Our ride from the ferry to Truro did not take long. As usual, the last bit was on village streets and required paying attention to those crazy drivers. Our overnight accommodation was in a place called the Townhouse Rooms. I did not know what to expect. An image of 19th century boarding houses did come to mind. But what we found, was a stately home, with a lovely garden, with it’s own guard cat, Buddha.
Buddha looks intimidating, but that is his guard face, on the ground he is friendly and welcoming. Our room was right off the garden. Unfortunately due to the overnight rain, we didn’t spend much time in the garden. We did however, have afternoon tea, with freshly made lemon cake. Our host, Joyce, was very proud of her cake. Taking advantage of the break in the rain we took a quick walk around town. Truro, not being on the coast, isn’t as picturesque as Megavissey, or the soon to come Newquay. But it was a port town. Up until the 1920s Truro had a river port. Ocean going ships could navigate up the River Fal from Falmouth. Truro’s port use to ship tin from nearby mines. This mining based economy was, as is usually the case, one of from boon to bust, based on the fortunes of mines. During the 18th and 19th centuries many stately homes were built in Truro, many of which are still extant today. In the 1920s the port was closed due to declining mine production and the silting of the river made it difficult for large ships to sail up. Today the port has been filled in and is the site of the weekly farmer’s market.
I found a list of of Turo’s heroes, which included the Lander brothers, John and Richard, West African explorers, who navigated the Niger River to its source. The monument in the picture above, celebrates their achievements. Also, of some note, Roger Taylor, drummer for Queen. Queen’s first concert was at Truro City Hall. And, (Sir) Ben Ainsley, 5 time (1996-2012) Olympic medalist in Competitive Sailing, grew up in Truro and learned to sail on the River Fal.
Classic Cornwall- Day 3 – Truro to Newquay
After a nice breakfast, we were on the bikes again, destination, Newquay, pronounced New Key. The ride was a short 15.3 miles, but we wanted to get an early start because we planned to do a long walk to the headlands in Newquay.
We hadn’t planned for any scenic stops along the route, but we were surprised. We came upon a lovely manor house. The House at Trerice is an Elizabethan Manorhouse built in 1572-3 by the wealthy Arundel family. It was purchased by the National Trust in 1953. Today it has been restored and the Trust operates it as short term lodging rental. As we passed by, Bill noticed one of the gardeners, so he had a brief chat with her.
After negotiating the city streets of Newquay, we arrived at the Griffin Inn, an ordinary 3 star hotel, that, at one time , had a nice harbor view, but with the construction of a mundane building housing an Aldi Market and a Travelodge, the view is long gone.
As I mentioned earlier, we planned a nice long walk to the headlands near the city. The headland juts out into the Atlantic creating on one side a protected harbor and on the other, Fistral Beach, a world famous surfing beach. The conditions there are such that only well accomplished surfers should try.
In 1897, construction started on the Headlands Hotel and Spa. Opening in 1900, the luxury class hotel was a destination for those seeking a seaside escape. Its formidable structure sitting on top of the rugged headland ‘scape, overlooking Fistral Beach.
In 1911, the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, convalesced there, while recovering from the mumps, he was joined by his younger brother, Bertie, later George VI. Apparently Bertie had already had the mumps, but was recovering from the measels. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, their Grandparents, visited the hotel frequently from its opening until the King’s death in 1910. During WWII, the hotel was requisioned to serve as an RAF Hospital. After the war, the hotel returned to hotel service, but it has lost its luster. Today it still operates as a hotel, but as one visitor commented in her review, “it closely resembles a convalescent center.” Well it is beautiful to look at, but we think we will pass up staying there.
Our 5+ miles walk included the headlands, the aforementioned hotel, it’s competitor The Atlantic, a stroll along Fistral Beach, an aborted attempt to have coffee at Rick Stein’s Fish Restaurant and a stroll along the edge of the golf course. It was a blustery afternoon and either we were dead into the wind or it was pushing us along.
An impressive sight was a house on a rock. Access is by a pedestrian suspension bridge. It is rentable by the week. In January only £2300 for the week, but if you want it in July, £5600. The three bedroom house is well appointed. So if you are up for an unusual vacation, here is the link:
Otherwise, here are a couple of pictures. The one on the left, John took, and the other is from the website.
After our 5+ mile walk, we headed back to the hotel for a little rest. Later, since it was raining, we stayed in the hotel for dinner. They had a French onion soup special and John thought he might try it. As a main, he choose a roasted cauliflower with curry sauce. The combination of the two sauces was too much. Both were made with British brown gravy and were so thick they were hard to enjoy. By 11 PM, he was not well. At first, we thought it might be food poisoning, but now now know it was a fast moving 24 hour virus. By morning, he was too weak to walk, much less ride a bicyle. We first made the decision to cancel the rest of the bike ride. Our plan had been to rest for the couple of days, and then continue our train journey north, first to Leeds and then on to Scotland. But, 12 hours later, Bill was also sick and we had not shared or eaten the same foods. So, the likelihood of it being food poisoning was remote. Now with both of us sick we decided to cancel Scotland altogether and to stay in Newquay for a couple of nights and then make our way back to Bodmin, where the bike ride began, and where we had left luggage. But now we were up against scheduled rail strikes on the 8th and 9th, so we stayed in Bodmin until Monday, October 10th, when we took a morning train back to London.
We did have a nice silver lining to our upended travel plans. Bill’s brother Kip, sister-in-law, Jill, their son, Kyle and his wife, Ida and son, Thomas, were all in London for the Green Bay Packers’ game with the New York Giants at London’s Tottenham Stadium. They were not scheduled to fly home until Tuesday. So, we were excited to be able to have dinner with them. Kyle, Ida and Thomas live in Norway, so we see them infrequently. While Kyle and Ida were finishing up their workday (they were working remotely), we went for a stroll with Kip, Jill and Thomas in his stroller, we all went to nearby Hampstead Heath, with great views of the London skyline.
While leaving the Heath, Bill needed to get some juice, so he popped into the Freemasons Arms, a pub at the edge of the Heath to get some. Little did we know, we would be back there later for dinner. Kyle and Ida, who are familiar with Hampstead from their graduate school days, had chosen another place, but when we got there, their kitchen was not yet open and it was already past Thomas’ dinner time. Kyle called the Arms to pre-order a kid’s macaroni and cheese, and we quickly made our way there. Dinner, as most Jacobs’ family dinners are, was fun, and sometimes loud affair. We really felt blessed to have this opportunity to spend time with family.
With that, I will stop here and cover the rest of our unplanned London visit in the next installment.