Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Cornwall, dreckly! (or, Part 1: The First 1.5 days of a Weekend Trip to The South West)

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife
had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St Ives?

Two! From a misty London town on a Friday night filled with calm and possibility.

Last week felt like a 'big week' for me at work. It felt full, at times a bit too full, but also productive, for the most part. I felt like I had 'earned' my weekend. A couple of weekends ago, after a similarly 'big week', I sent a message to Taco on Friday after work saying I felt like I'd 'earned' my wine time, but that just earned me a big fat hangover on Saturday morning, and I resolutely decided last week to not reward myself with booze because I was over feeling crap from drinking too much on those rewarding occasions. It was good having a drier week.

I digress. Friday night felt full of promise for a rewarding weekend, and it was a train journey, not a glass of wine, that was going to put some distance between work and my brain. Yay train! We rugged up in cycle-worthy attire (tights and tiny shorts obviously, and also my swanky new Oakley beanie that makes me feel like a London Cool Kid on a Bike, which I'm really not) and rode away from Trentham St with one overstuffed backpack and one excessively heavy sports bag over our shoulders (four between the two of us- count 'em, folks). The man in the shop raised my seat for me that morning, so I was sitting pretty.

Battersea Park Road was filled with people who weren't as free-wheeling as us, Chelsea Bridge was filled with lights that made it feel like Christmas; from here we descended into Otherhalfville. I don't think people in Chelsea fart. Or at least, they keep their fingernails in much better condition than I do mine. Perhaps if I could just nail the non-nail-biting habit I could cross the river and join the SW3-ers of the world... I mean, lit'rally join them... lit'rally.

Hyde Park glowed all misty magic-like as we rode around the edge of it. Taco and I faced the reality (and the apartments) that told us owning a little place overlooking one of the more famous parks in the world, whilst a lovely thought, is not a future likely to befall us. We reached Paddington after a little U-turning here and there (not bad following only a squiggly line courtesy of Google Maps plus London's excellent little blue street signs), me throwing off the 574kg sports bag with significant dramatics as my right ribs cheered beneath my layers.

The night before, upon hearing the price we had paid for the overnight train tickets, and with the two of us slightly in the dark on the matter, Tac's housemate promptly said “Nope you won't be getting a bed.” And he was correct. It was eight hours of sitting-up bliss for us in coach A. After putting the bikes to bed in the front of the carriage, we settled in with books and crisps and coke and chocolate. Somehow, I managed to snaffle a good few hours of sleep, mainly with limbs splayed as far out as possible.

We could see the sea! Penzance was grey at 8am on a Saturday morning. But the grey was different to London: even with a gentle drizzle it felt fresher and quainter and more cosy than confining. Taco took directions to our B&B from a taxi driver at the station, and as we rode along 23 seconds later:

Taco: So which way do we go?
Claire: … did you actually listen to what that guy told you?
T: Not really.
C: Were you just listening to the funny Cornish accent?
T: Yup!

We dropped off our bags and, unable to officially check in until 3pm, we headed off with the bikeys to explore Penzance and surrounds. We rode along the coast to Newlyn ('Fish by Post' is a very distinct possibility from many outlets in the region) and on Mousehole (that's “Mao-sall” for those of you playing at home) where we had breakfast at Pam's Kitchen and read depressing stories in the weekend papers. Pam and her friend (not sure which was which) gave us directions to Land's End, the easy way (my ass) being to head back to Newlyn then take the A30. What sounded like a major highway was actually an undulating and often-narrow country road, but undulating was the operative word, and while I'm not one to give up easily in the face of a few meagre &^*$£-off hills, we realised the 10 miles was going to take us a bit longer than initially expected, and the steadily-falling rain and encroaching darkness told us heading back to Penzance was probably a smart idea (Taco calculated this as we rode along and I went “yepyepyepIknowIknowokok” in response). It was only as we sailed back towards town we gave the wind-factor the respect it deserved: the return journey was about 9,875 times easier. So we didn't see the western-most point of England. But by golly our quads got a workout.

We ate awesome Cornish pasties (which would set the lunch scene for the proceeding two afternoons, also). We wandered *charityshopsmumblemumblewhat?nothing*, we checked out a gallery featuring the works of three local artists who all died a couple of years ago. I particularly loved Joan Gilchrist's stuff, most of which was set in Mousehole, but all of which had people and their stories as the basis [the picture at the top is Day Trip to Landsend]. We had a drink at The First and Last Inn; I mean how could we bypass a pub serving “probably the best real ale in town”? And as we sipped away, heard the life story of the “I'm here every morning from 10am” punter. I keep up a vague jollying-along of the conversations in these situations, Taco just lets his mind wander off and eyes glaze over cheerfully. Later in the evening we had a really excellent meal at local restaurant The Blue Snappa and saw a show at the local theatre called 'Pub Rock', which cleverly blurred the line between gig and play. Later at The White Lion, feeling incredibly not-Saturday-night in a turtle neck jumper (God I hate turtle necks), I sipped a Baileys alongside Taco and his Southern Comfort and we marvelled at how far your London dosh can go in a Cornish bar: £3.50 the lot, thanks love.

More (pasties) later...

Cornish-ified Claire xox

No comments:

Post a Comment