I pushed the “Publish” button on last week’s post (“Cornwall: A Great Bucket List Choice”) just before we left for the day’s outing. Among the comments quickly coming in was one from friend Lester LeMay, who gently took me to task for not including Port Isaac, the Portwenn of ITV’s “Doc Martin.” He said, “It’s one of my favorite British TV shows.” A grievous oversight, indeed.
Not to worry. I assured him we had just returned from visiting…Port Isaac. I watch little TV, but for a couple of seasons I, too, was hooked on “Doc Martin,” named for the eccentric, neurotic, implausible but irresistible country doctor who once was an esteemed London surgeon before his phobia to blood drove him from surgery and prominence to near anonymity in tiny, isolated Portwenn. It was such fun seeing “up close and personal” the church, the schoolhouse, the harbor, the doctor’s office (“surgery”), and the locals—although they are greatly outnumbered during tourist season by fans like me.
We had a proper Port Isaac lunch—fish and chips, the bass so fresh it must have come from the morning’s catch, all consumed in an appropriately crowded pub right at the harbor.
In further comments I learned from Lynda Robinson and Jayne Reynolds that Lyn’s brother and sister-in-law and Jayne’s cousins live in Padstow. We had just driven through Padstow on our way home from Port Isaac! They were talking about Andrew and Alison Nicholls. We have known them for more than 30 years but were unaware they lived so close to us. I immediately rang them up (in America we phone them; in England we ring them up).
That was Thursday. Saturday we descended on their home in Trevone. Unknown to us, we had arrived on their 45th anniversary! That called for a celebration at another delightful restaurant, this one an Italian pub in the heart of Padstow. Our table overlooked the harbor. Once again, such good food, good view—and such good company.
Daughter Candy, our travel agent and chauffeur for the week, drove Joy and me to Tintagel on Cornwall’s upper NW coast to take in the ruins of King Arthur’s castle. We actually don’t know whether there was a real King Arthur with his Knights of the Round Table. No matter. There was a real Richard, Duke of Cornwall, who seems to have been the first identifiable inhabitant of this 13th century castle. Looking over the grounds is a challenge for today’s tourist as we clambered (that might be a bit of an ambitious term to describe how we climbed down and then climbed up and then climbed down and then climbed up and then climbed down several long, winding staircases that connect the trail over the mountainous out-cropping from the mainland). Let’s just say we got a good workout.
Tintagel was mentioned in the 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth. He’s our source for the legend of Arthur’s conception. It’s fair to doubt that the sorcerer Merlin actually disguised King Uther Pendragon to look like Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall, so he could fool his wife Igraine in order to bed her. The consequence of the deception: Arthur. Such is the stuff of legend.
We had so much fun reconnecting with Andy and Al that when they offered to take us to St. Ives, an artistic town of renown in these parts, we jumped at the chance. The Ohanessians and Lawsons had driven through it earlier, but couldn’t find a parking place anywhere, so we went on to our next stop. The Nicholls had a better plan. Andy parked his car at a car park some distance away. Then we rode the train into town for an unforgettable day.
St. Ives has long attracted artists because of its famous natural light. The day somehow seems brighter here. As a result the town is crammed with galleries (I think Andy said there are 62 of them), including the Tate St. Ives, a branch of London’s famous Tate Gallery. The building itself is worth seeing, as are some of the holdings. I’ve already expressed myself on the subject of contemporary art on these pages. Let’s just say that my mind wasn’t changed. But we had a good time. That is, with one minor exception: my enthusiasm was dampened a bit when a low-flying sea gull expressed himself on me. One can’t help being attractive, you know.
Even more rewarding than the Tate was our visit to Barbara Hedworth’s home and studio. Ms. Hedworth was a contemporary of the famed sculptor Henry Moore; the friends appreciated and learned from one another. Hers was a remarkable achievement for a female sculptor in a man’s world in her day. Behind the house/studio is a small garden that showcases some of her finest work. We were enthralled.
One of the first sights Andy showed us was near their home,the stately Prideaux Place. The building was impressive in itself, but we were transfixed by the fallow deer herd that has the run of the nearby fields, fittingly called Deer Park. These ancestry of these animals can be traced back at least 400 years.
While we’ve been reporting on our travels this year another drama has been played out. I didn’t mention it sooner, because we wanted to hear “the rest of the story” before saying much. Now we can tell it. In February our son-in-law Michael was fired. He was the CEO of Praemium, an Australian-based publicly traded financial platform business with offices in several countries. The primary ones are in Melbourne and London, so the Ohanessians maintain a flat in both cities and commute every six weeks or so. His ouster was a surprise. Praemium had just published its semi-annual report to stockholders detailing substantial gains in every category. The new chairman of the board, however, disliked Michael’s style and strategy. So, making several charges on behalf of the board, he abruptly sacked him.
Michael fought back. He gathered support from concerned stakeholders (institutional investors, principal shareholders, client/customers, staff and others). He called for a shareholders meeting in May, after giving the required 60-day notice. At that meeting, the stockholders/owners took drastic action. They fired the offending board and elected a new one. These new directors then immediately hired Michael as Praemium’s CEO. A recent Melbourne article was headlined, “Ohanessian Vindicated.” So he’s back on the job, leading a dynamic, growing concern. I’ve never before now heard of a publicly traded corporation’s stockholders firing and replacing the board like this. Future business school students will be studying this one.
BUT–I haven’t yet told you the most critical part of the story. You know that from time to time we make use of the O’s flat in London. We’ll there next week. If he had not regained his job, they would no longer commute to England and would not have the apartment. Their second bedroom would be gone. Joy and I would have to find housing elsewhere. And pay rent. At London rates! You can see how deeply concerned we were about Michael. [If you’d like to learn more about it, here’s a URL address: http://www.international-adviser.com/news/1037096/exclusive-praemium-track-ceo-outlines-strategy
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