Monday, December 2, 2013


On November 22nd, we left Somerset for Cornwall. Our next campground would be the Carvynick Country Club (£22/nt) in Summercourt. While Vincent drove LandShark directly to our new location, James (my co-pilot) and I made a stop in Tavistock, Devon to see a former Stockholm Players alumna, Rose Marie. During my time with The Stockholm Players, I was involved in 23 productions and I believe Rose Marie was also involved in most of those so we had worked on a lot of projects together. She taught me a great deal about theatre and became a good friend along the way. It was a wonderful visit and simply a joy to reconnect with her.

By the time James and I reached the Carvynick Country Club, it was past 19:30. We ate what was left of dinner and we all retired for the night.

On November 23rd, we woke up to a simply gorgeous day. It was cold (38 degrees F in the morning and mid 40s by the afternoon) but it was sunny.
The view from LandShark's pitch was absolutely lovely.
That morning the kids wanted to try out the Country Club facilities. They rented some badminton rackets and birdies and played some badminton on the inside court. They then had a swim in the heated pool. (Warm enough that I might even try it out.) Meanwhile, I did some more research on my rights as an EU citizen and my family's rights based on my status. The EC seems to be more supportive of citizen's rights and that of non-citizen family members than one would find in the US; at least the language used gives that impression. The outcome of this research would help us decide how much time we could spend in the Schengen treaty zone verses outside of it over the next 7 months. Since most European countries are a part of the Schengen zone (except Ireland, UK and Norway), we wanted to spent as much time in the Schengen as we legally could.
Here are the kids during their typical morning ritual. Here, Paul is playing on the computer for his hour, while James half reads, half watches and Sarah messes with the dog.
Molly has a way of enjoying the rare sunny moments. Here, she's looking at me thinking, "You aren't going to make me move, are you?"
In the afternoon, Vincent, James, Sarah and I decided to try out the Holiday Park's 5-hole golf course. It was free (included in the price of staying at the Park) and we could rent a set of clubs for £3. It was really lovely out there and the scenery just beautiful. I could imagine this Carvynick Country Club being packed in the peak season but today we more or less had the place to ourselves.
Sarah at the 1st hole tee off area. It's a straight par 3.
Looking at the second hole fairway.
View from the fifth hole green: The course was in pretty good shape. The grass on the greens was a bit long (and a bit mossy) and there weren't many bunkers to speak of but it was quite alright for the price.
Later that afternoon, I wanted to get in the car and explore a bit of Cornwall so Vince, James, Sarah and I drove to Newquay. We had no particular agenda in mind, just wanted to see the town, see if there were any charity shops (James's goal) and maybe get a glimpse of the coast.
Watching the sunset over Newquay Bay.
Newquay is a town where it's still alright to say Happy Christmas.
On November 24th, since a cathedral was within reach, we went to the Sung Eucharist service at Truro Cathedral. It was one of the longer services we'd been to thus far; it seemed to include everything. Fortunately for Sarah, "children's church" was offered in the crypt and so she happily participated in that. It was the last Sunday of the church year and the celebration of Christ the King so the children made crowns. Just following the presentation of the offering at the alter, the children (another girl and Sarah) were marched up to the alter in their crowns. Sarah was completely unprepared for this and cowered from "embarrassing herself in front of hundreds of people". Of course, Vincent and I just got a big kick out of it. After the service, refreshments were offered in the church, literally stationed between the congregation and the exit and so it would be hard to avoid it if one didn't want to partake. In addition to coffee and tea, they also offered two types of sherry. Many members of the congregation were very welcoming and friendly, freely walking up to Vince and me and asking questions.
Truro Cathedral: In 1877, after a gap of almost 800 years, the Cornish Diocese was re-established and thereafter a cathedral built at Truro. The Diocese of Truro covers the whole of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly plus two parishes in Devon.
The Truro Cathedral choir was one of the best we'd heard thus far in the UK.
After leaving Truro Cathedral, we walked over to the Hall for Cornwall to see if we could get tickets for the Nutcracker which was being performed by the Moscow City Ballet company. Unfortunately the box office was closed on Sunday and so, a bit disappointed, we returned to the car and drove to Newquay for lunch. We went to The Fort restaurant; we noticed the previous day that it offered a carvery Sunday lunch, with decent reviews, and had a lovely view over the bay.
Vincent and I both chose the carvery meal (last chance in the UK) while the kids chose something off the a la carte menu. The upside (at the time) of the restaurant was an indoor play area for kids; the play area also turned out to be the downside because I think this may have been the point from which the kids started to get sick.
Afterwards, we drove to Perranporth Beach, which TripAdvisor ranked #4 of 377 places to visit in Cornwall, for some kite flying.
It was a lovely sunset. It was difficult deciding which were the best moments at dusk.
There was very little breeze but Sarah managed to get the kite up and keep it going for quite a while.
Molly had a grand time fetching a tennis ball on the beach...until she lost it somewhere in the sand.
Trying to capture the sky reflected in the water.
On November 25th, we drove to Lizard peninsula which is the most southern point in Britain.
After parking the car, we took the coastal path towards the Lizard Lighthouse.
The first Lizard Lighthouse was completed in 1619 by Sir John Killigrew, a philanthropic Cornishman. The shipowners who benefited from it however offered nothing for its upkeep, and the mounting costs of maintenance bankrupted Killigrew so the tower was demolished. It wasn't until 1751, when Thomas Fonnereau erected a new lighthouse. The lighthouse was finally automated in 1998.
The land to the left of the small buildings below is the most southerly point in England.
Later, we drove to Kynance Cove, which is considered, by some, as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Located on the west side of the Lizard, Kynance Cove is one of the most photographed and painted locations in Cornwall. It has a clean white sandy beach which is contrasted by the dark red and green serpentine rock. When the light is right, it is breathtaking.
With so little breeze, it was definitely a team effort to keep that kite up in the air.
As a last ditched effort to get the kite far enough up in the air, Paul scaled a rock and let the kite go from up there, while James ran. The kite stayed up for a while but the kids soon tired of the arduous task.
We had the entire beach to ourselves. Definitely an upside to visiting in November.
Thousands of muscles were attached to the exposed rocks when the tide was out. Really made me crave moules marinières.
The Cornish coastline is really beautiful.
This would be a good photo for Molly's pet passport.
Returning from Kynance Cove. Paul trained Molly to carry her tennis ball (most of the way) back to the car. This photo was taken moments before poor Molly lost her ball down a fox hole.
On November 26th, James and Paul both woke up feeling ill. (Murphy's Law hits every time; moments before greeting the boys in the morning, I was thinking to myself how great it was that no one had gotten sick thus far...) When it looked like Vincent's big shipment of blinds wasn't going to arrive today, he decided to join Sarah and me on an outing. This time of year, there aren't a lot of things open and if the weather is decent we want to be outside. So I picked the Trebah Garden, near Falmouth because it boasted a lovely tropical garden plus a beach where hopefully Sarah could fly her kite.

The Trebah Garden is the cumulative result of almost 200 years of horticultural endeavours. The Garden was at its peak at the beginning of WWII but because of the war, maintenance was reduced to the bare minimum.
Parts of Trebah Garden were like visiting Jurassic Park. That leaf next to Sarah was bigger than she was.
While parts of the garden were dormant (see foreground), many plants like the hydrangeas were still in fine form.
This is the beach at the base of the Trebah Gardens. It was used in WWII by the 175th Combat Team of the 29th US Infantry Division, comprising some 7,500 men. They embarked from the beach at Trebah on June 1st, 1944 in Landing Ship Tanks to take part in the D-Day landings on Omaha Beach Normandy.
Just as we were returning to Carvynick, we were met by the owner of the property who invited us over to the onsite restaurant, Stiltskins. Their new chef was putting on a free buffet dinner and everyone at the Country Club was invited. Well, they didn't have to ask me twice. Sadly, James and Paul were still under the weather but Vincent, Sarah and I happily partook. It was lovely and a welcome respite from the camping environment.
Sarah enjoying the hot fires outside of the Stiltskins Restaurant. She also enjoyed getting dressed up and going to a (fancier) restaurant with her parents.
November 27th was to be a maintenance day. The 12 new blinds that Vince ordered to replace our faulty accordian-style blinds, had arrived and needed to get installed. LandShark was suffering from weeks of housekeeping maintenance neglect and so, I decided to do some serious cleaning. The boys were still feeling under the weather and Sarah was starting to go south. It was Wednesday and the kids still hadn't done any homework for the week. And it looked like it would be a gray, rainy day. This all meant that we wouldn't be going anywhere today.

The day progressed slowly with quite a bit of swearing as Vincent struggled with installing the blinds; the first one was about 1/2 cm too long to fit in the box valance. I was really hoping this wasn't going to be the situation for all 12 blinds. Fortunately, the following 4 Vince managed to hang, were measured correctly but they still were all difficult to hang and each warranted a special few swear words in the installation process. The end result was wonderful though. What a difference. We may think twice about selling LandShark at the end of this trip...

Meanwhile, I stripped all the beds and did 3 loads of laundry. I also pulled the bunk mattresses and discovered dampness underneath (one of the problems with camping in the cold weather) and so wiped the bunk platforms down. I cleaned our bathroom and reorganized several clothing drawers. Then while laundry was drying, I helped Sarah with some homework.

The day slowly crept by and when 5pm came along, I decided to make use of the Carvynick indoor swimming pool (very warm water) and hot tub. The kids came along with me and it was a welcome diversion during a clearly non-exciting day. When we returned I made dinner. At this point, all of us were coming down with some sort of cold (the downside of close living quarters) and so went to bed hoping we'd all be feeling better the next morning.

On November 28th, it was time to leave the UK, but not before taking Paul to Well Dental in Truro for an emergency braces repair; one of the brackets came free from a tooth and so we wanted to see if we could get it fixed while we were still in the land of a common language. Unfortunately, Paul's braces were different enough that the orthodontist did not have the right tools to take the archwire off to glue the bracket back on. It wasn't a wasted trip however because he instructed Paul on how to clean the tooth with the loose bracket and provided fluoride rinse to help minimize the risk of decay before Paul would return to the US (end of January). Dr Jones was very kind and didn't charge a pence for seeing us.
While Dr Jones really wanted to fix Paul's bracket, he was facing a different style of braces.
After leaving Well Dental, Paul, Sarah and I went to look for a telescopic ladder so that Vince could fix LandShark's window screens (decided the benefit didn't justify the steep cost) and then onto Marks & Spencer so that Sarah could pick out her birthday cake. She'd be turning 8 the next day.

Later that afternoon, we drove to Plymouth to take a Brittany Ferry to Roscoff, France. Ironically, it was American Thanksgiving and we were leaving from Plymouth, just like the pilgrims did in 1620. I can say the ship facilities had vastly improved over what the Mayflower offered. The ferry left at 20:45 and would arrive at 8:00 France time the next day.
LandShark tucked away snuggly on the Bretagne. The Prius was on an upper level.
Meanwhile, the kids quickly settled into their bunks and made the most of the wifi before we sailed too far off shore. Internet access in France would be a new project yet to be solved.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the UK. Because of Schengen restrictions, we might be back sooner than we hope but ultimately that would be okay. There were many sights we missed (Stonehenge, Stratford and Cambridge to name a few) so we could happily address those on a future pass.

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