Sunday, September 25, 2016

Convincing

The Gorse Fox enjoyed his football the morning. We had a good turn out and seeing the teams he was expecting a very difficult game. As it turned out the Gorse Fox had two assists, scored two goals, and blocked a significant battery of incoming shots. Was pleased to finish off 7-4 winners.

Though there was some overnight rain and it was a little grey first thing, it is bright and sunny again now. The chicken is roasting in the oven and it seems like a good time to go and sit in the garden.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Afternoon Tea

It is another lovely day. Saturday sees domestic chores take centre stage - at least for the morning. Urban Cub was at work and wouldn't be home until mid-afternoon.

Tinkerbell and Two Hats had invited the Sonning Crew to gather for afternoon tea. It would be rude to miss such an opportunity - and so we duly gathered and enjoyed tea, sandwiches, cream filled eclairs, cakes, and tarts. It was a lovely spread and we had a lovely couple of hours of chat and laughter.

By the time we got back, Urban-Cub was already in bed (she has an early duty tomorrow).


Friday, September 23, 2016

Driving about

We cleared the apartment, loaded the car and headed homewards. It all seemed to be going well until we approached Bodmin. There were joined a queue of traffic that converged on the roadworks. It took thirty minutes to get to the start of works and then a further ten minutes or so to escape the far end. Frustrating, but half expected.

We had a clear run from there to Ottery St Mary where we called in on Barney Rubble. The Gorse Fox has been there before, but it was the first time for the Silver Vixen. We had a coffee and a chat then all went out to lunch at a pub called The Otter (near Honition). The pub is in a lovely little spot by the river, and is clearly very popular. We found a table, settled down and some pulled pork nachos got us started followed by a lovely plate of fish and chips.

All too soon it was time to go. We said our farewell and got back on the road. Mid afternoon on Friday was never going to be easy, but we pottered on - delayed near Lyme Regis, near Bridport, round Dorchester and approaching Emsworth. In all the delays probably added 45 minutes to the journey - but it could have been worse.

It was nice to get home - as it always is after being away. We had had a lovely holiday, and were left wanting more (which is a good thing).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Last Day

It is the last full day of the holiday. We have done so much, but there is still much to see. We, again, had a leisurely start, the Gorse Fox wandering round to the shop for some milk for our morning cup of tea whilst the Silver Vixen chatted on the phone to Urban-Cub.

We made up the day’s literary on the spot. None of this pre-planning nonsense for us. Tinker ell had mentioned a chocolate factory in Mullion and that seemed like a good option.

As we prepared for the day, Cousteau-Cub managed to get through on Viber. She might be in the middle of a rice field in Ubud (Bali) but she had got internet access. As it was her birthday we had a long chat (though did have to manage a couple of drops in the call). She’s obviously having a good time and will be staying put until the weekend when she moves to the coast for some diving.

We headed out to Mullion. The chocolate factory wasn’t really very extensive - in fact it was reminiscent of the one we visited in Toronto. They did have a good selection of dark, milk, and white chocolate confections, though.

From there we wandered through the various other craft outlets. The artist gallery was quite nice and he is clearly talented - but his style didn’t suit the Gorse Fox or the Silver Vixen. It was a bit too twee, a bit to HDR, a bit too “new age”.

Returning to the car, we found our way to Mullion Cove, parked and wandered down to the harbour. It was very picturesque (even if there was some renovation work going on). The harbour is owned and run by the National Trust and it really is a very special place.

We wandered around for a while and sat on the harbour wall watching time pass. The sun was beating down, we were sheltered from any wind and it really was very tranquil.

Eventually it was time to head back to Falmouth for some shopping and later, some dinner.

We chose to eat at The Ranch. This was a restaurant that specialised in beautifully prepared steak, pork, and chicken. We both selected the ribs. They were perfect. So tender that as you showed them a knife, the meat dropped off the bone in surrender.

Perfect.

Happy Birthday

Most important event today is Cousteau-Cub's birthday. She is on holiday, with the Coventry Hobbit, in Bali. It's not clear whether she has much internet access, but hopefully we will get to speak with her at some point.

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen hope she has a wonderful day

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Taking the Mik

After Tuesday’s busy and full day, we were aiming for a quieter day. A lazy start followed by a little bit of shopping then a trip across to St Mawes. Everything went to plan, if you call that a plan. We stopped at a couple of shops and the Gorse Fox picked up a small rucksack and a bag in which he put larger items to keep them dry. These all part of the preparation for later.

We wandered onwards and arrived at the Quay in time to board the ferry with a couple of minutes to spare. Though warm, it was very overcast, and the Gorse Fox was experienced enough to know that it would be chilly sitting out on the top deck - so we made ourselves comfortable inside.
There isn’t a great deal to St Mawes. There’s a small harbour surrounded by a few shops and hotels and lots of cottages. We wandered along to the tourist information point - but really that didn’t reveal anything else. This only really left the castle.

We headed out of town, along the coast road. It was only about 15 minutes walk and we found ourselves on the headland, opposite to Pendennis Castle. St Mawes Castle isn’t as big overall - though the keep seemed bigger than Pendennis. It was clearly at the leading edge of defensive technology when Henry VIII had it built, and it had exceptional views over the estuary, giving it control of any ship that might dare to approach. We took a seat by the walls and sat there watching the world go by. The sun was trying to break through and was getting quite warm. Eventually we had to move on and wandered back to the harbour for a cup of tea and to await the next ferry back to Falmouth.

Again experience told us that the comfortable spot was in the saloon and soon after the ferry pulled out of the harbour several other passengers realised that we were right and came inside.
A couple more shops and then back to The Shed for a late lunch. We wanted to ensure that we had lunched well, as the evening was unlikely to afford a chance to eat more than a snack.

We headed out and south-west. The evening was to be filled with Gilbert & Sullivan. The Cambridge University G&S Society were putting on The Mikado at The Minack Theatre.

The Minack, for those unfamiliar with the theatre, is carved an open air theatre, carved into the cliffs near Land’s End (Porthcurno). We arrived in plenty of time and took our place on the lower terrace. The cushions and blankets we had with us would prove useful. The theatre was packed and in the run up to the show everyone was tucking in  to their sandwiches, drinks, cheese, and heaven’s knows what else.

As the last vestiges of daylight disappeared and the backdrop of the sea faded to black, the spot lights came on and the show began. What an excellent job they made of the story. Great voices, great diction, and some very up-to-date variations on the original libretto. (Commentary in the songs featured Am-dram students, Farage, Pokemon, Selfies, David Cameron, the Labour Party - all with suitable humour and a degree of satire).

By the interval it was beginning to rain. Some whimps left this point. We were there for the duration. The rain set in with vengeance and billowed across the site. Our waterproof jackets gave us protection,  but whenever the Gorse Fox shifted position, the rain would run off the jacket and down his trousers. Never mind. It’s all part of the experience.

The show finished at about 10:30 and we made our way back up to the car. By midnight we were home - damp - but home. Wouldn’t have missed it. A terrific evening.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Let's Be Scilly

Well that was an adventure. We decided to go abroad. We had often been to Cornwall, but never taken that final leap across to the Scilly Isles. Today was the day.

We set off early and drove across, via Helston and Penzance to the Land’s End airport where we were booked on a 15 minute flight across to St Mary’s. Despite the empty terminal, we had to check in an hour early. We were weighed along with whatever we were carrying. This was, clearly, going to be a small plane where the balance was important.

Indeed it was. It was a Britten-Norman Islander (one of the newer ones, not the old Trislander, three engined model). Sure enough, the plane was packed, with 6 of us and the pilot on board. Seats had been allocated based on balance-weight.

The short hop was very noisy, but smooth., reach the dizzying height of 1500 feet and a top airspeed of 130kts. We were soon in St Mary’s and on the shuttle bus to the harbour.

Timing things to perfection we boarded the ferry to Tresco just as it was about to leave. Again, we had a remarkably smooth crossing and again the fifteen minute journey deposited us on the southernmost tip of the Island.

We walked along the well paved path to the visitors’ centre and entrance to the Abbey Gardens. These gardens a, rightly, famous. Bathed in the warm waters of the gulf stream and well sheltered, they are a little paradise. One assumes, on arrival, that the gardens have been developed and tended since monastic times. This is not the case. They were only started in the mid 1800s’and have developed since then in the grounds of what was once St Nicholas’ Abbey - now a mere ruin comprising a couple arches and parts of a wall. The imposing building that you might assume to be the abbey is in fact a private dwelling dating from the 1800s, but built to give at least the illusion of a large abbey.

We wandered round for several hours taking lots of photos. The planting and the views were wonderful, and the gardens were not busy. (Indeed the Gorse Fox heard the boatman say later that there were on 160 people on the Island today).

As we wound on down the road, and we listened very hard, there was a rustle in the hedgerow. We weren’t alarmed though,  it was just a spring clean by the wildlife. As we searched for the bright light (that might turn to gold) we saw a beautiful red squirrel. He seemed as amused by us, as we were by him, and whilst he scampered up a tree, the Gorse Fox was able to get a few interesting photos.

Back at the visitors’ centre we stopped for some lunch. This, of course meant another pasty and a cup of tea.

As we munched on our lunch another squirrel approached a sat first on the chair along from the Gorse Fox then on the table. His inquisitiveness was supplemented by several small birds who decided to try and scavenge some crumbs.

It really was quite delightful - and, again, an opportunity for some further photos.

Leaving the gardens we walked across the well-made path to Pentle Bay on the eastern side of the island and down onto the white sandy beach. We wandered back in the general direction of the quay, but having an hour or so to kill, found a sheltered spot and sat watched the world go by.

Eventually it was time to head back for the ferry. Clearly we were not the only passengers. In fact, our ferry took 71 passengers and another queued up behind to pick up the remains 20 or so. The trip was quick and calm and we were soon back in St Mary’s where we stopped for a tea before strolling round the town and then grabbing the shuttle back to the airport.

Again the flight was quick - this time on a Twin Otter. Back at Land’s End we returned to the car and an hour later were standing at Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip shop getting some supper.

A perfect day.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Truro

Cloudy and grey after a bit of overnight rain, but that wasn’t about to stop us. After a hearty breakfast, the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox headed up to the railway station (about 5 minutes walk) and caught the train into Truro for a look around. It seems that we made the right choice for travel. When we got there we heard that some people had spent over an hour stuck in traffic, following a road traffic accident on the route from Falmouth.

We strolled down into town, about a ten minute walk. We had no preconceptions, but thought that the Cathedral would be a good spot to visit.
We were greeted by a Cathedral helper as we entered and provided with a visitor’s guide and directed to where the guide commences.  (It will be interesting comparing this to one we have at home dating from the 1940s).

The Cathedral is built in the Victorian Gothic revival style, being constructed relatives recently, between 1880-1910.
It was’t huge, but it was cosy - if a little “antiseptic”. Somehow the ancient cathedrals have a warmth that seems to radiate from the very stone. The perfect engineering of the stonework at Truro seems to lack that atmosphere. It is, however, clearly a very wonderful building and was well worth the visit.

We moved on and found our way through the side streets. Truro is really very nice. It is like a larger version of Chichester. There was an interesting selection of alleys and roads, lined with a wide assortment of shops - not just the usual high street names (though they were present). We stopped for a coffee at Waterstones, then carried on exploring.

We found our way to the Quay - but because of the tides there was only one boat back to Falmouth - and that not until 15:30. If it had been a bit brighter, we might have taken this option. It was still grey (though a little brighter) so we decided to stick with the train when we decided to head back.

We wandered through the pannier market and then looped back up by the Cathedral, stopping for a drink and sandwich at The White Hart. Fed a watered, we did one more loop through the town and headed back up to the station.

The train just shuttles back and forth between Falmouth Docks and Truro, it came in to the station (its terminus) and we boarded. A girl was already on board - engrossed in her mobile phone. She must have been inbound as we were first on for the return. She sat there and continued texting.
The train started to fill, the driver walked through to the cab. The doors closed and the train headed off back towards Falmouth.
The girl uttered and expletive and grabbed all her stuff and charged down the aisle towards the door. Too late. She was going to have to stay aboard until the next stop. The Gorse Fox hopes the texts were really important bacuase she was going to be very late for wherever she was headed.

We have another trip tomorrow. This took a little more organising, but you'll hear more about that in a subsequent post. The Gorse Fox is, however, a seasoned enough traveller to recognise that the email information that had come through, did not seem complete. He phoned the agent. Sure enough only one of two emails had been sent. It was the missing email that would be needed in the morning. Problem is now rectified and all is set for the next adventure.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cruising

Another super day. The sun was ducking and diving between the fluffy clouds - but it was essentially a lovely day. Plan for today was made up on the spot, over breakfast - you can’t beat a little spontaneity. We grabbed our stuff and made our way back towards the Quay. At the first Quay there would be a couple of hours to wait for the boat. We walked on to the second quay at the far end of town. Here the boat would depart in 5 minutes.

We paid our money and boarded the boat. It manoeuvred out of its mooring and puttered out into the estuary. The captain kept up a running commentary, telling us of the 4 dry docks, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, the research ships, and the various sites along the shore. The boat headed out of the harbour, round Pendents Point and across towards the mouth of the Helford River.

It was peaceful and relaxing way to spend a Sunday. The waves lapping at the side of the boat, the sun reflecting off the sea and tea available from the galley.

He pointed out Rosemullion Head, Mawnan Shear, Toll Point and recommended various pubs and restaurants in the villages that could be seen along the bank. We made our way up the Helford River. Durgan to our right and the gardens of Glendurgan and Trebah nestling behind on the valley sides. On to Helford Passage on the right and Helford on our left. He pointed out the house that was Daphne Du Maurier’s “Mandalay” and where the original film Rebecca was made. He pointed out Roger Taylor’s (of Queen) house, and one that was on the market for 5 million last year. Clearly the locals in that area were “well heeled”. We chugged onwards. As it was low tide we couldn’t go too much further and had to turn round near the mouth of Frenchman’s Creek.

On the way back the boat kept closer to the shore and the Captain pointed out the various beaches and spots favoured by anglers or water sports enthusiasts: Maenporth, Swanpool, and Gyllyngvase being the main contenders. Finally, we rounded Pendennis Point and looped back to the town It was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a bright and calm day, such as today.

Back in town, it was clear that the water had dropped about 10 feet in the time we had been away. The tides here have a huge rise and fall. We climbed back up to the Quay and wandered back into town. We stopped at “The Lookout” for a bite of lunch. The staff seemed very nice and whilst the Silver Vixen’s Philly steak was good, the Gorse Fox’s seafood platter was rather ordinary. Never mind, it filled a hole.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Around Falmouth

Well that was a cracking day. We had a gentle start, waking when we wanted to, rather than when Jasper wanted us to. Then a leisurely breakfast and decisions about today’s activities. The Silver Vixen had seen notification of a quilting/fabric show in town. That was to be our first stop. It was a simple 10 minute walk straight along from the apartment. The Silver Vixen went in to look around and the Gorse Fox, releasing it the show wasn’t very extensive, wandered through the town until we met up again.

We explored Falmouth, looking in the various shops and restaurants and wandering along to quay to see the various boat trips that were available. By this time the sun had broken through and it was getting quite warm. Falmouth really is quite delightful.

We saw that there was a market in the square and diverted up to take a look. It was not, what you might call, extensive. In fact there were only about 5 stalls all together - and none looked particularly interesting. A coffee was next on the agenda the we headed back and diverted onto the Customs Quay. This was particularly picturesque and we spent quite a while just watching the boats go by and the world gently spin.

A pasty provided a satisfying lunch before we again headed out.

The afternoon's destination was Pendennis Castle. It was only about 20 minutes walk from the apartment and, after yesterday, the Gorse Fox was eager to leave the car and use his legs.

Pendennis Castle was a revelation. the Gorse Fox had expected a granite keep and some Tudor gun turrets. It was far more extensive than that. Though built by Henry VIII, it was still being used into the 1950s and was a battery during the war. There was so much to see and the grounds were beautifully manicured, making it a very lovely spot to wander around for an hour or two. The views from the grounds, across to St Mawes, Place, St Anthony's Head, and down towards Helford Creek were fantastic. Moored in the huge Fal estuary were some 10 tankers - sentinels at the entrance to the safe waters.

Eventually it was time to head back. We took a circuitous route that took in the headland, then back round by the cliff. It was well chosen as we seemed to be heading predominantly down hill the whole way back.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Driving Miss Daisy

Well, the Silver Vixen, anyway.

It has been a long drive as we we set off along the Jurassic Route towards the West Country. Traffic was slow, but steady and, had we not stopped for a comfort break at Bridport, we would have arrived at our first stop by the SatNav's estimated ETA of 1300.

As it was, we were a few minutes late meeting up with Mrs Tiggywinkle and Badger for lunch at The Anchor in Cockford, near Exeter. It was a nice little pub with a superb menu which included about a dozen different mussel dishes. Badger indulged, but the Silver Vixen stuck to gammon, Mrs Tiggywinkle had the scampi, and the Gorse Fox had a ploughman's.

It was lovely catching up on all their news and plans (they are about to go up to Northumberland for a week) and updating them on ours. It was also a chance to gossip about the latest goings-on at Starlet (as we had all worked there at some point, and Badger's son still does).

After a couple of hours it was time to crack on and after wasting 15 minutes stuck in traffic whilst watching a coach try to negotiate the bends and cars in front of us, we finally got back on the move. The traffic was easy until we approached Bodmin. Then we lost about 40 minutes to roadworks. It was nearly 1830 before we finally arrived and took up residence in the apartment.

It was approaching dusk and a bit cloudy, but the outlook is nice and it's handy (2 or 3 minutes walk) from loads of restaurants and bars.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Parking Assist

It's been a quiet day. Urban-cub was up and out in the very early hours for her shift at Gatwick. The Gorse Fox was also up early. His hip was aching (no idea why) and that was keeping him awake and making him fidget. That was unfair on the Silver Vixen so he got up and settled himself in a chair in the Orangery. Jasper, the cat, however thought this was his cue to get up and start playing.

Being Thursday, there was the usual domestic admin to complete but one out of the way, the Gorse Fox went back to car manuals and had a play in the Silver Vixen's car to make sure he knew how to use more than just the phone connection on his mobile phone. There are, after all, podcasts to process! Indeed one our favourite podcasts has a backlog of 33 episodes.

Whilst processing this, he also checked out how the automated parking facilities work (we've only had the car for two years!). Certainly the parallel parking is simple enough. It works just like that in the Passat. The bay parking facility is, however, far less simple. Thank goodness for the all round cameras which mean the bay parking feature is less important.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Renewables

It is Two Hats' birthday. This seemed like an opportunity for the Sonning Crew to get together for a curry. The Gorse Fox had prepared for this by taking a small present round to the restaurant prior to our visit. All was set.

Two Hats, Tinkerbell, Lady Penelope, and Old Bill joined the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox as we strolled in the evening sunshine towards the restaurant. A gravitational vortex caught us as we passed the Pink Pub. This dragged us in and would release its hold until a drink had been consumed. We moved on and settled at our usual table. Once the usual proceedings were under way, the waiter delivered the present. It caused gales of laughter when Two Hats opened it to find a framed copy of the sketch Old Bill had put on Facebook. The joke was really on both of them... and they took it well.

The meal was very good as usual. It seems strange that the quality is pretty good when eating in, but the take-away is, at best, average. The Gorse Fox had a chicken tikka biriani. It was delicious, but is wasted in its current form. It has become clear that it is an endless source of wind energy and could probably, with the help of turbines, power huge portions of the national grid.

Assault

There has been another assault on the Gorse Fox's boyish good looks. Playing football this morning he used his face to stop a shot (not deliberately, you understand). The full frontal impact of this shot on his face, and in particular his glasses, caused the bridge of the glasses to cut into the bridge of his nose. Several thousandths of a millilitre of red fluid squirted from wound and the Gorse Fox may have uttered a rude word.

In the second half, he played in goal - the goal area in walking football being sacrosanct. Goalie not allowed to stray out of it, but nobody else allowed into it. All in all, despite the assault, a successful game with a good performance all round and 2-0 win (thanks to several very fine saves).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cracking

What an astonishing day. The temperatures have soared and are still hovering around 30C. The sun has been, metaphorically, cracking the pavements - and the temptation is always to try the old "fry and egg on the sidewalk" experiment. (The Gorse Fox suspects it would make quite a mess, and be somewhat unpleasant to eat).

There was football this morning. Two hours in the full glare of the sun.  The Gorse Fox loved it. He feels that he played a blinder today - drawing two games, but winning four. He mustered a good and well-organised defence and allowed the mid field and attack to get on with their job without having to track back too often. He also managed to have several well timed shots on goal - all on target, but unfortunately saved. Super couple of hours.

Back home, it was nice to be able to make use of the water and ice dispenser. It's too easy to dehydrate on a day like this. (The consumption of some southern fried chicken may, actually, be contributing to his thirst).

Monday, September 12, 2016

No Sense in Rushing

Several years ago, when the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox still lived at Kingston Gorse, we bought a large, Samsung, side-by-side American-style fridge freezer. A super bit of kit and it followed us to Fontwell and then on here. It sits proudly in the kitchen/family room. It does have an ice-making and water dispensing feature. This, however, has never been used as in previous houses there was no convenient water supply.

When we built the Orangery, the Gorse Fox had the presence of mind to have a water line put in and placed behind the fridge. He looked at the instructions and several times read them and examined the fridge and chickened out. Today, with Two Hats standing by to give advice and guidance, the Gorse Fox had another go at it. There is, after all, no sense in rushing things and going off half-cocked.

It took about 30 minutes, but we now have the water supply plumbed into the fridge and hopefully will have ice in the next 12 hours (according to the manual).