Sweet Indulgence – A Key Lime Pie Birthday In Cornwall

Key Lime Pie In England - John Winchurch

I’ve always been a cake fan when it comes to birthdays, but after last week, I think some of the best birthdays may be those that begin and end with pie. Such was our day last Friday when we had a breakfast of coffee and homemade Key Lime pie for John’s birthday.

Later on we split a slice for a snack and then finished off the rest of the pie after a lovely dinner at the recently revamped St Mabyn Inn which is definitely going to be one of our new go to places in Cornwall.

In between our marathon pie moments we went out for a bit of exercise and managed to visit Trerice, one of our favorite local National Trust properties for a walk and a bite of lunch, (but no pie) as well as a seaside visit in the afternoon to the beach at Bedruthan Steps. 

We took loads of pictures if you want to have look through to see what a warm day in late September looks like in Cornwall.

Trerice, Cornwall UK - Elizabeth Harper

First stop as I mentioned was Trerice, a Elizabethan manor house near Newquay. It’s always gorgeous even in bad weather and I’m never surprised to see something new.

Well, almost never.

Gates at TrericeWhile backing up to get a shot of the house through the gate, I captured one of those unexpected finds I sometimes experience on outings with John. ( See photo below)

John Winchurch - Trerice - Elizabeth Harper

Yep! That’s the birthday boy jumping into my shot. It’s good to remember that playfulness doesn’t end at a certain age.

Trerice- Garden View of House - Elizabeth HarperI am not sure there is anything to say here other than oh, or maybe ah! Except that I think this was the prettiest Trerice has looked and it was a perfect place to begin our day out.

Trerice Front Garden - Elizabeth Harper

Thinking Spot - ELizabeth Harper

 There are benches all around the grounds that call out to you as you walk past … Come on over, rest a while and think about life.

Resting At Trerice - John Winchurch

After lunch I spent some time inside the manor house while John moved quickly through it and on to a bench in the garden to soak up some sunshine. If it’s sunny and I can’t find him this always the kind of place I look. He likes to pause for sunshine break and would tell you that he prefers to get his Vitamin D the natural way.

Bedruthan Steps -Elizabeth Harper

Not long after finding him in the garden we were walking down the path at Bedruthan Steps, a place that will always have special memories for us.

Bedruthan Steps - Elizabeth Harper

Beach at Bedruthan Steps - John Winchurch


Elizabeth Harper

John Winchurch - Beach at Bedruthan Steps

Sorry this one is a bit in the shadows. I’m still learning to use my new camera and it was so bright outside I did not notice the image  was too dark. It’s a cute one of John though so I wanted to post it. This was where he was standing when he took the two pictures of me above.

We stepped through an opening in the rocks as the tide was going out to find this little private beach spot. The Cornish coast has loads of lovely places like this with few people.

Steps to Beach at Bedruthan StepsAfter swishing through the water a bit and drying our feet in the sun it was back up the long set of steps.

Bedruthan Steps - ELizabeth Harper

A last look back before heading home and dinner at the St Mabyn Inn.

Key Lime Pie

The ‘ before ‘ shot of pie that was gone in a day. I can’t believe we ate the whole thing.

Heart Chocolate – Sweet Love

Heart Chocolate - Dublin, IrelandIt doesn’t take much to make me think of my sweet husband and a weekend away in Dublin without him just before Valentine’s Day kept him ever-present in my mind.

Despite a busy schedule of seeing the sights and long talks over coffee with my friend David, I found myself imagining what it would have been like to walk the streets of Dublin with the younger version of John as he was when he lived there 40 years ago.

Staring into my ‘heart’ chocolate at a table in Bewley’s, a place that he had recommended and whose tables he sat at years before, I felt only gratitude and a kind of sweet contentment knowing he was missing me too.

Valentine’s Day is the last in our trinity of dates that bunch together at the beginning of the year and mark the anniversaries that defined our early time together. Four years ago today I stepped off an airplane to meet John face to face. Most of you know this story, but if you’re new to GOTJ, you can click on the airplane link for the full ride.

I was full of hope and romantic daydreams with a clear musical soundtrack that began and ended with this tender song of longing.

We’ll go back to Bedruthan Steps for our annual Valentine’s Day ramble and snap a photograph to mark the anniversary of our first visit there. I’ll likely add it to this post later if you’d like to come back for a look.

Chocolate Hearts For John From Dublin

Updated Post:

Here’s a couple of photos from our afternoon at Bedruthan Steps. It was so chilly we didn’t stay out long, but we had a warm drink and a flapjack afterwards and I took a photograph of John in the afternoon light that I think might become a favorite.

John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper - February 14, 2012- Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

John Winchurch - February 14, 2012

English Weather And Other Things

Bedruthan Steps

Weather in Cornwall can change dramatically in a short amount of time. I lived in Germany for several years when I was in the army and it was much the same. One might wake to a day that was grey and wet, see that give way to blue skies, and then be surprised by a short burst of hail from the same sky an hour later.

Two days ago Bedruthan Steps was wrapped in a sheet of cloud cover and rain which was a continuation of the winter weather we’d been having. It looked as if it would stay that way all week, but yesterday we were pleased to have blue skies when we toured Lanhydrock.

I know from visiting some of my readers online, that they are still being slammed with loads of snow so I won’t whinge (whine) on about how wet and grey it is again today.

John’s eldest daughter has been with us since late Thursday and had a chance to visit the house and gardens with us at Lanhydrock. She’s been before, but it’s a great place to revisit. I never get enough of National Trust properties and there are plenty across the UK. I must admit that I have a special attraction for Lanhydrock and joked yesterday with several of the staff that as National Trust members, we visit so often it feels like our second home.

I never get tired of shooting this view from an upstairs window.

Having a church right on the property must have been pretty amazing for the family that lived there and Lanhydrock is one of only three National Trust properties that have churches on the estate. You can read more about it here.

Not all the gardens are as formal as the small bit you can see here.

The church is a working church that still has Sunday services.

Remember a few photos earlier when I said that I can never get enough of this view, at least this one is taken from a different window.

I’ve photographed the light through this window before and I always want to grab a book and a cushion and curl up there for a few hours. If I dressed in period clothing and sat very still, do you think anyone would notice?

There are several heart-shaped door handles in one of the gardens that always get my attention. This one is usually covered over in greenery and more difficult to shoot than it was yesterday.

I had to get really low to the ground to get these tiny buds pushing up through the soil.

This was a bud on a tree that looked kind of odd to me, but pretty in a different way than the more traditional looking bloom below.

I walked all the way around the churchyard taking photographs as I went, squeezing through hedges and actually climbing partway under one to get the shot below.

If you look to the right you can see the hedge I crawled under and partly through. I can’t imagine what someone would have thought had they walked up while my backside was sticking out from underneath it.

This is one of my favorite angles because of the gravestones and the mounds you see around them. Even though the church is active, the cemetery is closed to new burials.

A view from the gate house.

The greens are electric with color especially wherever you see moss. The daffodils are just beginning to bloom here and soon this field will be full of bluebells.

While I have never seen a cow or a sheep anywhere near this gate or even in a field close by, I do as I’m asked like any good guest would do.

After a morning of rainy grey skies and a bit of hail, the sun has come out again today. It’s still overcast, but with patches of blue I am optimistic that we may still have a dryer afternoon. I never thought I would spend so much time talking about the weather, but everyone does it here and it just seems to go with my English life.

Bedruthan Steps, A Valentine’s Day Destination


Bedruthan Steps – Valentine’s Day 2011

I feel as if people must get tired of reading our story especially during the months of January and February when I refer to the many meaningful ‘first’ events that occurred in the early days of our relationship. So for you, I experimented with the shorter version of our story below.

Divorced, 47 year-old American woman meets Englishman by accident and is surprised by love. Marrying after a year of long distance dating, she leaves her country for his, exchanging her big city ways for wellies and quiz nights in a tiny Cornish village. Love grows deeper, life gets sweeter, and happiness is an everyday blessing as consistent as morning coffee.

What do you think? Did I tell the story like you remember it?

For those of you who are new visitors, the longer version is the sweetest and if you want more, you can find it here along with photographs taken at Bedruthan Steps each year since we met. We didn’t snap one when I arrived on Valentine’s Day in 2008, (thank goodness, as I was fresh off an overnight flight from Atlanta) but we’ve had one each year since then.

The photos below were taken two days ago when we returned to Bedruthan Steps to celebrate our first meeting on Valentine’s Day, 2008. With a rainy week expected, I was grateful for a bit of blue sky even if the wind was a bit fierce.


Bedruthan Steps


A National Trust Land Rover

This is what the area to John’s right looks like. The National Trust folks were out repairing some stone steps a bit farther down the path where the winter weather had made a few crumble.

Distant Lighthouse At Bedruthan Steps

Happily Standing Too Close To The Edge

Bedruthan Steps – A Closer Look At A Special Place

Some of you may remember this photograph taken recently by a visiting friend from America. You may have also seen this post where I tell you that only a few minutes after stepping off the plane in Cornwall for the first time to meet John face to face, he brought me to this magical place.

Even in February it was obvious that Bedruthan Steps was spectacular with its jagged rocky face extending into the sea and the cliffs with signs that warned walkers not to go too close the edge, but allowed one to decide where the edge was for themselves.

Because we usually visit this location on the anniversary of that first meeting, it is generally windy and cold and while you can go down the hill behind us in the picture and up the other side, there is a locked gate during many months of the year when the steps behind it are considered too dangerous and slippery for people to climb up and down.

Two days ago we arrived with my sister Margaret and found the gate unlocked. It was my first time to walk on the beach at Bedruthan Steps and not a memory I am likely to forget. Here are some pictures from that beach walk.

Going slowly, we make our way carefully down the steep steps.

Here is a hazy look back at the steps after we reached the beach.

This gorgeous golden sand was everywhere.

John climbing through the rocks to reach another beach.

More people followed us through the opening. I like the informal triangular point they lined up into without knowing. Margaret is in the center with her camera raised.

Off they go back through the opening leaving us alone on the beach once again.

Here’s a windblown sister snap taken by John.

Leaving only our footprints behind we go back to the other side as well.

Dogs were everywhere and all seemed well-behaved and happy to have their time in the sun.

This is a classic Margaret pose with her weight balanced just so and her camera in hand.

A little kiss of thanks before we go for introducing me to this lovely place.

Then it’s back up the steps we go with John leading the way.

Here is a shot from the top of the stairs.

Here is one of John with Margaret behind him coming up even more steps on the way back to the car.

Ugh!   We … are … almost … there … whew!

Taking a last look back, you can see where the first photo was snapped down near the wall and the group of people standing there. (click to enlarge)  I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with photos today, This is only a few of the photographs from our time on the beach and it was difficult to choose which told the story best so I went with more rather than less.

When Friends Come To Visit

John & Elizabeth - Bedruthan Steps - August 2010

When friends come to visit you have an opportunity to see things a bit differently than you normally might. John and I have had our picture taken here before, but only on a self-timer. When my friends David and Steven arrived last Friday from Atlanta by way of London, we had a chance to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes.

I love the picture above that Steven took of us at Bedruthan Steps. You may remember that this is the spot John took me to right after I stepped off the plane in Cornwall when we first met face to face on Valentine’s Day in 2008. Below is the picture that preceded the one above where John is looking a bit sweet and bashful.

There were a series of others like this where the spontaneity could not have been captured using the self-timer on my camera and I’m glad Steven was there to snag them. We managed to squeeze a lot of the Cornish experience into their visit beginning with a lunch of pasties made by me. David took the three pasty pictures below.

Steven & David

You can’t see it very well, but Steven and David are holding up score cards giving my pasties a 10 and a 9. They were playing around, but they did eat every bite so I think they really liked them. I also made two blackberry/apple crumbles and three blackberry cobblers along with a key lime pie. Blackberries are everywhere right now and I’ve picked over fifteen pounds so far. Most of the berries are in the freezer, but I couldn’t resist making a few sweets to share with our guests.

Photo Credit - David Morris

After lunch we were off to Lanhydrock which is our closest National Trust property and perfect for a rainy day.

Photo Credit - David Morris

If you look closely into the reflection on the silver serving dish cover, you can see me with my new camera and Steven off to the right.

After a look around for some rainy day headgear (the one David is holding won’t do at all) we take a look outside to see if the rain has slowed enough to have a walk around the grounds.

We move outside to see what we can find in the gardens around Lanhydrock.

I managed to capture this leaf and the church below with my new camera with no worries about the rain as it’s waterproof, a valuable quality when living in a country where we don’t let a little rain keep us inside. (Panasonic DMC-TS2)

David is using his new Canon G11 which is the other camera I wanted. ( I know … I’m greedy when it comes to camera gear.)

Only one more shot and we’re off to our next location.

If you come back tomorrow, I’ll show you more of our journey around Cornwall.

Remembering The Day We Met – Valentine’s Day 2008

I took this picture last February when John and I were in Paris on our honeymoon and I’ve been saving it for just the right time. Today is the third Valentine’s Day we will spend together and the anniversary of the first time we met face to face.

Yesterday evening, John called out to me from his study and I went in to find him rereading a series of short emails that passed back and forth between us on February 13, 2008. We were emailing each other right until they closed the airplane door, documenting our thoughts and excitement as I was getting on the plane to fly over to meet him for the first time. He’s that kind of man, tender, romantic, and permanently etched on my heart. I am grateful everyday for him and I love how he remembers the details of our romance. Well loved, every day is what I am, but on Valentine’s Day it is especially nice to remember how we began.

If you don’t know our story yet and you’d like to know more, you can read about our first meeting below. After I take him a little breakfast in bed, we’re going back to Bedruthan Steps to recreate that first walk. We didn’t manage a photo the first time, but we took one a year ago and if you come back later you will be able to see a photograph from today’s walk posted underneath the one from last year at the bottom of the page.

Will You Stay With Me, Will You Be My Love

February 14, 2009

Today is the anniversary of the day I first stepped off a plane in England and into John’s arms. We’d spent the previous six weeks first emailing and later talking on Skype so we’d seen each other online for quite some time, but had never touched. Very quickly, I developed a huge crush on the darling Englishman who is now my husband. That we met for the first time in person on Valentine’s Day was more because it suited my work and travel arrangements than by romantic design. Because I had so many frequent flyer miles and a keen interest in seeing John in his own space, I suggested the idea that I come to him. I came with an open mind and a tender heart, but no expectations beyond the idea of getting to know him as only one can when actually in the same physical space.

As I write this, I have just been reminded by John that one year ago today, exactly 30 minutes from now, my plane touched down in a tiny airport in Newquay.  It is a vivid memory for us both and it’s funny now to look back and remember the thoughts and feelings I was having as I walked down the steps of the commuter flight across the tarmac and into his warm embrace that morning.

Any of you who’ve been reading my old blog at (giftsofthejourney.com) for long are aware of how this first meeting progressed from friendship and mutual attraction to the sweet ceremony we went through not quite two weeks ago. It seems appropriate to share our buttercup story and why these tiny yellow flowers have such meaning for me now.

When I arrived on that chilly day February 14, John asked me if I felt up to a little walk along the ocean on the coast path at a place called Bedruthan Steps. It was on the way back to the tiny village where he made his home and he was exited to show me a bit of the Cornish coast that he’d been telling me about for weeks. Despite having been too excited to sleep on the plane, I was definitely interested in seeing any of the places I had heard him refer to during the hours of talks we’d had using Skype.

We gradually worked our way back to the village and after putting on wellies we took a walk though a beautiful wood that opened into what I now refer to as the buttercup field. Of course, in February there were no buttercups, but I was intrigued as John described how by May the field would be covered in gold as the buttercups competed  with the constant green of the grassy space. As he told me this I thought how lovely that would be, but it was only after having spent the better part of two weeks with him that I knew with absolute certainty that I needed to come back to this field and stand in the middle of the buttercups that he said would come with the month of May.

Jumping ahead here and skipping over the activities that happened in order to bring me back, I arrived  back in England on May 13th. As I got closer to my travel date, I kept asking John, “ Have the buttercups bloomed yet? “ I was so worried that I would miss them.

Below are some of the images from the day I arrived in May last year. Few things in life are just as we imagine they will be, but this day was special and it was better than I could have imagined.  When I first saw the field of gold, I could almost hear Eva Cassidy’s voice singing in my head providing a romantic soundtrack to accompany the images that filled my eyes.  The song I heard was Fields Of Gold and I now think of this as our song. Take a minute and listen to it here.


I love the part of the song where she sings, ” Will you stay with me, will you be my love…”  These words were embroidered on a special linen tablecloth by my new friend Tina to use on our table for our wedding reception. The flowers you see are the two buttercups I picked that day in May. I tucked them in a pocket on the side of my pants and played in the buttercup field with them where they stayed until we returned  home. I forgot they were there and when I noticed them again, I took them out and pressed them in a book. They dried twined together having fallen into the position that you see in the picture. I took a photograph of them and Tina created a sketch from it and the tablecloth design is a now a lasting memory of the day I came back to John and saw the buttercups for the first time.

I’m off now to climb Bedruthan Steps with John as we go back to the place we walked one year ago today. Today we’ll celebrate old memories and look forward to making new ones…and soon we’ll be walking in fields of gold again.

Bedruthan Steps – February 14, 2009

Bedruthan Steps – February 14, 2010