Thursday, October 4, 2018
Can you imagine a whole 2 months of NEVER seeing even one police car? Nor hearing even one siren? I can, now. Because we have spent a night in London where police cars are everywhere you look (and we are thankful for them). But the place I have just lived for such a span of time, hadn't even one.
I did check. There is a web page that describes various infractions such as 'inappropriate parking of cars at St Uny Church', driving a truck whose trailer has defective brakes, and...and, ah, that was it. For the moment.
I'm sure there are nefarious doings there, because there are people there, and people do nefarious things now and then. But maybe not on vacation. It wasn't obvious, anyway, and no police cars or sirens for 2 whole months has to tell you something. I suppose it must be because people come away to St Ives to escape things like sirens, and don't want to perpetrate any themselves.
But I won't mind going back to the land of cop cars and freeway chases. I'm used to it! And besides, right in the middle of all the action are my wonderful loved ones, sleeping now, but waiting...waiting there for me.
That's worth quite a few sirens.
See you along the way!
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Crossing the Saltash Bridge
(also known as the Royal Albert Bridge, and
The Brunel Bridge)
The Saltash Bridge is actually one of the reasons I visit Cornwall. I read about the bridge in Rosamunde Pilcher's novel, Coming Home. Her description of a young girl named Judith, sitting on the Cornish Riviera and gazing down at the British warships gathering below, made me want to see what she was seeing.
My mother gave me Coming Home for Christmas in the year 2000. I opened it and could hardly wait to start reading. But there was the Christmas dinner to get, guests to welcome, and numerous other details that could not wait for novel-reading. So I placed it beneath the tree, and savored the anticipation of the treat ahead of me. In the late afternoon with the house quiet, I crept upstairs, book in hand, and lay propped in my cozy bed, soon lost in the year 1935.
From the train windowIt was the final novel Rosamunde penned. She retired from writing, then, and we have all sadly missed her unique style and development of characters. No one does it like Ros.
It isn't just me who likes the Saltash Bridge. Today as we approached it, the same thing happened that always happens then. People who had been sitting quietly and pondering their lives, begin to stir. It's almost like a ripple effect, a whispered noticing of something special coming your way. People get up and move to where they can see better. They take out their cameras. Children call out, "Grandma! It's the SALT-ASH BRIDGE!" (My grandchild, of course).
So you can see why the Saltash Bridge is such a key moment in any trip to, or from, St Ives. There are others, such as passing by the White Horse, etched into the green country hill; the spires of Truro Cathedral moving past your window, if you are on the proper side for it; the fascinating little train stations where people stand and watch your speedy train whizzing past. It is all the most enormous treat. And I like treats.
In London, we prepare for a departure that will take us to an arrival on the far side of the Pond. I can already feel the ripple effect, as we send and receive text messages cheering the coming day; the 'whispered noticing' of something special coming our way. Tomorrow.
That is the key moment.
See you along the way!
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
After a long hike such as St Michael's Way, the only reasonable thing to do, really, is have scones together. I like doing this because my husband appreciates good scones as much as I do, and we found ourselves sitting outside of The Digey, in the blue chairs, and chatting. We talked about the long walk and felt a bit proud of the long walk; we wondered if we would be able to remember its foibles the next time we do that walk. We're not sure we will. It will probably be a learning curve all over again.
There were quite a few foibles, places where the authors of the instruction booklet may not have clarified terribly well; or where they forgot that Americans have a different playbook when it comes to terminology. For instance, when the playbook says, "You will come to a metaled road..." they forget that we might not know what we are looking for. Metaled? It sounded to us as if bits and pieces of a mineral deposit might be covering the path. Or, "you will come to an unsurfaced road". So I was looking for gravel (wouldn't you be?) and as I stared at the asphalt road ahead of us, there was a lack of clarity.
At about the 7th mile, the instructions were telling us to head diagonally across the field and go over the (billionth) stile where you would find a road. Just as we were about to walk toward the fence on the left, a man came climbing up over a stile to the right (we had not seen that stile yet), and headed our way.
"Going to St Michael's Mount?" he asked. "You've got about 4 miles to go." We discussed the difficulties of the written instructions we had, and he pulled out his Garmin GPS gizmo. "Here, this is what I use."
I looked at it in awe, but thought that the complicated map revealed on its face might confuse me more than I was already. For my husband, though, it was clearly the next best thing to sliced bread and butter. Which is always excellent.
Next the man pulled out some paper maps, and handed them to us.
"Here! You can have these. This one is the beginning, it might be helpful to your ending." He dug further. "Take the lot! I don't need them, not with my Garmin."
We weren't sure we needed them either, but didn't want to refuse his kindness.
"Well, thank you very much," said my husband, as we watched him go.
We now knew the right direction. It was really our last confusion, for we soon began seeing The Mount in the distance. Every once in a while it would disappear, and then later peek back out at us. It was encouraging to have something as magnificent as that out ahead, leading us unfailingly to the end of our quest.
"My feet hurt," I said, gazing at the huge Mount on our left.
"So do mine," said he. "Do you want to go to The Digey when we get back, or that place you like in Marazion?"
We looked at each other. Was there any question, really?
It was the only reasonable thing.
See you along the way!
Monday, October 1, 2018
I wrote to friend Rosie, and we kept it in the backs of our minds for when she, and Ted, and Em, came. But for some reason she, and Ted, and Em, and I did not come upon the day or the time to do our splendid walk. Then they left for home, and the SconeLady's husband arrived, and well, WE would do it, I determined. WE could scope it out and see if it was reasonable.
When the Saints had walked that path in their quest, no one had gone through it with bulldozers in order to 'clean it up' a bit for the tourists. Nothing had been nicely tidied, and the Saints had a tough time getting there. We knew that our Way would be easier. Not completely easy, mind you, but more easy than they.
And today was the day! We had found maps, and instructions, and suggestions from the locals (some of whom thought the idea a bit big, for us). Armed with all of this, we gathered up our Iron Rations and went on our way.
What were these Iron Rations, you ask? In this case, they were apples, cheese, British crackers (delicious), and a gargantuan Cornish pasty. You can't get very far on the Cornish footpaths without one of those. We purchased ours from this fellow, here:
Just take a look at the photographs from today. There were many, but I have picked out only a few. It was all beautiful. And none of it required combat boots.
Primitive Methodist Chapel, Ludgvan
A man we met along the way, who gave us his maps
Our goal! St Michaels Mount
Sunday, September 30, 2018
We had our changeover day yesterday, which meant packing up in the morning and then wandering around the town until our next cottage was ready. This happens every week, and I see other visitors wandering similarly around. Mostly they are women who, like me, have found it impossible to stay in St Ives for just one week. So we book ourselves into multiple living spaces, stash our bags somewhere in between, and take our changeover day with the patience it deserves.
Today is our last Sunday in the town of St Ives, and we were staying near enough to the church to hear it ringing us in. I walked along thinking about who might, or might not, be there this time, and what sermon the new Vicar (if he was there) might be thinking about that very minute. Arriving, we saw that everybody but the organist was back from their collective holidays. Our replacement organist was seated at the massive instrument, playing with gusto, pulling at his sound-changing knobs, and making a great and lovely noise again with the foot pedals. It was a terrific way to begin a service!
At the end, the parishioners listened to the postlude (spectacular), applauded it, and then made their way over to where the coffee and biscuits awaited us. By 'biscuits', I really mean (for you Americans) cookies. If it really were biscuits, as we know biscuits, and especially if they were warmed up biscuits, the church would have to provide butter, and knives, and possibly even jam. But they did not mean 'biscuits', so we stood, eating our cookies, and having our tea. A gentleman approached.
"And, you are from America?"
"Yes," said my husband. "California..."
"Ah, lovely," said the man, "simply lovely."
We recognized him because he is one of the people who get to carry the incense ball, swinging it from side to side, and then, in his case, swinging it round a FULL CIRCLE. This is very impressive. But I did not mention it to him because this wasn't that kind of conversation.
And then, he mentioned that he is the church Warden.
The church WARDEN!? We knew all about church Wardens because of Anthony Trollope's book, "The Warden", which tells a story about a Cathedral city and its very interesting ups and downs. It is fantastic. A must read.
"Have you ever read "The Warden", by Anthony Trollope?" I asked. "There is a movie, too. The Barchester Chronicles..."
"Ah, no...haven't heard of it," he gently replied. We could hardly believe that he truly had not heard of our sweet Warden, who "had frequent bouts of Christianity", and who played the cello exquisitely; whenever he felt agitated about his son-in-law the Archdeacon, he (the Warden) would start moving his hands and arms as if a real cello were in them. It's funny, and very sweet.
But it was time to go, so we placed our teacups and saucers onto the table, said our goodbyes, and left. Walking along the harbor, we felt a sudden and brisk nip in the air. It was, in fact, becoming windy, and I could sense that the mildness of our sojourn here was escaping our grasp. No, don't go! Not yet. We have still to walk our way to St Michael's Mount; to watch our Mousehole Men rehearsing; to visit and hug dearest Jean, all the way up the hill.
And then? - then, it will be California, and the warmth, and the hugs, and the love. Already, my hands and arms are beginning to move as if a real baby were in them.
Ah, lovely...simply lovely.
See you along the way!
Saturday, September 29, 2018
"I'll bet you have a humongous house in California," said the woman sitting next to me. We were waiting to hear Roelof Uys talk to us about his pottery and how it can be used to cook and eat out of. It is one of the things he is noted for, and one of the reasons this lady came that day. I heard her telling someone.
"Well..." I hesitated, not wanting to talk about what kind of house I did or did not have.
"And I'll bet you have a 3 car garage," she continued.
Well, it was true that I had a 3 car garage, but -
"And you have 3 humongous cars inside of it."
Well now that was not true. But I didn't think it worth mentioning, so I sat there looking for an exit. There were several other things about myself that she knew, but then Roelof was introduced, and the lady next to me became silent. The talk began.
It was a really good talk until everyone got really uncomfortable because - guess who started interrupting him!? There must be a protocol for what to do when public meetings like this go creepily south. But my mind was drawing a blank!
It reminded me of when I was teaching school, and right in the middle of a lesson on verbs one of the boys dropped his great big text book with a 'bang!' onto the tiled floor.
I jumped a little, but gathered up my nerves and picked up his book. The lecture continued.
'Bang!' went another of his great huge text books. It sounded like a gun shot.
"Christopher. Stop." He looked innocently up at me. "Yes Ma'am," he said sweetly.
The lecture continued, but I knew what would happen. And then it happened.
"Ma'am?" he asked.
"Knock it off."
"What if I don't?" he asked.
"I'll tell you exactly what will happen if you don't," I said, ominously. "I'm going to CALL YOUR GRANDMOTHER." I slowly took out my special cell phone, the cell phone that made nasty calls to people's grandmothers who might take certain, helpful, 'steps'.
"Oh no!" said Christopher. "Anyone but my Granny! Call my mama instead." Calling his grandmother must have been the equivalent to throwing him in the briar patch.
"No," I said. "I'm not going to call your mama, or your auntie, or anyone else except YOUR GRANDMOTHER."
Now THAT worked.
I love grannies, don't you? And briar patches.
We need more of both.
See you along the way!
Friday, September 28, 2018
There was a wedding at the Castle, today. We weren't a part of the event, simply tourists who happened to be staying the night. It was lovely fun, though, because everybody was in a good mood, dressed marvelously, and feeling in awe of the beautiful sea just below them. The ring bearer was clearly very pleased with himself, hopping around the periphery (holding his pillow) as the guests stared in awe at the bride. It couldn't have been any nicer.
All throughout the day this wedding continued, different activities at different times. We came and went, and each arrival showed us a different point in the festivities. We arrived this morning at 10:15, and it is now 8:30 pm, and the guests are still down there dancing.
Being all that way up the hill already, we decided to try and find St Michael's Way, once more. I hoped we wouldn't meet up with the combat boot lady again, and get myself scolded. But we saw no sign of her and walked on up toward Knill's Monument. Along the way we searched for the mysterious path the Saints had taken, leading them to St Michael's Mount. This path would have a special kind of signpost, hailing it as The Way. We watched carefully for it and nearly became distracted from it a time or two. But finally, there it was. The sign we had sought had been there all along; we just hadn't noticed. We are pretty good noticers too, but even the best sometimes miss what they shouldn't.
We followed the path for a ways just to see how it felt, but will plan on a day's hike before we leave St Ives. For now at least, we know the direction to take.
It is now 9 pm and the guests are still dancing this night away. The ring bearer has likely worn himself out, and is feeling ready for his bed. So am I. We may have moved from the sweet little cottage right on the sea, where we could hear the tides all night long. But we've come up in this world. A castle! It was good enough for that young couple's wedding. It is surely good enough for me.
See you along the way!
Thursday, September 27, 2018
I saw Clementina!
Clementina van der Walt, the South African potter who is doing another Residency at Leach Pottery, has come - oh, fortunate me! - now, while I am still here. I heard through social media (sometimes it is handy), that she was coming. We made connection, and finally, today, I saw Clementina!
The Leach Pottery is quite a little walk uphill along what they call "The Stennack" - perhaps a mile from the cottage. But an uphill mile is nothing now, compared with what it would have been 2 months ago. We have done so much up-hilling that it truly is just one big piece of cake. I did it, and arrived at 10:00 a.m.when the Leach was opening. A man was at the counter.
"Hello," I said, "I am hoping to see some Clementina Vanderwalt pieces. Do you have any yet?"
"Well," he said, "we will have them, once her exhibition takes place..."
"On October 3. Right?" I asked. Clementina had told me this herself on social media (you see? handy). But - sad! we leave here that very day, and I must miss it. I will see pictures of it, but in real life would have been amazing. I haven't seen anything like her pottery, dear Readers; so brightly vibrant, so rich in tone, so - so glowing. And different from everyone else's. But, if I couldn't see or purchase any of Clementina's pottery just yet, then perhaps...
"Is she in today?" He said that yes, she was in. And that I maybe could see her. He would go and ask. I waited.
Then through the door she came, saying "Hello!" smiling, hugging. "How is your brother doing?"
The Brotherly Traveler had been with me 2 years ago at Clementina's class, and she remembered. The graciousness I saw in her that time was still there now. And the humility, and the confidence that will carry her through what she must do here. She is not here to just sit around being famous. She is here to work.
The subject of scones came up, as it tends to wherever I go (she knows me as the SconeLady, after all), and Clementina said she'd not had one at The Digey this trip, but that she would soon.
Later on, as I sat at The Digey an absolutely smashing idea hit me. I could get her a scone! Better yet, an entire Cream Tea!.
So I ordered it to go, they popped two scones out of the oven and into the to-go bag, and up I trudged again to The Leach. It was fun! She - and some of her colleagues - got to taste the very best scones to be found in Cornwall. In England. In the world! New fans for The Digey!
And it is easy to look at her work, dear Readers. Just go to the website below, and scroll through. Her new pieces are in progress, but will be added soon; and I can't wait to see them. Always unique, always innovative and thought provoking. I never really knew how much I loved pottery, until I saw hers. Absolutely smashing.
See you along the way!
scenes of st ives, today and tonight
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
The ocean here has been looking more like the Mediterranean than the Celtic Sea. The brilliant blue of it is breathtaking - we all walk along the Harbor mesmerized. Indian summer in Cornwall.
Today we took advantage of this beauty by getting on the A16 bus for Zennor (yes, again), and walking our way back. On another gorgeous Mediterranean day we charged up the hill to find St Michael's Way - a 12 mile hike from north to south Cornwall. Hikers get to take the same path that St Ia took when she, and others, brought Christianity to this part of the world. Their goal was to reach St Michael's Mount, and we wanted the same, so we collected maps, and instructions, and then Googled it in preparation.
We started by hiking uphill to Knill's Monument, our first stopping point. We made it there just fine. But after it, the instructions were more ambiguous because you never could tell what they meant by 'the right hand side of the front of the monument', because we could not ascertain which of the sides was the FRONT OF THE MONUMENT. We chose the wrong one, and wound up down at Carbis Bay - not where we wanted to be, and not on St Michael's Way.
A nice lady (walking her doggie) found us flailing about on this wrong path and asked us where we were going.
"We want to go to St Michael's Mount," we said, still looking hopeful.
She looked at our shoes. "Not in those, you won't." She was decisive on this point, especially pointing out my walking shoes. "Not near sturdy enough." She herself was wearing something akin to combat boots, but I did not call attention to it. She said, "You could always just walk the path from Lelant to St Ives. That's a lovely walk.."
And yes, it is a lovely walk. We have walked it and walked it until we could probably walk it in our sleeps. But we wanted the path those wonderful Saints took centuries ago, and Lelant just wasn't going to cut it this time.
We decided to catch a bus that would take us to the area of St Michael's Mount, and hike from there to other lovely, and more predictable spots. Since we had prepared to walk 12 miles total, we just kept on going. In fact, when we were done having tea and scones at The Copper Spoon in Marazion, we took the bus to Lelant, and walked the walk we have walked tons of times, and enjoyed it all over again. It put us at 13.5 miles total. Hurray!
Sometime we will try the Saint's path, again - maybe even next week as we wind down our Cornwall trip for another year. But I'll have to think about these shoes. That lady sure didn't like them.
Maybe... combat boots?
See you along the way!
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
The way was long, but its payoff made it worth every mile.
I waited up the hill at the Stennack Surgery for my ride, and Eric turned up on the stroke of 5:20. In I climbed.
"Hello!" I said. "Lovely to see you." We zoomed off and picked up two other ladies, sweet Jean (of the pork pies and custard tarts) and her friend Pennie. With each new occupant, the ride became livelier and jollier as we caught up on life, talking nineteen-to-the-dozen. And then at one point, someone asked me about the book I've been writing.
"What is it about?" they said.
"It has to do with a boarding school Headmaster," I said, thinking of my darling story and its wonderful main character.
"A headmaster? Boarding school!" Pennie said. "Why, Eric here went to a boarding school. Did you know that?"
I hadn't. A boarding school!
"Oh, Eric," I gushed, "we must talk about this. Did you like it? Was there a - cane? What kind of uniform..." and so on. I felt I couldn't get enough. To think of finding a friend who had actual experience at boarding school! Eric patiently answered my questions, but then we arrived at the venue and I had to stop. We found excellent seats (Eric always leaves home early, so that we can get excellent seats) and awaited our concert. The place filled. It was big, and it filled. Such is the reputation of our Male Choir!
And then there was a stirring at the back as they moved down the aisle, singing their signature welcome song, "Halle-halle-Luia". A stirring opener! The concert was nearly two hours in duration and we hardly noticed it. There were actually two male choirs that night, sharing the stage, and both were wonderful. At the end, both sang together and led us all in singing, 'When I Survey The Wondrous Cross'. Powerful.
We climbed back into Eric's car, and began the ride to St Ives. This time Pennie drove, so Eric was in the back with me. And guess what we got to talk about? Boarding schools! Uniforms. Mean boys. Nice boys. And - canes. And guess what else? Eric actually ran away from boarding school! It all worked out in the end, and he went back. He wasn't caned because it was a Methodist boarding school of high esteem, and did not look kindly upon canes.
It was a great ride home, all in all, through adorable villages that made me want to stop and have a look at them. But it was late, and dark, and no one in those villages would want me rambling around having a 'look'. So Pennie drove on, and said I could always go to Helston next week.
Helston. Next week? Next week we fly HOME - oh, hurrah! Perhaps I will have to wait for another year to see Helston. I will have to put together an itinerary consisting of all the villages and ports and grassy paddocks I would like to catch up on, next time.
But for now, I'm going to start thinking about next week; the pitter-patter of little feet toddling along, pushing a cart toward some unknown destination, learning how to walk.
See you along the way!
Monday, September 24, 2018
We saw them on Church Lane as the bells tolled above and around us - a small girl and her grandparents laughing, she skipping along while they followed at a more subdued pace.
"Take my picture, Granny!" said the girl, standing in the ancient doorway and hopping up and down. Grandmother looked dubious, but Grandpa said 'yes of course', and so they all paused for their photo shoot on a Sunday morning in St Ives.
We arrived at church as the bells rang on, and noticed straight off that something was different. Several things were different, actually, and I noted them all, in a whisper, to my husband.
"The new Vicar isn't here."
"I don't know, but the Vicar from before him, is here." We kept walking in. And then,
"The choir isn't here."
"I'm not sure. They've always been here, so something must be up." I glanced around. "Oh. And the organist..."
"I know. He isn't here." Having established that the ENTIRE CHURCH was missing, I began to notice that no, really, it wasn't. The nice young Scottish man was there to represent the choir; and another organist was taking the place of our organist; and then the incense carrier entered, followed once again by the Cross, the candles, and the not-new Vicar at the end.
And it was a wonderful service, everything you would want a service to be. The replacement organist was splendid, and played everything with great energy, pulling knobs and swelling volumes and turning pages with vigor - really, it was fun to watch. At the end, his recessional was so upbeat that it made everyone in there tap their toes. And in fact, it set the Vicar to dancing. It did! I am not making this up. We all laughed in the most friendly way, feeling as though we would like to be brave enough to dance up a church aisle.
Over tea and biscuits, we learned that some of the church leaders were on holiday, and that was why so many key players were missing. The replacement organist, holding his tea cup, had something of a crowd standing around him. We stared a bit because he was close to 6'9", so everyone had to crane their necks back to see his face. I had trouble doing this, but found that if I bend backwards at the waist, I could just about do it.
"Um. Are you also a basketball player?" I asked, when it was my turn.
He laughed. "No, not a basketball player. In fact, not a sportsman at all. I am the worst possible person to put on a court or a field somewhere. Absolutely hopeless."
We listened some more, and discovered that he would be back next week because our organist will still be on his holiday. It is quite astonishing to be in a church that has two such amazing organists. It seems so different from the state of California, where almost no one has a gigantic organ for someone splendid to play on a Sunday.
I wonder if organ-playing will make a comeback, one day. I sure hope so. I think we could use a few more ministers so inspired that they actually want to dance up the aisle.
See you along the Way!
Sunday in St Ives
Saturday, September 22, 2018
What does a girl do in a wind and rain storm when she has just washed her hair? She stays inside, out of the wind and rain storm. Everybody knows that.
But although I tried to, I simply could not do it, not ALL day, it just isn't possible if you want to stay sane. There are only so many meals you can make, cups you can brew, and chapters you can write. Walks in the rain were suggested, both long and short, and then abandoned for the simple fact that my hair would get wet.
It was decided that we would shop-walk (hair carefully covered and bundled). Shop-walking is shopping along Fore Street at the same time as you are walking down it. Shop-walking with one's husband is nice because he always ends up wanting you to purchase something you probably would never have had the courage to purchase on your own. Some people's husbands actually go to the Visa navigational page to track their wives' purchases in real time, and this spooks the wives into not purchasing. But of course, the SconeLady has no such husband, and so when we passed by the St Ives Bookseller, he said, "Let's go in!" And we did.
I instantly saw, sitting on the display table, the book I had waited ALL YEAR LONG for. It had come out in Australia, but not in the US, and I'd been impatiently waiting for Audible to release it. The name of this book is, "The Clockmaker's Daughter", and - ta-da!! - it is available in the UK. Cornwall! ST IVES!
I picked it up, whispering, "The Clockmaker's Daughter!" I almost cried. And the copy in my hands was not just 'a' copy of Kate Morton's book; it was a SIGNED copy of Kate Morton's book. Kate Morton had actually held it, and written her name on the page!
"Then you must buy it!" said my husband. And I did, declaring gleefully, "I'll be the envy of all!"
We walked on, to the Thai place we have come to love, and sat down to eat, all the while feeling that delectable book just sitting there, waiting to be read. It took all my self control not to open it right then. But I didn't want to, not really. What I wanted was the opportune moment, without food being ordered, and delivered, and eaten, and discussed. What I really wanted was a cozy chair, a mug of tea, and - the book.
Now, I've got that. Page one...
See you along the way!
Friday, September 21, 2018
It is always such fun to await the sunrise here. Our cozy spot is only yards from the sea, and the view you see here is our view. We don't have to walk to it. It walks to us. This morning, after having poured its wetness down upon our heads, the skies gave us this amazing panorama! One lone man was out there, gazing, photographing, marveling. We smiled across at each other as we snapped, but said no words. There was no need.
The day was like that, all of it, with the usual book-writing for hours and then dashing out to walk in the beauty for a time. It's a winning combination! In the evening, we strolled together to the Castle Inn, pub of choice for the camaraderie and the people-watching. It was hopping. We went to the bar, and I said, "I would like a pot of tea, please."
"Oh, sorry Madam, no more hot drinks this evening. They're all shut down." I could see the lovely teapots and cups just there, behind him, so delectable. But apparently, shut down means shut down. And so the SconeLady sat and read her book, listening.
Next to us were two couples who had just become fast friends, over their dogs (sitting beneath the tables). They LOVED their dogs, and shared story after story about how "Jimmy" and "Rounder" had behaved as pups. Then there were the stories of feedings and cleanings-up-after, almost as if they weren't dogs at all, but human babies. It was funny, but I did not laugh. They were too near to me for that.
On our way back, we came upon a line of people waiting at the Parish Church next to a sign: "Big Band appearing Tonight! 8:00! You won't want to miss this." I paused.
Big Band. Won't want to miss it. And suddenly, I wanted the 1940's, and I wanted to go. What a perfect way to end the September Festival here in St Ives. We arrived back at the cottage, where I began to get ready. I then stood at the door, hand on knob.
"But where are you going?" said the SconeLady's husband.
"Why, to the church, of course! Want to come?"
He politely declined.
And the day ended just as spectacularly as it had begun. 19-strong, this Big Band was as good as I had ever heard. The brass section was gripping, the saxes immaculate, the trombones (with the director also playing one) were smashing, and the percussion, double bass, guitars (yes! guitars too!) gave us a real show, and I was transported back to the good old days of Glenn Miller and all the rest.
St Ives sure knows how to put on a party for two weeks. And with the backdrop of the ever-changing, ever-enchanting sea just there, it really can't be beat. I'm sorry to see it end.
See you along the way!
It was a day of rain; undeniable, steady on, imperious. We stayed wisely out of it, having our coffee, and breakfast, and curling cozily up with our various pursuits. And then all of a sudden, the SconeLady jumped up.
"The Brits," she declared, shrugging into her meager rain gear, "would never do this. The Brits wouldn't worry about rain. They would grab up their rain coats, Wellingtons, umbrellas, and simply fly the coop!" She indicated the window. "Just look at them all out there right now, trudging through puddles. Weather doesn't bother them, so why should it bother the Americans?"
She went to the door, and turned. "Want to come?"
He politely declined.
And with that, she was off.
For some reason, I went the back streets again, always turning upwards to where the highest street might be found, stopping for breath a bit, then heading forth. I hadn't quite found it yesterday, that highest street, and was determined to find it today. As the rains fell, the streets began to reveal fewer houses and flats, and more green space. Fewer people, fewer dogs. Until there it was, the countryside. It wasn't the Moors, as I had expected, but was soft, green, and civilized. I was enchanted.
One soft, green road led to another and I began to love this out-of-the-way place. Probably no American had ever seen it. There was a field, and a horse (a little pony, actually, having its sweet breakfast and not noticing the curious lady), while the rains took a momentary break. It was a perfect resting spot.
But then, further up! until I was on a tiny paved road with hedgerows bordering each side, sloping upward and beyond, and very remote. So remote that I thought, perhaps I should be doing this with someone; perhaps it would be wise to not be so far from the civilized world (my siblings are all saying, yes, sweet idiot!). Yes, perhaps. Around I turned.
Coming down is always so much more satisfying than going up. You can see for ages, and make decisions about where you want to be. I skirted around to the right, and diverted toward Carbis Bay, which is lovely but it has messed itself up a bit with hotel construction and crews and noise. As I was passing the last of the noise, I heard a call. It was a female voice. I turned.
She stood struggling up the path behind me, with her bicycle. A bicycle! No one would bring their bicycle up this path, no way. It was narrow, and steep, and had steps!
"Hello," I said back. "A bicycle?!"
She nodded sheepishly. "Might you be able to help me?"
"I think so," I began. "We can give it a try, at least."
We went up the 3 rather muddy steps that were left of this part of the path. She thanked me, and I walked on. But in a while, I came to the LARGE number of steps that were built to go over the railroad. There were at least 30 of them! She would need some serious help. I stopped, and waited for her to come around the bend. She did. And saw the steps.
We looked up to the top of the steps and, wordlessly, started. But then I heard her say, "What is that? It's - it can't be... it's a MAN!" We were thrilled.
He came down the steps toward us, and then noticed us. Rain-drenched, and with our bicycle. He looked as if he wished he hadn't.
"Oh, sir, do you think you could possibly help us take this thing to the top?"
The man was not eager. The man was not happy. He said something about having to go somewhere. But then he finally won his own struggle, and said, "Well, Ok. I'll take the front."
It was hard, and took several stops to reconfigure the thing. But we made it.
"Thank you!" she said to his departing back. He did not reply.
It was raining harder, and time for a pot of tea - and so she hopped onto her cycle, said "Thank you!" and left. I walked on, thinking of the story where one man is asked to do something, and says he won't do it. But he does it in the end. And the other man who is asked to do something, says he will do it. But he doesn't. I suppose our man today was the one who was saying "no", but found it the better part to be the "yes" man.
Not a bad lesson to learn.
See you along the way!