Lands End–the westernmost tip of England.

Cornwall has been on our bucket list for as long as we’ve had a bucket list. We’ve traveled pretty much all over the British Isles, but never before to Cornwall. You have to really want to get here; it’s not on the way to anywhere else. You find your way by heading southwest out of London and just keeping at it until you run out of land. And out of native Englishmen.

Plymouth Harbor on the Cornwall-Devon border. From here in 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for a Rock way to the West.

These people are Cornish, proud descendants of their Celtic ancestors. They claim a closer cultural affinity with their neighbors to the north (Wales) and far north (Scotland) and across the water (Brittany and Ireland) than their longtime rivals of Anglo-Saxon stock.

Holywell Beach, which advertises itself as “a classic north Cornish beach with a sweep of golden sand and a towering dune system.”

Once reliant primarily on mining and fishing for income, Cornwall’s tourism has gained top spot in the economy, with interlopers like us accounting for up to 24% of the area’s gross domestic product.

Some of the interlopers at Sennen Cove: The Hat, Candace and Michael

Some pretty famous names are associated with Cornwall, like writers D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and Daphne du Maurier whose short story “The Birds” was made into one of the scariest of Alfred Hitchcock’s films. Other notables include the painter Ben Nicholson, Roger Taylor (drummer for the band Queen) and the American singer-songwriter Tori Amos.

Novelists love Cornwall. It’s the setting of Monica Furlong’s trilogy: Wise ChildJuniper, and Colman. Charles Kingsley’s Hereward the Wake takes place here. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes sleuths his stuff here in The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot. There are many others, most of which I have not read. I have, though, read J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a couple of chapters of which are set in Cornwall.  John le Carre, author of some of my favorite espionage novels (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Smiley’s People; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) still makes his home in Cornwall. William Golding (remember Lord of the Flies?) finished his days near Truro, just up the road from Newquay, our Cornish home. England’s late poet laureate Sr. John Betjeman reposes in the churchyard at St. Enodoc’s Church in Trebetherick.

Minack Theatre. Tourists flock in season for the dramatic productions offered in this theater hewn out of the rock on the estate once owned by founder and builder, Rowena Cade.

I was about to type “OK, that’s enough name dropping” but then I thought of some more I shouldn’t overlook. There’s Thomas Hardy, author of Tess of d’Urbervilles, who set his The Queen of Cornwall in, unsurprisingly, Cornwall. This is Jack the Giant Killer (of Beanstock fame) territory, also. A particular “must see” for me was Penzance, where I had hoped to meet some pirates. They weren’t in town that day, though. (I’m referring, of course, to Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, The Pirates of Penzance).


The stage of the Minack Theatre. Ms Cade created and did much of the physical labor to build this masterpiece, working at the task well into her upper 80s.
Mousehole Marina at low tide. Mousehole is a suburb of Penzance. We didn’t spot any pirates here, either.

We’ve been eating well. Since in culinary circles Cornwall is known for its savory pasties, I had to indulge. Today’s typical pasties are a pastry crust with a filling of beef steak, onion, potato and “swede”–an abbreviation of Swedish Turnip, which I understand is the British term for rutabaga. I didn’t know ahead of time about the rutabaga. I enjoyed the pasty anyway. The fish dishes in this area are, as they say, to die for. Our weight-reduction diets are not holding.

Candy and Michael at an elegant restaurant in Plymouth, where we did not eat.

The Ohanessian have been with us, Candy for a week. Michael, poor working stiff, has had to return to London to run his office. He is only there for a day, though, before catching a plane for Australia to attend the funeral of a favorite aunt. The measure of his devotion is seen in the London-Melbourne-London itinerary of just four days.

We’ve taken advantage of their rental car and chauffeur services to go to destinations we won’t be able to see once we’re without wheels. Thanks to them we’ve taken in—briefly, in the time-honored American sight-seeing fashion–St. Ives, Penzance, and Plymouth (where our Rock got its name) in addition to smaller beaches and towns along the way. We drove as far as the end, Land’s End to be exact, the westernmost tip of the island. We didn’t buy any clothes, though we like the brand–which did not originate here.

Plymouth church ruins with contemporary shopping center in the background.

Notice: Captivating Rhine River Cruise, 10/28/18-11/5/18.  Check this out and plan to join Joy and me—and Mark and Evelyn Taylor and Marshall and Judy Hayden—for a magnificent vacation week aboard the MS AmaKristina, the newest of AMA’s river-going vessels.  Go to In the search window type Captivating Rhine River Cruise 2018 and look over the brochure.

Do it soon. The first early registration deadline is July 31, 2017. That’s just a few days from now. The savings for registering by then is $200. If you miss this one, there are two more deadlines this year, with savings of $150 and $100.


Gurnard’s Head hydrangeas outside a pub where we had an unforgettable lunch. They are prolific in Cornwall this time of year.


A striking bit of art trompe l’oeil just up the street from our place in Newquay. Even the painter is part of the painting.
Street art in Mousehole, a suburb of Penzance.









What does The Hat have to hide? [Some photographers have no respect for another person’s privacy. –Ed.]


  1. Have always thought i would enjoy Cornwall because of Daphne dumaurier. In anticipation of the back surgery I had yesterday I downloaded some of her novels.
    Enjoy the stay there.

    1. We will. And you enjoy (?) her novels as you recover from your back surgery. You need to stop all these maintenance jobs, don’t you think? May God give you peace and healing.

  2. Andy and Alison Nicholls live in Trevone Bay and would love to see you if you have time. His phone number at the house is 01841 520992 address The Breakers, Dobbin Lane, Trevone Bay, nr Padstow.

    1. Thanks so much for this heads up, Lynn. We’ve called Allison and have a date to meet them in Padstow (and Trevone) on Saturday. We’d have missed them without your alert.

  3. Have you read the Monica Furlong trilogy? I’ve read most of du Maurier’s novels as well as Hardy’s. Not read or heard of Queen of Cornwall. We never made it to Land’s End but spent time in Cornwall.

  4. Have you read the Monica Furlong trilogy? I’ve read most of du Maurier’s novels (some are better than others!) and Hardy’s. Not read or heard of Queen of Cornwall

  5. to leyroy

    hi we are near padstow north cornwall
    call in if you can
    pl288qw 01841520992
    Andy and alison nicholls

  6. Thanks for a wonderful review of Cornwall! But you didn’t mention the site for the filming of Doc Martin, one of my favorite British TV shows. I don’t suppose they are filming it any more. But I enjoyed all you did show and tell us!

    1. Ah, Lester, you’re ahead of us. Just today we went to Port Isaac. That report will be in the next post.

  7. You are having as wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing and please give my best to your beautiful daughter!! She was a very talented student in our music program at Mountain View. She seems to be able to carry on the mantra set forth be her incredibly talented and loving parents. Way to go “Mom and Dad!!”

  8. I love Cornwall. I’m glad you have had a wonderful time and that you splurged on something with rutabaga in it – it’s good for you, you know. I have a little most days. 🙂 Andy and Al live in Cornwall and I have dreams of a holiday cottage there at some point.

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