Hazards Of Being A Curious Explorer

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

It would be a mistake to imagine you might be able to veiw Cornwall properly from the window of a passing car. If traveling near our home, you’d see the wide open spaces of course and the immediate beauty of Bodmin Moor, but the tucked away places require a bit more effort to reach … and maybe a pair wellies if you want to keep your feet dry.

Last Saturday, John and I set out on a path we’d been on a few times before. We parked on a patch of moorland grass, slipped on our wellies and started walking towards King Arthur’s Hall.

Bodmin Moor, King Arthur's Hall, Brown Willy, Rough Tor

King Arthur’s Hall with Brown Willy and Rough Tor in the distance.

It had been a while since we had walked to the unusual rectangular shaped area on the moor  that is surrounded by 56 stones like the one in the photo above. There are a lot of suggestions as to its age and original use, but like the Arthurian legend, no one can say for sure. You can read more about the monument here. (Do have a look at the links as the details are interesting)

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You never know what kind of livestock you may come upon or how they will behave. Cows are always interested in you until you get close enough for them to see that you are not bringing anything for them to eat. These were part of a larger group that alternated between following us and running away. What looks like a pile of rocks behind them is Rough Tor. You can see me standing on top of it in my header at the top of this post.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Remember when I mentioned that you would miss a great deal if you only saw Cornwall by car … this stream of water is the first sign of the unexpected for those thinking moorland is just an open grassy space. Crossing over this footbridge takes you into what I think of as, ‘The Dark Wood.’ There are gorgeous bits of light that break through the tightly planted rows of trees at times, but not on this day.Bodmin Moor, Winter Trees

I shot this after walking through the narrow swath of trees. It was so green that I modified the color a bit making it look a bit more wintry than it actually did on Saturday.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

There are loads of circular stones once you are through the woods and they line the hillside reminding you that neolithic communities and medieval villages once stood here. The wind is always blowing when we’ve walked through here and I can’t imagine how the people who lived in these stone and likely wooden structures (I think) ever felt truly warm.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Rounding the hill and in the distance sits an old stone cottage that appears as if it has changed little over the years. The windows are not original, but with no electricity, or running water, it is still very primitive. I think the single pane of glass in the windows looks as if there is no glass there at all adding to the abandoned feeling that makes one want to hurry past … unless your name is John Winchurch.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but John likes to make his own set of rules sometimes and while he gives off this easy-going vibe and is certainly a gentle soul, he is not often deterred when I say, ‘ I’m not sure we’re allowed to do that ‘ as was the case on this day. While much of the moor is accessible to walkers, this cottage is not abandoned nor have I ever been as close to it as I have now. I generally like to keep a respectful distance, but when John walked up to have a quick look I couldn’t help following behind.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Even though I felt a bit guilty for peeking in the window, I was so intrigued by what looked like a place forgotten by time that I couldn’t help taking this image of a smaller window on one side of a primitive kitchen setup through a larger window on the front of the house. As much I wanted to photograph more of what I saw, I wanted to be a bit respectful so I took two quick photos of the window before following John up the hill behind the house as we took a different path back to the woods and on to the car.

I wondered aloud to John as we walked, talking about the history of the house and what it might be used for now. It was clear from our hasty look that someone was using the house from time to time and John suggested it might be used as temporary shelter for farm workers or a primitive holiday cottage for someone with a city life.

Fast forward a few hours to evening when we meet up with friends for dinner. We had no idea when we accepted the invitation to their home that there would be more than the four of us and were pleasantly surprised to see we were part of a party about twelve, many of whom we’d not met before.

Conversation was lively and the food excellent and just to keep us on our toes, the Universe sent us an answer to our  earlier questions about the house when we realized that the man we were seated next to at dinner … owned it.

That’s right, the one time I go past the gate for a sneaky look and a photo, I end up face to face with one of the owners.

He was very pleasant and shared the most interesting details about the land and area around the house. That said, I don’t think I ever actually mentioned that I took a photo of kitchen window, but given that we discussed my blog, photography, and how to find me, there’s a good chance he’ll know now.

I wonder if some artistic interior shots might make amends, not that I have them yet … because I’m not that nosy!

But with a proper invitation, I could do some lovely things.

And The Winner Is …

John Biking On Bodmin Moor

When my sweet husband bought me a bike of my own, he gave me a gift that made my heart very happy and I’ve had the wildest thoughts while zipping through the lanes or pushing hard to make it up hills. Due to having only three gears, I love how this little beauty makes me work a bit harder to get up the steeper places. Somehow the success at the top feels more like I’ve earned it. I could not have done it half so well without my season of spin classes and think this new bicycle and I shall become the best of friends.

That said let’s move on to the naming and why I chose the one I did. I tend to assign meaning to most things in life so I should not be surprised that the idea of a name for my new ‘girlfriend ‘ seemed important.

Thanks to everyone who offered a suggestion yesterday. They were all lovely in their own way and I appreciated the explanations as well. Angie came closest to the name I chose … offering something similar, but not quite what I had in mind.

I’m calling her Dora and here’s why …

When I was riding so hard up the hills around our village for the first time, I could almost hear the music playing when the bad witch rides by during the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz movie. Although not the actual scene I’m referring to, this video link has the music I was hearing in my head on those hills.

Counter the witch imagery with the thrill and excitement of flying down through the lanes and you have some of the childlike enthusiasm I was feeling the rest of the time even going so far as to let out a few ” Weeeee, I love this biiiiiiiike” screams in places where my joy could not be contained.

Given the visual imagery, music, and my struggle to go home, how could I not think of Dorothy, her ruby slippers, (my bike is a deep shade of red) and the witch who had to be conquered. Even though Dorothy was was a front-runner, I knew I wanted something shorter and more racy for my girl. I thought Dora might work and when I checked online, I found it was a nickname for Dorothy and that it meant ‘gift’ which seemed just about perfect since she was gifted to me by John.

I know in America that ‘Dora the Explorer ‘ has been a favorite of young girls in particular for some time and while I had no thought at all about that Dora, I feel sure that my Dora and I will do quite a bit of exploring as we spin our way to new adventures.

Choosing A Name For My New Baby

Elizabeth Dodging Sheep On Bodmin Moor

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post and celebrated my return to Cornwall and John. What a great welcome back it was to have such a thoughtful gift from him. I love how he listens to my not so secret dreams and surprises me with an action.

Now … I need a little fun help from you.

I’ve never really been someone who gave names to things like cars and bikes, but with my lovely retro looking ride, I find that I am thinking of a special name for her. I have something clearly in mind, but I might change it (although not likely) if you leave one that wows me.

I’ve got my reasons why I’m leaning in the direction I am, but I’d love to hear what you think before making a final decision. Thanks for your help!

I’m putting my vanity aside and leaving the photo above one you can enlarge even though my hair looks a fright. I want you to be able to see the sheep on the road and the moor. This is one of the roads we drive on regularly to get to our village. When you meet an oncoming car you have to pull over which is easier than meeting in the mostly narrow lanes where someone must backup.

 

Riding Towards Rough Tor In My Dreams

King Arthur's Hall & Rough Tor

I tend to see tough times as a challenge rather than a roadblock and I have a hard time giving up when I sometimes should, but my “Who says I can’t do that … ” attitude has been key to some of my achievements other people said would never happen.

There’s a kind of magic for me involved in making the difficult easy and it requires a mix of visualization and a dogged belief that if I want to do something bad enough, I can.

I tend to think of it as the three I’s and it’s a bit like having a portable Merlin in my head with Imagination, Inspiration and Imagery only waiting to be called upon to take me where I need to go when things get tough.

Being temporarily stuck here in America and so far from my husband John has required more than a few dips into my mental bag of tricks and while I feel fortunate to have friends and family helping me, I sometimes need something more to keep my spirits up. The spinning classes I’ve been taking over the last three weeks have been exactly what I’ve needed to balance the waiting game I’ve been forced to play.

Spinning regularly after a break of many years has been both exhilarating and tough. Like many women my age, I slipped away from a regular fitness routine mostly due to aging joints and injuries and with my love of sugar and carbs, the weight came faster than I could fight it.

I’ve been going to 4 to 6 classes a week over the last three weeks and the rewards are becoming obvious. It is not happening without effort and I have to frequently take myself to other places in my head when the instructor has us increasing the bike tension and climbing hills that require imagination to see and inspiration to reach.

I wanted to show you what I see when the going gets tough in class and I feel like I don’t have anymore to give. When that happens, I use imagery to take myself to a place that is so familiar I can see it just as it is in the photo above. It’s one I took in 2008 of  King Arthur’s Hall  with Rough Tor and Brown Willy in the background looking across Bodmin Moor.

Sometimes when I’m spinning, I even toss in a wild moorland pony or two and lean briefly to one side as I to swerve to avoid them on my climb to the finish.

What about you  … any secrets you want to share with the rest of us on what works for you when things get tough?

* Rough Tor is where I’m standing in my header at the top of my blog.

Cornish Ghost Tales From New Zealand

 

While in New Zealand last year, I went into a bookstore based on the name and the look of it. Wanderlust Books, in Alexandra was just the kind of shop where any book lover would be happy to spend an afternoon searching the shelves with the help of Tim Julien, the proprietor of the quality second-hand book store.

 

Wanderlust Books - Alexandra, New Zealand

Supernatural In Cornwall

I was not inside the store very long before this book caught my eye and when I picked it up for a closer look I saw the image below.

 

According to the publication date, this photo was taken before 1974 and it has someone standing on Rough Tor in the same spot that I am in my header photo at the top of this page.

All of the places mentioned in the chapters are familiar now to me especially the one below.

When I found this book in New Zealand, I couldn’t help think about how it came to be so far from home. John thought fifteen New Zealand dollars was too much to spend, but how could I not buy it and take it back home to Cornwall, especially since I love a good ghost story.

 

What A Day!

Jubilee Rock – Bodmin Moor – My Girl

What a day, what a day, remember that check list of places and things I wanted to share with Miranda … here are a few images from yesterday.

Helland Bridge

Lavethan Wood   (Photograph by Miranda)

We also managed to take in a bit of the Camel Trail on foot and we walked through the buttercup field which is a little low on buttercups as it’s still early for them. Lunch was fish & chips at Rick Stein’s in Padstow, a meal and a port town we’ve been trying to get to all week and after a little sightseeing and shopping, we were off to an antique store in another town that I had mentioned earlier and she’d wanted to see.

Last stop was the library because it was that time again and after a quick trip to the pub where we had hoped to catch sight of some darling puppies, we headed for home where we finished off our day with a knitting lesson for me. Whew!

The best part of it all was we had a great time even though it was such a busy day. Miranda was both interested and a good sport as we went from place to place and at some point began to say, Helland Bridge … check, Camel Trail … check, Lavethan Wood  … check, but in a cute way that made me think she was glad to have a chance to see more of the places in person that I’ve been writing and talking about over the last two years.

I’m giving her a wake-up call in a few minutes because today’s another day and we’re off to see Stonehenge! Guess who’s driving

Almost Time To Go

It can’t really be possible that it’s almost time for her to go … didn’t we just pick her up at the airport the other day? I still have a million things I want to show her and things I want to say. I know I’ll see her in July when I go back to Georgia for a few weeks, but I want to teach her how to make pasties while she’s here and have time for her to teach me how to knit again while sitting side by side in my studio space. I want to see her feeding the wild ponies too many sugar cubes on Bodmin Moor and take her picture on Jubilee Rock and Helland Bridge. I want to have enough time to ride bikes along the Camel Trail and walk with her through the buttercup field and show her how magical the bluebells look lining the hills of Lavethan Wood. I just want more time