Leaving Cornwall – Moving On

Cornwall 2013

” How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if we would only listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown. ” ~ Elizabeth Kubler -Ross

A local friend of mine told me the other day that he’ll be moving at the end of the month. He is leaving Cornwall to be closer to the family he has left. Having been born in Cornwall, he is what you don’t often meet here, a true Cornishman. His words are of those of acceptance, but they are tinged with a sadness that I can almost feel.

We have talked at length about Lanhydrock, a place very familiar to him and his lively stories have made a place already special to me, even more memorable.

Last week John and I walked into Lanhydrock from a new direction. We parked at Respryn Bridge and wandered down a long tree-lined road that once welcomed carts and carriages and the first automobiles. I thought of my friend as we enjoyed the fresh beauty of our long-awaited spring weather. The sun came and went as we walked with dark clouds shadowing us at points along the way before retreating without even a drop of the rain I thought might come.

After hearing me talk about distance running not long after we met, my Cornish friend shared a bit about his running days … telling me of a time when his feet knew the way to all the best paths around Lanhydrock. It will be impossible not to think of him on days like the one we had even though his season of running has passed and his time in Cornwall is at an end.

I imagine I will see him there from time to time in my mind when the weather shifts as it did with us. I’ll think what a fine day and suddenly he will be there, on the path in his running shoes with no need for walking sticks … moving easily in a place between the past and the future.

Safe travels, my friend.

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Cornwall 2013

Saving For The Future – Yellow Gold

Daffodils remind me of my great-grandmother. She always referred to the golden beauties as Jonquils, a name you’re more likely to hear in the American south, and one which actually refers a variety of the Narcissus flower. I think she would have been very impressed with the mix of daffodils growing in and out of the Cornish hedges. For the longest time I thought that like many flowers they had hitchhiked their way to the hedges, forgetting that they are bulbs and as far as I know, must be planted.

John watched a television program the other night that explained why there are so many different types of daffs improving the views in our narrow lanes. Before WWII, loads of daffodils were grown in Cornwall and exported for sale with bright fields of different varieties harvested each year by hand.

The picture below is one from the National Trust website for Cotehele and shows the harvest.

Photo Credit - National Trust

From Field to Hedge

During WWII, Britain’s food was mostly homegrown so the daffodil fields were quickly changed to fruit and vegetables. When the bulbs were taken out of the soil to make room for something more edible, the farmers didn’t want to waste them so they put them into the hedges where many varieties from before the war still grow every spring.

While it’s not the kind of gold that can fund your retirement, I’m going to enjoy the blooms that much more knowing the history of how they came to be there.

Busy As ….

I hate to use a cliché, but take the title above and mix it with the image below and you’ll soon sort out how things are here.

Even though I made it home on August 2, I’ve still not found a place for all the things I brought back with me. Disorder generally makes me stroppy, grouchy, or cross, you can pick the word that best suits depending where you live or leave a few you use to describe how you feel when you’re having an off day.

I could use a few worker bees right now, but I’d likely run them off with my bad temper. I’ll be back when I’m more agreeable. 😦 Humph!

Hidcote Flower With Bees - August 2011- by E.E. Harper

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

The Day The Antiques Roadshow Came To Lanhydrock

The first time I visited Lanhydrock it looked like much the photograph above. John and I went early in the day hoping to get a good look at the gardens and although there were more people about than you see here, I managed to get this shot with the family alone in the middle pane of glass as they walked up the path. I love how tightly they stayed together and I have to say I was holding my breath hoping no one else would rush in as I waited for them the hit the spot I had in mind. We are fortunate to live close enough to ride our bikes to Lanhydrock and it remains one of my very favorite of the National Trust Properties that I have had the good fortune to visit.

Two years ago this summer, Lanhydrock played host to the Antiques Roadshow and John graciously agreed to go along with me as I brought a few pieces from America in for a closer inspection and evaluation.

We thought we should get there early because of expected crowds so after parking the car, we joined what looked like a group of early birds like us and headed for the main grounds.

Is this the back of the queue? Looks like I spoke too soon about beating the crowd.

Hmmm … that woman looks familiar.

Yes, it’s Fiona, Fiona Bruce!

It seemed as if Fiona was everywhere that day, but John remembers one place in particular when he tells the story of our afternoon at Lanhydrock. (I’ll say more about that later) We did a fair amount of standing in lines as we waited to have the items I brought appraised, but with all the activity going on there was a lot to see.

Notice the man with the green bag on the dolly or sack trolley as John would call it …

I had to sneak a quick picture of what looked like a carved stone of some kind.

The fancy ceremonial necklace on this man tells me he is the Mayor of Bodmin. Well, it really tells me he is the Mayor of somewhere, but I assumed it was Bodmin, based on Lanhydrock’s proximity.

After waiting patiently, I finally got a chance to learn a bit about a painting I had bought in America. It is painted on silk and I bought in an antique store about 10 years ago. I’ve kept it covered and in the closet for much of that time as it looked so fragile and old. (That is me on the right.)

This is the painting. It is signed, I.Weiss and bears the date Jan 1, 1841. I paid $28 for it and it was appraised at 200 to 300 BPS which translates to about $300 to $450 US dollars. Not a bad investment for a pretty piece of work.

Who’s this … why it’s Fiona Bruce again … and the story I said I finish that John likes to tell about our day at the Roadshow… well, when we were waiting in one of the lines, our line was blocking the path and when Fiona Bruce needed to break through she came straight to where John was standing and made eye contact with him as he stepped to one side to open a pathway through the line. As she passed in front of him, she smiled and said, ” Thank you.”  So if you asked him about the day, he’ll be more than happy to tell you about the ” conversation ” he had with Fiona Bruce.