Wow !! , I just keep getting bowled over by the wonderful experiences I am having in this country.
The Couchsurfing weekend over, I headed down to Cornwall to stay with Sam, who I met online.
Sam lives in a village called Calstock which is just over the Cornish border, so it was a lovely train trip down to Devon and then it should have been a short train trip from Plymouth to Calstock, but unfortunately the train was running late and I missed my connection.
I have to love the system here, because I booked an end to end journey and it was their 'fault', they put me in a taxi from Plymouth to Calstock without a blink of the eye. Being that it was a 30 min taxi ride, I assume the taxi fare cost a hell of a lot more than the £29 I paid for the entire journey. Who am I to complain :-)
So, back to the story, I arrived in Calstock eventually and Sam picked me up from the station and took me back to his place. Its a beautiful cottage at the top of the town where he lives with his mum. The first night was pretty quiet and more of a swapping stories, getting to know each other night.
On the Thursday I did some wandering. I headed to downtown Calstock which took about 5 minutes to see and then headed towards a beautiful National Trust estate a couple of miles from Calstock called Cotehele. The walk to Cotehele took me about an hour, why is everything uphill here ??? ... LOL, it was an absolutely stunning walk though and the house was magnificent. If anyone is interested in some blurb this link gives a pretty good description http://www.cornwall-calling.co.uk/national-trust/cotehele.htm
Its a huge estate and I had to stop in the barn which has been fitted out as a restaurant and partake of a yummy Cornish Tea, scones with jam and cornish clotted cream. Considering I had just walked about 2 miles (yes miles people, km just don't cut it over here) .. I figured I deserved it.
From here I headed over to the mill where they still make organic stoneground flour, and yes the scones where made from the very same flour. More walking and down to the Cotehele Quay. Time for lunch and sit down with a nice Cornish pastie.
Once I had a break I headed back to Calstock and then the biggest challenge of all, the hill home from the village. This thing is 1 mile long and pretty much straight up !! ... OMG I huffed and I puffed, I think I can, I think I can ... just near the top was a little grassed area .. I hit that grass, red as a beet and took about 10 minutes to get my breath back. All up that hill took me about 25 minutes to get up. Its going to be my test, before I leave England I have to walk up there again and see how long it takes me and how much puffing I do.
I got in and had to shower as we where heading off to the village for a classical acoustic guitar recital. It was in the arts centre there which is a converted church. Again it was stunning, do you ever get used to all these beautiful sights, I hope not. The guitarist, Alison Smith is fairly renowned in classical circles and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Her playing was passionate and she obviously loves what she does.
I decided Friday should be a minimal hill day and got the bus into Tavistock, which technically is in Devon. It was a lovely town and they have a markets there. I wandered around and enjoyed a more laid back day.
On Friday night Sam and his girlfriend Kate took me into Plymouth for a bit of a looksee. We walked around the Barbican area, which is the old wharf area, and dropped into one of the locals in full swing on a Friday night. It was so funny, there was a band playing 80's stuff, it was hot and smoky (the no smoking laws dont come in here till the end of this month) .. and pretty much reminded me of that horrible over 30's pick up joint in Northbridge .. we stayed for a drink and then , phew out into the fresh air again. Theres this great little burger place at the end of the wharf and we sat down to a burger and big mug of tea .. it was great.
It doesnt sound much but it was after 1 by the time we finished, so home to get ready for Saturday.
On Saturday morning Sam and Kate where going to look at a couple of properties as they are thinking about buying a house. It was really interesting to see whats available around here and one of them was an old church which I think would be fantastic to do up.
We got home late arvo after stopping at a few places along to way to do the tourist thing. I'm still finding it hard to believe just how wonderful and amazing the people I am meeting and how much they go out of their way to show me around and let me into their lives.
On Sat night Sam cooked a delicious dinner with lots of the ingredients out of his garden and invited one of his friends Mark along. We headed back down to the village for this interesting indie type band. As Kate and Mark werent really into that sort of music, Sam and I went over to the village hall , danced a bit to the warm up dj and watched the young uns get drunk and rowdy while the band took ages to come on. In the end we went back to the pub and by the time we got back the band was finished .. ah well .. next time ... so back to the pub for more drinking and chatting.
Sunday was a bit of a late lazy day and eventually we headed off for a bit of a hike and lunch. After all my complaining about hills, Sam chose a relatively flat walk which was so relaxing and peaceful .. except for my first brush with Stinging Nettles !!! I was walking across a little stone bridge type thing and my finger only slightly touched something and OWWWW ... I was so busy carrying on about my finger I nearly fell into the water .. now that would have been funny.
We finally got to the pub and would you believe we missed lunch by 10 minutes ... they finished cooking at 2 and wouldnt do anymore .. luckily Sam had packed last nights left overs just in case .. and it WAS just in case.
After a nice leisurely walk back to the car, we headed home, stocked up on junk food and hit the couch for a movie afternoon/evening. Sam and Kate are both Christians, so at 7 we headed over to the local parish for Evensong (Evening Prayer for those who don't know :P) .. it was a lovely service even though I was struggling to keep up with 2 books to read or sing out of .. but it was nice .. its the first time I've been to any service for goodness knows how long.
Seeing as I don't have to be back in London till this weekend I thought I would head down to Penzance which is the fartherest train station both South and West of Britian. I will get the bus down to Lands End and then I've been North, West and South .. just the East to go now.
So by the time you read this I will be in deep Cornwall territory. I have to say to those nay sayers I haven't seen anyone with 6 toes yet ... but I'll keep looking
Keep posted for the Cornwall Experience !