Saturday, October 30, 2010

Going Coastal -- Part 1

Cornwall is famous for its dramatic and scenic coastline -- and for its mercurial weather. We certainly got a demonstration of both the day we visited The Lizard -- a peninsula which hangs off the southern coast making it the farthest south point in Britain. We can see The Lizard from Penzance -- snaking down the north side of Mounts Bay -- but the name doesn't come from its shape but as a combination of old Cornish words meaning "holy court or palace." The Lizard is fairly flat on top but drops away to the sea with steep cliffs.

The Lizard holds a special place in the history of communications. Gugliemo Marconi had a workshop here and it was from that site that the first wireless trans-Atlantic message was sent from Europe to North America on December 12, 1901.

Communication of another sort as been a long tradition -- the lighthouse on the point has warned ships away from the treacherous coast and into the English Channel since 1619. The present tower was constructed in 1732. It was electrified in 1924 and automated in 1998. Visitors can rent light-keepers cottages here.

It was sunny, but cool, on the drive from Penzance. We'd packed a picnic to eat on arrival at Lizard Point. Right on the ocean, it was quite windy and we decided to eat in the car. As we ate, we watched clouds sweep in so that by the time we finished, the blue sky was gone and the wind stronger than ever. We put on all the clothes we had with us -- Jack gave up his Legless but Smiling ball cap for a knit cap Zoe had in the boot of the car. I took the cap and tied it on my head with my knit headband. Zoe tied a shirt over her head --and tied her hood over that.

As you can see from the pictures, the clouds rolled in and out with the sun making a brief appearances. I've put these pictures in here in chronological order, so you can see the quick changes of conditions.

It was quite a walk back up from the water and as we reached the car park, the clouds had re-appeared and the rain came peppering down.

Driving out we encountered a situation common to English drivers -- two cars needing to be in the same space at the same time. Something has to give. Zoe was impatient with the car in front of us because he was just a few feet from a bit of added shoulder which would have given him more room. Instead, he tried backing up a Cornish hedge! According to Zoe, "We've all driven up the occasional hedge." As I've mentioned before, these leafy barriers have hearts of stone -- stacked granite that plants find ways to root on.

Driving from Lizard Point to Mullion Cove, we were treated to a lovely rainbow. We could see the entire bow and one end stopped right over a wind farm. Zoe wanted a picture of that -- seemed like an environmental blessing -- but between the narrow road, the Cornish hedges and the traffic -- we never got that particular shot. We did get this one where the combination of little traffic and low hedges cooperated.

By the time we got to Mullion Cove, it was cloudy again. Jack got bored with our photo taking and headed back to the car. Zoe and I lingered a bit too long and before we got back to our auto, we got soaked by another downpour!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Sticky Situation

I've been curious about acupuncture but the thought of someone sticking needles into me just sounded awful. However.... my daughter Zoe, who also is no seeker of pain, has been going to an acupuncturist in the U.K for her migraines and has had good results. So when we came for a visit -- and I've been having a problem with a "trigger finger" -- I decided that this would be a good time to try the therapy.

Dr. Tang is licensed and has many years of experience and Xiao Mei, the herbalist in the clinic, is also similarly qualified. I was apprehensive before my first visit but the discomfort with my hand overcame my reticence.

At each visit, Dr. Tang checks my pulse and looks at my tongue. Then we go upstairs where I lie on an examining table. Dr. Tang covers me with fluffy towels to keep me warm. After cleaning my hands and arms, she starts inserting the needles. I can't watch. Sometimes I don't feel anything; other times, a slight pressure; occasionally a brief twinge. Then Dr. Tang puts a heat lamp on me. Her English is limited and, when she turns it on, she says, "Barbecue!"

Then I settle in for a 30 minute nap. When Dr. Tang returns, she removes the needles and I get a brief massage. Her touch is light as a butterfly as she makes tiny circles with her fingers on my forehead, temples and behind my ears. Then she massages my ears and pops them. This is followed by a gentle massage on both arms and legs. And I'm done!

Dr. Tang suggested some pills for circulation, herbs for soaking my hand and some liniment. I have no idea what the herbs are -- they look like bits of sticks and evergreen plus bits and pieces of other stuff! These I soak, then boil, then cool enough to soak my hand in.

Are these remedies working? Well, my hand is definitely better. Whether this is the result of the acupuncture and medicines or just the healing touch of time, I don't know. I felt very confident with Dr. Tang -- her traditional training is a good assurance of safety of treatment. I'd do it again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Colorful Cornwall

It's actually not very colorful right this minute -- our first really rainy day, which out of 10 so far, is pretty darned good. So today's post is all about colorful sites around town. I love the movie with Alan Alda and Carol Burnett -- never can remember if its The Seasons or Four Seasons -- but in it, Sandy Dennis' character is a photographer going through a vegetable phase. I totally get it.

Who could resist these romanescu -- looks like the mutant child of a match between broccoli and cauliflower!

Huge leeks! Obviously a do-it-yourself joke opportunity!

Savoy cabbage -- great color, texture, vitamin packed -- ugh!

Purple cauliflower? Hmmm. A turnip in the woodpile perhaps?

A number of the stalls have fresh flowers.

And here the flower of British womanhood stands up for the fight against breast cancer. Love the trim on the umbrella!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pied-a-terre in Paradise

April Cottage, 1 Pleasant Place --doesn't that just sound so Mary Poppins? Zoe's friend loaned us her beautiful home in a little village outside of Penzance -- still walking distance to town -- and it's charming. It faces a tiny lane so I couldn't get back far enough to get a good shot of the front.

This is the backyard -- all sorts of beautiful plants -- roses, fuchsias, primulas and many more I can't name. There's a little water feature with a burbling fountain and water lilies. I don't know how old the house is but considering the low ceilings and bowed roof line, I'd say it has some age to it.

From the breakfast table we have a great view of the garden.

This picture is one of several streets in the main area of Penzance. We walk down there almost every day -- always some errand to run or something interesting to see. This particular shot is looking towards the bay.

The town's main street is called Market Jew -- the "jew" being the old Cornish word for "Thursday." The side of the street with the raised pavement (sidewalk) is called The Terrace.

The closest thing to a mall is the outdoor collection of shops known as Wharfside. You can see St. Michael's Mount through the arch.

Looking up Market Jew Street from the south you can't miss the domed Lloyd's Bank.

Another main shopping street -closed to most traffic - is Causeway Head.

And when we tire of strolling through town, we come back to the cottage and enjoy the view.