All entries for Sunday 19 December 2004
December 19, 2004
Port Isaac, Cornwall
Last weekend Norwood and I went to visit his uncle Tim in Port Isaac, Cornwall in the far southwest of England. Cornwall is, in many places, one of the most remote parts of England and getting down there was a bit of a trial, about 8 hours of combined train, bus, and travel by cab, but definitely worth it. It's a beautiful place and maybe even more so now during the winter when things are much less busy. We arrived at Tim's house on Thursday evening and he was very welcoming and immediately set up pre-dinner cocktails for us. We had dinner at home and talked for a long time, but Tim was feeling pretty poorly after a trip to the dentist and couldn't eat much. The next day Norwood drove us (in Tim's car) to the inland town of Wadebridge so Tim could see the dentist and get a shot for the pain. Norwood and I spent some time looking around the town and going into the various shops. Later we met Tim for lunch at one of his favorite pubs, The Swan. One of the things I was most looking forward to was having really good, fresh fish in Cornwall, so I opted for the fish and chips which were very good. However, Tim got the special—fish cakes made from haddock, cod and salmon. I got to try a little bit of it and it was wonderful! As much as I liked my fish, I began to wish I had ordered the special instead it was so good. Unfortunately Tim's toothache was still too bad to eat the cakes, and the greedy kid inside me hoped to get his fishcakes but nothing doing—he saved them for later. We got a few groceries for dinner and headed back to Pt. Isaac. When we got back Norwood and I decided to look around the harbour.
Pt. Isaac is a really neat town, it's not very touristy, even in the summer and is very very small. It is also has very windy, steep streets that lead down to the harbour and the center of town so you definitely get into good shape with all of the walking. The houses and shops are all made from the local granite and slate and many were clearly not in use during the down season. We went into a couple of tourist shops that had some very cute things, esp. Cornish fisherman's sweaters made from local wool with a cable knit and died a dark blue—really pretty. I also looked at the lunch menu of a pub that we thought we might go to later, everything looked delicious. Pt. Isaac still makes a big part of its living from fishing, especially, crab and lobster so this pub had lots of great sounding dishes including a great sounding crab soup with bits of crusty french bread. We moved on to walk out onto the harbour. During low tide the harbour is completely dry and whatever boats are in there just lay on there side in the sand. We poked around looking for shells and looking at a deep cave, typical for the Cornish coastline the had been carved by wind and water into a tunnel in the cliff. For a long time a lot of Cornwall's secondary economy came from smuggling and caves like these were very convenient. People also lured large ships in storms too close to the jagged rocks to purposely sink them and collect whatever things washed up on shore. We went back to the main street and up a steep hill along the other side of the harbour and into a local pottery that had lots of bowls, cups, and plates with sea themes. Further along and out of town the street ends and turns into the Coastal Path. There are numerous walking paths that cut all over England often through farmland and pastures. The coastal path is one of the most famous and goes along the Cornish coast for many miles. We went just a little way before finding spot to sit and take a picture of the town.
A little further along we ran into a herd of cows on the path but they didn't seem to mind us much so we went a bit further before deciding to head back and join Tim. Tim used to live in West Winds, a house outside of Pt. Isaac, but has recently moved to a new home closer into town. At West Winds he had built a Finnish sauna (he is a retired professor of English from the University of Helsinki in Finland so he's used to having a sauna) and when he moved to the new place he dismantled the sauna and rebuilt it in the new house. It was wonderful to use it each evening after walking up and down the steep hills and along the paths. You can see more pics of the town and the scenery in the Pt. Isaac gallery.
The next day we puttered around Pt. Issac again and then met Tim and his friend Betty for lunch at a pub with a beautiful view of the coast. After lunch Norwood and I went further along the coastal path, this time going north, toward Tintagel castle and enjoyed looking at the dramatic cliffs and coves around each new turn.
I should mention another highlight of the trip was getting to see British TV. We decided not to buy a tv while we were here since it was for such a short time and you have to pay a tax of about $100 dollars when you get one. But to some extent it would be nice to know more about the culture through the television they watch here and to see the news, although we read the newspapers. Each evening at Tim's I watched a little tv before going to bed and on Saturday night they showed Notting Hill. As I mentioned in a previous post, not a very good film but it was fun to see some of the streets scenes of places very close to the house we stayed at and the pub we had drinks at as well. Sunday morning morning we had to leave pretty early and despite having a truly obnoxious taxi driver who seems to think all Americans are Nazis (pretty much the only time we have had some be really rude like that on this trip, people are often critical of american politics and Bush but not personally offensive at all) on the way back to the bus station we did have a really nice time and hope to spend more time seeing more of Cornwall the next time around. Thanks Tim!