Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blind and Silent

Okay, it's been way too long since I've blogged -- but I have an excuse. First of all, I'm up to my armpits in the Tulsa guidebook project. Time is fleeting and the word count isn't rising nearly fast. But worse than that -- the last time I had my computer worked on, when it came back, the program that I use to upload my photos to the computer had disappeared. So I haven't been able to get my pics off the camera -- all nine million England photos are just sitting there. I'm headed to Tulsa for two days so Jack is taking the computer back to Computerzone. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Legless but Smiling

That's the slogan for Scrumpy produced by Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm -- and how I feel about our trip. We've done a LOT of walking. Some days we'll get back to the flat and I'll think I can't possibly make it up the stairs -- but I always do.

The Cyder Farm was lovely -- with acres of trees in bloom. They produce not only Scrumpy -- a traditional hard cider which was actually, at one time, a method of payment for farm workers -- but a number of different wines, jams, jellies, chutneys and even straight apple juice.

Parts of the buildings are 100 to 150 years old and there is a small museum with antique tools and equipment on the property. We took the tour, sampled the products and spent money in the gift shop. Jack forgot to bring a hat and his head has been getting red so now he sports a jaunty, green baseball cap with the "Legless but Smiling" motto.

Zoe's a whiz at driving here -- we've ginned all over the countryside -- through large towns like Truro and Falmouth and tiny hamlets with names like Water Ma Trout and my favorite, Praze-an-Beeble. Sounds like a pentacostal church service.

This day we went to Mousehole (pronounced Mouw-zel) and, yes, that's a two-way street. Mousehole has a lovely little harbor, interesting shops and galleries and Nigel Hallard. We were lucky to catch him in his gallery/studio-- wish I could afford one of his paintings. Here he's working on a painting of St. Michael's Mount -- a favorite subject for painters including J.M.W. Turner.

As you can see, it was a beautiful day for walking. Weather watching here is frustrating because, even with a sky like this, it's just as likely to become totally overcast and raining in 15 minutes! I spend a lot of time putting on layers and taking layers off!

Meanwhile, back at the flat, we have a fairly regular visitor. Zoe's named him Bandit and he's a shameless beggar of bread.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Promised You Photos --

And here are pictures of the ecclesiastical furnishings at Newlyn's Trinity Church. Copper work by Michael Johnson; woodwork by Dave Need.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Room with a View

This is the view that greets me when I look south out of my front window in the morning. That's Newlyn, the next village over. The last time we were here Jack and I went to church in Newlyn. Julyan Drew, the minister who did Zoe and Simon's blessing ceremony, is the minister at Trinity Methodist Church there. Julyan was just as impressive this time as the last time -- he's an intelligent, engaging preacher and his message was thought-provoking and inspiring.

On our last visit we were so taken with the beautiful copper and oak lectern, baptistry and furnishings that we wanted to meet the man who made them. We achieved half our goal. The coppersmith is Michael Johnson, a wonderful artist and craftsman. We visited with him in his studio -- Newlyn Copper Works -- on Friday. Michael worked with woodworker Dave Need who made all the beautiful oak pieces.

Newlyn was once noted for its superb copper creations and Michael is working to restore that reputation. Here he is with a monstrance he created in memory of a friend. We took pictures of the church pieces this morning and I'll add them when Zoe downloads my photos.

This is a photo I took on the walk back from Newlyn. We walked along the shore -- this is looking north to Penzance. You can see the steeple of St. Mary's church on the right.

One of the little shops along the way had fresh, Cornish strawberries and we couldn't resist. Every single berry was perfectly ripe and luscious -- unlike the ones we get at home where half of the berries in the basket are, if not downright green, at best a sickly pink! And these tasted as good as they looked.

For a report on our trip to the Seal Sanctuary, check Teddy's blog --

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Garden Heaven at Heligan

Jack and I wanted to come to England in the spring because we love rhododendrons and today we saw some amazing ones. They towered over us -- one was 75 feet across at the crown. We visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan south of St. Austell -- I think it was about 40 miles from here. The day was overcast but didn't look threatening and we lucked out -- no rain while we were there. It was chilly, but we were dressed warmly enough -- in the 50s with only a slight breeze.

The first manor house was built here in the 12th century and was followed by rebuildings and alterations over the centuries. Earliest records of the gardens date back to the 1700s. They grew and thrived until World War I. Though the property remained in the Tremayne family for 400 years, for various reasons, the gardens were neglected following the war. The family now leases the gardens to a non-profit organization whose goal is not only to restore the beauty of the gardens, but to make it a working estate.

The Giant's Head, in the Woodland Walk, was created by local artists Sue and Pete Hill. Though a totally contemporary creation, it was done in the same spirit that Victorian gardeners had in creating features of interest to enhance the enjoyment of the natural landscape.

Although it is getting close to the end of the season for camellias, many of the plants were still blooming profusely.

Garden areas at Heligan range from exotic and wild to formal and utilitarian. These poppies were in the Flower Garden. Other gardens included the melon yard, vegetable garden, apple orchard and the oldest working manure-heated pineapple pit in England (since the 1800s).

Tropical ferns and giant rhubarb plants flourished alongside magnificent rhododendrons in the Jungle -- a tropical paradise in a deep chasm. The rhodies are definitely the stars of the show this time of year. Some of the plants are approximately 150 years old and were brought from Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal by Sir Joseph Hooker.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pleased to Be in Penzance

After 22 hours of sitting, waiting, changing planes, sitting some more, running for trains, and sitting some more we finally arrived in Penzance. I slept for 11 hours and Jack slept for 12, then we got on with life -- starting with a walk downtown. This is one of my favorite corners in downtown Penzance.

I took Teddy everywhere we went and took lots of photos of him. Please check his blog at for more photos. The rhododendrons are just starting to bloom and we tucked Teddy onto a branch to take his picture. The result was a bit obscene so Zoe remedied the situation with a strategically placed blossom. Zoe and I picked up a couple more fallen blossoms and tucked them behind our ears. Look at the size of those things -- the blossoms, not our ears!

After dinner we walked down to the beach across the street. It was a bit chilly but still beautiful.

The swans didn't seem to mind.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Between my travels and working on the guidebook, I've been slacking on blogging. So here's a quick catch-up -- but please hang with me. I'm going to go silent again for a bit but I promise I'll be back and be better!
Last week I spent time in Knoxville. What a great town! The azaleas and dogwood were absolutely stunning. And we were there for the Rossini Festival -- ate some great Italian food. I didn't actually hear any Rossini (they're doing "Barber" next year) but I did attend a marvelous "Pagliacci." The voices and orchestra were wonderful and the Tennessee Theatre was a beautiful setting.
Knoxville was a real treat. For a town of about 200,000, it packs all the amenities of a major metropolis. Art, music, food, great public spaces, interesting museums -- wow! -- there wasn't enough time to do and see everything and I'd love to go back.
P.S. I'm having serious issues both with photos on the blog and with photos in general. If you have any suggestions -- I'd be most appreciative. I really want that poster picture at the bottom of the blog -- but I can't get it to move!
And when my computer came back from the repair shop, the program that used to pop up when I plugged in my card reader or put a CD with photos in the CD drawer now has disappeared. It had a blue border and choices like "View as a slide show" and "Upload photos to computer" and "Open a folder to view contents." I have no idea what the program's name is -- it just used to appear as if by magic. AND I WANT IT BACK!!!!!! I went to Moto-Photo and put my Knoxville pics on a CD so I could erase my card, but I'm having issues getting them on to the computer. The program I'm using I have to do one at a time and it puts them on the desktop! Since there are over 200 photos on that CD, this is not a good solution!