Good Morning Everybody,
We left Vienna and made the three and half hour drive back to Budapest to grab our flight to England enjoying the sites along the way. Even though we had a three hour wait once we got to the airport, check-in was a breeze thanks to a very accommodating British Air agent. We boarded our plane and were on our way.
It was an easy three hour flight to Heathrow. I love the window seat because I get a kick out of what I see beyond the plane window. It was a night flight so when we flew over London I tried to spot some of the famous landmarks. To my surprise after just a few minutes of watching the bright lights of London, I spotted the Tower Bridge, one of the most famous of the city's landmarks – pretty cool. Unfortunately, the plastic window I was shooting through did not contribute very well to the optical quality of the image ;~)
Our Adventure Across England Continues
We arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 but had to get ourselves and our 200 pounds of luggage to our Hilton Hotel at Terminal 5 – but in actuality the hotel is really about 2 miles from Terminal 5 and is only accessible via an expensive taxi or a very slow running shuttle. Three hours later via the taxi, yes, 3 hours later, we were finally checked into the hotel. It’s a long story that I don’t need to go into here. You can do the math: 3 hour drive, 3 hour flight, and 3 hours to go 2 miles to the hotel – it was a long day.
No problem, we woke refreshed the next day, picked up our rental car and were on our way to Cornwall, England, the backdrop for the Hobbit stories. Looe, England was our final destination and looked to be about, you guessed it, slightly more that three hours away.
We followed the directions on our GPS, don’t leave home without if you plan to drive in any foreign countries, to our destination. Now sometimes our GPS does have a mind of her own and this time chose the scenic route. Other than a an hour long major traffic jam along the way, we made our way across the English countryside.
The cool thing about taking the scenic route was the fact that we drove right past the famous Stonehenge stones. I’ve visited several times but it was a first for LaDawn. After a few quick drive by shootings we continued down the road enjoying the beautiful English countryside complete with green rolling hills scattered with cows, sheep, and a few horses.
The weather turned bad so we decided to pick up supplies at the Sainsbury Superstore, in Plymouth about 20 miles from of our final destination. We thought t was a good idea at the time since we had been on the road all day without any stops. Our supply stop delayed us even more and now it was quite dark and rainy for the remainder of our journey.
Our total confidence in our GPS dropped a notch or two and we got to about 1/4 mile of the Barclay House, our home for the next week, and we were literally driving in circles. No problem, I just pulled up my phone and plugged in the address – NOT! very sporadic phone service in this part of England maybe due to the pending storm. Luckily the service activated for a brief moment and I was able to call the Barclay House and Richard, the very kind manager talked us in the last 1/4 mile of our journey. What an adventure the last couple of days. But we finally arrived safe and sound, unpacked, enjoyed an adult beverage and got a good nights sleep.
Old Monasteries, Carmelite Sisters, and More
Let me begin saying that where we are staying is wonderful. We have a separate two bedroom cottage up the hill slightly from the hotel. The view from our balcony is once again spectacular as you can see below.
It was Sunday morning and we decided upon one of the local churches for the morning service. It turns out that very old and quaint Sclerder Abby, and Carmelite monastery complete with cloistered sisters was just an eight minute drive away.
We thought we were running late till we discovered that we had not reset our watches to the local time and actually arrived 30 minutes early – Devine intervention maybe ;~) Anyway, we immediately met the deacon and his wife who were just arriving too. Turns out their daughter was living for a brief time in Cincinnati, Ohio and they had been many times – small world.
We also struck up a conversation with the new pastor of the parish – this was to be his first Sunday service. I noticed that he arrived with a lady getting out of the car with him. Uhmmm…. priests aren’t allowed to marry, right? Well almost right. He was married before converting to the Catholic faith. And, since he was a married priest in the Anglican faith before he converted, he didn’t loose his priestly status once he converted and was able to remain married. I know, very confusing ;~)
How’s The Fishing Around?
I guess it must be pretty good since we are right in the middle of several fishing villages. The small community of Looe, where we are staying is quite busy with the fishing trade and tourism. We decided today to make the trip over to Polperro just a few miles up the road for a visit. This is really an historic fishing village (really touristy) but we still had a nice visit sampling the local fare – a Cornish pasty - while we were there.
The cool thing about this part of England is not just it’s rustic beauty but the fact that coast drops right into the Atlantic Ocean making for spectacular views everywhere.
The next day we ventured into Looe, our own local fishing village just a 15 minute walk from our cottage. It is very much like Polperro, but substantially larger with many shops, fish and chips places, pubs, and even an arcade. I happen to like the fish and chip featured here – Dave’s Dinner, one of the most popular in town – it was packed when we walked past.
The setting was really picture postcard beautiful and the friendliest people we ever met.
Heading To The Other Side Of Cornwall - Doc Martin Country
A British TV show that LaDawn and I enjoy watching is the BBC’s Doc Martin, a quirky little comedy full of the Brit’s very dry humor. It’s the story about a big city doctor surgeon who develops a fear of seeing blood. He relocates to the country till he can get his problem sorted – as they say over here. Anyway, the show is filmed in Port Isaac, Cornwall just about an hour overland from us.
I almost failed to mention that we had a full on hurricane blow through Cornwall on Sunday night. We even found out that is was news back in the states. It was being characterized as the storm of the century and folks around here were quite concerned. As it turned out, damage was minimal through the storm’s path across England with Norway getting the brunt of it the next day.
The storm the did add to our travel complications the next day. We had to pass a road that was flooded. It must flood frequently because there was a depth marker at the side of the road to indicate just how high the water was. The maker at the top left of the photo showed a 1 foot depth and we just plowed right through. What can I say, country living ;~)
Port Isaac was actually the smallest fishing village we visited and I prefer Looe where we are staying much better. It was still fun to spot the many locations where they film the show. Which, by the way, just wrapped shooting last week.
Wineries and Ancient Stones
Following our visit to Port Isaac we planned to make the trip back across Cornwall and to see the ancient stones known as the Hurlers. Think mini-Stonehenge. Anyway, as we made our way across the countryside our adventures continued. Did I say the roads are narrow over here – like super, super narrow in some places. We were driving in our first night and we could barely navigate a few of the roads to the Barclay House – they were barely wider than the car itself with us brushing against the hedges on both sides of the car as we made our way down the lanes.
After our arrival the first night I joked to Richard, the hotel manager, that the roads were pretty narrow. In true British style, he “corrected me” telling me that they were not narrow roads, these were simply the highways in Cornwall ;~)
You just never know what you are going to encounter on the small lanes in Cornwall’s countryside. Just as we made a turn on one of the country roads we were faced with two farmers, a tractor, and one cow right in the middle of the road. We navigated to tight passage and continued on our way.
LaDawn spotted a sign to the Carmel Valley Winery, one of the most awarded wineries in all of England and one of the top Champagne producers in Europe. It even turns out that Prince Charles visited the place to sample their award winning wines.
Well, if is was good enough for Prince Charles, it was good enough for us. We made the detour and were at the tasting counter in a matter of about 10 minutes. LaDawn and I have a rule when we travel, never pass surprise wineries that pop up along the way ;~) We had a fun visit, got some great photographs, and purchased a bottle of their best Champagne and set out once again for find the ancient stones.
Turns out England and especially Cornwall are filled with these ancient Druid holy places. The cool thing about the Hurlers is that you can get right up close and personal with these stones unlike Stonehenge which you must keep about a 100 yard distance. My fist impression was just how almost alien the landscape looked. Check out the “image of the day” post above. It was a really eerie feeling but beautiful at the same time. We wondered around for a short while not quite knowing what we were looking at. But still to me, wondering amidst this ancient past was a bit moving.
The sun was setting quickly and it was beginning to rain again. We made the 30 minute drive back to our cottage via those super narrow roads once again happy to to finally land and reminisce about the day.
I’ve put together a few more images from the last few days in the album below. Please enjoy!
Hey gang. that’s it for me today. We’re planning a few more day excursions before we need to pack up at the end of the week. Check back again – I’ll plan to have another post up on Saturday. Sunday we begin our journeys by ocean liner back home.
See you soon, David