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.
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.
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 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 Child, Juniper, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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 www.eo.travelwithus.com. 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.
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