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!

1 comment:

Elaine Warner said...

Okay, fixed the incredible multiplying photo. - Zoe