Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cornwall, England

As I was heading back to the States, I diverted my itinerary to take a few days in Cornwall, England to visit friends and to assist in my transition back to the U.S. After an overnight flight, I landed at Bristol airport where my friend collected me. She just finished a weekend religious conference. The drive was three hours from the airport, but we made good time.

We stayed at Camborne the first night, which was quite pleasant. Colin cooked a lovely dinner and we spent some time getting better acquainted. His house was quite elegant and tastefully designed. I took a shower and sought to retire. When I went to bed I was exhausted and the eight hours of sleep was restorative. However, the next morning was a plumbing inconvenience as the shower pipe burst open and marred Colin’s dining room ceiling. As he is a skillful and well-connected man, a plumber came to his rescue in 20 minutes. This allowed us to go off on our day, but I could tell the mishap remained heavy on his consciousness.

We set off for the coasts of Southwest England. Every square inch of land was covered abundantly in greenery of some time. What a change from Jordan where only 5% of the land has green growth. The place is a poet’s paradise. Life seems simple here. It is certainly a vacation spot for Londoners and Midlanders and it is remote enough so that the place is not overrun by many vacationers. The place seems enchanted. The days were bright, sunny, and warm.

Though this is not the order in which we saw things, these are the things that came to mind.

St. Michaels’ Mount, which was a monastery, family home, a fortress and a port. We walked a causeway out to the Mount at low tide (everything cooperated on this trip.) It once belonged to the St. Aubyn (sp?) family and is very near to Penzance, of the musical “Pirates of Penzance.”

Tate St. Ives is one of the three Tate museums and is found in St. Ives along the main road that borders the beach. The building itself is impressive with sweeping views of the Atlantic. The exhibit focused upon the forces that shaped St. Ives in the 1940, 50, 60’s. Both paintings and sculptures were included in the galleries.

In the center of town was the sister museum, Barbara Hepworth Museum with sculptures in the Garden. Most were of bronze and stone, but a few wooden ones exist. It was Hepworth’s home and studio, where she died in a violent fire. She is reputed to be one of Britain’s most important 20th century artists.

Other galleries exist near St. Ives, such as the Penlee (sp?) House gallery in Penzance. Galleries and studios dot each of these coast villages.  

The Minack Theatre was a highlight. It is called the “theatre under the stars” and it is quite terrific. It overlooks a cliff near a beach in Portchurno, Cornwall and is famous for its many theatrical productions. The only downside of the place is the difficulty in finding it because there is only one road sign. Especially during the summer, a hefty range of performances are done in an natural setting. Carved into the cliffs, seats are available for 800 theatre-goers. Grass and flowers bed make the place attractive as well. Plus a restaurant, gift shops, and videos of historic events make the venue an attraction that one needs to see. It is too bad we could not watch a production there.

Colin lived in Camborne and we made a pass through Hayle, another charming town. We went to Pendeen as well. These places are great to look up on a map. St. Just was another fine western coastal town. I have never been to a place with so many saints as the name of their towns, buildings, churches, or other notable places. Land’s End, as you would guess, is the westernmost part of the main island of Britain. Sennen Cove was stunning and Penzance has its charm as a fishing village, known historically for its pirates. Last by not least is Mousehold, which is pronounced more like Mosul in Iraq.

The place was just spectacular and we were at the far end of the time zone so it stayed light until 10:00 p.m. The evening light was soft and gentle and if I was not so darn tired, I would have stayed up to capture the setting sun and the refracted light.

Colin was a kind a gracious host and I was worried about him because he just came off of major back surgery. His kindness bowled me over. I want to be exceedingly kind in all things, just like he is. Scripture never says God is good, but God is kind. I want to be kind like the two of them. Phil was a sweetheart as well. They make a good team and they made my visit memorable. This is a place I think everyone would want to visit. We met many nice people along the way as well. Plan on Cornwall as a vacation destination. You will enjoy it.

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