Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ted's Breads

"Who wants to help me make some soda bread?" said Ted, one morning. This was quite an honoring offer to have been made, for Ted's breads are famous and lots of fun to make. He is not a baker who insists upon doing all the work himself. He lets small hands help him do it, instructing all the while. It sounded promising.

"We do!" said the three. "Where will it bake?"

"Why, the bread oven, of course. I have heard you are quite interested in the bread oven."

They certainly were. They were interested in Ted's bread oven because it was well spoken of by their Grandfather, who was always saying that he wanted one. He was always wanting an AGA too, and so was Grandma, only it would all become much too hot for southern California. They talked and talked about doing this, trying to figure a way around all of that heat. There is heat in a bread oven and heat in an AGA; and there is even more heat in California. So it was a conundrum.

But here was an actual bread oven in cool Norfolk, with Ted standing next to it, its flames flaming about inside. 

"First, we will heat this oven up very, very high, and then we will let it cool back down just a bit, making it exactly the right temperature to bake your bread. When you come back from town, we will begin." 

The children got ready in due time, and climbed into their grandpa's rental van (which is perfectly huge), off to explore. There was much to explore, for their mother had lived in the town for two years, and had told them all about it. She had told them about exploring the graveyard in her back yard, and seeing it from her bedroom window whenever she peeked out; she had told them about walking to the High Street by herself every Saturday for candy;  about the park where their uncle had broken his collar bone doing something daring (the Rather Stunning Son is still a daring piece of work); she told them about the local school where the Headmistress had made them 'eat British' at the Noon Meal, for it was the only proper way, and about going home for dinner and Grandpa (her father) making them 'eat American', for IT was the only proper way. This last bit was rather confusing, because they kept on forgetting which way was the most proper, and getting themselves scolded.

The children knew about all of these things, and thought them funny. It was strange to think of Mother getting into even a little bit of trouble, for she is a proper lady now; but they knew that she did, because Grandma had confirmed this sad fact - and then laughed. 

After all of this exploring and remembering, they all came back to Rosie's and found Ted chopping wood next to an enormous pile of it all stacked up and tidy. They stared at its enormity, in awe - there were simply hundreds of pieces of it. Probably even thousands. No one could ever imagine a day when all of the pieces of Ted's wood had been burned up. You could make almost a million loaves of Soda bread, and never run out.

Into the house went Ted, followed by his troup of small but eager Sous Chefs. Each one had a job to do and did it well, under Ted's kind tutelage. In the end, three loaves of the splendid bread were mixed, kneaded (only slightly, mind. Soda bread does not bear up under very much), cut, and placed. At some point they were set into the oven (the SconeLady did not see just when, because she had fallen fast asleep), and at some point they were taken out - done to a turn. 

There is nothing in the baking world that comes out quite as wonderfully as Soda Bread, in any form - but most particularly as toast, with lots of butter, and jam. Ted would probably say that all of that butter and jam might spoil the natural taste. And he is probably right. But we can't possibly help ourselves and so we reach for it, apply it liberally, and consider the whole thing finger-licking good.

It's the American way. The only proper way.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Birthday All Day Long

We were a lively crowd, for all of friend Rosie's children, plus one lovely fiancé and two children, were there. Everyone was hungry, having taken in the aroma of grilling steaks for a good part of the afternoon. When everything was set, the table, I am sure, quite literally groaned.

We ended up counting them one by one, so amazed were we by the sheer number of dishes friend Rosie and her Ted had cooked, simmered, baked, barbecued, and roasted, in their typical fashion. It was the SconeLady's husband's birthday, and our hosts pulled out all of the stops.

So let me see if I can remember them all for you. Big, juicy steaks. Roast potatoes. Potatoes Au Gratin. Corgettes. Roasted sweet potato wedges. Tossed salad with home made salad dressing. Homemade salsa (which I will have to describe for you, for it wasn't anything that even remotely resembled the salsas we get in California). And there was other thing, which I am certain was delicious because it was all delicious, but I can't quite remember what it was. And the tastiness didn't stop there, oh no. A sudden hush descended upon our festive table as the children drifted off to the other room, having been summoned. In a moment, the lights were all switched off and a glow as from birthday candles swayed into the room, the children proudly bearing in Grandpa's birthday cake.

The birthday song, the invitation to help Grandpa blow out the candles, the actual blowing out of the candles, the cheers, and the licking of the birthday candle bottoms, all made for a momentous occasion. Everybody cheered.

The cake was chocolate, made from scratch, as well as a warm chocolate pudding cake you could put next to, or on top of, your chocolate cake, then there was homemade chocolate ice cream, along with a LUSCIOUS JUG OF THICK CREAM to pour over the lot. It didn't matter that we had already had enough food to satisfy an army - the cake, the pudding, the ice cream, and the cream all disappeared at an alarming rate. 

At the end, as Grandpa put down his fork and used his napkin, he said, "It's almost time for bed - but I don't want to go to bed because it means this very nice birthday will be over." We all thought about this, and knew just what he meant. The sweetest birthdays are the ones you wish would never end. 

But really, a birthday has to end in order to arrive at, and enjoy, the next one. When the next one comes, the three blonds who carried in the cake tonight, will have become four, and who knows what other sweetness may also be just around the corner? The name 'Grandma' is terriby sweet.

See you along the way!

the SconeLady

Monday, May 29, 2017

When the Chips are Slightly Down

Dare I use the word 'harrowing'? Dare I hint that the First Great Western railroad wasn't all that the SconeLady had cracked it up to be? Yes, I must dare, for it is all too unbelievably true. It was almost like passing through a sort of hades in order to reach the lovely heaven we knew was at the end of the journey. "Don't worry, kiddies, when we are finally there, friend Rosie will take care of us!" This became our mantra.

<a href="">(license)</a>

It would have been fine, had there been working bathrooms; had we known which train car we were in so that we should not risk being hopelessly left behind at some strange station; had we not needed to dash from car to car multiple times, dragging bags, backpacks, artwork from St Ives, and three (at points) bewildered children. Oh - and did I mention working bathrooms? We knew that there must be one somewhere, it was just a matter of finding it. The other passengers were just as baffled as we, and doing the same desperate search, up and down. 

The climax was perhaps reached when a lady and daughter with two bicycles in the middle of the aisle wouldn't let us and our 7 bags go past, and not letting us pass meant we would be stuck on the part of the train that would detach at any moment, and when, in the middle of this discussion about passing or not passing (the answer being consistently 'no'), the speeding train suddenly lurched LEFT, throwing Grandpa and the 9 year old right into their laps. Yes, perhaps that was the climax, for it threw the SconeLady, who had seen it from a distance, into a fit of hysterical laughter, and the passengers around her concluded that she had become unhinged.

The haven where friend Rosie awaits
But always, at the most tiring moments when three children weren't just certain about this part of the whole shebang, their father would come out with some splendid treat; some marvelous tasty that lifted spirits and made the insanity sane, again. Delicious brownies! Coca-cola, cold, in glass bottles! Oh the dear man. 

Throughout all of this, and despite being expected to dash at high speed from one end of the train to the other, no child cried nor did they argue, and no one had anything other than a cheerful outlook. This ability to laugh when the chips are just slightly down, is something you don't see everyday. But Grandpa and I happen to have a front row seat, and we're liking it. We're liking it a whole lot.

And I'll have whatever it is they are having. Please.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: TGuppy 37401 <a href="">First Great Western Class 43 HST 43031 leads 43124 on 1V72 Weymouth to Bristol Temple Meads past Thornford 30/5/2015</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Sunday, May 28, 2017


One day, three children went out to play on the white, sandy beach. They had brought along three buckets and three spades - red, blue, and yellow so that no one should become confused and use their brother's (or their sister's) bucket and spade. These little details are extremely important when one has siblings who might, just might, use one's items.

There they played, splashing and digging, all the afternoon. There was no end of fun to be had. They had the waves, which seemed to indicate the 'in' of the tides, and which felt fun to jump into. They had the endless shells and sea glass to collect into piles, and they had their buckets, which were shaped like castles so they could make all the sand castles a child could ever wish for. An enormous city, in fact, of sand castles, right there for all the world to admire. It was enormous fun, and took up all the hours of the afternoon.

Mother and Dad, along with Grandma and Grandpa, were there. They watched all of this playing, splashing, and digging, and the three children knew that these loving people were there, and were watching. But they didn't really notice us very much - they were having so much fun. And then, a larger wave than usual came suddenly up, and overcame the nearest of the castles, the favorite castle. This larger wave was very inconvenient, and the small girl ran to her grandmother to tell her about it, with broad gestures and a look of thunder upon her pretty face. Then she laughed. It was funny; it was sweet.

Seeing this, I thought about my life, and how sometimes for hours I play and dig, building the things I think pretty and important. I am aware that God is there with me, watching; but I don't perhaps notice Him very much, not until some wave comes along and destroys or frightens. That is when I (and others like me, I feel sure) begin to remember, and to call out to Him with gestures, and thunder. And maybe even questions; the 'why?' questions, often the first to come out of our mouths when we think He hasn't been paying good enough attention.

But He has. He will. He's never stopped. The very reason we are safe at all on our 'beach' is down to the fact that God is actually there, bringing with Him enormous protections and mercies that we never see. 

The three children heard the voice of their mother, calling, "Time for dinner, everyone - let's eat!" Instantly the buckets and spades and shells and sea glass were collected into some semblance of order, and they three all trooped in for their dinners. They didn't know yet what it would be, but it would be good. Knowing their mother, they were certain of that.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, May 27, 2017


In another train, we had just barely sat down and started rolling when the trolley appeared. I mean, they don't waste a minute on the First Great Western Railroad. They don't give you any time to regret the fact that you have just left the most beautiful place on this earth, and are going into withdrawals over it. Someone says, "Would you like some refreshment, Miss? Tea? Coffee?" all with a Great Western smile. It eases the pain a little.

The people around us always notice us. How can they help it? Sweet and interested children do draw stares, and we met more of these nice people as we made our way north. One man seated nearby began chuckling at something the 9-year-old had said. The 9-year-old was trying out his newly minted British accent skills, and the man enjoyed this no end. After hearing a few well-uttered phrases, he said, "That's very good!" and asked for more. But then a sudden fit of sneezes overtook him and we heard no more about accents.

We met a kind woman on the train between Reading and Oxford who was thrilled to listen to the children chattering amongst themselves. She laughed and laughed. A waiter came by and the lady ordered tiny cans of 'lemonade' (we would call it Sprite, and it's delicious here) for them. She said she was from Glasgow, in Scotland, which meant that it was a little bit hard to understand her speech. At least one of our small fry thought the lady was speaking in a different language altogether. The Glasgow accent is something I am fascinated with because I read (listen to, actually, on Audible) books by Alexander McCall Smith. Espresso Tales happens to be one of the best book series I know, and the Narrator is splendid. So I could understand the lady from Glasgow, after a fashion. It was too bad we had only 23 minutes with her, for I would have liked to have had longer. Over a cup of tea, perhaps. That is the trouble with trains. You meet people, and then never get to see them again.

But we were approaching Oxford, and it was time to gather everything up and get cracking. Oxford was/is lovely, filled with warm sunshine and ancient buildings. We had heard utterances of rain to come, and so we wandered around the city in the warmth while we could. There was so much to see, that we could hardly focus on what to see. 

But, what was this? Right there, to the left side of our road stood The Eagle and Child pub, where the 'Inklings' used to meet! C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Charles Williams, Warnie Lewis, and others - comparing books, building worlds, having that proverbial pint (plus a plate of chips shared amongst them) as they talked. We crossed the road, peeked in and found 'the room', straightaway. There was the photo of Lewis and of Tolkein; of Joy and Lewis; of other people and things important to that time - and the table where they had sat in that room all those years ago? it was empty! We snagged it, just before a load of other people, eager to snag, followed us in.

There were girls sitting in the table next to ours, Americans (of course), talking of Lewis and saying to each other, "This is the room... THE room." We were all in a sort of awe, in a fit of remembering every Lewis book we ever read. It's rather strange, don't you think, that the only people I ever see in that room talking about Narnia, are the Americans? Every single time, there we are, and there they are, talking about the crunching of snow in the back of a Wardrobe. I later took a long walk out to The Kilns, C.S. Lewis' home a few miles from that pub. On this tour were 10 or 11 other eager Lewis fans, asking questions enthusiastically about his life and his books, his habits (he was apparently notoriously messy), and his brother. We could have talked all day. And it didn't take me long, either, to realize just who I was surrounded by in that living room where Lewis used to sit and smoke.

Americans. Of course.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happiness, Here and Now

If you look closely enough you will see, here, the greatest admirers of sand and sea that I have ever met. To them all it takes is a bucket and a spade, and life is as near to perfect as it gets. Add a bit of ice cream to that mix, and you've got the whole shebang.

They've had multiple days of this dazzling paradise, surrounded by nearly constant sunshine and beauty. And tan? Boy, are they ever! You wouldn't expect such a thing in England in May, but we have had it, and are not eager to leave it.

On one of the days, Grandma was taking an afternoon nap when she awoke to two bouncing children standing by her bed. 

"Grandma!" whispered one.

"Wake up!" whispered the other.

"We are going to the MUSEUM! and then to ICE CREAM! Want to come?" I blinked, and then focussed on the two shining faces at my eye level.

Who could turn down such an offer? And so I groggily sat up, swung my legs over the edge of the bed, and followed them down the stairs. Bounce bounce, went their heads. Bump bump, went their feet. Both pairs of eyes shone back at me like little sunbeams straight from heaven itself. It's what real happiness looks like, I think, and it sure is inspiring to see it up close, just inches from my face.

I'm not just sure when or why that kind of happiness begins to dissipate like some kind of vapor, once we are no longer children. The cares of this world, perhaps. The responsibilities we (very rightly) take seriously. But can we not shoulder the responsibilities, and keep the happiness? It bears thinking. 

We all trooped out of the door and onto the cobbles to make our appearance at the St Ives Museum. But as we rounded the corner - it appeared they were closing! A man was just then changing the 'Open' sign into a 'Closed' one, but saw us and quickly repented of it. "Come in, come in!" he called. "We close in 10 minutes but maybe you can see some of the best bits if you hurry."

We got out our money to pay him, but, "Oh no, put your money away! No need, no need.."

Hurry we did, and saw some of the best 'bits', as predicted. The pictures and artifacts went back simply hundreds of years and spanned the history of mining and fishing in St Ives. There were photos of shipwrecks, and little rooms set up to look just exactly like a fisherman's cottage used to look - before nearly every fisherman's cottage was turned into a holiday let. But it is hard to be sad about the fisherman's cottages becoming holiday lets, because we have just stayed in one and cannot deny its wonders.

Just thinking about it makes 7 pairs of eyes shine. 

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

St Ives, Itself

Early one morning, an idea popped into the head of the 9-year-old. Ideas were always popping themselves into his head, and today was no exception. 

"Grandma, you have been writing things that have happened to us in St Ives. Right?"

"Yes, that's right. I have," I replied. In fact, that was what I was doing at the very minute his ideas began popping.

"Well, maybe you should write a blogpost about the TOWN of St Ives, not just about what happens here!"

"Good idea!" said Grandma, as she often does say. And so, here for you and from us, is the town of St Ives, Itself.

The fishermen and the seagulls are the two most important bits about St Ives Itself, according to the boy. One of these two things we like, and one of them we do not. The fishermen have been here for more than 700 years, and so they are well established and undeniably important. We tourists are individually only a little bit important to the town; we come, and we go. But the fishermen are majorly important because they never go, at least, not until they die. And then there are others who take their place, perhaps even their own sons (unless their sons wish to go to University, or to the City, or to marry some lass from up north - which sometimes does happen).

The seagulls here are important in that they are 'vicious', again according to this boy. They swirl and swing above us, eyeing whatever it is that we might be eating at any given moment. As you already know, one horrid seagull swooped down upon the sister of this boy, and stole her ice cream. And then its brother, or its cousin, or its friend swooped down half an hour later, and stole her second cone. It was disgusting, and the little girl's father declared a 'War' upon the gulls.

Cobblestone streets are a lovely part of St Ives. They weave their way through the town, past old fishermen's cottages that have been there for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, and they never get torn up and replaced with pavement. Never would anyone tear up and replace them with anything so mundane as pavement because cobbles are so much more useful and interesting than asphalt. Every person traveling with this boy loves the cobblestone streets, and wish that they could have some back in California. This is unlikely, for there are so many millions of people that a road builder would never be able to cobble enough streets to hold them all.

There are two lighthouses, one on an island (Godrevey) and another on the pier that the boy is staying next to. The pier lighthouse is short, and is white with a black bottom. The light is occasionally on near the old Lifeguard Station next to the sheds that hold the scales for crabs and fish and the ice room that the crabs and fish get put into. The lighthouse on the island is hard to detect from St Ives, because it is so far out into the sea. It is taller than the pier lighthouse, and it has its light on most of the time - especially during storms.

St Ives Itself is beautiful, with its beautiful rolling hills and cliffs that are jagged and sheer, and its lovely green hills surrounding the town. You can see this beautiful greenery anytime you go walking and care to turn around and look.

Tonight after supper we were wandering along the cobblestones when we saw the large tractor-trailer heading down to the beach. And why was it heading to the beach? It was going to collect the Royal Navy Lifeboat which had been out on the seas for training. We all clustered together at the end of the pier, and watched as the massive Lifeboat was pulled out and onto dry sand. It was what made today what Grandma called a 'red letter day'.

We have one more red letter day left, here in Cornwall. And we mean to enjoy every little bit of St Ives, Itself.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

The Cornish Fisherman

The most delectable boats are all over the place here. We see them when we wake up in the morning and peek out any window. We see them when we walk out to get a nice breakfast treat. They are floating; they are standing on sand; they are unavoidable. We love them, and at least one boy wanted to know who uses them, and why. One day early on, he found out.

A yellow boat happened to be coming around the pier when Grandpa and he were walking down it. The yellow boat drifted over toward them, and stopped. A man got out and climbed the iron ladder until he was standing and looking at them.

"Hello," said the grandson.

"Hello," said the fisherman, for that was what he was. "Bright day, it'nit?" 

"Oh yes. Is that your fishing boat down there?"

"That it is, that it is," said the fisherman. "Brought me up some Lobster, I did. Loads of it. Like to see it?"

Oh, would he! So the fisherman began his quick movements to and from the iron ladder, hooking up a huge pail filled with wriggling Lobsters, and hoisting them up, over and over again, until at last all the Lobster were safely binned. 

"What is that on their claws?" asked the boy.

"Oh, those are the ruddy great rubber bands I have to put onto each claw. Else I wouldn't have any hands left, they'd pinch the daylights out of me if they had half a chance. Don't want to go messin' with no Lobster claws." And he shook his head for emphasis, just in case a young boy might go out and try 'messin'.

The fisherman went about his business as the boy watched with interest from a small distance. It was fascinating, and set all sorts of ideas into the head of the boy. Just think of the fine Lobster his mother could eat, if HE were the fisherman. HE wouldn't bother with selling them, either; at least, not until his mother had got the biggest, the tastiest Lobster right there on her dinner table. He thought of her smile, as she took her first bite. Yes, that was what the boy would do.

"You can come watch me any day," said the fisherman, "'-cept Sunday. I never fish on a Sunday. But come and watch me on the other days whenever you see the tide rolling in. I'll be here."

And they did. On another sunny weekday, the boy brought along his brother and his sister, to see this fine and fascinating fisherman with his catch. Only this time it wasn't Lobster, it was Crab. Brown Crab and Spider Crab. Absolute bucketfuls of them!  

This time the children not only got to watch the fisherman - they got to help him. He kindly let them pick up (with their grandfather) the tub of wriggling crabs and bring them into the cooling room. There didn't seem to be any 'ruddy great' rubber bands put around their claws, though. The fisherman picked up a crab (at a safe distance) and let it snap its claws at them and wriggle its legs creepily. This, too, was fascinating.

The man soon finished his crab work and hurried himself back down into the boat. They had never seen a man hurry as quickly as did this man. He had to be quick because the tide was going out, and when the tide goes out, a fisherman can no longer move his boat; and if he can no longer move his boat, the boat will become stuck there at the bottom of the iron ladder for absolute hours; and he couldn't have that. Time is money, for a fisherman.

It is time for bed now, and one boy's bed is up in the tippy-top of a 4-story cottage. From it he can see just about everything, even the fisherman's boat. He lays there, wondering how he might one day become a Cornish fisherman. He'd have to get through school first, it was true, but after that? anything was possible.

See you along the way!

the SconeLady

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Blissful Contagion

You know it's a successful vacation when nobody wants to leave.

It wasn't as if our departure was imminent, but it felt like it was. By the end of the second day we were all thinking of ways we could stretch it out, make it last. Other arrangements for Roman Baths and stone pillars began to fade a bit, because all we wanted to think of doing was being in Cornwall. 

If asked just what it is about Cornwall that makes us want to stay, I would have to tell you that it must be the Sea. The sea, and the sand, and the blue blue skies, and perhaps even the wind. It is everything around you as you walk and eat and play here. It is a lovely 'virus', this love of Cornwall, and the SconeLady contracted it long ago. Oops. It seems to be spreading. And if it is a virus, we certainly don't want any medication for it. 

Yet even with all of this, there does seem to be one teeny-tiny negative bit about being here. This little negative thing happened twice today, both times when one of us was enjoying the most delicious Cornish ice cream, in a cone. Cornish ice cream is second to none, and once you begin to lick it, you do not wish to stop. That is why what happened was so shocking and so horrid. The sea gull, a species of coastal bird whose members sometimes live to more than 50 years, have become very practiced at dive-bombing. They can snag a cone in one split second. Or a Pasty, as my sister well knows. One moment you are stretching your tongue out toward the delicious thing, and the next moment, all of it - cone and ice cream - are GONE. It is more than one small girl should have to endure.

These small but irksome adversities happened, yes, but are even now almost completely forgotten. This is because there are so many other good and sweet things to take in that help us to forget the bad and nasty ones. The whole experience has been just one huge welcome: the train, the cottage, the Sea and sand, the chocolate twists and croissants, the seafood, the walks, the scones/jam/cream, the church, the nice people we meet whilst waiting for delayed trains or cabs, and - well, each other. 'Each other' might, in fact, be the finest part of our Welcome here. Because it is lovely fun traveling with people who want to be traveled with, isn't it?

I could get addicted to that.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

 Enjoying the Children's Corner during church

View from the Tippy-top

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Learning - in Copious Amounts

The learning never ceases, not even on holiday. The great thing is to be able to capture the learning and let it be fun, don't you think? For instance, on an English train, rocketing southwesterly in search of history. What could be more fun than to learn like that!?

The budding Kinder you see here is so accustomed to learning whatever his mother and his grandmother give him, that he did not bat even one eyelash when given an assignment while riding on a train. Of course he would do it. His sister and brother had already begun, and so he began. It was that simple. 

I praised my pupil's good work when he had finished, saying how much I admired his long attention span. "Why do you think you learn so well and so quickly?" I asked. He replied, "You are my teacher. You know everything I am supposed to do for school." And then he patted my hand. There could be nothing any sweeter than that.

We all spent 5 and a half hours on this train, a mesmerizing 5 and a half hours of exquisite beauty. Everything was SO UTTERLY GREEN that it nearly took our breath away. Even though the California drought is purported to be over (and our Governor has once again begun showering), the change of scenery between THAT and THIS is almost ludicrous. For quite a while, we all just stared at it as if we were on another planet. 

In between these moments of abject staring, we busied ourselves with consuming copious amounts of snacks and drinks from the free goodie cart. This free goodie cart was a favorite with our small fry, as they (and, of course, we) tried at least one of everything on it - and would have had more if only Mothers weren't so sensible. After the school work was completed and everyone was comfortably full, the idea of sleep suddenly took over, and peace reigned for a time. 

The SconeLady sat drowsily in her own seat, looking around at her sleeping family. She thought of other family who were not there, and missed them. There would be another time, not long from now, when they too would ride along. But for now the march was on, fueled by copious amounts of gratitude and the sense that even more fun is just around the corner.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

St Ives Bay, today

Sugar Plums

A fine elder British gentleman carried the silver Cross along the Nave, as white-robed choir members followed. Someone held the ball of incense, swinging it to and fro on its chain. The three children watched intently in hopes that the ball might do a full swing round, in a circle. Grandma had said that it might, but alas, it did not reach such lofty heights today. Still, it was pretty, made of polished silver and giving off lots of smoke along the way. Then, the Cross, the choir, and the incense disappeared through a door and was lost to sight.

It is a splendid moment at the Parish Church, one of the many St Ives moments I was eager to share. In the Anglican church, incense represents the 'Prayers of the Saints' - a lovely thought! In some churches, the incense ball is perfectly enormous and swings from high up in the rafters. One must have one's wits about them when that ball heads their way. I would love to see something as grand as that. But today's incense was no less significant for its smallness. No one's prayers are bigger or more important than anyone else's.

We were given a hymnal and service sheet as we entered, with a whispered, "There is a children's corner at the front, if you like.." The corner was situated just in front of the front side pew, wonderfully stocked with toys, books, and much more. It was a massive hit! and a sweet example of the welcome we found in that place.

At the end, we were plied with tea, biscuits, and questions as to where we live and what we do. Stories of trips to the States were shared ("It cost $1.3 million dollars to pay for my health care on our vacation to Florida! The Americans did a wonderful job keeping me alive.."), as well as the intriguing prospect of a 'Home Swap' with one parishioner. A HOME SWAP!? What do you think of that? A new approach! 

The SconeLady can always use a new approach when it comes to St Ives. Oh boy - visions of sugar plums are already beginning to dance inside my head. Just the prospect of staying in a real Cornish home in the country, with a garden and a chair and a cup of tea! 

Possibly, probably, Paradise.

See you along the way!

the SconeLady

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Wow Factor

"Any minute now, you are going to see the sea!" said Grandma as the little train chugged along. Three blond heads turned toward the window, and waited. When it finally appeared, admiration sprang from all directions as a hush settled. 


There it was, the 'wow' I had anticipated, having held Cornwall in such regard for so long inside. Now it wasn't just a photograph anymore, to them. It was real. And it was shared

We gathered our belongings and lined up to exit the train, Mother and Father close behind as rear guard. In only a few steps, a magnificent ACE Cab/Van approached our little group. "Ma'am?," said our driver. "Right this way. Welcome to St Ives!" He chattered amiably and answered queries about where it was that we needed to go. He then drove us to it 'post haste'. Every cab driver drives post haste in St Ives, because they can't help it. We never know how they get up the nerve. But he got us there in great style, depositing us within mere feet of the sand, received his pay, and was off. We watched him go, picked up our bags and turned to look at the cottage. And what a cottage it was!

"Grandma!" said the 9-year-old as he entered. "It says to kindly remove our shoes!" Ooh, I thought, that is a good sign. That means nice carpeting and perhaps a bit more poshness than our erstwhile Airbnb had offered. We began to suspect that we had come up in this world.

In a series of discoveries, everyone went from room to room assessing the new digs. Bedrooms were discovered and assigned, bathrooms were counted (three!) and cheered, while Mother and Grandmother peered inside the kitchen cupboards and hidden places in search of goodies. We found Brie, olives, a loaf of bread, fresh English butter, and a bottle of wine! Oh, and I mustn't forget - they left us milk! I have said it before, and I'll say it again - no one does hospitality quite like the British. There's something so civilized about it, and always will be. Rule, Britannia.

The sun is only just beginning to set, and it's 9:30 pm. The children are tucked in and already drifting, leaving the grownups to collapse again into jet lagged heaps. Only this time we get to collapse upon the most plush and deliciously cozy beds. No horrid creaking with every move we make, no more painful banging of shins upon sharp wooden corners. It is Cornwall. It is St Ives. It is the place where civilization finds its zenith, and the SconeLady finds her heart, year after lovely year.

See you along the way!

the SconeLady

Friday, May 19, 2017

The SconeLady is On The Move

The plane roared its way down the tarmac, carrying precious cargo. We sat and watched as three pairs of wide, blue eyes stared out at the City of Angels disappearing behind them. We were off.

After all the years of saying goodbye to Grandma, they felt it was high time they and their parents came along. Week after week they studied their British History and fell in love with the Monarchy. The seven-year-old gazed at the Queen on Youtube, and was amazed. She was all dressed in her finest for the opening of Parliament, complete with robe and crown.

"She's gorgeous, Grandma. Just Gorgeous," said the small girl, with great respect.

Already it has been five days, with the rest of the trip sure to speed by just as quickly. We have taken in the wonders of the Tower of London with its Crown Jewels, torture chambers and chopping block (poor Anne!); Windsor Castle with its Doll House and State Rooms; the British Museum with its horrid looking mummies, and the splendid Mildenhall Treasure; we've seen the stately Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, ridden a London double decker bus and seen the Tower Bridge as its drawbridge lumbers upward to let ships pass. We have met good friends, and dined with them. And, at the end of each day we have have fallen into jet lagged heaps upon our Airbnb beds. Oh, the comfort of it all.

It has not escaped my notice that these three youngsters have faced each challenge of international travel with great composure - and a sense of humor. They are lovely, and funny, and fun. And only occasionally exhausted, at which time their mother comforts them and the strong arms of their father (or grandfather) carries them to where they need to go. That, too, is lovely. But today will be the best, for we will soon pack up and board a train for the Southwest of England, to Cornwall, St Ives, and the sea. 

The sea, which draws so many of us so many miles, year upon year. We just keep coming. We just can't help it. 

I can almost taste the clotted cream.

See you along the way!

the SconeLady