Friday 8 December 2023

November Round-up.

Thank you for the kind comments to my last post, I do appreciate you. It's good to be more settled and to start feeling like myself again.

Anyway To jump back slightly to the 31st of October and our anniversary. Cleaning our old house was not how I would have planned to spend it but that was what we ended up doing, well for the morning anyway. We had had to hire a carpet cleaner so my Mum popped round with her car so we could drop it back off and also brought lunch as she was fretting about us not eating. 

Whilst in town she wanted to go to Robert Dyas and pick up some water filters so I nipped to Boots to pick up a prescription and then met her and Himself there. The shopping gods were smiling on us because they had a set of saucepans by Salter with 65% off. We had found out the day before that the new house has an induction hob, which was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back when we got home exhausted, and in my case, craving pasta that night only to find none of our current saucepans are suitable so we couldn’t cook on the hob. Himself was livid that nowhere had this been mentioned so I left him to have a shower and calm down whilst I trudged off to the chip shop.

I could  have really done without having to buy a whole new set of pans, especially as the ones I have a really good, but there it was. for our anniversary Mum brought sandwiches, cakes and a bottle of prosecco. It turned out Himself had also booked a table for dinner at our favourite pub. At first I wasn't sure I could face it I was so tired and stressed, but actually it was lovely to put on a dress and make-up and go out for dinner. I had a delicious slow cooked lamb shank with mashed potatoes and seasonal veg whilst Himself had locally sourced sausages and chips. We shared a homemade orange cheesecake for pudding before waddling back home.


The 8th November would have been my Dad’s birthday so I took the day off work and spent it with Mum. I was worried how she would be but in the end we spent the afternoon reminicing rather than being sad.  The 11th would have been their anniversary, so the family went out for lunch and raised a toast. I still miss him every day.


I also went to a gig on the 10th. A friend of my brother’s is in a band who were supporting the American rock band, Warrior Soul. Back in the day I loved Warrior Soul, and had a major crush on the lead singer Kory Clarke!  I have seen them before a couple of times, but not for many, many years so it seemed a no brainer. 

I seriously need to spot the flags…the major one being why on earth an American band were playing a teeny tiny venue in Reading.

When we got there my brother caught up with his friend and the feedback was that Kory had done a great rehearsal so it should be a good show, depending on how much he drank in between then and going on stage!

Let’s just say when he did hit the stage, he had clearly done a fair bit of drinking, not just that night, but in the intervening years since I had last seen them live. His singing voice had gone completely so he just shouted in a hoarse voice for the whole gig, and I know it’s shallow of me, but other than the hair (which was still gorgeous) the once handsome face was unrecognisable. I sometimes think if the powers that be want to put young people off drink and drugs, don’t show them pictures of diseased livers or lungs, show them a before and after shot of a lifelong substance abuser. 

I understand why people say you can’t go back and don’t meet you idols, I think a little piece of 20 year old Me’s heart broke that night.


On the 17th I was up early and off to Paris for work. I had only recently been there at the end of June, (when Paris was gripped by a heatwave, and it was still 30 degrees at 8pm at night!) so this time I booked my return straight after the fair I was attending on the Saturday. 

I’m quite glad I did because it poured with torrential rain pretty much the whole time!

 The lady I was sat next to on the train going there and I got chatting and ended up having a wonderful conversation for the whole journey. We talked about everything and anything, hugged and kissed cheeks when we parted, and in that typical British fashion didn’t once actually exchange names!

According to the maps my hotel was a 5-minute walk from a metro stop but when I came up the stairs there were major roadworks which meant to rather than being able to cross the road, I had to head off on a major diversion which meant I got completely lost and even with google maps it took me nearly an hour to finally find my hotel! 

I had a wander along the Champs Elysee and then mooched back to a little café/bistro nearby the hotel.  Having now done Paris twice and Brussels once, I think I can safely say solo travel is not for me. I find the travel itself incredibly stressful and frankly it’s just bloody lonely to sightsee and eat on your own. Due to budgetary constraints at work it is the new normal now, so I guess I will have to get used to it. Thankfully the journey home was uneventful and by 10.30pm I was in bed with a huge glass of wine watching Strictly on the laptop!


On the 25th I headed to Brimingham. The plan was to meet Charlotte at Banbury station then Alex at New Street in Birmingham, but sadly Alex tested positive for covid a couple of days before so had to cancel. 

As we had already bought our rail tickets Charlotte and I decided to go anyway. Good lord it felt like the world and his dog was in Birmingham that day! I guess it does show the need for high streets is still there, but it was just too busy for me. 

I had hideous train journeys on trains wedged full of people so had to stand all the way. Our first stop was a much-needed hot drink at 200 Degrees coffee shop. We both prefer to go with an independent shop rather than a chain, and Alex, who is a bit of a coffee fiend, loves it there. They were doing a brisk trade but we managed to snag a table so we could sit down with our brews and have a good catch up. We then set out for what became a fairly brief look at the Christmas market. It quickly became apparent it was mostly extremely over-priced food and drink, so we quickly headed away from the central streets. 

We found a smaller market in the cathedral square which was much more our sort of thing, all local artisans and crafts people. We had a leisurely browse and both made some purchases there before decamping to the wonderful (and conveniently nearby) Damascena for a delicious lunch. It’s always busy there but we thankfully only had to queue for about 15 minutes before we got seated. Very randomly the star of lunch for both of us was the mango Sunshine Shake we had both chosen as a drink, I’m still dreaming about it now!

It was one of those gloriously sunny but bitterly cold days so after lunch we went for a mooch around the streets of Birmingham trying to avoid all the crowds before grabbing a cup of tea and going our separate ways. Charlotte to Moor Street Station and me to New Street. From where I endured another packed train home, before I could collapse with a 4-cheese pizza and a very large glass of wine!


I finished the month by going out for dinner with Soo and Melissa. Both had come and helped us move house so it was lovely to see them when I was feeling more like myself and not demented with stress. They had decided on Jericho in Oxford and as they were meeting about an hour before I could get out of work. I found them happily ensconced in The Jericho Tavern drinking pints of Tribute, I was definitely ready for a beer after a full-on day at work, and gratefully accepted a pint before we decided on where to go for dinner. 

We went to The Old Bookbinders on the of chance and managed to get a table providing we were gone by 8pm. They have a delicious French menu and I was almost swayed by the Coq au Vin but instead tucked into a hearty fish pie. As Himself doesn’t like fish I don’t get to cook and eat something a pungently fishy as fish pie at home. The service was attentive without making us feel rushed and by 7.45pm we were replete ready to go. 

We completed our trio if pubs with The Victoria as they always decorate at this time of year with real greenery, which when combined with the open fire and the mulled wine behind the bar, well the smell is pure Christmas.

So that was November and now we are galloping towards the end of the year so more anon.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Waving or Drowning? - 2023 so far.

 Well back in May when I was blogging about our wonderful trip to Cornwall I didn’t anticipate disappearing until November. 

Whilst I was still coming to terms with losing Dad and therefore having good and bad days, I had hoped to have a good summer. I already had a few plans in place to catch up with friends, go on some days out, exhibitions etc. 

The other big thing was we have also been looking for a house to buy, I was waiting until that was a done deal before sharing some of our crazy mad experiences of house hunting.

We first started looking for a house last year when the mortgage rates were low and it was silly season. We are talking queues outside properties, strict 15-minute viewing slots often with 2-3 couples looking round at the same time and ending in an immediate closed bid if you were interested. It was pretty intense and pressurized particularly when it was somewhere you loved and you were ‘significantly’ outbid, and at times ridiculously funny.

We saw a house so damp it was almost its own water feature, and another so filthy the agent stayed outside and advised us to put a disposable glove on our prominent hand in case we touched anything! I was also subjected to a 15-minute haranguing for being ‘too fussy’ because I didn’t want to make an offer on a house I didn’t like and got very fed-up with all the pushy phone calls.


Moving on to this year and the interest rates went up, up, up. Suddenly there were only about 3 houses on the market that nobody wanted including us. At this point our landlord offered us the house we were renting. He knew our top budget (he works for an estate agency and we were on their books) and was pushing for that full amount. He couched it in terms of doing us a deal because he and his wife, as it turns out mostly his wife, were actually after a great deal more.

We gave it some serious thought as there were pros and cons. The house needs a fair bit doing to it and as it turns out on further investigation, has a major issue, that being Japanese Knotweed in the garden. We made a lower offer mentioning these things and our landlord actually laughed about the knotweed in the garden and said no.

We looked at a couple of other places that came up but they were no good, so we had another serious discussion about our rental. We decided to get the work that needed doing priced up and see where that left us. We also spoke to our mortgage adviser who in a nutshell said don’t touch it with a barge pole as soon as he heard there was knotweed on the property! He said it was unlikely we would get a mortgage and even if we did, it was highly unlikely we would be able to sell again at a later date because future buyers wouldn’t get a mortgage.

Himself was still keen so I contacted a company that removes knotweed and asked for a quote and out of courtesy let our landlord know, we remade our same offer stating again why we were offering that price. 

This time our landlord literally had an egg. Apparently he had thought Himself was joking when he mentioned the knotweed!?! He said he was not prepared to go any lower and if we didn’t want it for that price, he was giving us notice. So suddenly just like that we were looking at trying to find somewhere to rent or buy in 8 weeks or be homeless... 

I think with hindsight he was pissed off about the knotweed which he claims he knew nothing about. We had always assumed he already knew as he would have had a survey done when he bought the place. If nothing else he was originally going to build another house at the bottom of the garden so again we had assumed he knew about the knotweed and would have it dealt with when he built. I guess all the corners he cut and the rock bottom deal he did when he bought the house was not such a bargain after all.


It's hard to articulate how difficult the last few months have been. We were frantically trying to find somewhere else to rent just when there was nothing, literally nothing. If you follow the news, you will know the rental market also dried up overnight with the interest hikes and there are lists of desperate people all chasing the same places and many others being evicted at an alarming rate.

I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like to start packing when you actually have nowhere to go, to keep working full time and smiling and interacting like usual when you haven’t slept properly in weeks, when you are struggling to concentrate on anything other than this and you can’t eat or drink with the stress and worry. It certainly didn’t help that work is still pretty shit too, but that I was sucking up, I couldn’t be looking for a new job too. I ended up throwing my pride out the window and actually begged our landlord to please not make us homeless. Thankfully, he seemed to have calmed down and remembered that for the last almost 7 years we had been model tenants, so he agreed to give us a little more time. It seems he also spoke to the rental side of his agency because when I rang up about a property that had of course already gone, on hearing who I was the lady said ‘Oh I’m holding a property for you didn’t he tell you?’ me ‘No, no he didn’t.’

We had a bit of pussyfooting around with the current tenants who were in the process of buying somewhere and didn’t want us to come round for a viewing until they were ‘further along in their house buying process’ but eventually we got to see it once they had exchanged. At this point Himself said unless it’s got swastikas in the brickwork and Rosemary West in the landlord, we are taking it. Thankfully it had neither, so we did on a minimum 12-month lease. 

It is fine, it has a rather quirky and frustratingly impractical layout but it’s a good size and only a few streets away from where we currently lived. 

You would think my stress levels might have started to recede a bit knowing we had somewhere but sadly they didn’t and indeed they peaked to such a point that I managed to scare family members and friends with the state I was in. I swear these things get harder as you get older. 

The move was intense, and I am eternally grateful and in utter awe of the friends and family who rallied round to help us move our epic amount of stuff in just one day, for the most part in the pouring rain too. 

I was and am horrified and a bit ashamed by the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ we have both accumulated. This even after I got rid of bag after bag to various charity shops. Over 100 books went to Oxfam and the depressing thing is looking at my bookcases you would never tell!

The thing I have found heartening is that this time round I seem to be much more able to let things go and be more subjective. Do I really need it? Will I ever use it, wear it, fit in it again? do I even like it anymore? Which means as I unpack, I am still downsizing, to the point that the lady in the British Heart Foundation shop knows our name and address by heart as I am in there pretty much every other day with a bag or box of donations! We will never be minimalist, and I know I need to be more ruthless, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.    


So, 3 weeks on and we are getting there. In an ideal world I would have liked to have only moved the once and found our forever home but that clearly wasn’t to be this year. I’m just hoping 2023 is done with us and 2024 might be a kinder year. We will start house hunting again in the new year and hopefully, hopefully, it will happen for us this time. Above all I just want to be happy again because this person I am right now is not me. Having said that I am sleeping better, feeling like eating and also getting out and about again.


We had our usual long weekend in Bournemouth booked in for September. As it was all paid and we would have lost that all if we didn’t go, we had our trip even though at that point nothing was confirmed. I have to say it did do us the world of good. The weather was glorious and being by the sea, in fact just being away really did help.


Packing, moving, unpacking and cleaning the old house from top to bottom has been physically and mentally draining. I have never been more aware that at 55 I’m not capable of the same things I was. Frankly I’m tired. I would love nothing more than whisking away to a little bolthole somewhere by the coast to re-charge but sadly that is not to be before the end of the year so I shall keep on keeping on.


Anyway this has been a longer and more personal post than I planned. Hopefully normal blogging service will be resumed shortly, though with less shopping. I really, really do not need more stuff!  

Monday 10 July 2023

A Cornish Adventure Part Three

 Our final morning in St Ives was another glorious one and saw us saying a sorry goodbye to the apartment that had been our home for the week. We took a slow meander down through the town and along the seafront before heading up to the bus stop where we joined the queue of people waiting for the bus to Penzance. 

We got chatting to a couple in the queue who were from Sweden. They had been walking some of the South West Coastal path on one of those schemes where your luggage is picked up by courier and delivered to the various hotels you have booked along the way so you can walk the path with just what you need for the day. They had train tickets booked with the Trainline to travel from St Ives to London, then on to Gatwick for an evening flight home. They had not been sent any warnings about the train strikes, so had literally arrived ready to travel home and found the station shut! They were frantically trying to figure out what they could do and were hoping they could hire a car in Penzance with the idea of them driving all the way to Gatwick. I felt so sorry for them, what a horrid way to end your holiday. We had everything crossed for their onward journey.


Once in Penzance, we hoped off the bus in the town centre and headed to our B&B which was on the same street we stayed at 5 years ago. When we thought we were only having to book one extra night we had gone for somewhere more central, but now we were staying a couple of nights this location halfway between the town centre and Newlyn was ideal.

It’s a wide tree lined street full of hotels and B&Bs, check in was meant to be 4pm but we had arranged to arrive early and drop our bags off, with the plan to mooch in town and head back for 4pm to check in properly. As luck would have it our room was ready when we arrived at 12, so we were able to check in straight away giving us the whole afternoon as a bonus. Our room was gorgeous, bright and airy at the top of the house with a big bay window over the road. We did a bit of quick unpacking and headed out into the sun.

The weather really was lovely, so we decided to walk to Marizion and St Michael’s Mount. When we arrived, the causeway was just clearing so we were able to walk right over, however when we got there a member of staff was greeting people and warning them there were only 15 minutes until the last entry closed,  and only an hour until the island shut. 

We decided to save our visit for another time. Instead, we pottered around Marizion, finding a craft fair in the church hall which I dragged Himself into. I couldn’t resist one enticing looking gift shop where I found a birthday card for my friend and some amazing earrings made from recycled copper for myself.

 Final purchase was an ice cream to eat as we strolled back to Penzance.

Once we got in, we collapsed on the chairs in the bay window with a refreshing drink, we had both managed to catch the sun despite sunblock. The only downside of our room became apparent, the road below was fairly busy so there was traffic noise (I really must start travelling with earplugs) The other constant noise was the crows! As mentioned, the street was tree lined, and literally every one of the many trees had a colony of crows nesting in it. When they all decided to start cawing at once well, the noise was just incredible. Anyway, I digress.

 We had a table booked at The Bridge in Newlyn that evening. It’s one of several highly recommended restaurants in Newlyn, which seems to be well on it’s way to being the latest chi-chi area to live by the looks of things. I’m not sure that is necessarily a good thing. We arrived with a bit of time to spare so I took Himself to see a little hidden part of the town that I had randomly seen Michal Portillo visit on a TV show the previous week!

The restaurant was bliss, not too big and with a lovely, relaxed vibe. The owner seated us and throughout the evening sporadically wondered through to chat with people and help serve. I chose the aubergine parmigiana, I love aubergine and as soon as I saw it on the menu that was it for me. The owner was delighted and was soon waxing lyrical about how every Italian mama has her own version and how every Italian son would travel continents just to get home to eat it, how it should be cooked slowly for hours. I think Himself had glassed over by this point. I have to say when it came the dish was delicious and so plentiful there was no room for pudding. Replete with good food and wine we strolled back along the seafront before turning in for the night.


The next morning was another hot one and after breakfast we set off for Mousehole, slathered in suncream with my burnt bits from yesterday covered up! 

It was a gorgeous walk and once there we had absolutely no agenda. We wandered wherever took our fancy, up steep winding streets and down hidden alleyways, with me popping into a couple of the touristy gift shops that I couldn’t resist. 

I had spotted a pair of sparkly crab earrings in a shop that was shut with a ‘back in 30 minutes’ sign on the door. We ambled back 40 minutes later and it was still shut, so we gave it another 15 and nope still shut. Boo.

By now it was lunchtime so Himself suggested a drink, we headed back towards the harbour and found a pub where we settled in a window seat to watch the world go by. When it was time to leave Himself suggested giving the shop one more try and this time it was open! 

Earrings purchased we walked back to Penzance stopping in a couple of junk shops in Newlyn on the way. We walked the full length of the seafront down to the Jubilee Pool then back through the town centre looking in any shops that took our fancy before going to put our feet up for a couple of hours back at the B&B. 

We didn’t really have any plans that night, I had wanted to go back to the Admiral Benbow at some point because I had loved it’s cluttered madness when we visited 5 years ago, Himself was not so keen as it had freaked him out then! As we were leaving the B&B we bumped into the owner who asked us where we were going and then suggested The Dolphin as we hadn’t booked anywhere and it was a Saturday. We had eaten there before and knew the food was good so decided to give it a go. Luckily as it was still early, we were able to get a table for two.

 I had delicious fresh caught fish with samphire and sprouting broccoli whilst Himself, who as you may recall hates fish, ate chilli. We knew we had an early start the next day so decided to buy a bottle of wine to take back and drink in our room, I was secretly delighted because it was Eurovision which I never usually miss. So armed with wine and some mint chocolate buttons I settled in front of the TV. Bliss.     

The next morning we had an early breakfast, settled our bill and headed to the station to see exactly what trains were running and to where. Luck was on our side and there was an early train heading to London and calling at Reading leaving in the next 20 minutes so we jumped aboard. We only had to buy tickets from Penzance to St Erth as they were honouring strike day tickets. I’m so glad we caught the train at Penzance, which is the start of the journey and meant we could get a seat, because it very rapidly became packed full and standing. I guess there were many other people like us who were now trying to get home. Thankfully it was an uneventful journey, and we were back in the house by late afternoon. 

Considering when I first found out we were going to have to book extra days I was not at all happy, we did have a really great time. So thank you Cornwall as ever, and here’s to next time.  


Friday 23 June 2023

A Cornish Adventure Part Two.

 Welcome to part two of our Cornish adventure.


I shall pick up where I left off. 

The next day was Tuesday and again the weather was meant to be rainy, though the forecast hadn't explained quite HOW rainy! Like Monday it quickly went from drizzle to torrential as the morning passed. 

The plan had been to mooch the shops in St Ives before Himself settled on the beach with a book and I went to a book signing. Here again, it seemed the holiday gods were smiling on us because prior to setting off on holiday I had spotted a tweet about a talk and book signing taking place in St Ives for a book I was planning to buy anyway. It turned out to be not only on a day when we were in St Ives, but also when we didn’t have other plans, so I bought myself a ticket. Sadly the weather gods were most definitely not smiling on us this day!

We looked in a few shops but the rain just kept getting heavier and heavier, again even with waterproofs and umbrellas we were soaked, particularly my poor boots that had not quite dried out from the day before. So, we tried to find a pub or café to shelter in but everywhere was packed, clearly everyone had the same idea.

We finally decamped to a pub and stood until we managed to snag a table. I left Himself there and battled the elements once again to head to the St Ives Arts Club where the talk was due to be. It was a very cosy affair with only about 40 people, and thankfully warm and dry.

The book The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes by Kate Strasdin, a fashion historian and lecturer from Falmouth University. 

The talk was absolutely fascinating and took the form of a Q&A session, it was based around Kate being gifted a notebook by an elderly friend who had worked in costume design in London in the 60’s. The book was purchased at a flea market there by one of her apprentices who thought it might make good source material. It was a Victorian era diary filled with squares of fabrics each with an annotation in teeny tiny handwriting stating the name of the person the fabric had belonged to and the garment or piece of furnishing it was from. This started her off on a research journey with no way of knowing who had written it until one tiny entry “Mrs Anne Sykes – The dress I wore when we arrived in Singapore.” This was the one and only time Anne spoke in the first person, and it unlocked the whole book!  I share the publisher’s blurb below; 

In 1838, a young woman was given a diary on her wedding day. Collecting snippets of fabric from a range of garments she carefully annotated each one, creating a unique record of her life and times. Her name was Mrs Anne Sykes.

Nearly two hundred years later, the diary fell into the hands of Kate Strasdin, a fashion historian and museum curator. Strasdin spent the next six years unravelling the secrets contained within the album's pages.

Piece by piece, she charts Anne's journey from the mills of Lancashire to the port of Singapore before tracing her return to England in later years. Fragments of cloth become windows into Victorian life: pirates in Borneo, the complicated etiquette of mourning, poisonous dyes, the British Empire in full swing, rioting over working conditions and the terrible human cost of Britain's cotton industry.

This is life writing that celebrates ordinary people: the hidden figures, the participants in everyday life. Through the evidence of waistcoats, ball gowns and mourning outfits, Strasdin lays bare the whole of human experience in the most intimate of mediums: the clothes we choose to wear.

 Once the talk finished I texted Himself to arrange to meet before joining the queue to get my book signed. I met Himself outside and thankfully the rain had finally started to ease up, as we were deciding whether to go to the pub for something to eat or not when we got caught by another seaside occupational hazard. Yup a passing seagull did a massive dump right over us. Luckily for me I only got slightly caught, but Himself took a direct hit! Anyone who has been in that situation will know not only is it plentiful, it also absolutely stinks!! 

I dived into Boots and bought some tissues and anti-bacterial wipes to clean off the most urgent mess before we hotfooted it back to the apartment which thankfully has a washing machine. We took it in turns to have a hot shower before I rinsed the clothes then loaded the machine. That was definitely something we could have done without and to make matters worse I did crack up laughing which I don’t think went down very well. 

Anyway we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging around in our pjs.

 The next day was Himself’s birthday so I made him breakfast in bed and gave him his card. Our plan had been to finally walk the St Michael’s way but yet again it was not to be. The torrential rain over the last two days had made parts of the walk waterlogged and we neither fancied a repeat of the mudfest hike we had last year in Swanage. 

                                         The heavy rain created a mini waterfall on the beach

Instead we decided to just wander around the edge of St Ives so to speak, we started on Porthmeor beach before going up and around island and across all the beaches and headlands. The weather sunny but very windy which made for some impressive waves. 

We headed back to the apartment for lunch as we really needed to get through the food we had bought. After lunch Himself showed me the alternative way to get to and fro the station he had figured out on google maps

It was definitely less hilly, though there were a couple of bits with no pavement so it might not be ideal pulling cases along as it was fairy busy with cars.  

That night we had a table booked in the best Italian restaurant in town. We went out for a drink first before a delicious and leisurely dinner. We walked back to the sun setting over the sea but sadly it was too cloudy to see the moon.

Thursday, Fisherman’s Friends day, dawned a lovely sunny day, thank goodness. 

We had breakfast, made sandwiches then headed out to catch the bus to Porthcurno. It turned out to be one of those open topped tourist buses so we sat upstairs at the front to enjoy the view. Quite frankly it was a white knuckle ride, I take my hat off to the bus drivers who do that route every day.  Parts of the route were single traffic only so if anything came the other way it meant screeching to a halt and one or other backing up. Some parts were a combination of narrow and steep, not always helped by crazy tourist parking! We arrived in one piece if slightly shaken. The buses were quite limited with the last bus back just before 7pm, so it was a good job we did get tickets for the matinee. 

We walked straight down to the beach at Porthcurno and it was clear why it has such a reputation for being beautiful. I gather it gets incredibly busy in the tourist season and I must admit it was busier than I expected for a Thursday in early May. 

We found a spot to have our lunch before mooching slowly back up to the road to walk up the hill to The Minack. We had thought about climbing the steps carved out of the rocks but we weren’t sure you could get in that way so didn’t want to go all the way up only to find we had to go back down and round.

 The road was in chaos as traffic was starting to build up for the show but there was a huge lorry trying to come down the hill so the road was blocked. One poor man was trying to get everyone to back up to the car park at Porthcurno so the lorry could get through but it was clear not everyone was prepared to do so. For once we were very grateful to be on foot, we squeezed between cars and had a bit of banter with the lorry driver as we passed him, he seemed to be finding it all very amusing anyway. 

We joined a surprisingly large queue and were soon filing down to find seats. You can’t book specific seats you just book into an area and then it’s first come first served. We were further back from the stage than I would have liked, but kind of in the middle and with a fab view.


 We got out our cushions, slathered on sunblock and  I whisked out the chilled bottle of prosecco I had popped into my bag before we left. We cracked that open and get comfortable.

The show was absolutely incredible. The band were so good, but add the open air venue and views, well,  it just made it magical. Apparently there had been a pod of dolphins in the area that as you can imagine had detracted completely from the shows by swimming past and drawing all attention. They didn’t make an appearance for us though. I glanced sideways and saw Himself beaming, so I count that as a birthday treat win.

Once the show was over we filed out only to realise we had missed a bus and the next one wasn’t for the best part of 2 hours.  

We walked a bit of the cliff top path before heading back down to Porthcurno beach. 

The glorious sun had been covered by clouds which got thicker and darker and sure enough it started to rain. We ambled slowly back to the bus stop and just had to pray the last bus was actually running. It felt better when a few other people joined us. Finally the bus did appear and we got to do that mad journey again only the other way round. 

When we got back to the apartment we ate as much of the food that was left in the fridge as we could, before starting to pack our cases and head to bed before the final part of our adventure.

My St Ives purchases, an elephant brooch to match the necklace I bought the last time we visited, which I wear constantly. I was thrilled to find the artist who made it was still there. I also couldn't resist the shark earrings so treated myself.

 A sea horse brooch from one of the little junk shops in an arcade.

More in part 3. We end our visit to Kernow with crows, crabs, castles and Eurovision. 

Friday 9 June 2023

A Cornish Adventure Part One.

 This year marked Himself’s 50th birthday, I knew he wouldn’t want a party but wasn’t sure what he would want to do instead. So in January we had the following conversation;

Me: “ What do you want to do for your birthday?”

Him: “Not be here”

Me: “Where would you like to be? Cornwall?”

Him: “Yes”

Me: “St Ives?”

Him: “Yes”

This led to me trawling through various options before settling on renting a holiday apartment with a company called Aspect. They are an independent company based in Cornwall, I liked their ethos, and their customer service was excellent. I narrowed down a couple of places and was going to surprise Him.... but then remembered what he is like, so I showed him. 

He declared he would like to be able to lie in bed and look at a sea view if possible. The lovely Atlantic Heights B&B had spoiled him in that respect! 

 So I went back to the drawing board, then I found an option that was on the Porthmeor side of St Ives that we love, and once he approved, I booked it.

                                                       A sea view from the bedroom = tick.

 A friend suggested visiting The Minack Theatre so I checked out what was on and it seemed the gods were smiling on us because Fisherman’s Friends were playing towards the end of our stay.

 Very randomly given his life long love of loud rock/metal, Himself loves Fisherman’s Friends (as do I) so it was a no brainer. I logged on to buy tickets only to find they weren’t going on sale for a few weeks. I stuck a note in my work calendar for the date and when that popped up at 9am logged onto their website again. The tickets didn’t go on sale until 10am, so at 10am I logged in again. 

Lordy, it was like getting tickets for Glastonbury or something similar! It was literally seconds past 10am and I couldn't get on, when I did manage to connect I was 64th in the queue, by the time I was 1st the evening performance had sold out on the day we wanted. Thankfully, I managed to snag two tickets for the matinee, which we decided was actually a better option given that the weather and travel arrangements were uncertain.       

 This was all before Dad died so as it turned out the time away was very much needed by both of us when the beginning of May finally arrived.

 The Thursday before we were due to leave, I was at my pilates class and one of the other ladies was talking about going on holiday the next week. She said she was having to get her son to drive them because of the train strikes. Eek. I checked when I got home, and sure enough there was a strike for the day we were due to travel home. Bollocks. 

We couldn’t leave a day early because that was when we have our Minack tickets, so instead we decided to book an extra day but in Penzance and leave from there, as it’s where the trains begin. The Premier Inn by the station was full, so after some hunting I managed to find a lovely B&B for 1 night.

 They then announced additional strikes. SIGH.

I rang the B&B to see if we could do an extra night, but they were fully booked. They very kindly suggested somewhere else, and thankfully I managed to snag their last room for both nights. Whilst I will say I support the strikes wholeheartedly; I could have done without them right at this particular time.

 Our journey down was painless, the hill up to our apartment was not! 

It being every bit as tough as I remembered from previous visits to St Ives, but well worth it for the sea views. 

We unpacked, had a drink, and headed out to stretch our legs and reacquaint ourselves with the town. We bought chips for dinner which we ate sat on a wall watching the sea, before calling in at the Co-op for a few provisions towards breakfast and a bottle of wine for that night. They were reducing stock so we also ended up with an apple pie and tub of custard for less than £2 for both!

I have to say it was lovely to not have to wake up early for a hotel breakfast. It was the Coronation that day, so after waking up late we ate breakfast in bed watching some of it on TV.

We then took the opportunity to walk to the Tesco on the outskirts of town and do a food shop for the week whilst it was quiet. It was a glorious morning; they had set up a big screen on the seawall and people were watching from the beach, all set for the day with picnics and deckchairs. 

what a view, you can't help but feel your cares lift.

We did a leisurely food shop and caught a taxi back, as neither of us could face that hill laden with heavy bags!

By the time we had packed it away and had some lunch, the weather had made one of the sudden and dramatic changes Cornwall is known for. A thick sea fog was rolling in blanketing everything in its path. 

We had planned to go for a walk along the clifftop towards Zennor and decided to still go. I’m so glad we did. It was incredibly atmospheric, feeling at times like you were literally on the edge of the world.

We cut back inland and came into St Ives via a route we had never been before.

 We awoke the following day to glorious sunshine and clear skies, so we decided to walk the cliffs in the other direction to Lelant. The previous time we did this route I was not only just getting back into walking but also tackled the walk with a mammoth hangover to boot. I managed the 4 miles there, but had to catch the bus back. This time we walked both ways. 

We called into the same pub as we had then, The Badger Inn in Lelant. Only this time I enjoyed a pint of local cider rather than nursing a diet coke and wondering if I might throw up. 

They were doing a roaring trade in Sunday lunches but thankfully we managed to find a table. Whilst coming back from the ladies I spotted one of those racks of leaflets for local attractions and picked one up called ‘Pirates’. Long term readers of this blog may remember I am a bit of a fan of a pirate, so it looked right up my street. The exhibition was at the Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

 We knew the weather the next day was forecast to be wet so had been thinking about catching the bus or train to somewhere, that somewhere quickly turned out to be Falmouth and the Maritime Museum! With me saying I know this is your holiday, but… I REALLY want to do this. 

When we got back to the apartment, google showed us that you can catch a train to Falmouth, there are a couple of changes but it still was quite a short journey, so tickets were purchased and I was a happy bunny. 

Monday indeed dawned cold and grey. We walked to the station and by the time we made it to Falmouth it was drizzling. 

The museum is smallish but absolutely fascinating. We mooched until it was out allotted time for Pirates. 
The exhibition started with famous depictions of pirates from TV and film , followed by depictions in book, which was fine, but I did find myself hoping that wasn’t all there was. 
It was also pretty full of children ( I had forgotten it was a bank holiday!) Thankfully the second half of the exhibition was all about real life pirates, this was more like it and I was quickly engrossed. 
With hindsight it made sense to seize the attention of and entertain the kids in the first section.

                                                    Because I always find an elephant!

I particularly loved the different flags and the history of how they came about. I came out wanting to sew my own! 

I‘m thinking a teacup with crossed teaspoons for one option. 

 We mooched the rest of the museum. I found the Tattoo gallery particularly interesting, they had run an exhibition in 2015 that was so popular they had created a smaller permanent gallery. 

The sculpture of an Easter Island head made from particles of plastic beach pollution was particularly sobering.

Once we had had our fill and both made a purchase in the gift shop, we decided to have a look in the town, get a drink and maybe something to eat. 

Once we got outside it was clear the weather had got dramatically worse. The rain was coming down in biblical fashion. It didn't ease up it didn't stop. We looked in a few shops and ended up diving into Costa for a hot drink, absolutely soaked within about 20 minutes despite umbrellas.

It was so miserable we decided to just head home for hot showers and dry clothes. 

In fact the rain was so bad it caused areas of severe flooding in Devon and Cornwall and made the national news! When we got to Penzance the owners of the B&B we stayed in said the water was like a river running down their road and in all the years they had lived there they had never seen it like that, climate change is real people.

 Anyway we were very grateful to get in, get changed and chill with a glass of wine, our clothes and boots steaming in front of the radiator.    

My purchase from the museum was this pilchard on wheels. It just made me laugh and every time I look at it I can't help smiling. In my book that is a keeper when it comes to an ornament. 

My other purchase was this hanging seahorse. Love at first sight, I just need to find the right spot for it....

More to follow, including a book signing, epic walks and Fisherman's  Friends.