Archive for August, 2008
After having a Cornish Pasty in Cornwall, the next logical step was to have a Devonshire Cream Tea in Devon.
The only thing standing in our way was time. We’d already driven all the way from St Ives, I needed to be at Exeter Central train station by 4pm, and we still had all of the Dartmoor National Park to cross.
We stopped at Tavistock for some local advice on which roads a caravan shouldn’t attempt (having learnt through recent experience not just to rely on our TomTom). There wasn’t time for a cream tea there. In fact, it was the tourist information officer himself telling us to hurry or we wouldn’t make the train.
So we drove on through Dartmoor National Park. It’s a rather bleak place, kind of like Desert Road in New Zealand, but without the mountains. Just openness and scrub, and sheep with spray-painted markings who sometimes choose to lie in the middle of the road.
In Princetown, there was a prison but no obvious sign of cream teas on the the road through town. In Postbridge, we stopped and parked, but we could only find a place which sold ‘takeaway cream teas’, which we thought might detract from the experience somewhat.
We continued driving, and as we did, I saw a small sign advertising a castle where you could have cream tea on the ‘south-facing terrace’. Of course, by the time I told Dad, we’d already driven past. So he pulled into a small lane, turned around, and back we went. The path to the castle was through a golf course. Through stone gates, and we arrived at a large manor house. The carpark obviously wasn’t intended for caravans, and we were all feeling a bit scruffy after two days of travel – so it was back through the golf course, and back on the road.
We finally found our cream teas in the little village of Moretonhampstead. The epic struggle over many miles faded from our memories as we were presented with individual pots of tea, strawberry and raspberry jam and clotted cream. Yum.
As I was heading to St Ives, I was trying to remember that nursery rhyme I learnt at primary school: something about a man and his wives and cats and sacks and kits. And I was wondering if the St Ives that I was heading to was the St Ives from the nursery rhyme because when I had typed the destination into our hired TomTom, it gave me a whole list of St Ives’, spread around the country.
As I was heading to St Ives, I discovered that it’s not such a great place to take a campervan. Especially if you haven’t booked a campsite in advance. And particularly if you are following the directions of the TomTom, down some very narrow English lanes with stone walls on either side.
We stayed overnight at Balnoon Camping Site, at took advantage of the 20p per four minute showers. In the morning, we relocated to the car pack above the village, and walked down towards the sea. We didn’t see the Tate St Ives. We didn’t hire a boat or take a trip to view the seals. But we did watch bakers make Cornish Pasties in a window of Cornish town.
We walked along the narrow streets, and took photos of the hanging baskets and heard the seagulls. When around just one more bay, and then just one more. Mum checked the water temperature. Unusually for the British beaches I’ve seen so far, there was sand and people with body boards.
As I was leaving St Ives, I saw a postcard which had the nursery rhyme on it along with a signpost showing St Ives and Lands End. And I thought I had been to the famous St Ives, and the thought sustained me as we walked back up the hill. But then, tonight, I’ve Googled “as I was going to Saint Ives”, and it seems that several towns claim it. Wikipedia, source of all knowledge says: “There are a number of places called St Ives in England and elsewhere.”
So really, I’m none the wiser.
I’ve been to St Ives though – or at least, one of them.
My parents last visited the UK in the 1970s. They lived here for a year, got married, travelled around the country in a campervan. I grew up with their stories. And now, 32 years later, they’re back. The Tower of London is still where they left it, so’s St Paul’s. Mum could still drink in the pub where she once worked. We could still travel south to the fishing village of Clovelly in Devon, one of their must-visits from the past.
Only these days, it costs £5.50 to get in.
Don’t let that put you off though. Once you get past the car park and ticket office, the huge giftshop with endless boxes of fudge and pictures of soccer stars, once you get past the huge glass windows and the audio visual presentation, the actual village of Clovelly manages to retain a certain historic charm.
There are no cars in Clovelly. The steep, narrow stone streets are prohibitive of that. Instead, deliveries are made on wooden sleds that are dragged across the stones. This definitely isn’t a place for high heels – even in sneakers, my toes were squashed against the front of my shoes as we descended towards the harbour. We bought postcards from the village post office – once that may soon become a casualty of the government’s closures.
We visited the Methodist Chapel and the Chapel of St. Peters, and a fisherman’s cottage which was set up with it’s 1930s furnishing. I read about the village fisherman lost at sea, the ones who Charles Kingsley wrote about in his poem, The Three Fishers, then walked down to the sea myself, across the quay, across the pebbles. There was a sign there which said NO STONE THROWING.
Clovelly’s been a bit of a tourist town for over a century. The narrow streets and the sea will guarantee that. We left at 10 on a rainy morning, and even then, it was starting to fill up. I guess, in the scheme of things, those £5.50s make sense. If they weren’t charged up front, I’m sure the actual village would be a lot more commercialised. Though I’m still not sure they need the sport star portraits in the gift shop.
I was experimenting with Facebook advertising at work the other day. In the past, I’ve been able to create ads targeted just at people in high school or ‘college’, but I wanted to see if I could target people who were employed as well.
Since there wasn’t a check box which said ‘employed’, I decided to try typing ‘working’ into the keyword category.
The way facebook phrased the results made me laugh though.