An Interesting Time

Hi everyone, I hope you are all well and keeping busy. I’ve been busy this last 10 days or so! On Friday 23rd July, my love, Tatiana, and I headed to Weston-super-Mare in Somerset for the weekend to stay with my parents. Normally a straightforward journey! However, this one turned out to be problematic! Upon arrival at Taunton, our train to Worle, a suburb village of Weston was delayed and then subsequently canceled. So we had an hour or more to wait for another train. One eventually arrived and rail assistance staff put us on the train. We were told that this train wouldn’t be stopping in Worle, so I phoned my mum to request we be met at Weston train station instead. However, 5 mins after contacting my mum, the train manager informed me that the train would now be calling at Worle after all! What a mess. Upon arrival into Weston-super-Mare, platform staff were unsure on which platform we’d arrive on as all the electric notice boards were in correct and the station staff had no clue what was happening! My mum eventually found us and all was resolved! On Saturday we headed to the Isle of Portland, as it’s called. Not really an island as it’s linked by a causeway that can be walked at low tide. It was a long car journey across Somerset’s country roads. Once in Portland, a famous former port for the Royal Navy, we visited and explored the old Portland Castle, built on the order of King Henry VIII in the 1540s to repell possible attacks by the French from across the English channel. Although the fort or castle had several large cannon, they only saw action once, during the English Civil War, (1642-1649). The castle was later converted into a private property. It eventually fell into the hands of England Heritage who returned it to its original look as a Tudor defencive fort. We moved onto Portland Bill Lighthouse and it’s interactive centre. Unfortunately, the Lighthouse still wasn’t open for climbing at the time of our visit. It maybe open now. The visitor centre was interesting. Lots of written info on the history of Portland Bill Lighthouse, from its early beginnings to its present-day usage under automatic power. Our last stop, late in the day, was near Dorchester, Dorset’s county town, to visit the Iron Age fortified mound of Maiden Castle. This was a Celtic settlement erected before the invasion of the Roman army in 43 AD. My step-dad and I had a brief, fast, steep hike up the grassy embankments to see what could be discover – a series of high never-ending grass-soil embankments and valleys. Hi up on a large hill it was heavily defended by earth walls and ditches. The Roman’s imagined after climbing up 40 feet (12 metres) of steep banks, they’d find the enemy in hiding. However, the Romans were met by more high and steep earthen fortifications. The Celtic tribes were simply waiting to pick off any attackers at random. It’s Britain’s largest Iron Age fortification and seems to stretch for miles/kilometres in a series of earthen mud banks, one hill after another. On Sunday, 25th July, my parents drove us over the boarder into Wales to visit St. Faggans; a national park housing many different reconstructed heritage buildings from all over Wales. A fascinating day out for both my girlfriend and I. We were able to enter buildings and houses from the various ages of Welsh history and culture and learn how peopled lived in the mid-late 19th century and early-mid 20th century. We walked around the walls of a pig sty, entered an old, late 19th century school classroom, a 1950s-1960s working men’s gaming room and entered several old-fashion homes. We were able to touch wooden furniture and had described the layout of several different houses as they moved forwards through the decades, increasing in modernity as we went. A fascinating day out. On the Monday we headed to the Somerset village of Cheddar to hear the raging water in the Cheddar Gorge before experiencing cheese tasting, a delicious experience. Later we drove to Well, England’s smallest City. Although Wells has the feel and population of a small town or large village, it’s classified as a City in the UK because it has a cathedral. and an old one at that. It dates to at least the 11th century and maybe even older. Many people visit Wells to witness the famous swans ring the bell and be fed. On the Tuesday, Tatiana and I returned to Teignmouth, this time with no train problems. The following day we took the long train journey, nearly 3 hours, to Penzance – the westernmost town in England. In Penzance, a town we’ve visited before, we had rail staff cross us over the road to the nearby bus station. We asked about buses to the small hamlet of Cripplease, a 30-minute to 1-hour bus journey through small and narrow country lanes. Our destination was the old pub and guesthouse called The Engine Inn. A interesting historic place almost half way between Penzance and St. Ives. We were staying there for one night to go to see/hear a show at the famous open-air Minack Theatre. Though Cripplease wasn’t exactly near the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, it was the only reasonably inexpensive accommodation I could find in West Cornwall at short notice! We could have reach the Minack via two buses, but what with all the hassle of changing buses and waiting times then having a 10-minute or more walk to the actual theatre, we thought it prudent to take a taxi each way. It cost £80 in total, but was the easiest way to get there and back. Experiencing a live show at the outdoor venue of the famous Minack Theatre was thrilling. I’d organised audio descriptive commentary and it was fantastic. The performers were excellent and gave a modern twist on William Shakespeare’s The Winter Tail, the second half of the show turned into a 1980s musical and the audience joined in! We stat on the rough grassy terracing and experienced all the natural elements of the theatre, the fantastic acoustics, the hard rough rocks surrounding us and the chilling wind that cut through the exposed theatre in the second half. What an experience. We had a relatively quiet day on the Thursday and basically travelled to our next accommodation at the Penryn Campus of Cornwall University near Falmouth. Again, this place was chosen because of its availability for 3 nights and because of its relatively reasonable price for Cornwall, that is! Getting around the spacious and rural campus was interesting and, at times, difficult and frustrating. However, we usually found someone to help us. finding the bus stops just off the campus was trickier. We mainly relaxed on the Friday, 30th July, just visiting Falmouth Town in the evening, a 15-minute bus ride from Penryn Campus and had dinner in a packed and lively Weatherspoons pub. On the Saturday, we eventually ventured to nearby Redruth, the heart of Cornwall’s former tin and copper mining industry. Indeed, it was in Redruth that, William Murdoch, the first man to have gas lighting in his home, indeed, the first house in the world to have this, lived and worked. Murdoch was arguably the inventor of the modern gas industry. Redruth turned out to be an interesting, though extremely steep town, as we found out almost immediately on our arrival. Getting there was slightly taxing. First of all we had to find our way off the Penryn Campus and then find the correct bus to drop us outside Penryn train station. However, I must have taken a wrong turn as we went up one of the many steep hills and we became lost. Luckily, we met a couple of former students and they showed us to a bus stop. However, buses from this stop didn’t go directly to Penryn station and we were told we’d have to walk down a hill, go under a railway bridge and then ascend a big steep hill to reach the train station. Luckily, another bus driver heard our conversation and suggested we take a different bus a couple of stops, alight, cross the road and take a bus in the opposite direction which would drop us directly outside Penryn station. This is what we did. At the train station we met more kind people who showed us the way to the only platform and helped us board. Unfortunately, upon arrival at Truro, one of the Cornwall mainline stations, we discovered that our train to Redruth was delayed by nearly an hour. Apparently, many train staff had caught Covid or had been in contact with someone who had covid and this meant the railway was short staffed and many trains were delayed or had been cancelled. Luckily, our train was still running. 20 minutes after our train departed Truro we arrived in Redruth. A kind train staff member at Redruth helped us off the train and escorted us over the bridge and part way down the hill into Redruth town. I’d done a little research and new that Fore Street was one of the main shopping streets and that one of the town’s landmarks was a statue of a tin miner. This we attempted to find. We literally walked into him, stood on a concrete round poll at the junction of Fore Street and High Street. This is where we discovered that Redruth is an extremely hilly town. We wandered slowly up Fore Street, checking out some of the buildings as we walked, touching the stones and old brick walls of several buildings. Eventually, we attempted to search for a pub to have dinner. Unfortunately, all the pubs we found in Redruth only served drinks and not food. After inquiring at one pub, a gentleman of an indeterminable age, and a little drunk, kindly helped us find a small restaurant next to Redruth’s only cinema. Tatiana and I had a delicious meal and then attempted to find the bus stop to head back to Truro and onto Penryn. Naturally, we became lost, but another kind local gave us directions up yet more hills and told us which directions to take to reach the bus stop. As we slowly strolled up the very steep High Street, a nice guy from the northwest of England offered to walk with us. He even showed us where the sculptures of the bronze dogs were located. Dog statues made out of tin miner’s boots. An interesting creation of art! We finally reached the bus stop, where a couple who were also going to Penryn, helped us get the correct buses to both Truro and Penryn. Around midnight we finally made it back to the campus. Early Sunday morning, 1st August, Tatiana and I took an extremely long train journey to London Stansted Airport where, sadly, tatiana caught a flight back to Greece and I caught a train back to Teignmouth. What a week, what an adventure! I hope you enjoy my stories and description. Thanks for reading and following. Keep safe. Cheers, Tony :).