Friday, August 31, 2018


The anticipation had built all day, as a certain train wound its slow way to Cornwall. Someone, actually two someones, were on it and were coming my way. There will be a week of fun and sun together here, and I will no longer be alone. 

They've come a long way, this sister of mine and her hubby: Seattle, London Heathrow, the Heathrow Express, the London Underground, Waterloo Station, Portsmouth,changing at Salisbury, Westbury, Exeter St David, Newton Abbot, St Erth, and finally, St Ives. It was more train changes on one trip than any unsuspecting American should have had to face, but it had to be faced nonetheless.

There had been a communication from the train people: there is a strike this weekend. It is happening right now, this very minute. We will get you to where you want to go, just not when you had wanted to get there. 

The great thing about this whole operation was how nice the train people were, and how communicative, and ready to help, standing by your exit door in order to direct you quickly. Because those trains don't wait, I can promise you that. If there was no one to direct the hordes who don't know what the heck is going on, they would be like sheep without a shepherd and, there would be chaos. Mahem. Unhappiness!

Back home, I seem to remember that a Strike is meant to cause chaos, mayhem, and unhappiness; why else strike? They just strike a little differently, here. I kind of like it.

So this sister of mine, and her husband, made it safely and we have not stopped since. We can't! We had to get out and see St Ives again together, to talk about what we've loved about it and what is new about it, the sad stories of its people and the happy ones. It all had to be caught up on, and then we had to eat, and then talk some more and laugh until the cows came home. But I don't think those particular 'cows' are coming anytime soon, because we will never run out of things to say. The decades have taught us that.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Shall We Have A Horse

I am mildly envious of these three, sitting atop horses and beach riding. It reminds me that for all of my life, I have wanted a horse. 

As a child, my best friend had a horse, and a paddock, and fields. We would saddle up Gypsy on Saturday mornings, and then climb aboard. It was nice of my friend to invite me along, sitting behind. She knew how I felt.

As a college student, I wanted a horse. But what college student living in a town filled with other college students and on a zero budget can have a horse? There was no money. There was no horse.

As a grown up lady, I thought about having a horse. But with a military lifestyle, one could hardly ask the powers-that-be to transport the thing along with our household goods.

As a mother, I really wanted to have a horse so that our children could ride it and be able to say that they had had a horse. But there was never any way to figure out horsie ownership or horsie logistics. So we just didn't get it figured out.

As a grandmother, now, I would like a horse (just think of the trotting and galloping we could do, and the apples we could give to it!), but owning something huge means owning other huge things; things like pastures, and watering troughs, and feed, and saddles and bridles and - SPACE. 

In all of this talk of horses galloping and eating apples, I have just remembered something. Ages ago, long ages, our family lived on a farm. And among the many animals cared for on that farm, there was a horse! Her name was Zerrita (not sure of her spelling) and we would somehow get her out of her corral and saddle her and bridle her and climb aboard her. Four of us! I even have pictures somewhere, as proof. I think her back was a little bit swayed, but who cared?

I had a horse.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

One rare day on a horse, with my sister
(for one brief, shining moment!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Beautiful days have returned to this little part of the world, and the SconeLady is watching it all from a window. This is not a bad thing, it is a good thing for the very simple reason that I am making headway. Chapter 5, in fact. I'm actually on Chapter 5! That might not sound like a lot, but it feels oh, so good.

There are so many parts to getting it right. You might start with an outline, or a list, or a jumble of notes you took ages ago and can't quite remember why. But as the words write themselves (on a good day, like today), even those confusing notes can begin to make sense as you fit them in to the pattern. It's a lot of fun!

So I will keep the story moving, and scribe it here, in Cornwall, as best I can. For what place could be better - in a truly British story and its truly British characters - than this beautiful corner of the world, for inspiration? 

It's a Gift.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Through The Arch In The Wall

I had come for a Cream Tea. Rather than taking a bus to it, I decided that the miles between it and me should be walked. This turned out to be no small thing, it being 5.5 miles away, up a steep Penzance hill! But the miles felt like almost nothing at all as I looked forward to the delicious treat awaiting me.

I arrived and, waiting my turn, had a few moments to observe one of the servers there. He was a hard working young man, anyone could see that. He hurried to wait on people he did not know, giving them all the same kind treatment. Watching him serving was half the fun of being there.

But then a lady approached him, a plate in her hand, and a brownie on the plate. The young man looked up at her.

"May I help?" he asked.

"Well," she said sharply, "I hope so! This brownie is the worst thing I've ever tasted." Everyone in the place looked over at her, shocked.

"Oh, I am sorry, Madam," he responded. "Would you like me to get you something else to replace the brownie?"

"I certainly would," said the (American) lady. They discussed what treat might best suit her palette, and the treat was brought in as a replacement, for no charge. Peace ruled once more (but sometimes I wish the American accent wasn't quite so noticeable).

My own Cream Tea was worth every mile I had walked in order to earn it. The scone was warm, the cream creamy, the strawberry jam homemade and perfect (I come from a strawberry farm, so I KNOW), the tea was just the right strength, and they had Demarera sugar, which makes the best cups of tea even better. That Cream Tea has been given a score of TEN!

Waiting afterward at the bus stop, I noticed the hard working young man coming over to join me. He had to get back home to Penzance, and I had to get to Marazion without walking it again. But the bus was late.

"It's hopeless, that bus," he said, in between sending text messages to someone. "I tell you, it's hopeless." This opinion wasn't very encouraging.

"Oh?" I said. "Does this lateness happen often?" The bus was now 10 minutes late.

"Oh yes, it happens often, Madam - very often! It's a worthless bus. But it does come, most of the time."

"Most?" I said, alarmed. "Only most of the time? I need it to come this time." Startled that he had startled me, the man amended his statement and said, "Well, you know it does end up coming, just when you think you're beached helpless and losing all hope."

This was a bit more reassuring, but it was a tense few minutes more before that 'worthless' bus finally lumbered up the hill to collect us. I could have thought of a few words to say to the bus driver, but knowing that the American accent is so recognizable, I kept my words to myself. Our reputations are at stake.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Monday, August 27, 2018

Dogs In Church

Marazion, Cornwall

After the gift that had been Saturday, Sunday dawned all filled up with rain and storm. What to do? I wanted to be in Carbis Bay for the Methodist service at 10:45, and had just washed my hair, which meant that I needed to guard and protect it from the elements, meaning a much more complicated set of transportation links. Oh, the things we will do for hair (I know. Such thoughts are shallow, on a day of church).

But in the end, the church service was achieved (cab and bus) and dear people were seen. My dear Jean was there waiting for me, arms opened wide, and her friend Jean, and 'our Eric' (erstwhile driver of the SconeLady when needed), and Eric's visiting son, and one or two other friends, and then there were the other parishioners. A family!

And did I say dogs? There were DOGS in church! Two brother doggies, who came with their mistress to keep her feet warm. She told us that last year, every time the congregation sang a high note, one of the dogs would throw back his head and HOWL. But nobody minded. It was just another doggie day in Cornwall.

We sang the old songs dear to my heart, including Blessed Assurance and Just As I Am, with Eric at the pulpit preaching his heart out from the book of Revelation. After we'd had our coffee and rich tea biscuits, someone said, "How about the Carvery?" Well, I for one would never say 'no' to the Sunday Carvery, so off we went to enjoy that amazing British phenomena at a nearby and charming pub. As I sat down, Jean looked over at my plate and said, "I used to eat like that too, Dearie."  I laughed, and she continued, "Oh yes, I did, and it wasn't good for me, either. So I don't eat like that anymore, no." 
I looked down at my plate and did feel that it was probably too much of a good thing (just look at that gargantuan Yorkshire Pudding. And you can't even see the three types of meat hidden beneath all that other food!).

Eric and Jean drove me safely back to Marazion, in the rain. They are lovely. Both in their 80s, both still youthful in spirit and in humor, and both eager to take an American sister under their wing, for as long as she is in Cornwall. And that will never be too much of a good thing.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Lifestyle

Yesterday...was a gift. People are talking today about what a gift it was. The sunshine and mild temperatures, along with the aromas of the flowers lining the sidewalks just about bowled me over. And oh, the Mount! It was the most splendid part of yesterday, resting out there in the Atlantic so immense and so calm.

The beginning of yesterday
It was changeover day and that is why Marazion is in my frame. New cottage, different streets, fewer tourists, and the Mount to gaze at whenever you feel like it. Upon arrival, I quickly put everything neatly away (Mother trained us well), then dashed out of doors to explore. 

The map revealed a public footpath I hadn't known about before! I instantly stepped onto it. You must walk east, and then let the winding way take you out across farmland and beachheads. Other walkers are discovering it, too, nodding and smiling at me as if I belonged there. I end up at the Mount just as the sun is beginning to set, delighted with the colors splashing themselves on sea and sky. 

There is a lone sailor out there, silent and splendid, hovering near the shores of the Mount for the sun won't linger too long, and our sailor will need to make tracks. I can sense the need to stay out in it, while it lasts. 

It became chilly, and people started making their way back to their homes, or cottages, or hotels. There is a fun mix of tourist and citizen, here. I think the tourists envy the citizens for the fact that they get to stay, while the citizens envy the tourists for their opportunity to be tourists; to not work; to play; to eat out; to run on the beach and forget work for a time. 

It is one of the reasons I stay longer than most; I get to be both tourist and citizen, and sort of drift between the two. "On holiday?" someone will ask. And I pause. 

"Well, it isn't really a holiday; it's a lifestyle." Ahh, Cornwall.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Keeping Family Friendships Warm

From 4,825 miles away, my phone began to ring.

I had been expecting it, because it isn't every day that your parents have an anniversary as significant as this one. They had become married in 1968, and most of the principal characters of the piece had gathered to celebrate. I, because of FaceTime, was privileged to join them.

The wedding itself had taken place during the crazy 60's hippy madness and war protestations, but nobody thought about that. There was too much else to think about with the bride having FIVE children and the groom having SIX. Who cared about hippy protesters when you were on the cusp of raising and feeding 11 kids!? But they looked so calm. One child was already married, but three were in college, three in high school, and the four little girls were in grade school. Both families had sold homes and moved lock, stock, and barrel into half a dormitory right next door to the Grand Coulee Dam. 

One day I asked Mother what she had thought about before the wedding, and whether she had worried about all that extra cooking. She said she didn't even think about it until after the wedding. Imagine!

That year, we all went to the film "Yours, Mine, and Ours" starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. What great timing! The movie was hilarious and strangely familiar, as Lucille and Henry met at the commissary with multiple grocery carts. But Lucille and Henry got to go back to normal life after the movie. Our mom and dad went home to their new normal every day, day after day and year after year.

So we were raised, fed, clothed, educated, and taken to church whenever the doors were open. We didn't know each other very well, but time gave us what we needed to become friends, and then siblings. Before every Christmas, the kids at home couldn't wait for the 'big kids' to get there, because when the 'big kids' arrived, fun came with them.

Well, yesterday all the 'big kids' arrived, and fun came with them. Memories were sung, and poetry was written and shared. It felt like one of those Christmases when everybody got their favorite gift. Being together again.

So thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad. We love you. You did 'good'! It was fun. It was hard! But you were faithful through it all, while we were watching. And now here you are side by side, 50 years later. 

God is good.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Friday, August 24, 2018


Today seemed to be a lot about spectacular buildings, the kind that were designed ages ago and built to point upward. Remember steeples? The church buildings back home don't seem to come with steeples much anymore, but the ones here were made to last.

As promised to you yesterdayI made my way (after a splendid breakfast) down the hills of Falmouth toward the ferry. Suddenly to my right there was a spectacular building, which I very nearly missed seeing. It had no neon signs announcing its magnificence; it just stood there, humbly watching as the world went by. St Mary Immaculate Catholic Church was its name and I had to stop and gaze, ferry or no ferry. There were no cars parked around it and no people going in and out, so it wasn't having a Mass at that moment. If they had been having one I would have been hard-pressed not to go in.

When I reached the end of the Pier, there stood the ferry ready to load passengers for Truro. You can drive to Truro; you can take the train or the bus to Truro; but none of those conveyances are as fascinating as a ferry ride promised to be. I glanced out at the water (which is fed by the English Channel) and saw that it was acting up. There were waves, and some of the waves had little white tops on them. This did not reassure me, for my one qualm about a ferry ride was going to be whether or not it made me sick. 

I quietly asked the ferry lady, "Um, have you ever been sick on this ferry?" 

She smiled knowingly. "Oh, no, Madam, not a bit sick."

"That's good," I said. "Was it a day like today is? Kind of windy and wavy?"

", it wasn't like today is. There was a clear blue sky with no wind." She paused. "But I'm SURE it will be no different for you."

I was glad she was so SURE, but the assurances didn't help me much.

The ferry took 1 hour 45 minutes to reach Truro, and there were only momentary inkings here and there, of, well, you know. But nothing came of these inklings, and we all piled out just yards from the next spectacular building of the day. Truro Cathedral. You can see it peeking through at you here, between the buildings of the street that leads up to it. I went in.

But what was this? People were pouring in and finding seats in order to watch and listen to a young organist giving a free concert. It would start in 10 minutes! How lucky was I?

The young organist's name was (and I thought they were joking) Alexander Hamilton. It really was! And he had just finished at Cambridge and was taking up the job as organist for Westminster Abbey. Better and better! As he played, no one spoke; no one even whispered. You can see in the photo here, the back of Alexander's head; below him sits a listener, seemingly mesmerized by what he hears as the music points him upward. For a moment, the cares and concerns of this brief life were lifted.

It was how we all felt.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, August 23, 2018


The only way to enjoy a fishing village without its layer of tourists, is to get outside before they have a chance to. That is what I did, today. And it was terrific:

The only other walking creature I saw, was a cat.

And although the day began in St Ives, it hasn't ended there. In my quest to discover another great fishing village, I hopped onto the train to Falmouth, where I am now curled up in a B&B writing to you. In the morning I shall take the ferry up the Fal River and see what I can see along the way. Falmouth to Truro. An adventure! 

In Falmouth, so far I have: 
  • crept through a spooky (but very pretty) churchyard, 
  • walked 10 miles to get the lay of the place, 
  • tried to crash a private dinner party on the beach (well, it was accidental), 
  • eaten an American hot dog instead,
  • perused the Harbor for fishing boats, 
  • and given my foot a blister. 
The whole time, I found myself listening for babies and envying their grandmothers. They were everywhere - in boats, on the harbor, in restaurants, being propelled in prams along the sidewalks, and sitting on beaches eating sand. 

Everywhere, I tell you. They are everywhere. Suddenly, seeing a very pretty churchyard doesn't at all compare with holding a little curly-headed blond sprite, just learning how to walk.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Falmouth Churchyard, Cornwall

 Falmouth Harbor changing rooms

Peeking out toward the English Channel

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Majestic Mount

I didn't travel out to her this time, wanting to wait and do it with loved ones coming later. But from the shore, St Michael's Mount looked just as majestic as she always has. And the lone paddle-boarder in my frame was fun to watch too. I think he was a learner - up a bit, down a bit. And then in the end he was mostly up! I wanted to shout a congratulations to him. 

I can't think of a lovelier part of the ocean to learn to paddle board on, can you?

Along the way, I peeked inside the most adorable shop in Marazion, called Out Of The Blue, with amazing and beautiful hand made items on offer. Being there always gives one the incredible urge to pull out their credit card. I almost did pull it out, until I remembered that I would be WALKING BACK to Penzance, and could hardly be expected to carry precious pieces of pottery or mirrors or driftwood giraffes. Sigh.

Being hungry, I stopped along the main street in Penzance and pondered whether I should have a proper lunch, or a piece of chocolate cake instead? I quickly voted 'cake', and ordered this delicious looking triple chocolate layer cake from The Front Room. This cafe always has many tempting ones on display, and as I always do, I asked, "Is that chocolate one there going to be moist?" The answer was, as it always is, a baffled "Of course!" (their staff is always very loyal).

So I ordered it, and - although the frosting was delicious, the cake part was (not to put too fine a point on it)... dry. I have heard that the trick is to serve the cake on the day it is baked, and not the day after. I think my mistake has been in coming to the cafes two or three days after their cakes are baked. But as it is almost impossible to know what day a cafe is going to bake its cakes, I have run out of ideas. Let me know if you have any.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Outskirts of Penzance, Tuesday

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

You Just Never Know

It's never a difficult journey when there's something fabulous at the end of it. The fabulous thing this time was to be the 80 voices of the Mousehole Male Voice Choir at their top notch best. They had won some prizes (!), done an important concert tour, and caught the eye of ITV Britain, all since I was here last. Add to that the fact that Tony had written the lyrics to two of their new songs, and you have a significant Cornish choir ready to hit the top. Fabulous!

My driver was choir member Eric, who maneuvered us along minuscule country roads hemmed in by the most enchanting hedgerows. One can never see enough hedgerows. The dusky skies made the drive feel spooky (you never know what might come at you from around a corner), but we climbed up the roads to the Church at Paul and arrived there, thankfully, in one piece. We made our way past ancient gravestones and in through the arched doorway of the church.

The Mousehole Choir has become used to 'the American Lady' appearing at rehearsals at odd times during the year, and were welcoming. Some of them asked after my brother, who, upon hearing the first line of their first song, had shed tears of joy. They had liked that. 

The next two hours were filled with solid music and hard work. There is nothing like a four-part-harmony from 80 Cornishmen who stand up and sing like they mean it. 

As we drove back down through darkened streets, the waters of Penzance Bay gleaming with the lights of the town, the subject of Prince Charles came up. "I've met him, you know," said Eric.

"You have?" I gasped, suitably impressed. "When?"

"Oh, it was after Lord Mountbatten was killed in Ireland; 1979..."

Eric was quiet for a moment or two, remembering the sad thing that had happened. People everywhere remember that sad time, but Eric especially did, because it brought him into contact with Prince Charles.

"Yes, Charles was coming to Ireland for a memorial for his Lordship - Mountbatten was his uncle, you know - (and I did), but a thick fog prevented him from flying in."

Eric had been a lifelong boat pilot, bringing large vessels in and out of harbors before turning them over to their Captains. I had an inking...

"...and so they had me pilot him and his whole group in, and pretty soon the Prince and I got to talking." 

I was all ears! Any touch of royalty receives my undivided attention."What did you say? And what did he say?"

To my dismay, Eric dropped me off in mid conversation so I didn't hear any more about the Prince of Wales. But I have to say I would like to hear more. I thought about how interesting life can be, when one moment you are being driven to a choir rehearsal, and the next, you find that you are sitting next to the man who piloted the future King of England into Ireland. You just never know.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Instant Sanity

A photo reveal will give you some idea of the path the SconeLady took, today. It was grey above me, but green below me and I found it quite nice, all things considered. Trekking up the hill to Carbis Bay I saw a phalanx of vehicles descending into the already crowded lanes of St Ives. But I knew something those cars did not: all of the car parks there were already FULL, and had signs suggesting another car park, which the cars then (I'm sure) drove hopefully toward, only to find the FULL sign up again. I continued walking.

It was then that I was met by the phalanx of pedestrians puffing their way down toward St Ives, grasping food, drinks, beach chairs, sun hats, prams, children, babies, sunscreen, and plastic beach toys. Once again, I knew something they did not: the beaches were already FULL! But why rain on anybody's parade? I was getting out of there, and that was just fine by me. 

Coming up over the hill and into the smaller town of Carbis Bay, I found almost instant sanity; normal people, normal cars, normal prams with mothers heading toward Tesco, for normal groceries. I could see the waters of the magnificent bay below me, and how unpopulated that beach seemed to be. There were people there, but only a fraction of those currently tanning on the beaches of St Ives. St Ives sun-bathers are different from the Carbis Bay variety. They are much more agitated, which could be because it is hard to relax in a crowd where anything might happen. I turned left onto Church Lane where there were cows passively ruminating on their day, and a large bull was standing by. I decided to move on.

And there were the golf links of the West Cornwall Golf Club! Did you know, dear Readers, that golf links are terrifically hard to play golf on? I know this, because my Brotherly Traveler had invited me to be his caddy there - and although we started strong, we soon lost all sense of direction along with a number of our golf balls. In the end, he finished the round with a beautiful putt, and we went inside for a cream tea. It was lovely.

Having now finished the 8 1/2 mile walk/hike/wander, I came back to the hustle and bustle of summer in St Ives, and was surprised to find that I had missed it. Sure, it is crowded here right now but I know what it really is beneath all the tourists. Their time is running out, and mine isn't. I can wait.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady