American in Spain

Easter 2002 in Cornwall, England

March 30, 2012
Lands End Cliffs

It's not often that I think to myself, "I wonder what I was doing ten years ago?", but when I saw on the news that the Queen Elizabeth II was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, commemorating being the queen for 60 years, my mind immediately flashed to where I was during her Golden Jubilee ten years earlier. I very vividly remember watching the Party at the Palace on a small television in a little cottage we were renting for a week in the Scottish Highlands. That was my first year living abroad indefinitely, and I did quite a bit of traveling around the UK with my Spanish señorita who I'd just moved in with having only spent a few months together with her. For Easter that year, exactly ten years ago today, we decided to take her company car and head down to the southwestern coast of England, to a region known as Cornwall.

What follows is my original blog entry, which consisted mostly of photo captions. Observations from my present self will be presented in green.

Cornwall is the southwestern peninsula of England, rich in history from prehistoric monoliths to legends of King Arthur's Camelot. We drove most of the way on Thursday night, and found a hotel just outside of a city called Exeter. Our first stop on Friday morning was St. Michael's Mount, a mountain/island/fortress/castle on the southern tip of Cornwall. So named because of a vision of the saint seen over the island a while back.

St. Michael's Mount Beach

Marga on the large beach, uncovered at low tide. We walked all the way to the island on a causeway built in the 17th century. I think she still has and wears this sweater and jacket.

St. Michael's Mount Harbor

The harbor on the island. The boats have been beached by the low tide.

Climbing the hill

Marga halfway up the climb to the castle on top.


Looking for approaching warships

St. Michael's Mount Castle

At last! The castle!

St. Michael's Mount Castle

A tower from up in the castle

St. Michael's Mount Castle

Looking down into the garden

St. Michael's Mount Castle View

Waves crashing on the rocks

St. Michael's Mount Castle

Queen of the castle

St. Michael's Mount Castle

Another view of the queen

St. Michael's Mount Castle

Erik, admiring the view

St. Michael's Mount Castle Causeway

Oh no! The tide has covered the causeway! Looks like the harbor's full (of water)...I hope we have enough quid for the ferry!

St. Michael's Mount Castle

Enjoying a little sun before leaving this majestic place.

St. Michael's Mount

Looking back at St. Michael's Mount after the ferry ride

Lands End

After leaving St. Michael's, we headed to Lands End, the furthest western point in England. What better place to watch the sunset? This picture is a little boring, but there's better to come! Scroll down!

At Arm's Length

Arms-length photography...perhaps I should invest in a tripod...

What a cute couple! …in their early twenties...

First and Last Refreshment

The first and last closed refreshment house. I was thirsty too!

Jeez, I was really working the black jeans and black sweater northern european look.

Lands End Cliffs

Prints for sale, $19.95.

What a terrible shame that this is the best resolution I have of these photos. The landscape was breathtaking!

Lands End Cliffs

Nice how the sun hits the cliffs...

Black Atlas

This rock almost fell down. Good thing I was there! (Alternate title: 'Atlas in Black')

Apparently my sense of humor has shifted about as much as this rock in ten years.


No caption. I might have to encourage this hair color again. I like it!

Margarita on the rocks

Margarita on the rocks

Stoney Wall

A nice stone wall overgrown with heather and gorse

Stoney Wall Stoney Wall Sunset

Sun on its way down

Lands End Sunset Dangerous

Living dangerously. Nora, don't ever do this!

Lands End St. Ives

We spent all of Saturday in a little coastal town on the northern side of the peninsula called St. Ives. This was a little chapel amongst the many shops.

This is where we experienced our first Cornish Cream Tea. Yum! At the time, I was unfamiliar with the riddle of going to St. Ives. Bummer.

St. Ives Beach

We took advantage of the low tide and had a nice walk on the extensive beach

St. Ives Beach

Marga, barely able to stand the freezing water

St. Ives Beach

Erik, barely able to stand the freezing water

St. Ives Beach

Crossing the little mini-rivers running from the tide pools to the sea could be great fun. Looks like an ad for a clothing line.

St. Ives Beach

More beached vessels. In a few hours they would be floating again.

On Sunday, we went to the biodomes known as the Eden Project. We were mistaken about what it was, as were many that entered. They were just big greenhouses with a million different plants and a million tourists stopped dead in a traffic jam on the narrow winding paths through the 90% humidity domes. Not a pleasant experience, nor interesting scientifically, nor educational. I do not recommend the Eden Project. So we got in the car and headed home, stopping for an hour to park on the highway in a traffic jam. You can see pictures of the Eden project on the panoramas page. Included below. These actually are high resolution.

Lands End Panorama

Lands End panorama

St. Ives Panorama

St. Ives panorama

St. Ives Surfers

St. Ives surfers

St. Michael's Beach

St. Michael's Beach

St. Michael's Mount Panoramic View

St. Michael's Mount View

Eden Project

The Eden Project

Hi, it's 2012 me again. Apparently I chose not to blog about one of the more memorable parts of this trip, driving around late at night trying to find a B&B to stay the night. We wanted to stay in Penzance, but all the hotels and B&Bs we checked were fully booked. We ended up driving south to a tiny harbor town with the adorable name of Mousehole, where we found a guy who was just starting a B&B and had just put his sign up on the road, but was not really ready for any guests yet, as the house was still being restored. We must have looked quite desperate because he relented and offered us a tiny room upstairs. We were delighted. We asked about local restaurants, and he recommended a seafood place "just down the road", so we took off walking down the coast. After what felt like several miles later, we were just about to turn around and head back to the B&B when we came upon the restaurant overlooking the water. I don't know if it was from the stress of finding lodging at the last minute, the walk down a dark winding road, or the romance of our first solo trip together, but there was something truly special about that meal that we will both remember forever.

Mousehole is an gorgeous little English village with stone houses and narrow winding streets. I recommend a virtual walk around the town via Google. It's lovely. Finding gems like Mousehole is what makes travel so much fun. As Vonnegut put it, "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."