, for a noise from within packaging can mean only one thing. Breakage.

It was, in fact, broken, and we were bereft. Rosie did immediately and cheerfully fix it. And if you saw it today you would not notice a break. But we know it is there.

And now, today, the Uys Gallery has suddenly emptied. I don't know yet, why. Perhaps it is that they have moved to another, larger gallery. Perhaps they have gone back to South Africa for a time. I don't know. 

But I do wish I had taken the time to stop in, rather than just wave. 

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

fireplace at Friend Rosie's 
(notice the shoe? Ted)


Cornwall, Day 32 (Together)

The waiting was nearly over, but it had been a hard one. The SconeLady had puttered and shopped and cooked herself into an utter frenzy when suddenly, after having hovered about for absolute ages, she finally heard the whistle. The train whistle. He was here.

But – the train appeared to be empty. Where were all the passengers, I wondered? - and squinted. Perhaps he wasn’t here, after all.. When that dreary thought occurred, it suddenly seemed to be the proverbial straw upon this poor camel’s back – and panic ensued. But then, from the final car in the lineup, a man was seen standing, lifting out his case, and then smiling in my direction. Was it, dear Readers? It was! The SconeLady’s husband.

Hooray! It can hardly be surpassed, having one’s husband with you in the sweetest place on this green earth. We walked up the steep steps and to the cottage wherein a scrumptious dinner awaited, and I think I stared rather a lot, as he ate. It was the sweetest thing.

Waking up to an almost impossibly bright morning has been an added grace. In it, we have walked, talked, laughed, eaten, and mailed - for one cannot forget one’s postcards for one’s grandchildren, no matter what large amounts of fun one is having.

Suddenly, ‘Wish You Were Here’ is not enough.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cornwall, Day 31 (Mawnan)

It seems that wherever I am taken in Cornwall, the beauty astounds. This time it was a village called Mawnan, which is sweet and quiet and has an endearing churchyard. If such a thing is possible. But it must be, because just look at that view:

My host's daughter had been married in this little church, and after viewing the photos I asked to be taken to it. We wandered around inside and out, and I thought what a charming spot it was to say 'I do'. 

"It's nothing like the Cathedral, I'm afraid," said my host, remembering Truro. But in a way it wasbecause there was such peace and accord in both. One does not need splendor to find goodness. And it was all there.

"Oh, I love it just the way it is," I said. "So sweet.."

We talked about the wedding, and the dresses (she had made FIVE of them including the Bridal gown!), and poured over the photographs. I did not personally know more than 3 of the people in them, but it was exciting fun anyway. Women seem to love talking about weddings, no matter who might be in them.

"Oh my goodness, just look at that veil!" I exclaimed. "Did you make the veil too?"

She said, humbly, "Yes, that too.." and smiled.

When it was time for the SconeLady to be returned to St Ives, we stopped to eat at the Trengilly Wartha Inn along the way. Have you ever heard of the Trengilly Wartha Inn? I had not, but as soon as we walked in I could see exactly why they loved it. Do take a look at it! We sat at the wooden table on the left!

We three ate the scrumptious meal and talked for ages about - (you'll never guess) - the American election. How can such a thing not be discussed? We have only one more week, and it is all the rage over here. I've never been so popular! 

Someone asked, "What will you do if so-and-so wins?"

I thought, and wondered...and then realized that, whichever so-and-so wins, I will be doing exactly the same thing. 

I will pray.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady