Friday, September 30, 2011

A Quick Turnaround between Paris and Cornwall

No more than 12 hours after we had returned from Paris, we were off again to the Southwest corner of England: Cornwall. 

Owen and his girlfriend, Celia, had invited us to come with them for Celia's last weekend before school started. She is a teacher and was looking forward to getting the most out of her last few days before the semester began. 


Kenz and I were a bit worried about the trip. We knew Owen, but had never met Celia before. Taking a trip like this with someone you don't know has potential to be somewhat...awkward, to say the least. And we had a six hour car ride to begin the trip, starting at 6am.

After navigating our way out of London (surprisingly harder than I had imagined, probably (definitely) due to Owen being the driver and me being the navigator), we got on the highway. Highways here have zero billboards along the road. I made note of this in surprise and Owen pounced on it, suggesting that the highways in America are tacky, asking "what, seeing the countryside isn't good enough?"

Fair point.

Turns out Celia is sweet, funny, generous, and optimistic. One could say the yin to Owen's yang.

Cornwall is a "beach town" - as much as England has a beach town. Or a beach. We rolled up to the house, unpacked our things, and exhaled from the long drive. Celia immediately changed into her wetsuit to go boogey boarding down in the ocean, Owen went with her, Kenz took a nap, and I read a book. I thought it interesting that this side of the Atlantic requires a wetsuit whereas the other side is warm enough for just a bathing suit.

That evening I watched Owen make lasagna as Celia and Kenz went grocery shopping.
Kenz describing the mating dance of a lesser known Tennessee bird to Owen (or something like that). 

After about five minutes of watching Celia knit, Kenz was ready to learn the new hobby. Celia was gracious enough to give a lesson and some yarn. The next three days (and each day since, to be honest), the most popular phrase out of McKenzie's mouth was "after I finish this row..."

Jedi and padawan 
We woke the next day to find uncharacteristically awesome weather. It stayed like this for the entire weekend. I had put in an order for some good weather, but didn't know whether or not it would arrive on time - most of the stuff we've had shipped over from Tennessee hadn't made it yet, so I was worried about the weather. It arrived in time.
The view from the front yard of our place. 

Same view. 
A five minute walk down a gravel road, and we're on the coastline. Of course, this coast is different than the Carolina beaches I'm used to, but it was a welcome change. A lot more "cliff-y."

There were copious amounts of blackberries along the way. I hopped the fence to get in the person's yard to access the best batch. In fact, I was always falling behind because I didn't want to leave any berries on the vine. 

Looking East towards the beach

Looking west towards a lighthouse. 

The beach-goers have developed a way to prevent the wind from kicking up sand onto their spots. This coast is much more windy than I've ever experienced. They call them "windbreakers."

The beach is long and narrow. 
We decided to take a hike out to the cliff on the Easternmost part of the beach. This may be due to the fact that I've not travelled that much, but the trail out to the cliff seemed to be super dangerous. It got me thinking that the trail would've been accompanied by a guard rail in America, but here in England they just kind of left you to take care of yourself. Then I thought I was just being ignorant and there are dangerous trails everywhere in the world. It probably wasn't even that dangerous - it was probably just my fear of heights kicking in (and it did, for sure). But the trail is right by the beach, which has families with kids and stuff. But then again, there was a guy jogging the trail for exercise. I dunno. The older I get, the more cautious I am, though. I'm regularly scared that I'm going to break a bone. I've made it this far in life without breaking one, and I'd like to go to the grave without having to experience that special life moment.

Celia walking along the rockface of the East end of the beach. 

Classy Owen relieving himself. 

This picture does not do the danger justice. I swear the trail was dangerous. 

That's the cliff face to which we were headed. 

Old walls'n stuff.

Looking back towards the beach.

I mean, I'm glad there were no guard rails - it would've been like billboards along the highway. But still - that's a big drop! 

Owen spent a lot of time acting unimpressed. I refused to venture out that far on the rock face. 

Best part of this picture: Celia's face. 

Again, looking back towards the beach.


Sheep standing on an old wall'n stuff. It kinda looks like one long sheep, no?

Eating a chocolate bar made by a company named Montezuma's chocolate. I took that as an opportunity to explain Montezuma's Revenge. 
This part of the country claims to be the birthplace and origin of Arthur. There are two separate locations that claim Arthur - one is a collection of ruins on top of yet another seemingly dangerous cliff and the other is a...kind of...volunteer/community run "museum" that hinges on an old stone they call Arthur's stone. We wound up going to both places.

To the left is "Merlin's cave," and up top on the left is what's left of the castle. 

Enjoying ourselves amongst the other tourists. 

I couldn't help but wonder why someone would want to go to all the trouble of building a castle on the top of a cliff. Easy to defend, yes, but a pain in the ass to build! 

Kenz took this picture - that's why it looks cool. 

She took this one too. 

No guard rails - just a sign. You'll note that I'm sitting or crouching in all these pictures. That's because I was constantly worried about falling off the side of the cliff. 

This cliff. 

How many people fell off while carrying rocks up the hill? No health and safety back then, I guess. 

We didn't splurge the seven or so pounds for the brochure that explained all the little plots of land, but I think this was supposed to be someone's house. I would never sleep if that was my house. Great view, yes, but what if you were a sleep walker?

Looking out over the cliff.

I was almost too scared to take this picture because I was worried they'd fall off. 


I sat on my butt and scooted out to the edge. You may call me a wuss, but I'll say I'm just careful. 
 So, Tintagel was awesome and somewhat breathtaking for its views and whatnot. Then it was on to "Arthur's Stone." We didn't know what to expect (which is a nice way of saying I didn't expect much), but Kenz was all about it, so we went. The shame of it was that we missed out on the live action role playing group that comes to reenact some battle twice a year. I'm sure it's a real hoot.

The "museum" was a collection of fan art, toys, and write-ups that read like they were written as a fourth grade history assignment. I'll let the pictures do the talking:

No matter how bad the exhibit is, Kenz reads everything. Always. 

Statues? Toys?

These are definitely toys, right? Crowded glass case, no?

This was the best part of the "museum," but none of us did the relief sketching or whatever it's called. 

Take part in history! 

Arthur in the movies! And a write-up on how George Lucas used Arthur as an inspiration for Star Wars. 
 Then it was time to leave the "museum" and head out on the trail to find Arthur's stone. We walked past a battlefield where "The battle for Slaughter Bridge" allegedly took place...

Quality signage. 

Some more ruins. 

I don't know which face sums it up better, but both are pretty quality. 
Then we made it to Arthur's stone...

 And read some more signs....

And the signs said no one agrees on exactly what the stone says...

Then we spent the last night trying to eat the food we had bought, with little success...

Kenz isn't sold on sheep cheese, but still knitting. She didn't stop knitting the whole time. If she was inside, she was knitting. 

Our last supper's spread

Owen originally had me on the "barbeque," but didn't trust me and took over. Note that there is a smaller, less effective barbeque on top of what would've been a slightly more effective one, had we the foresight to use it.

Not really cooking, just warming.


Just a really good picture. Kidding.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. No awkward turtle moments all weekend!

We watched horrible movies in the evening and played in the sun during the days. We ate too many pasties, too - a practice I recommend to anyone that visits Cornwall. It was really, really nice to finally have a few days to relax after all the hoops we had to jump through in our move.

Thanks to Owen and Celia for taking us!