Cornwall Revisited (3)

Eden Project

We had visited Eden Project back in 2009 when our girls were still quite young. I remembered this as a really great day out. Unfortunately, on this occasion we were a little disappointed with the experience and felt it was overpriced. Luckily, we managed to book using Tesco Clubcard Vouchers, which made it worthwhile, otherwise the steep £35 per person would have been a bigger blow (we are from Yorkshire after all!).

The Biodomes have some amazing plants and trees, which are fascinating to see. There is also a lot of information about recycling, climate change and sustainability. Reading about the destruction of areas of rainforest and people and animals being driven from their homes for mass production and profit is pretty heart breaking and made me think more about this than being preached at or watching protestors on the television.

There are some areas of the project that really look tired and need some revamping. It feels a little run down. There are also areas that are not open, due to “Covid” which should really be taken into consideration when looking at the ticket price.

The gift shops stock some beautiful sustainable products and gifts, but again they are expensive, and it is a bit sad that sustainability may only be affordable for those with lots of money to spare.

We had a good morning but were really expecting to have a full day there, so were really surprised when we had seen everything and were on our way back to the cottage in the early afternoon.

Luckily the sun had come out, so we were able to get the kayaks out and spend the afternoon and evening paddling up and down the estuary, which was great fun.

We made fish finger sandwiches and potato wedges for tea, which we took down to the fire pit,where we sat relaxing and watching the glorious sunset. What a perfect end to the day!

Marazion Beach Day

We packed up the car with our kayaks and paddle boards and headed to the beautiful area of Marazion, to the beach overlooking St Michael’s Mount. Having seen how beautiful and calm it was on our previous visit, we decided that it would be a perfect place to practice and improve our skills on the paddle boards. Once we had set up camp (we still take so much stuff every time we go out!) and had a bit of lunch, the tide had started to come in, giving the perfect opportunity to paddle in safety.

From the beach, the water looked very calm, and we were convinced that it would be as easy as paddling on the lake. We couldn’t have been more wrong. I was knocked off my board by a wave as soon as I had got on before I even had chance to stand up. My husband paddled along with his usual confident air, and we were all extremely impressed with his proficiency, until he was knocked off by a wave and he disappeared into the water (we didn’t laugh much!). It certainly wasn’t easy to stand up and to be honest, I gave up and decided to just sit on my board and paddle. The others managed to stand, but it was not easy. My friend spent the afternoon practicing getting back on to her board, but was not particularly successful and we could hear her screaming and laughing right across the beach.

We had a fabulous afternoon but were extremely tired and a little bit wind swept by the time we left the beach. We decided to call in Newlyn for fish and chips on the way back, so we didn’t have to go to the trouble of shopping and cooking food. Later that evening as we sat at the cottage, we were all struggling to stay awake after the exertion and all the fresh air. Needless to say, we all slept well.

Cornwall Revisited (2)

Newlyn and Mousehole

On Thursday morning, the sun was out and it was warm, so we spent the morning relaxing in the garden at the cottage. After lunch, we decided to drive to Newlyn and walk along the coastal path to Mousehole. The walk is around a mile and a half and is a shared footpath and cycle path. There are coastal views along most of it, and at various points along the way, St Michaels Mount can be seen from slightly different angles. There is also a memorial to the Penlee Lifeboat disaster, where the crew lost their lives whilst attempting a rescue in an horrendous storm. The garden is set on top of the cliff above the old lifeboat station.

The weather was just right for walking, warm with a gentle breeze, but not blazing sunshine.

Mousehole is a stunning picturesque village, with quaint cottages sitting around the harbour. It was late in the afternoon and quite busy. It was great to see children, having finished school for the day, playing on the beach and in the sea. After strolling through the village, and enjoying the scenery, we called for a coffee, before heading back on the path to Newlyn.

We were unable to find a restaurant which was open and had room for us to eat, so called for takeaway from Lewis Fish and Chips. We sat on the benches by the war memorial eating them out of the box. They were excellent and I would recommend them if you were calling at Newlyn at any point.

The Minack Theatre

Having featured recently on a documentary, the Minack open air theatre had been added to my list of things to do. We had tickets booked for Thursday evening, for a production of The 39 Steps. The drive to the theatre is an interesting one, on some very narrow and winding roads. Once we arrived, the staff were amazing, guiding us to a parking space and then into the seating area.

The view from the top of the theatre is breath taking, looking down on the theatre itself and in the distance, out to sea, where several fishing boats were bobbling around.

As the production began, the sun started to set. The play was amusing, and all the characters were played well by the small cast. As it became darker, the moon cast an eerie glow on the boats out at sea, creating a unique atmosphere as the play continued. It was a chilly evening, but we were well prepared with coats, hats and blankets. At the end of the production, we all had slightly numb bottoms and achy backs, but the experience was well worth it.

Marazion And St Michael’s Mount

On Monday, we had pre-booked tickets to visit the castle at St Michael’s Mount. We visited last year but could only get tickets to the garden and were unable to visit the castle. We were very lucky again with the weather. We drove to Marazion, a picturesque village, with a soft flat beach and crystal-clear waters.  We walked to the castle along the causeway, which is only visible during low tide. The causeway is cobbled and flanked on both sides with rock pools.

The grounds of the castle are beautiful, with well kept lawns and beds. The route to the castle is very steep, up lots of steps cut from the rocks. The view from the walls of the castle is astonishing, looking out over the bay and the coastline of Cornwall.

The castle is worth visiting, having developed over centuries from being a monastery in the 1100’s to now being owned jointly by The National Trust and the St Aubyn family. There is an online tour which gives information for each room as you walk around the castle. There are also guides on hand if you have any questions. There are the usual art works and artefacts, but it is the structure of the castle and the location that is most impressive.

After visiting the castle, we sat on the lawns in the sunshine, eating lunch, before heading back to the mainland. The causeway was now closed, due to the tide coming in, so we were taxied back by one of the little motorboats, which was only a short journey, but worth the experience.  We had a little wander around the village and then sat looking out across the bay, watching the kayakers, paddle boarders, swimmers and the unusual sight of a man riding a shire horse along the beach.

Cornwall Revisited

After having such an excellent time in Cornwall last year, we decided to book the same cottage for this year (we actually booked it whilst we were still there as we had a feeling that holidays abroad would not be on the cards). We set off on Thursday lunchtime, meeting our friends and staying overnight in Bristol, before travelling down to Cornwall on Friday. We had a short stop off in Polperro for the extremely tasty crab sandwiches at the museum tea rooms on the harbour. Our  cars were even more packed than last year, after the purchase of the paddle boards and more recently inflatable kayaks. Luckily, we managed to squeeze everything in, with a little room to spare to pick up the click and collect order at Tesco in Truro.

We arrived Ruan Dinas in Coombe early Friday evening. The cottage is just as we remembered it and this year, we have the added bonus of staying for two weeks.

We all spent the first couple of days relaxing around the cottage, the garden, and the riverside, with a short trip to the garden centre and a wander around the shops in Falmouth. I also had my first go at fishing, but didn’t catch anything, which was okay as no one else did either.

My husband was the first to be brave enough to take his paddle board onto the estuary straight away. The rest of us were a little more cautious. We were convinced that the tide would wash us out to sea within minutes, but we soon realised that this was not the case. I took my board out the following day, and me and my husband paddled up and down the river a couple of times, with our friends in their kayak.  I must admit I stayed kneeling all the time, as I didn’t feel confident enough to stand up in the tidal water.

Enjoying The Sunshine

On Tuesday it was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to paddle the kayaks up the estuary and have breakfast at the garden tea rooms. Unfortunately, when we got there, the tea rooms were closed.  After making our own breakfast, we paddled a little further down the river, around the large ferry which is moored up in the widest part of the estuary, and in and out of a few of the coves. The river was surprisingly calm and easy to paddle. We even sat in the kayaks in the sunshine for a while, just relaxing and watching the world go by.

After lunch we set off to the pitch and putt in Falmouth. We had an amusing afternoon, one we had negotiated the grumpy attendant, who opened a window and served us through a tiny gap. He was not amenable to any queries and slammed the window shut after pointing out the signs which said the café and toilets were not open. The fact that he was so rude, just set us off in fits of laughter, which continued around the course.  None of us are particularly good, but it all adds to the enjoyment.

Making the most of the glorious sunshine, we drove down to Swanpool Beach, where we were tempted by the quirky named ice creams at the beach café. I chose “Malt Pleaser”, which was a Cornish vanilla ice cream cone covered in Maltesers. After sitting for a while, we walked along the coastal path to Gilly Vase Beach, stopping to take in the outstanding views. At Gilly Vase, we strolled through the beautiful gardens before heading back on the coastal path to Swanpool.

Driving back from Swanpool, we took the scenic route and came across Pendennis Shipyard. It was fascinating looking at the huge ships in dry dock and seeing the people at work who looked like tiny ants in comparison to the ships.

Messing About On The Water

The following day we booked to take our Kayaks and paddle boards to Stithians Lake for the day. The idea was that it would be a safer expanse of water to practice our skills and improve our technique. It was a warm sunny day and we had packed the car the night before, ready to set off early in order to set up camp (we have so much stuff between us, including an event shelter, four paddle boards, two kayaks, a gas stove, chairs, food in two cool boxes, wet suits, towels and changes of clothing).

Stithians is one of the South West Lakes and is a large expanse of freshwater, with all the facilities to launch your own boats, hire, or even take lessons. I decided to get some practice in on my paddle board first. After lots of attepts at standing up on my own, I eventually managed to stand up with help from my husband. I was paddling along merrily for quite a while, before the wind got up and started making the water quite choppy. Needless to say, I was soon off my board and into the water. I managed not to panic but couldn’t manage to get back on my board at such a depth, so swam almost the length of the lake using my board as a float.

After lunch, I had another go. This time the wind made me drift into the banking at the other edge of the lake. At this point I should have gone from standing to kneeling but wasn’t quick enough and as I hit the bank. I fell forwards, face planting the board. Once I had recovered (and stopped laughing), I decided to sit on my board and paddle back to the shore, which took some doing as the wind was constantly trying to blow me in the opposite direction.

It was at this point we decided to give the kayaks a go. We paddled around the edge of the whole lake, which was easy when going in the direction of the wind, but much harder work when going against the wind.

After an amazing but tiring day, we headed back to the cottage, where we cooked a meal and then took drinks down to the firepit on the jetty. We sat toasting marshmallows and laughing at our antics.

A Bit Of A Catch Up

I thought I would just write and let you know what has been going on over the last couple of months. In many ways things are starting to get back to normal, although the pandemic is still very much with us.  I am still quite cautious if I am in a place with lots of people and feel more comfortable in the outdoors than being in an enclosed area. I have managed to get out and about to a few places and return to some of the things that I really love to do.

I’ve managed to get a couple of decent walks in with my brother, whose Charity Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is delayed until next May. So far I have walked Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough with him. He is really good as when he gets a little ahead, he walks back to collect me, meaning he always walks quite a bit further than me. I am still unfit, having reverted to all my old eating habits during the last lockdown over winter. I get plenty of exercise but I do need to stop eating quite so much of the wring types of food, especially in between meals or on an evening.

Having said that one of my other great loves is eating out. It has been great to start doing that again over the last few weeks, particularly in places where you can book a table and know that it is not going to be overcrowded. We have met up with friends on a couple of occasions and it has felt great to be doing something “normal”

As a little treat, my sister in law and I took our mums and mum-in-law out for afternoon tea at Angelina’s Tea Rooms in the Mill Village at Batley. To be fair I had bought the vouchers as a present for Christmas 2019, but we have never been able to use them. It was a really pleasant afternoon, as we rarely all get chance to spend time together. It was lovely to see the older ladies relaxing and chatting whilst enjoying their teas. There were plenty of sandwiches and cakes for all of us and as much tea as you could drink. They all went home with a little box of leftovers which was an added bonus.

Birthday Treats

At the end of July, for my youngest daughter’s birthday, we took both her grandmas (my mum and mum-in-law) out for lunch at The Garden Café, at Bennetts Eggs in Liversedge. It was a warm sunny day. The food was great, if a little much for both the older ladies, who went home with a doggy bag to have for lunch the following day. We had a lovely afternoon, and it was great to be able to spend some time together. After lunch we strolled around the little petting farm before dropping them off back home.

Later in the week, as another birthday treat,  we went to an Escape Room with my husband and my daughter’s boyfriend. I absolutely love escape rooms, and this is one of the things that we have not been able to do over the last eighteen months with all the restrictions. I enjoy the puzzle solving and working together. I am always amazed at how everyone thinks differently. Puzzles that are obvious to one person don’t make any sense to another and it is great to see everyone playing their part to get out in time. If you’ve never done an escape room, I would recommend you give it a go. They are all different levels and themes, so you would be able to find one that suits you. The one we chose was a Titanic theme, in an Escape Room very close to our home. It was not too difficult, and we managed to get out with a good amount of time to spare, with lots of laughs along the way.

A Trip To London

In august it was my eldest daughter’s birthday, so I arranged to visit her. I travelled down on the train and we stayed in a nice hotel near to St Pauls Cathedral. She only lives forty-five minutes away from the centre of London, but I thought it would be nice for her to have a change of scenery, after the lockdowns and not being able to do many of the things she normally enjoys.

I arrived on the Sunday afternoon, and we popped into the amazing Theatre Café for lunch and a couple of cheeky cocktails, before going to the theatre. We had booked to see David Walliams’ Billionaire boy at the Garrick theatre. This may seem a strange choice for two adults, but as her friend was in the production, it was great to support them and see something that we wouldn’t normally see. The production was entertaining. There were lots of funny moments, which appealed to adults, but went over the children’s heads. However, the children did find the jokes about “pooping” and “farting” hilarious.

We popped back to the hotel for a relaxing swim and sauna, before heading out for something to eat. It wasn’t easy to find an open restaurant close by and we did not want to go too far. We arrived at Gordon Ramsay Maze Grill just as they were about to take the last orders at 8pm.  The atmosphere was pleasant enough, the service was efficient, and the food was reasonable, but I was not completely blown away. It did feel that they were getting ready to close by the time we finished our meal. By the time we left there was just us and a couple of ladies on the table next to us. Luckily, no one made us feel that we were being a nuisance by being there.

The following day I had persuaded my daughter to take part in a Sherlock Holmes outdoor game, which took us around the streets of London following online clues on an app. It was an interesting couple of hours. I was surprised by how much building and maintenance work was going on. Considering the amount of time restriction have been in place, it would have been more sensible to carry out the repairs then, rather than in the height of the summer holidays. It was certainly much quitter than usual, with the obvious lack of international tourists, which seemed strange in a capital city.

On the Monday evening, we went to the open-air theatre at Regents Park. We had enjoyed it so much last year, I didn’t really mind what was on, I just wanted to go back. This summers production was Carousel, which I haven’t seen for years and even then, only on film. The production had an unusual setting, with very neutral colours and clothing styles, which di not depict a particular era. The singing and dancing were beautiful. Although it is probably an outdated story, it had been altered to make it a little more relevant to modern times. I am not a fan of changing everything to suit modern values (sometimes we need to see how things were, to understand how far we have come and how much change is still needed), but on this occasion I think that it was needed and was not overdone. All in all, it was a great evening, helped by the warm weather and the different atmosphere that is gained by being outdoors.

On Tuesday, we went out for a walk and had breakfast, before checking out of the hotel. We walked to the station and got on the same tube, before saying our goodbyes and heading off home.  Although we had had a busy couple of days, I felt relaxed as I travelled back home.

Paddle Board Practice

After having our paddle board lesson in June, we decided to invest in a couple of inflatable paddle boards to take with us on our holidays. Although that sounds fairly straight forwards, as we knew exactly what we wanted, it seemed that everyone else in the country had also had the same idea. We eventually managed to pre order some and they arrived on 2nd August. As it was a fine sunny day(and we were self isolating), we spent some time inflating them in the garden. This took quite a while and a lot of energy. Needless to say we have now invested in an electric pump!

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend we went up to Ullswater and spent the day on the lake, with friends practicing on our paddle boards. We had a great day, but I am still struggling to get from kneeling to standing without leaning on my husband. Luckily he is proficient and very confident on his paddle board, so is able to assist with this without me tipping him into the water. Hopefully it will come with practice. If not I’ll just have to keep leaning on him every time i want to stand up!

Taking On A New Challenge

One of the activities that was on my list of things to try when I retired, was stand up paddle boarding. Unfortunately, due to the travel restrictions, not mixing in groups and all the other strange things that have happened over the last eighteen months, it was something that I never got round to doing.

However, last weekend I finally managed to go and give it a whirl, along with my husband and two friends. We had booked a beginners lesson with Lake District Paddle Boarding. The lesson was three hours long and we booked a private lesson for just the four of us as we did not want to be holding anyone back or being embarrassed by not being able to actually get on the boards.

I have to say that we had an excellent afternoon. When we first arrived on the edge of Ullswater, it was very murky, overcast, with a chilly breeze. Whilst we sat and ate our picnic, we were all shivering – I think from the cold rather than the sheer terror of what was to come. We were all convinced that we would be in the water within five minutes and frozen to the core.

We went to introduce ourselves to our instructor Joe, who was excellent. He reassured us that we would be able to get on the boards and was confident that we would be paddling across the lake by the end of the afternoon. We were slightly more doubtful! He also convinced us that the water wasn’t actually that cold and we would not be chilly if we fell in.

The first hurdle was to get into a wetsuit. This is no mean feat when you’re younger, but when you are over fifty, overweight and not particularly fit, it becomes a bit of a workout in itself. By the time I managed to shoe horn myself into the suit, I was definitely not chilly anymore. I was relieved that I had fitted into one, as I had nightmares about being stuck half in/half out of a wetsuit, witnessed by hoards of Lake District tourists.

Joe explained the basics at the side of the lake, whilst we watched and asked questions. He was really encouraging and patient with us. He made it sound very straight forward. He then got us all to get onto the boards, kneeling up and we set off into the water. They were much more stable than we had anticipated. After about ten minutes, the boys were already trying to stand up and doing a pretty good job of it. Us girls were a little less confident, but with lots of help and encouragement we were all actually standing on the boards and paddling, much to our amazement. It was quite hard work, requiring a considerable amount of concentration. The advice to look ahead to where you are going and to relax, really helped, but what you actually want to do is look down at the boars and cling on by clenching your toes.

After we had paddled up and down near the shore for a while, Joe then suggested that we paddle across to the island in the middle of the lake. Despite our initial reluctance, we were now all up for this and made our way across with a combination of standing and kneeling, depending on the choppiness of the water. I was mostly kneeling, as I still did not feel particularly confident. Once we had had a short rest on the island, we then crossed the lake into some of the more sheltered bay areas, where it was a little easier to stand up. I still needed a bit of help getting from kneeling to standing, but I managed to paddle standing up for a short while.

Joe showed us some further skills on the boards and also some tricks, which the more confident paddlers tried, some with more success than others. The boys both ended up in the water, mostly from showing off and being over confident. But we laughed so much! Once we had gone in and out of a few more of the little bays, it was time to make our way back across the lake to where we started. I don’t think any of us could believe how quickly three hours had passed by.

As we set back off, the steamer was approaching and Joe warned us that it would cause a few waves. The choice was to kneel down and be more stable in the waves, or stand up and try and balance. Needless to say the boys tried standing and riding the waves and ended up tipping off into the water.

We all managed to make it back safely and a little quicker than going out, as the wind was blowing us in the right direction. We had had a great time and were really impressed with the whole afternoon. We all had slightly achey legs and had definitely used muscles that we hadn’t used for a while.

I would definitely recommend this as an activity and would suggest booking a lesson to try it out with some instruction. I can also heartily recommend Lake District Paddle Boarding and particularly Joe, who was encouraging, amusing and very knowledgeable, nit only about paddle boarding but about Ullswater too. One of the other really nice things was that he took lots of photographs throughout the session, which he then sent us free of charge. The photos make us look much more confident and proficient than we were!

Stand Up Paddle board lessons in the English Lake District. (lakedistrictpaddleboarding.co.uk)

Sarah, My Friend

Yesterday I sadly said goodbye to my lovely friend Sarah, who lost her fight with breast cancer. Throughout her illness Sarah remained positive, determined to live her life to the full, provide for her family and to have no regrets. She was a shining example to all those who knew her and will be missed by so many people. So this is my tribute to Sarah, an amazingly beautiful and brave friend.

When colleagues become friends

Sarah and I had been colleagues for some time, working within the same department, never working on the same team, but passing the time of day, chatting whilst we worked and occasionally working on an enquiry together.

Then, a supervisor made a decision that would change both our lives forever. The teams were shuffled around and Sarah and I began working together on a day to day basis. We were both a bit put out at first, not because we didn’t like each other, or couldn’t work together, but because we were both quite happy on our own teams, we had our own friends, but we decided to make the best of it and crack on with our work.

I am eternally grateful for that decision. Working with Sarah brought us closer and we soon realised that we had quite a lot of things in common, crafting, reading, musicals travelling, amongst other things, but we also had the same ethics. We both valued family life, knew how important our friends were and were both determined in our work to provide the best service that we possibly could to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

When the teams were re-shuffled, Sarah and I continued to be firm friends both in and out of work. We were able to talk about anything, had some amazing experiences and supported each other through some really difficult times.

A shock diagnosis

Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was called for an early mammogram due to a trial in the local health authority. She had no symptoms at all, but it was discovered that her cancer was already well developed and she was swiftly taken into hospital for a mastectomy, followed by gruelling rounds of chemotherapy. Although Sarah knew that her cancer was incurable, she certainly didn’t take that lying down. She did this without complaining, always smiling and having a firm belief that when one treatment wasn’t working, there would be another one that would.

She was determined to live her life to the full and no matter how ill she was she always had time for her family and friends. She cared for both her girls and her mum, despite being exhausted some days. She told me often that she was not afraid of dying, but was always concerned about the effect that her death would have on other people. She was reluctant to let people know when she was suffering and always had a goal to work towards.

Sometimes there were tears, when she was clearly worried, particularly in relation to her two daughters, but generally when you asked her how she was she would say that she was doing alright.

The hardest time was a few weeks ago, when her treatment was stopped and she knew that there was nothing else that could be done. She was initially rocked by the news, but again set about making plans for her family, dealing with unfinished business and trying to make things as easy as she could for those around her.

Sarah never stopped fighting and was determined to keep active for as long as possible and it was only in the last few days of her life that she was unable to do this. She was able to be cared for at home and spend the time that she had left with her family and close friends. I feel blessed to have been able to spend time with her, not only in the last few weeks, but over the last few years. I am also really grateful to her family for allowing me to be there and to the other friends who have given unending support.

A lesson in living a good life

I have learned a lot from being friends with Sarah. Mostly that you should live a good life, not waste time complaining about the things that life throws at you, but to accept those things and do all the things you want to do anyway.

It is true that none of us know how long we have left with our family and friends. Sarah taught me that it’s important to make each moment count. Take pleasure in the little things. Make goals for your life, no matter how small they are. Don’t let small things grow into big problems and don’t put off things that you really want to do. Try not to bear a grudge and remember that a small  kindness can be a huge thing to someone else.

I am definitely a better person for knowing Sarah and I hope that some of her kindness and selflessness has rubbed off on me.

Long lasting memories

I didn’t want to end this blog on a sad note as Sarah would definitely not approve of that. Everyone that knew her will have their own memories, from nights out, lunches at the Ivy, theatre trips, Christmas do’s and many other celebrations. There are so many memories, some of which I talked about in my previous blogs,  but here are just a couple of my favourites

Sarah wanted to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and talked myself and Sharon into taking part in the moonwalk. This was a 26 mile walk, through London, in the middle of the night, wearing a decorated bra. This was a tough but amazing experience. Sarah encouraged us around the whole 26 miles, never losing her enthusiasm. When we reached the finishing line the following morning, Sarah was the only one out of all three of us that was still able to walk around. It was through this experience on the night and the training before hand that I got to know Sharon and we have been able to support each other and I hope we will continue to do so in the future.

In February this year Sarah and I went on an overnight stay to a spa. We had a lovely relaxing couple of days in some very luxurious surroundings. We were able to spend some quality time together, talked, laughed and cried. As Sarah was feeling quite tired at this stage, we weren’t exactly party animals and ended up tucked up in bed at 9pm, with a bottle of prosecco, watching Love Island.

 

I know that it will be hard over the coming weeks,  months  and years as we will all miss Sarah so much, but I will do my best to remember the good times, to focus on the laughter rather than the tears and to live the best life that I can.

Sleep well Sarah you’ve earned your rest.

I will look for you in the colours of the rainbow, the brightest star and the prettiest snowflakes.