Tint-ah-jull and Misty Cornwall

26 09 2013

BLAM! Beautiful

BLAM! Beautiful


Even now I’m not sure how to pronounce it. I was walking around going “Tint-a-gul” (sort of rhymes with tentacle), but I’m pretty sure someone in England pronouned it like in the post’s title. But it was a very busy trip, so I can’t be expected to remember all these nuances! The important part is to know it’s spelled “Tintagel” so you can look it up on the GPS and go there, because it is AMAZING.

Here’s a good source of info: Trip Advisor. Note that the King Arthur stuff is super dubious at best…but can’t beat its natural vistas.

So we woke up at 4-something in the morning and made the harrowing death-could-be-around-the-bend drive up to Tintagel, this rather cramped (no offense, everything in England feels that way compared to Florida where we just sprawl out and eat up the land), old town. Said GPS told us to go drive down a path that I’m pretty sure is actually impossible to drive down, so we instead parked in a nearby lot and walked (bring change – the lots charge.) You hike down this long path and before long, the water appears on the horizon, with the castle ruins dotting the cliff tops. Despite the cold, I fell instantly in love.

So grand!

So grand!

The reason for waking up early was to attempt to catch Merlin’s Cave at low tide – this is a cave literally below the Tintagel ruins that is flooded at all other tide times.

Merlin's Cave opening

Merlin’s Cave opening

Sadly we missed the lowest point and couldn’t walk completely through, maybe only halfway. I guess we could have gone if we hadn’t minded getting wet, but the water made this crazy vicious sound. Here’re the cave’s insides:

water at the far end

water at the far end

Oh well. I was still excited. See below – that’s me being excited.

Here's me at the cave mouth. Yup, it's pretty big.

Here’s me at the cave mouth. Yup, it’s pretty big.

Anyway, before we walked down to the beach to see the cave, I noticed a potential waterfall:

See it?

See it?

Once on the beach, you get a nice view of it:

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There are also these snails everywhere. Seriously. I had to watch my footing constantly because I got so paranoid about crushing one.

Tintagel snail

Tintagel snail

Anyway, we had to wait around for 10:00 a.m. then because the castle doesn’t officially open until then. You can walk around a bit, but the actual ruins are gated off. Besides, we were starving so we decided to skulk around the cafe like vultures (it also opened at 10). This is what they serve at 10 a.m.: cakes. I’m sure they would have made sandwiches too, but cakes are what I saw, and there was no time to waste. Mission accomplished. Finally, it was time to hike up this vertigo-inducing stair case and visit the ruins.

On the way up:

helpful sign

helpful sign

Then the ruins themselves:

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I took a ton of ruin pics but won’t post them here…it’s something that looks so much cooler in person that seeing them on a blog is kind of deflating. But I did try my best to capture the vistas:

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Anyhow, our next stop was Bodmin Moor. Bodmin Moor is a huge place, but a bit twisty to get to. I wanted to see the Hurlers, and ancient set of 3 stone circles (think Stonehenge, except shorter and you can get right up to them), so we made for Minions. Minions is the tiniest town ever right on the foot of the moor (literally – a parking lot is right by the Hurlers.) But this is great, because we lost a lot of time while getting lost on the way to Liskeard (the GPS could search for Liskeard, not Minions – close enough!) and had to hurry. It was super cold and misty with my ever present sheep:

Sheepie #1

Sheepie #1

Classic stereotypical British moment - sheep in road. I was illogically thrilled.

Classic stereotypical British moment – sheep in road. I was illogically thrilled.

Minions overall looked like this,

misty, misty moor

misty, misty moor


which I thought was pretty cool.

wild horses :)

wild horses 🙂

approaching one of the Hurler's circles

approaching one of the Hurler’s circles

a closer look at the Hurlers

a closer look at the Hurlers

How awesome is this? This is like a complete 180 from Florida.

How awesome is this? This is like a complete 180 from Florida.

We saw the Cheesewring (natural formation of stones) from afar and walked a bit up to it, but ultimately didn’t have time to reach it. Plus, in addition to horses and sheep there are bulls everywhere. You know – cows and bulls. There’s something unnerving about being that close to bulls without a fence separating you, even if they did seem peaceful. It could be a trick.

See the Cheesewring in the distance...

See the Cheesewring in the distance…

So then we had to hurry even more (after eating a baked potato…with beans (!)…called a “jacket potato”) to get over to Marazion, which is in Penzance (the far end of Cornwall). There lies St. Michael’s Mount, which is sort of fairytale-esque. Let me show you:

voila! St. Michael's Mount

voila! St. Michael’s Mount

Does that not look exciting enough? Okay, I agree. This is a source of more exciting, in depth info: National Trust. They have tide times too, which are important.

Things did not go smoothly here. For one, we were too late to get into the house. For another, it was gray, incredibly misty (mist feels fitting on the moor, not as much here), and cold. Not the ideal lighting for photos. We got there before low tide was at its lowest….low tide surfaces the causeway, a stone walkway that takes you from Marazion to the Mount itself. At high tide, it’s covered by water! (Dying of coolness.) We grabbed some food to buy time, planning to at least walk it, but it was officially raining when we got out. We did a partial walk when we first arrived, so we did get the mini-experience:

the half-uncovered causeway to the island

the half-uncovered causeway to the island

people who don't mind being freezing cold

people who don’t mind being freezing cold

Pretty greens and grays

Pretty greens and grays

I should mention that, at least during the castle’s operating hours, a ferry can take you across if the tide is high. We were ultimately just too late in the day. Can’t complain as we saw an amazing amount. The next day we’d be traveling to Portsmouth, which was an adventure in itself…





3 Things That Start with E

19 09 2013

Get ready....

Get ready….


England, Edgcumbe, Eden. I thought these last 2 would go well together in my first post about England (mostly since I visited them on the same day – trying to be chronological here)…which I made a quick little visit to a few weeks ago. Doesn’t that sound standard, like I do it all the time? I wish. I’d never been to the UK or Europe in my life. It was stressful, exciting, and contained some near not-death-but-possibly-serious-injury moments. The best vacations always do.

Anyway this is getting about as far away from this blog’s original “sketch” purposes as possible, but come on, it’s England! Plus, photos = art sometimes, right? (I will let you know however that I had very good sketch intentions going over there….I lugged a sketch book and set of pens/pencils the entire time, envisioning myself drawing at a cafe in France. Did not happen. You will see why by the time I’m finished with all these trip posts.)

So we went to England first….specifically Cornwall after taking a train from Heathrow airport. Here’s what I consider to be the most important food in Cornwall:

cheese and onion Cornish Pasty (really it's like cheese and potato...and soooo good)

cheese and onion Cornish Pasty (really it’s like cheese and potato…and soooo good)

Cornwall is like a peninsula…it’s the southwestern part of England. It’s got a lot of countryside covered in sheep (no kidding – a real plethora of sheep) and modern energy windmills. It also has lots of cool historical things built into impressive landscapes. We stayed in Plymouth – a town right on the water with lots of overlarge seagulls, pigeons, and a large Toys-R-Us building. I liked Plymouth. We nearly almost-died-but-not-that-bad trying to drive our rented Fiat 500 because people in England drive very speedily for such tiny roads. The problem in Plymouth was that the roads aren’t marked, and if they ever are, it’s not somewhere logical like, right on the side of the street where people would normally look. So have fun with that. But Plymouth is nice and smells like flowers, and there’s a ferry that takes you to Mount Edgcumbe House and Gardens in Torpoint:

Ta da! Mount Edgcumbe

Ta da! Mount Edgcumbe

There are some pretty gardens there right by the Orangery, this massive building where they used to house orange trees in cold weather – it now serves food. Here’s what I like about English food – tomato and cheese sandwiches on every menu! Also a large amount of potato offerings…

Orangery gardens

Orangery gardens

Then you can hike up to the house, or take a little shuttle…we walked:

saw lots of people walking straight up the grass - if this ever got covered with snow, would be the perfect sledding hill

saw lots of people walking straight up the grass – if this ever got covered with snow, would be the perfect sledding hill


We skipped the grass and walked up the legit path next to it.

We skipped the grass and walked up the legit path next to it.

Once you reach the house, you are greeted with a view of Plymouth from the front of it:

Plymouth over yonder

Plymouth over yonder

And also lots of these:

Flower baskets - they are everywhere. Hotels, pubs, seriously all over pubs. Why don't we do this in America??

Flower baskets – they are everywhere. Hotels, pubs, seriously all over pubs. Why don’t we do this in America??

You aren’t supposed to take pictures inside the house, which I didn’t realize at first, so I got a shot of this really cool lock:
edgcumbe7

And then this happened:

Yes, it's me. In an Anne Boleyn dress. I don't generally post photos of me here, so I compromised by using a slightly blurry one.

Yes, it’s me. In an Anne Boleyn dress. I don’t generally post photos of me here, so I compromised by using a slightly blurry one.

They have this costume room and are seriously proactive about getting people to dress up in it. Okay, secretly (except not anymore) I love dress up. What girl doesn’t? But we had time constraints, plus dressing up as anything in America would cost you a ton of money (Old Time Photos, anyone?), so I was planning to pass. But the lady there was so sweet and somewhat insistent. And it was free (I mean, you pay to see the house, but dress up isn’t extra) which is the best. She had me trying on hats, lots of hats. Ah, and this also the one exception to their no picture rule.

Then we had to run/sail/drive over to the St. Austell area to see the Eden Project. Luckily they had one of their late admission days (come in after 3:30 p.m. and get discounted admission – good when they also have stay-open-later nights). What is Eden?

Eden Project - largest biome in the world

Eden Project – largest biome in the world

My friend says it looks like a future Mars colony. Eden is built in an old clay mining pit and is pretty sprawling. That’s a good thing. You get your money’s worth, as long as you like plants, which I DO.

the rainforest biome...

the rainforest biome…


Mediterranean (how the hell do you spell that?) biome

Mediterranean (how the hell do you spell that?) biome

There are two big biomes…the rainforest one has a catwalk, and the Mediter-whatever one has a restaurant that smells SO.GOOD. You don’t even know. Well, we were semi-starving the entire trip, so we might have been a little biased. But it also has cool sculptures:

this is what happens when you drink alcohol

this is what happens when you drink alcohol

They have a “kids” area…I think that’s what it is, with hands-on things. Here’s my favorite:

Fridge wall!

Fridge wall!


fridge wall, a better view

fridge wall, a better view

A separate area has more kidsy things like this:

paper butterfly thing

paper butterfly thing

Of course they have other areas to eat, gift shops, and a few ice cream and smoothie places. I wanted to eat in this main cafe area, but it was closing up for the evening:

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That’s okay, because there’s plenty to see outside the buildings and biomes. I mean huge gardens. Feasts of flowers.
eden2

type of ginger in the rainforest biome

type of ginger in the rainforest biome


the darkest red flower...

the darkest red flower…


Not sure what this is, but the bees!!!

Not sure what this is, but the bees!!!


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eden50

There are more things to wonder at, some really obvious and some kind of hidden (not really, but stationed on lesser travelled paths). If you go here, it would definitely take a few hours to explore the whole thing.

This is called WEEE (enough "E"s?) Man. Supposed to show the amount of electronic waste a person can make.

This is called WEEE (enough “E”s?) Man. Supposed to show the amount of electronic waste a person can make.

They’re very much about education and sustainability, so you see things like the sculpture above. There’s also a lot that’s just there for art and beauty’s sake, in my opinion, which is perfectly fine.

a little like the Lost Gardens of Heligan, no?

a little like the Lost Gardens of Heligan, no?

Edgcumbe and Eden made a good, tiring day. We had to scarf down a quick dinner at the hotel’s bar because we had to wake up at the absolute crack of dawn the next day (more like before it) to catch Merlin’s Cave at low tide and for the misty and wild Tintagel castle. Coming up next!








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