Monthly Archives: May 2015

Cornwall, day 4

Another sterling brekky, prepared by a sterling chap, and the plan was to visit Land’s End. Personally I’m glad we left this until the last day. To say it was a bit of a let down is a bit of an understatement. Last time I visited here there was a really cool Doctor Who exhibition. This time there was a 4D animated movie with Dinosaurs that wasn’t too bad, and a thing called King Arthurs Quest, which wasn’t bad, although I suspect it’s aimed at a considerably younger audience. We milled about a bit, had a cuppa and then headed to Penzance for a spot of lunch and then a bit further along the coast for an ice cream opposite Saint Michaels Mount. Once that was done we headed back.

We spent the rest of the evening geocaching, Shhh! Then a spot of telly and bed so that we were well rested or the drive home.

Sunday was probably the quietest day.

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Cornwall, Day 1

A few months ago it was suggested that I had a holiday, for 5 four legged reasons we can’t really holiday together so herself suggested that I went with a sterling chap who will remain nameless, he knows who he is, as do most of the folk that will be reading this drivel.

This is my version of the planning stage of the holiday, there is a strong chance that this version may differ, considerably, from the actual conversation.

Me: Do you fancy coming on holiday with me?

Him, Possibly, where?

Me: Dunno, we should have a think about it.

We had a look at the possibilities, the first choice was the Isle of Wight, there’s some historic buildings, some other interesting places and some good places to find fossils, sound perfect. There is, however, one small problem. First the crossing, we worked out that to get on to the isle would cost about fifty quid, the same to get off. The thought of paying £100 just to sail across a bit of water was very off putting, we then discovered that it takes about three hours to cross. THREE HOURS! It takes a cross channel ferry just over an hour to cover 21 miles, how does it take three hours to cross the Solent? We gave up on the Isle of Wight, one day I’ll get there. Next was Dorset, Lyme Regis, Charmouth, pretty much the Jurassic Coast. Sadly a certain someone wasn’t overly keen on the idea of a fossiling holiday, this led to the following question: “Are there fossils in Cornwall?” the answer to this was “no, the rocks are too old!” this was followed by “Cornwall sounds nice”. Actually this wasn’t a bad choice, I like Cornwall, I’ve been there a few times and really enjoyed it so Cornwall it was. A quick search on the interweb found a nice little caravan type thing a few minutes south of Truro and the break was soon booked. Then the months started to drag. March seemed to last forever, Pluto goes around the Sun quicker than April took to get though and don’t get me started on how the first two weeks of May seemed as though time had stood still.

Eventually the 13th of May ended and I headed to the start of my hols. The plan was that we would leave Folkestone at 2 am, this would have us get to Truro at about 08:30. We ate then showered, not together, then tried to get an early night. I was in bed by quarter to seven, wide awake and unable to sleep. I think I may have dozed for a bit but I didn’t get any good sleep.

Before I knew it the alarm was going bonkers and I leapt out of bed, I say leapt, I mean forced myself. A flask of tea was made and the car was loaded and we were off, almost. We needed a short stop to pick up supplies for the journey so we were on our way at about 02:30. We were travelling under a star filled sky and the M20 was virtually empty. 20 minutes later we had the first cuppa. We passed Stonehenge at 05:25, we ran into rain soon after.  We had talked for the whole journey and by about 08:40 we hit the outskirts of Truro, an hour later we were tucking in to a long awaited breakfast.

Since we couldn’t check in to the caravan until 14:00 we decided to have a wander around Truro and visit the cathedral. We manage to waste the hours and headed off to the caravan. Fortunately the rain had stopped and the caravan was perfect. By the time we had settled and faffed around we were knackered and decided that an early night was needed.

So day one of the holiday was mostly spent getting to Cornwall and milling around Truro. Spag Bol was the evening meal and some beer was drank. There may have been some Geocaching, Shhh!

Cornwall, Day 2

Well rested, I awoke to the smell of breakfast being cooked, oh lordy did it smell good! It tasted gooder. Once breakfasted we headed off to the town of Bodmin to visit the jail. This is not a working jail, I don’t think you can just turn up and wander round a working jail, unless that’s your job.

WARNING: The next bit is a little bit educational!

Bodmin Gaol was designed by Sir John Call and built in 1779 by prisoners of war, and was operational for 150 years, in which it saw over 50 public hangings. It was the first British prison to hold prisoners in individual cells.

The Debtors Act of 1869 abolished imprisonment for debt so the prison had spare space that was taken over by the Admiralty for naval prisoners. Eventually, the naval prison occupied an entire wing of the building, before it was closed in 1922.

During World War I the prison was deemed worthy of holding some of Britain’s priceless national treasures including the Domesday Book and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The first hanging was apparently in 1785, but the finishing date of the jail was in 1788. Executioners were paid about £10 a hanging. The last person to be hanged was in 1909.

The jail closed in 1927. Since that date, there has been no prison within the county of Cornwall.

Much of the jail remains in ruins, and presents a forbidding aspect when seen from a distance. Some parts have been refurbished and these now form a tourist attraction with exhibitions telling of the history of the jail and of offenders imprisoned there.

The exhibits are not lavish and are fairly basic in design, showcasing gory mannequins accompanied with plaques, describing the offence committed by particular persons and their sentence, in their respective cells.

The jail was actually a very interesting, if somewhat macabre, place. I think we were both pleasantly surprised by it.

With our visit to Bodmin done we set of for Falmouth and Pendennis castle.

Warning! More education:

Pendennis Castle dominates a high rocky headland on the south side of the Fal estuary, overlooking the English Channel close to where it joins the Atlantic Ocean, historically a vital sea route. The castle defences are a rich amalgam from an artillery fortress operating throughout the period 1539–1956, concentrated both inside Elizabethan ramparts and on the top and slopes of the headland around it.

The centrepiece of Pendennis is a circular four-storey tower which had a storeroom and kitchen in the basement, guns on two enclosed floors and an open roof with a lookout turret. Around the tower, an open circular platform also supported guns. Probably added during or very shortly after the initial construction, it made the ground floor of the tower suitable only for accommodation.

Most of the pentagonal perimeter of the Elizabethan fort survives, including five of the original six bastions and a steep rampart, faced in stone and dropping to a dry ditch, now partly infilled. The original plain entrance was given an imposing classical pediment in about 1700. Just inside are the twin Guard Barracks, solid Ordnance Office buildings in dressed granite of about 1700 and among the earliest barracks surviving in Britain. The northern barrack contains a guard room and cells (for unruly soldiers) of the early 20th century.

Inside the fortress the Elizabethan parapet was replaced in the 1730s. Parts of this later structure survive, for example at Nine-Gun Battery with its stone platforms, embrasures and smooth-bore guns providing a powerful image of a massed battery of the period.

East Bastion and Carrick Mount Bastion contain concrete emplacements inserted in 1902/3 for four 12-pounder guns to counter torpedo boats. In East Bastion, steps lead to underground magazines and a war shelter, converted in 1941 as a Battery Plotting Room from which all the guns of the estuary could be controlled.

Most of the pentagonal perimeter of the Elizabethan fort survives, including five of the original six bastions and a steep rampart, faced in stone and dropping to a dry ditch, now partly infilled. The original plain entrance was given an imposing classical pediment in about 1700.

Just inside are the twin Guard Barracks, solid Ordnance Office buildings in dressed granite of about 1700 and among the earliest barracks surviving in Britain. The northern barrack contains a guard room and cells (for unruly soldiers) of the early 20th century.

Inside the fortress the Elizabethan parapet was replaced in the 1730s. Parts of this later structure survive, for example at Nine-Gun Battery with its stone platforms, embrasures and smooth-bore guns providing a powerful image of a massed battery of the period.

East Bastion and Carrick Mount Bastion contain concrete emplacements inserted in 1902/3 for four 12-pounder guns to counter torpedo boats. In East Bastion, steps lead to underground magazines and a war shelter, converted in 1941 as a Battery Plotting Room from which all the guns of the estuary could be controlled.

To the north of the parade ground a plain brick storehouse was built between 1793 and 1811, one of three holding supplies for British troops fighting Napoleonic forces in Spain and Portugal. Alongside is the somewhat sombre barracks, erected 1900–1902 to house the 140 or so soldiers of the 105th Regiment of the Royal Garrison Artillery, and of the same period are bungalows on each side of the Guard Barracks, for senior non-commissioned officers.

Buildings at the south end include half of a much-altered shed built in 1805 for a field train of mobile guns, stored until needed in action. But this end of the fortress is dominated by gun positions and ancillary buildings begun in the late 19th century.

These include One-Gun Battery, for a heavy 6-inch gun. On firing, the gun barrel recoiled on pivoting steel arms, ‘disappearing’ into the gun pit through a steel shield under which the gunners reloaded in safety. The gun position is connected to its underground magazine, and nearby under its protective earth mound, a war shelter accommodated the gun crew.

The Battery Observation Post was built in the Second World War to control the 6-inch guns of Half-Moon Battery and has been restored to its wartime appearance. The battery itself, reached via a tunnel under the Elizabethan rampart, retains underground magazines and a war shelter of 1895, built for two more 6-inch ‘disappearing’ guns.

The current emplacements at Half-Moon Battery incorporate changes of 1909 and particularly of the Second World War, including camouflaged concrete gun houses that gave protection from aircraft, added in 1941. The guns on display are similar to those installed in 1943.

The castle was impressive and we had an exclusive tour of the main castle, exclusive because no other bugger turned up for the tour, which was well worth doing.

We also did the tour of Half Moon battery, given the history of the battery I did find myself in very familiar surroundings, Half Moon battery isn’t too dissimilar to St Martens battery in Dover.

If you ever get the chance a visit to Pendennis is thoroughly recommended.

We headed home, well home being the caravan, with plans of a walk to a nearby Table Table establishment for dinner and a couple of pints. Word of advice, DO NOT double stack the double stack steak burger, the meat sweats will kill you. Although I was lucky enough to hear a waiter being asked which is better, the standard beef burger or the steak burger? The reply was perfect, “I’m vegetarian” oh how we laughed.

We walked back to the caravan in the dark, and the mist, well, fog, are you familiar with Cornish fog? It’s so thick you can cut chunks of it off and chew it and it’s full of zombies, probably!

Luckily we managed to find our way back without incident and no zombies, although there was some rustling in the roadside bushes.

This ended day 2

Cornwall, day 3

A rainy a windy night, a branch on the tree near the caravan was scratching at the side, that or zombies, I’m going with tree, although I’m not convinced.

Despite the wind, rain and zombies, probably. I slept well and I was looking forward to Fridays excursion. Our first port of call was King Arthur’s Great Hall, in the village of Tintagel.

King Arthur’s Hall is a historic building in Fore Street, Tintagel, Cornwall, England. Built in the early 1930s by Frederick Thomas Glasscock it originally served as the headquarters for a social organization known as the Order of the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table. It contains some works of art relating to the Arthurian legend and is now a popular visitor attraction for Arthurian enthusiasts, and has a bookshop devoted to the subject at the front of the building.

Glasscock founded the Order of the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table in 1927 to promote Christian ideals and Arthurian notions of medieval chivalry. Glasscock was resident at Tintagel and responsible for the building of King Arthur’s Hall. The Hall was itself an extension of Trevena House, which had been John Douglas Cook’s residence and had been built on the site of the former Town Hall and Market Hall in Fore Street.

The 72 stained glass windows illustrating the Arthurian tales are by Veronica Whall. These tell the story of King Arthur and show the coats of arms and weapons of the knights involved. Whall designed 73 windows for the hall. As of 1997 it is considered to be the largest collection of stained glass panels of King Arthur made in the 20th century and a great example of Arts and Crafts workmanship.

There are also several paintings of scenes from King Arthur’s life by William Hatherell

The stained glass windows are beautiful and some of the most impressive I have seen.

A short browse of the gift shop and then on to Tintagel castle, having been there before I sort of knew what to expect, the walk down the hill, the climb up to the castle, oh god the climb. But it is absolutely worth it.

Spectacular views over the Atlantic and some of the most amazing granite formations I’ve ever seen.

The site of Tintagel Castle has been inhabited at least since the late Roman period, and probably earlier. Between the 5th and 7th centuries AD a prosperous community was based there. After a period of obscurity, in the 12th century Tintagel gained international literary fame when it was named by Geoffrey of Monmouth as the place where the legendary King Arthur was conceived. This may have been what inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III, to site his castle at Tintagel in the 1230s. The castle had fallen into disrepair by 1330, but its associations with the Arthurian legend have helped to foster the site’s continuing international renown.

No conclusive evidence has been found that there was an Iron Age fort at Tintagel, although the site would have been similar to those of Iron Age promontory forts found on other south-western headlands, such as on Willapark headland, 1 mile east.

Similarly it is uncertain how much activity there was on the site in the Roman period. The two Roman road-markers from the area, one now in Tintagel church and one at Trethevy 1½ miles east, suggest some presence in the area in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Various small finds, including pottery and some late 3rd- and early 4th-century Roman coins, also suggest activity on the headland at this period, but this seems unlikely to have been significant.

The castle has a long association with Arthurian legends. This began in the 12th century when Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his mythical account of British history, the Historia Regum Britanniae, described Tintagel as the place of Arthur’s conception. Geoffrey told the story that Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon, was disguised by Merlin’s sorcery to look like Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, the husband of Ygerna, Arthur’s mother.

Having had our fill of the views and magnificent area we headed back to the village, via a landrover trip up the hill, I’d done enough climbing.

We agreed that it was at this point in the holiday that a Cornish cream tea was much over due. Two scones a pot of clotted cream, a pot of, rather yummy, jam and a generous pot of tea, each one would have fed an army let alone two chaps, but the climb up to the castle meant that we had earned it.

We soon left the village and headed to the seaside town of Perranporth. It’s a surfers paradise and full of surfer types with tans and surfer hair, definitely not the sort of chaps who would make short work of two scones with clotted cream and jam. We walked to the Watering Hole on the sands where I enjoyed a bottle of Sol, with a wedge of lime stuck in the top, sheer perfection.

Finally we headed back to the caravan to get dinner, pizza and garlic bread. A couple of bottles of ale some crap TV and bed.

The best day of the holiday so far.