Fast Talking Our Way Around Cornwall

Donna Freedman Arriving In Cornwall 2011


How much can you squeeze into a short 42 hour visit and still catch a few hours of sleep? John and I had a chance to find out when Donna Freedman rolled into our Cornish community on Tuesday afternoon.

I’ve included only a few pictures from our short time together and I have to add that while I took quite a few pictures of Donna, I did agree that I would not post them without approval. I understand that completely as I’m that way too and it’s a promise I make a lot so people won’t be put off by my documentary style of shooting.

Here’s an outline of what we managed to see and do while she was in Cornwall.

DAY 1:

After a quick sandwich and luggage drop at home, we made a mad dash over to Port Isaac to see a Cornish fishing port that also serves as a part-time set for the television show, Doc Martin.

We had a good walk around the village, stopping to pet a few dogs, eat some Cornish ice cream, and tour an art gallery located in former Methodist church.

On the drive there and back, we passed through a few villages complete with churches that looked a lot like the church in photo below. They’re everywhere here even though they are rarely full these days. Churches in England suffer from a lack of members as my friend Alycia points out here and it’s a struggle to keep them up.

During our drive, we met an oncoming car in one of our narrow lanes and John whipped it into reverse backing up so fast that I think his speed surprised Donna in much the same way it did me when I came over the first time. He should have been a race driver as good as he is behind the wheel.

Driving across the moor in the dark, we came upon a group wild ponies hanging out in the road and Donna wondered aloud as I often do whether they might move for the car. I always hope the moorland ponies will be visible when people come to visit and was pleased to see them.

John made a turkey chili for dinner while I handled the salad and dessert. Since it was Shrove Tuesday, we had pancakes with a baked apple/pecan mixture inside and vanilla ice cream and maple syrup on top.

After that we rushed off to a neighboring village so Donna could see bell ringing practice and try her hand at it as well. John went the pub next door for a pint instead of church and we stopped in after for a minute before heading for home.

Once home, Donna and I stayed up talk, talk, talking, sitting side by side on the sofa, holding our laptops and sharing our stories until my eyes began to close. I went off to bed and she stayed up to finish some writing and managed to post to her blog while I was getting some rest.

Day 2:

After breakfast on Day 2, Donna and I walked to the village shop so I could post a letter and pick up some pasties for lunch. While there, she had a chance to see how helpful folks are here as I asked someone in the shop about what I thought were locked church doors. ( There’s a roster of folks who open and close it each day)

After two phone calls, Margaret determined the church was actually unlocked already and that I just needed to go back and put some muscle to the door. Feeling slightly silly for having been too fragile about it, we walked back to the church where I gave the door a push so we could have a look around. Our village has one of the prettiest churches around with parts of it dating back to Norman times although it was transformed in the 15th century.

Around noon, John and I took about an hour or so to join some others from the village attending the funeral of our next door neighbor who died a week ago Sunday.

We went home for a quick pasty lunch and to pick up Donna before heading out to see Boscastle, a fishing village that was ravaged by a flash flood in 2004, but has since recovered. It’s a good place to pick up the coast path and I was focused on getting Donna on the coast path at least once even with the limited amount of time she was with us. You just can’t come to Cornwall and leave without a walk on the coast path!

We made it back in time for me to make a couple of blackberry cobblers with berries I picked and froze last summer. Saving them for dessert later, we walked down to the pub for dinner and quiz night.

We Won!

We joined friends, Jeff and Robert, teaming up to WIN the pub quiz while Donna very kindly treated us to dinner. I was chuffed that Donna was here and part of the win.

I had a yummy, faceless, veggie burger for dinner while John ordered a meal that stared at me the whole time he was eating it, plus I could see its teeth. Donna had a more traditional meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, veggies, and yorkshire pudding.

After dinner, we celebrated our quiz win with a dish of  blackberry cobbler that was topped with Cornish ice cream. Donna and I stayed up late again talking, changing subjects quickly as we tried to cover more topics than we had time to do properly.

The Final Day:

This morning we were all up early as Donna had an 8:06 train to catch back to London. Donna was very much like her blog persona which I find reassuring in a way. I tend to think people are who they say they are which can be a bit naïve, but I’ve been lucky when it comes to meeting blogging buddies who really are as they appear to be online when we meet face to face.

42 hours with Donna was as fast paced as an episode of The West Wing, mixed with the energy of newspaper office full of journalists, much like those I’ve seen in the movies listed on this Top 10 Newspaper Movies list.

Do have a quick look so you’ll know what I mean. Not surprisingly, some of the very movies I had in mind were on the list. Donna’s career as a journalist was very apparent in our conversations and her sense of humor, and John and I both enjoyed her visit.

We talked a great deal about writing as you might imagine and she was kind enough to share some helpful tips along with answering my questions on editing and publishing.

I began this post after she left this morning, but partway through decided to take a quick nap. Clearly my subconscious was prodding me to finish it because while I was sleeping, I woke from a dream hearing Donna offering an editorial suggestion to the piece I was supposed to be working on instead of lazing around in bed.

I’m sure it came from observing her writing discipline while she was here and it did not go unnoticed that she was able to meet her deadlines while still having fun.

Walking into Port Isaac

Another view on the path to Port Isaac, but looking back in the opposite direction.

The harbor in Port Isaac with the old school on the hill in the distance.

This is St Breward Church where Donna had an opportunity to ring the bells.

While Donna is not in this blurry shot of some bell ringers in action, I do have some video of her learning how to control the rope.

In the shot above, you can see the two tiny figures of John and Donna off the left of the image about half way down in this photograph of Boscastle. (click twice to enlarge)

I’ve never noticed Rosemary with blooms and snapped this as John walked into my shot.

I love this photo of John near the harbor entrance at Boscastle.

Winchurch Family - Boscastle 1930

After John saw today’s blog post, he gave me this photo that his dad took 80 years ago when he was 16 on a family outing at Boscastle. I had to add it so it could be seen with the photo of John that I took yesterday.