UK: Musings from Cornwall; 14 June 2013

Greetings from Cornwall – weather still cold and windy but fortunately not raining:

Overheard this afternoon in a tea-room associated with one of the gardens we visited was a comment from a lady sitting nearby: “I only allow myself one cup of coffee a week – and this is only my second cup in six weeks!”  Why would you bother?

P1160524 © JT of jtdytravels

P1160524 © JT of jtdytravels

We had a lovely walk around the garden, Trewithen, basically a spring garden which meant that most of the colour had already gone but there was such structure to the garden that the stately old trees and the varied greens and textures of the under plantings gave us much pleasure.


P1160592 ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1160592 © JT of jtdytravels

And, of course, some late bloomers were still performing.  Of note was a tall hedge of Crinodendron hookerianum, Chilean Lantern Tree.  These trees were festooned with thousands of their delightful small red bells.  We’ve seen others in other gardens but they usually only had a scattering of flowers, beautiful nonetheless, but nothing outstanding like these.


P1160585 ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1160585 © JT of jtdytravels

In other places, the fallen blooms of rhodos made carpets of colour under the trees. Delightful dashes of colour amongst the green.


P1160579 ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1160579 © JT of jtdytravels

One part of the garden was called the Cock Ring.  It was actually the old estate quarry from which stone for building purposes was gleaned.  Since abandonment for that purpose, it was terraced and subsequently used as a cock fighting ring!  Now, it is a shady dell planted with many tree ferns of Australian origin (Dicksonia antarctica).  I didn’t know, but trunks of tree ferns were sometimes used long ago as ballast, and when no longer used as such, were tossed overboard, whereupon they drifted ashore.  It didn’t take long for the plantsmen around about to realise that these woolly ‘leafless’ trunks would grow and survive in the relatively mild Cornish winters.

Having finished our walk we ended up back at the tea-room for another cappuccino: it’s still cold and windy around these parts and a warm up was in order before we hit the road again.  The little gems of conversation continued: a great tirade of comment erupted from the table on the other side of us.  Two late 20-something year old girls were discussing one of the recent boyfriends.  He had just been given his marching orders (I’d have run a bloody mile in the first place) and all the ins and outs of their money troubles were being aired in a very excitable manner – in fact, a rapid fire machine gun couldn’t have kept up.  He this and he that, I loaned him this and he used my credit card and he never said thank you, or saw a need to pay back borrowed money in any hurry, or anything like that etc., etc., etc.  This lasted for over 10 minutes and only ended when one of their mobiles chipped in with a text message.  I now agree that texts can be very useful!  Thankfully, they left shortly after this and we were spared any further gory detail.

No sooner had they left than an elderly couple and their daughter arrived.  Nothing unusual about that, until mother’s crumpets arrived.  I’d noticed that hot buttered crumpets were on offer when I ordered my toasted tea cake – I needed to be reminded just what an English teacake was (they are just a yeasty, flat, fruit bun).  This lady’s crumpets arrived at her table whereupon she turned one over to find the underside a little darker than the top.  Much consternation.  It was put down but almost immediately picked up again and exhibited to husband and daughter, presumably for concurrence of her consternation.  I’m not sure whether they agreed with her or not – that doesn’t matter.  One crumpet was duly cut in half and a bite taken from it.  What’s wrong now?  She smells the brown-bottomed morsel and obviously doesn’t like what she smells.  The offending piece of crumpet was handed to her daughter for appraisal.  A bite was taken, then the crumpet was passed to the husband who was obliged to take a bite too!  They obviously didn’t agree that the crumpet was inedible as what remained of the piece finally made its way back to the old lady who’d ordered the blessed thing in the first place.  She ate the remaining pieces on her plate without further complaint.  I don’t know what the whole point of the exercise was other than, perhaps, to gain attention.  I had to leave – I couldn’t stand it any longer – there might have been something wrong with the tea! We now know how Rohan Atkinson and co get their people based material for their comedies. People watching can be fun.

P1160412  © JT of jtdytravels

P1160412 © JT of jtdytravels

We had a very different ‘people’ experience earlier in the day when we visited a church in Stithians – the first church visit in a couple of days! We were disappointed to find that this very old church was locked.  This is the first church we have not been able to get into but understand why.  To begin with, it is being restored and there’s scaffolding around the tower and it might be an OH&S issue. But also, we have noted that all the churches we have visited have signs in their porches which state that their contents have all been electronically stamped to prevent pilfering and stealing. “You will be caught!”

We‘d ventured to Stithians at the request of one of Jennie’s s-i-l’s, as some of her relatives came from the area.  Some tomb-stone kicking resulted and we found a whole family tree’s worth of relatives, and, in amongst the tombstones, a very much alive Clive.  He was whipper-snipping the grass from around the tombstones.  He was helping out his son, Tommy, who holds the contract to cut the grass “x” number of times a year. On a biting cold morning, Clive was ripe for a chat and we’re always in for a talk with a local.

We chatted about various things including the fact that the British Isles consists of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and CORNWALL.  The Cornish definitely do not see themselves as part of England!  He happened to mention that his niece spent a gap year in Australia not so long ago and ended up in an “outback” town for a two month stint where she conned her way into making Cornish pasties.  The proud uncle said she made quite a name for herself and people came from all over the place for one of Sharon’s pasties.  “Made quite a lot of money too”, he said. Her pasty-making made me ask, “Where were the best pasties to be had in the district?”  The answer came quickly. “In Bissoe, behind the garage.” he said. Well he was a local so he would know.

P1160429 ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1160429 © JT of jtdytravels

We’d seen the name Bissoe on signposts and, as it was not too far out of our way, we decided to take Clive’s advice and have one of these Cornish mainstays for lunch.  They were made originally for the miners to take down into the mines for their lunch, one end savoury (meat, potato, swede and onion), and the other end sweet (apple and sultanas). We liked the people here at Rippons and we liked their motto – and we really liked their light and tasty pasties.

P1160430 ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1160430 © JT of jtdytravels

Our chosen pasty was steak and veg and, good it was too … I thought it would have been ‘better’ with some tomato sauce!  We sat in the car at the side of the bakery, which itself was just a small room behind a motor garage. As we ate we watched three horses, a golden Labrador and their owner potter around in the adjacent field.  All very rural.


P1160435  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1160435 © JT of jtdytravels

We visited another “church” today, a cob built on a rubble base in 1710. The building is straw-thatched, this having been last replaced in 2010.  The place is all very neat and tidy.  It is a meeting place for Quakers and is at a place called Come to Good.  Now, I certainly don’t have anything against Quakers (some of my ancestors were Quakers, hence the visit,) and I’m not superstitious, but for some reason the place gave me the creeps!

P1160296 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1160296 © JT of jtdytravels

On another note, we had an email from our neighbour Jim, who mentioned that his ancestors came from ‘somewhere in Cornwall’.  He didn’t know where.  Needle in a haystack stuff!  But, lo and behold, on driving along tiny, narrow lanes as is our want, I spotted a small sign that said Laity Moor.  A bit of a back-up and down this even narrower lane, to where, we did not know.  Nothing really except a couple of farm buildings. No village name.

P1160301 ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1160301 © JT of jtdytravels

As there seemed no further point in this exploration, we began to look for a likely place to turn around; such places are not abundant on narrow lanes! A break in the hedge, a farm gate and a sign at the gate which proudly stated that we were indeed at Laity Farm.

P1160303 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1160303 © JT of jtdytravels

We’d found the ‘needle’ without really looking it. Such is life! More photos when we get home, Jim. In the meantime here are the co-ordinates of what might have been your ancestral home – you can claim it if you wish. N 50′ 17′ 19 by W 04′ 55′ 57′ – and that’s pin point accurate!!!!  Of course, there maybe other Laity somethings in other places in Cornwall.

More anon  D and J

UK #1 Getting to London

Gardens and Family History are our main aims for this trip to UK.  Our British ancestors came from all corners of the British Isles;  Cornwall and Devon in the south;   Yorkshire and Durham in England’s north; the Borders region of southern Scotland; and both Northern Ireland and Eire.

But every journey from Australia starts with a long plane journey half way across the world before you get anywhere.

Ours began in Canberra on a -3℃ morning as we flew to Melbourne where it was much warmer, but grey as usual. One of the most important things we do to help fill in the time between checking in for a flight and boarding the flight is to purchase our duty-free allowance of grog for collection on our return.  This saves time and queues when there is that last-minute rush by most people on arrival back home.  When this system was first introduced some years ago, the duty-free outlets offered an extra 10% off your purchase as an encouragement.  Gone are those halcyon days!  Comfortable in the knowledge that our grog was already in its collection bag, we trotted off to the airline lounge, in our sturdy walking shoes – there’s a lot of walking to be done before we get back to pick up that grog.

It took the usual four hours to clear the Australian continent.  Lunch was served and well and truly eaten and the remnants cleared away before we farewelled our home country.  Quite a number of zzzz’s were punched out by Jennie, while I filled out the little Spirax diary, day by day, so I don’t get too lost during the journey.  I photograph the appropriate page first thing each morning so it marks the difference between the end of one day and the beginning of the next.  It certainly divides the sunsets of one day from the sunrises of the next.  I know that the camera records the date and time a photo is taken when the capture button is pressed, but when all the thumbnails rattle up on the computer screen on download, my way visually delineates the days!

Our Thai jet for the scheduled 9½ hour flight to Bangkok (BKK) was a 15.7 year old B777.  We arrived in BKK at 20h25 where we took a break in the airport hotel until the next leg of the journey.



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The Suvanabhumi airport (opened in September 2006) is constructed of a strong metal frame over which glass and fabric form the skin.

The next flight took us to London (LHR), in just over 12 flying hours time, leaving BKK at 12h50 and arriving at LHR at 18h55.  Our B747 was quite a spring chicken at only 12 years of age.  Did you know that the oldest 747 still capable of flying is 44 years old!  It’s first flight took place on 13 July, 1969, was the fifth 747 built by Boeing and was delivered to TWA.  Since March 1975 it has been in Iran “working” for the Iranian Air Force (ref: Google).

Co-incedently, my Peter is in Seattle for 10 months overseeing the assembly of Jetstar’s first B787 Dreamliner.  This aircraft is the 123rd Dreamliner to be built.  Only this week Boeing began building their first stretched Dreamliner, the B787-9.  It will carry around forty extra passengers than its little sisters.


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The paddy fields near the airport are all flooded to grow the next crop of rice.

It was a gloomy afternoon as heavy cloud still hung around after a sudden thunderstorm.



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Copyright    ©   DY of jtdytravels   (P1140315)

The paddy fields of Thailand were in sharp contrast with the lush green fields of the English countryside



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Windsor Castle in all her glory.

It was a brilliantly clear and sunny afternoon for our arrival.  England, and for that matter most of Europe, have experienced a particularly cold and wet spring so it was good to see that things had changed for us!  Will it continue?

Those stout shoes were more than ever necessary for the kilometres we seemed to have to walk along corridors and through tunnels to get to the central bus station.  From there, we transferred by bus to Gatwick airport (LGW) where we again spent a night in an airport hotel, the Premier Inn London Gatwick.  On arrival, the warm British welcome one usually gets was not forthcoming – there were instead a bank of check-in machines – all with as much character and humour as a robot!  No warmth, no smiles, no wise-cracks, not even a robotic voice, just screens demanding info.  Eventually a human turned up to give the robot and us a hand to complete our check in.  All this could have been done by the human in the first place, thereby saving a lot of confusion on our part and sorting out by the human.  It also keeps humans in a job and as the “robots” needed a full-time carer, what’s the difference?

Meanwhile, Jennie has come down with a head cold so we haven’t got off to a flying start.  Here’s hoping yours truly doesn’t get it too – you know what men are like when they get sick – there’s never enough sympathy!  Our flight from here will take us to Newquay in Cornwall where our ‘tombstone kicking’ and garden wanders will begin in earnest.     David


All photography  Copyright ©  DY  of  jtdytravels