Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: Oh, to be in England

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Oh, to be in England





(This post was begun April 2, but I'm finishing it on April 20.)
Suffice it to say, our first trip to England will not be our last. I've been home for a week; my husband will return April 28. Our hosts were (and his continue to be) most accommodating, taking us to see many sites in Cornwall and Devon. I took many pictures of beautiful countryside, rugged-down-to-the-sea cliffs, churches, and libraries. They'd clog the blog, so I'll spare you all of them.
(1) Stonehenge, on our first day (March 31). No, it's not in Devon or Cornwall, but it's on the way. That's as close as people can get (obviously they don't want people taking chips as souvenirs).
(2) Gwennap Pit,
(3) Come to Good, a Quaker meeting house
(4) Gorse. It's prickery, it's a weed, and at this time of year the moors are full of it. Beautiful yellow flowers.
(5) Merlin's Cave at Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur.
Places we saw, all of which are google-able if you'd like to know more:
· Stonehenge
· National Marine Museum in Falmouth
· Come-to-Good Friends meeting house (built 1710)
· Trelissick Gardens
· Tintagel (reputed to be birthplace of King Arthur)
· Gwennap Pit (where John Wesley preached in the 1780’s—a terraced former mine pit that held as many as 2000 people)--we forget what a radical he was!
· Land’s End (farthest west point in Britain, 865 miles to John O’Groats in Scotland, now a big tourist trap….saw Dr. Who’s telephone booth)
· The Lizard (southernmost point in Britain, a National Trust site, fr. Cornish meaning “high place”)
· King Harry Ferry to Portscatho for church service
· The Eden Project (reclaimed china clay pit, now the world’s largest conservatory)
· Plymouth (from which the Pilgrims left)
· Buckfast Abbey
· A La Ronde (the Parminter sisters’ 16-sided house) and Point in View (their chapel and cottages
· Exeter Cathedral
· Exeter quayside
· Sidmouth shingle beach, lined with Victorian-era hotels

And
· Public libraries in Falmouth, Truro, Exmouth, and Exeter (the first three very like New England libraries, all built in the 1890’s)
· Truro Fabric Shop and its outlet, Yellow Patchwork Shop (fabric there a bargain at L3 and L5/meter)
· Train from Falmouth to Truro
· Bus from Exmouth to Exeter
· Bus from Exeter to Heathrow
· Meals included pasties at a local bakery in Falmouth; several old English inns; a converted mill (Otterton St. Mary).
· Cream tea in Cornwall: cream first, then jam; in Devon: jam first, then cream (or is it the other way around??)…..”chudleighs” are a variation of scones, but made with yeast (I can’t find a recipe, though)

Impressions
· Yards are small. Some are not so well-tended, but most are beautiful.
· No basements. (Parsonage in Falmouth built in the 50’s; house in Exmouth built in the 1920’s)
· Kitchen fixtures (stove, dishwasher, fridge) are smaller than in the U.S.
· Parsonage had a heat-water-as-you-go shower.
· Season three weeks farther along than Chicago. The south coast is warmed by the Gulf Stream so there are magnolias, camellias, and even palm trees in gardens.
· Gorse is a weed, but it’s pretty. (Yellow flowers.)
· English robins are soooo cute. (I got within 3 feet of a young one at the Eden Project.)
· NARROW streets. Parking allowed in either direction on either side, unless there’s a double yellow line along the curb.
· NARROW country roads, with hedges and stone walls on either side. If you meet someone coming the other direction the person who got there second must back up to the next turnout.
· Many places will take cheques but not credit/debit cards. (Cash, too, of course.)
· Lots of children! (It was half-term holiday in both Cornwall and Devon.)
· No Spanish-speakers/Latinos. Mostly Caucasians, a few Indians.
· Older women wearing mid-calf skirts, beautifully wool.
· Most people carrying shopping bags, everywhere.
· THRIFT SHOPS!! For all manner of charities (“Mare and Foal Association”)
· Emphasis on organic and Fair Trade food products (coffee, tea, more).
· Temperature is metric, but distance is imperial (miles). Fabric sold by both yard and meter.

National Trust and National Heritage are two different (competing??) organizations.
The Rotary Club that we visited (Penryn Club) had no women members.
We went to a public meeting about a Tesco (supermarket) expansion that would affect one of the churches in the Exmouth parish. (Tesco would build an entirely new building to replace the drab 1955 structure.) It was just like public meetings in the U.S.
ASDA/Wal-Mart wants to open a superstore in Exmouth. It’s very controversial.

5 comments:

  1. Seeing you by stonehenge makes me think of "The Outlander" series.

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  2. Glad you had an enjoyable trip to England. It was very interesting for me to read your impressions of the differences in the UK :)

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  3. I too was amused to see what you noticed about the UK especially the rotary comment. I for a while was the first and only female member of my local rotary club - despite my wedding ring I was asked in my interview to join whether I was looking for a man!

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  4. I read your impressions of England with interest, I live in the next county to Devon, Dorset and it is very like Devon in a way. Glad you had a good time and enjoying your blog, best wishes from Goosey

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