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