Wednesday, May 02, 2007
The day of the long awaited trip arrived and my Father, Eladio and I left for Bristol on Easyjet on Thursday 26th April where we arrived after 8 in the evening. We picked up our hired car which turned out to be a Fiat Punto and filled it with our 3 huge suitcases (half empty with the aim of filling them up with Oli’s stuff to take back to Spain). Then Google Map instructions in hand, plus my Father’s 1999 roadmap of England, we set off for Falmouth in Cornwall. Falmouth is 167 miles away and the drive was supposed to take around 3.5 hours.
From Bristol we took the M5 to Exeter, then the A30 to Bodmin, through Bridgewater and Taunton. Once in Bodmin we came off the dual carriageway and made our way to Truro and then on to Falmouth. It all sounds pretty easy but it was dark, we had to get used to driving on the left hand side of the road and the roads were very narrow once we left Bodmin.
We arrived at our lovely hotel, St. Michael’s Hotel & Spa on the seafront of Falmouth at around midnight, just a bit too late to go and visit Oli at her residence in Glasny Parc on Tremough Campus at the University College Falmouth.
Day 1, Friday 27th April
Tremough Campus, shopping in Truro, The Lizard and dinner at Asha’s in Falmouth.
After a sumptuous breakfast in the dining room of the hotel overlooking the gardens and Gyllyngvase Beach, we drove to Oli’s residence at the Tremough Campus, pronounced “Tremo”.
Breakfast at the hotel
Olivia has been in Falmouth since last September for an academic exchange year as part of her University studies. Finally we were to see her in the surroundings and room she had described and we were to meet her lovely international friends, Sumit and Sandeep from the Punjab in India, Shino from Japan, Shalini from Delhi, Rosie and Charlotte from the UK, Rafa, her companion from her University in Spain, plus a fellow student, Basha from Tanzania. Quite a cultural mix.
Outside Olivia's residence
Friday morning was spent visiting Truro and shopping at our beloved English shops such as Clarks for a new pair of sandals for my Father, Top Shop for some clothes for Olivia, Waterstones for books for my Father and me and, of course, last but not least M+S for underwear, sleepwear and odd bits and bobs. We had to leave Boots and Smiths for another day. If I had been allowed I would have spent the whole day at M+S.
Truro is the “capital” of Cornwall and is a very pretty country town with a Cathedral and cobbled streets.
My Father, Oli and I on a street in pretty Truro
Lunch was at Wetherspoons, a great new British “pub” chain with great food. Eladio, my Father and I all chose Fish and Chips which actually we ended up eating nearly every day.
Fish and Chips at Wetherspoons, the first of many
In the afternoon we visited The Lizard including Lizard Head and Lizard Point which is the most westerly point in England. It is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in England and reminded me somewhat of the Cape of Good Hope. We took loads of photos of the great views.
Lizard Head, breathtaking view
Lizard Point, equally breathtaking view
Having got up early the day proved long enough to include a visit to the Spa on our return from The Lizard, that is Oli and I. Eladio and my Father went for a Siesta. The Spa at the Hotel had a big indoor pool, a Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and jet shower. What Oli and I liked best was the Jacuzzi and steam room. To work off the fish and chips and to work up an appetite for dinner, we did 10 lengths in the pool which was actually not enough.
After the spa, Eladio, Oli and I went to Falmouth for dinner to an Indian restaurant Oli recommended called Asha and which turned out to have the best onion bahjis I had ever eaten. The lamb Korma and Chicken Tikka Massala were also fabulous.
Dinner at Asha's, Oli and Eladio
Day 2, Saturday 28th April
Lands End, Lunch at the First Inn in England, Siesta, Spa, Walk and Dinner at the Flying Fish restaurant .
If you are in Cornwall one of the obvious destinations is Land’s End, the most southerly point in England. It is a very famous place and one both my Father and I thought we would never visit so it’s thanks to Olivia that we did.
Once at Land’s End we took in the breathless views and of course had our photo taken at the world famous signpost which marks the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats – the most northerly point in the UK. As a tourist gimmick you can add the name of the town you are from, as well as the distance which for Madrid is 1055 miles!
Land's End famous signpost
There are quite a few touristy things to do at Land’s End, one of which was visiting a restored Cornish farm with small animals such as goats, sheep, calves, pigs plus one lovely Shetland pony.
The Land’s End breeze made us hungry so we decided the obvious place to have lunch was the First Inn in England in Sennen, the last (or first) village in England just before (or after) Land’s End.
First Inn in England in Sennon, Land's End.
We drove back to the hotel after lunch for a well earned siesta after which we went to the Spa, this time with Eladio. The day was long enough to include a walk before dinner and off we set, the four of us, to explore the beach in front of our hotel. There was a wonderful cliff walk past beautiful Falmouth houses overlooking treacherous rocks which took us to a small cove with beach huts.
Oli and me on the walk on Gyllyngvase Beach
Oli on the cliff pathway
As it was Saturday night, we had booked a table at the Hotel which hosts the apparently famous Flying Fish restaurant. The menu had all sorts of tantalising choices but we all ended up choosing fish and chips once again and they were delicious.
Day 3, Sunday 29h April
Pendennis Castle, lunch in Falmouth, siesta, walk and dinner at Glasny Parc
On Sunday we decided to stay closer home and visit Falmouth which was where we were staying after all. Eladio had spied the Pendennis castle in a brochure and we could actually see it from our hotel on a cliff overlooking the town so we decided to visit it.
Sunday brought glorious weather again which was against the forecast I had printed out on internet before we left. The prediction was for showers and cloudy weather the whole of our trip but it actually only rained the morning before we left, in St. Ive’s. Funnily enough it rained in Spain throughout our visit to England!
Pendennis castle had been built by Henry VIII as part of his plan to protect the Britiish coast. It was also very instrumental in protecting England from German invasion in the Second World War and there was lots of memorabilia from both times. There were also loads of guns which Eladio and my Father enjoyed but which I’m afraid bored Oli and me and sent us off sooner than planned to the souvenir shop.
Mother and daughter, view from Pendennis Castle
It was to be my Father’s 88th birthday on 1st May, the day we were leaving and we still hadn’t bought him a present, so the Pendennis Castle Souvenir shop turned out to be a blessing. So while the men were exploring the castle, Olivia and I bought a book on English Kings and Queens, some Cornish fudge and chocolate, a book on the Second World War and a Pendennis mug for my Father’s tea back in Madrid.
Once we had had enough of the castle – I must admit though that the views were spectacular – we wandered down to Falmouth and saw the harbour, the Parish Church and did a bit of shopping at Boots and then had a pub lunch. Guess what we had? Yes, you are right, fish and chips some of us and Tikka Massala curry the others. Apparently Tikka Massala chicken curry is now England’s most popular meal!
Lunch at Falmouth
In the afternoon we all took a nice long nap and once again we visited the spa and went for what had now become our daily walk on Gyllyngvase Beach.
The arrangement to have dinner with Olivia’s friends at their residence in Glasny Parc was made at the last minute so preparations were not the best. We ended up buying pizza at the last minute after frantic searching in Penryn and Falmouth, the problem being that most take away places close very early in the UK specially on a Sunday night. Oli’s dear friends had also done some cooking and Shino had made some delicious croquettes and Sandeep had made an oriental vegetarian concoction which we all thought was great.
Dinner at Glasny Parc, from left to right: Sumit, Rafa, Shalini, me, Eladio, Shino, Sandeep and Basha
Dinner at Glasny Parc, from left to right: Sumit, Rafa, Shalini, me, Eladio, Shino, Sandeep and Olivia
Summit and Sandeep
The impromptu dinner took place at the Indian’s flat with 8 of us sharing the food around the table. It was so lovely to have time to talk to Oli’s friends, Shino, Sandeep, Summit, Shalini, Rafa and Basha who came in later to make his Tanzanian dinner of sardines and rice. Of course, we offered him some of our pizza and it turned out it was the first time he had ever tried it. Basha, who is in his 40’s is doing a master degree in Mining Engineering, has 5 children back in Africa and has climbed Kilimanjaro twice! So quite something. We spent the evening talking about how Eladio and I had met and the pros and cons of arranged marriages, amongst other things. So a good time was had by all and we are really look forward to hosting Oli’s friends some day soon in Madrid.
The last day, Day 4, Monday 30th April.
A “Fine” day at St. Ive’s, the rain, “I’m her daughter”, the clamp, a trip to Asda, the last spa visit and dinner at Asha’s
St. Ive’s is one of Cornwall’s most popular destinations and we had been advised to go on Monday so as to avoid the traffic that can get pretty bad at the weekends. What we had not expected though, after such great weather, was the rain and it turned out that Cornwall was the wettest place in England last Monday. Just our luck. St. Ive’s is indeed a very lovely place and it is one of the prettiest seaside towns I have ever seen in England, including Robin Hood’s Bay. So we took numerous photos of ourselves by the sea front to a backdrop of quaint cottages. St. Ive’s is also famed for its artists and so tempted by the views we bought 3 lovely prints we will be framing for our new house.
Eladio posing on the Wharfe at St. Ive's
Beautiful St. Ive's
I am embarrassed to say we had fish and chips again on our last day. We are suckers for it but it tastes so good when made by the sea.
Oli and I posing in a quaint street in St. Ive's
On the way back to the car park, I was walking with my Father behind Olivia and Eladio and witnessed 3 men stop in their steps to obviously admire her looks. So as I went past them I said: “She’s beautiful isn’t she?” They looked at me and stared but answered “yes” to which I proudly replied: “I’m her Mother!” You should have seen their faces!
The day turned out a bit sour as when we returned to the car park our car had been clamped as we were 50 minutes over the time we had paid for at the infamous “pay and display” parking. The fine was enormous, 70 pounds and when we complained to the man he said he didn’t make the rules!. So as you see, it turned out to be a “fine” day.
The clamp at St. Ive's
We had planned our trip to Asda – the only big supermarket in the area – for the last day and apart from helping Olivia with her shopping we stocked up with British fare to take back to Spain such as decaf tea, sage and onion stuffing and tea cakes.
Being our last day we decided to visit the spa for one last time where we ended up relaxing after the negative clamp experience. And then Eladio, Oli and I went for our final dinner once again to Asha’s, that is after packing all our stuff for our journey back the next day.
As we were leaving early the next day, we said goodbye to Oli when we took her back to Glasny Parc after the dinner. We had had a great time with her and knew we would be seeing her soon again as she will be returning back to Spain at the end of May.
The day of our return, Day 6, Tuesday 1st May
Keys locked in the car and the AA, catching the plane by the skin of our teeth. Daddy’s 88th birthday. All good things come to an end.
Our plane was leaving Bristol at 14.20 so we had planned to leave the hotel at 09h to get there on plenty of time. So at about 8.45 Eladio and I were packing the car with the huge suitcases and trying to see if it shut. Well, it did but with the keys inside!
What a problem we had on our hands. So of course we had to ring Europcar who in turn said I had to ring the AA. So there I was ringing round and hearing that they might have to break the windows to get the keys, etc and that the AA patrol would not be with us before the hour. It was all very stressing but in fact the AA patrol arrived earlier than we thought and was able to force the centralising locking system open without having to break the window. So from here a very big thanks to one José Ramón Martín from the AA whose Grandmother was Spanish but he didn’t speak it. I must say he was incredibly good looking and I told him so!
The AA came to our rescue on the last day.
Thanks to the AA we made it to Bristol by the skin of our teeth, not without worries and losing the way a couple of times.
Then we had the hassle of returning the car, checking in our huge overweight suitcases, one of which was broken and then going through security not realising that one of the bags Oli had given to us was full of toiletries; i.e, non declared liquid. That took some explaining and some time too. But finally we made it on to the plane and set off on time for Madrid where dear Susi was waiting for us upon our arrival.
It was lovely to be home again and the good thing was that the next day, 2nd May was a holiday in Madrid and we were able to celebrate Susi and my Father’s birthdays around the family dining room table.
And tomorrow is back to work. As the saying goes: “All good things come to an end”. And as another saying goes: “A good time was had by all”