Norm’s Overseas Odyssey 2005 – 2006 – Episode Twelve

Wednesday 7th December 2005

…and he did find a bed – in a small 18 room hotel, the “Mount Haven” in Marazion. Now the bed is not a four poster, but it is in a room with a balcony overlooking St Michael’s Mount. Wow!

I had planned to drive to and down the western coast from Bolventor but, whilst I did get some sea views between Wadebridge and Newquay, the early rain just got heavier and heavier to the point that driving became more than a little hazardous. As a result I arrived at the hotel more than two hours before I was due – but was welcomed warmly with a wonderful cup of coffee.
That it was served in the guest lounge with huge leather lounges and, through picture windows, the same magnificent view of the Mount just added to the pleasure. The rain lifted briefly at about sunset and I did get a photo or two of that view, but whether they survive the “vigorous culling” step has yet to be determined.

Sunset behind St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
7 December 2005

Thursday 8th December 2005

Thursday was “get fit” day – or that’s what it turned out to be.  That is after getting up early, for me, to catch the sunrise.

Sunrise from my balcony at “Mount Haven” in Marazion
8 December 2005

Given that Land’s End is over-commercialised and where even something as basic as parking is ludicrously expensive, it was suggested that, if I was up to it (now what can you say to that, even if you’re not) the best views of that part of the Cornish coast were to be seen by taking the cliff-side walk from Sennen Cove to Land’s End. So that’s what I did, fortunately – as it was both cold and windy – adequately clothed, “Michelin man” style!
Although not as long or (from what I read) as challenging, as Ross and Jan’s “tramps”, sufficiently blood oxygenating and lung-capacity enhancing for this amateur. And the views along the way were just marvellous – as, perhaps not surprisingly, they were on the way back an hour or so later!

Cliff Path near Land’s End, Cornwall
8 December 2005

Then on to the second recommendation for the day “The Minack Theatre” – not too far from Land’s End. What an amazing place. At the expense of proving my ignorance I had never heard of the place.

For those of you who have, feel free to skip the next bit! For those of you who, like me, had not, it is an open-air theatre located right on the coastline with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean as its back-drop.
Built in the style of a Roman Amphitheatre, Minack was the brainchild of Rowena Cade, who lived in a cottage behind the theatre. Construction of the theatre began in 1929 when she offered the use of her garden to a local amateur dramatic society. Although there was room for a stage, no room was left for an audience.
So, at 38 – and someone who until then had come no nearer to manual labour than sewing and mucking-out stables – Rowena began construction of a stage and seating area in the gully, labouring as an apprentice to her gardener and his mate.
Over succeeding years, the theatre was developed using local stone and timber found along the Porthcurno shoreline – an ongoing project that Rowena pursued until her death at 89 years old.

Productions are staged annually there in the summer with a special production of “The Tempest” every ten years in celebration of the Theatre’s anniversary. Minack Theatre was just a great place to visit and I hope the photos I took there will do it justice!

A view from Minack Theatre, Cornwall
8 December 2005

Photos: My visit to the Minack Theatre, Cornwall – 8th December 2005

Friday 9th December 2005

My plans for a rest day were put on hold when it was suggested that I should spend the second day of my Cornwall visit, Friday, on the Lizard Peninsula.

Panoramic View of Kynance Cove, Cornwall
9 December 2005
…but I did have some company on the way!

So off to Kynance Cove, which turned out to be a good foretaste of the veritable feast of dramatic cliff-top views on the 5-mile round-trip walk, hike, tramp to Lizard Point and back. The camera was in overdrive mode but, being a more than somewhat grey and drizzly day, the results were likely to be mixed – and were.

I left the car park soon after 10:30 am and didn’t get back to the car until a little after 2:00 pm – more, I hasten to say, from pauses to admire and photograph the views, than to catch my breath. Well, that’s my story anyway.

Saturday 10th December 2005

Confident that the advice that I would be given would be good, I spent most of Saturday in St Ives – the Cornwall one rather than that other S’nives that would have required a long flight home! I had been told that the clarity of the light compared favourably with that in the “Red Centre” (and is purportedly one of the reasons it is loved by artists) and I could see why.

It really is a most attractive place and one where I could comfortably spend some hours just meandering through the narrow streets and along the harbour front. And that’s precisely what I did, encouraged not a little by cloudless blue skies and a temperature that got as high as 10° – almost sun-bathing weather!
I also visited Tate St Ives (an outpost I suppose one could call it of the London “Tates”) and came away less than impressed with either the building itself (opened in 1993) or the works exhibited.
The space, in my view, would be better used displaying adequately Barbara Hepworth’s work which is not shown to advantage in her old studio and adjacent garden and only a few hundred yards from the Tate. I must admit to a preference for Henry Moore’s work, but there were a couple of attractive pieces in the Hepworth Museum one, a bronze “” (perhaps not least because it looked as if it had been sculpted from greenstone) appealed particularly.

Suitably uplifted culturally, I headed back to Marazion via Zennor, and then the Cliff Road through Mousehole and Newlyn. My thanks to those who suggested that these were “must-sees”. Mousehole was especially so.

On arrival back at Marazion, it seemed that I might get some reasonable sunset photographs, and one or more survived the later culling.

Photos: Sunset behind St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall – 10th December 2005

Mine host also obliged by taking a photo of one of his “happy campers” basking in that same sunset:

A “happy camper” at the “Mount Haven”, Marazion
10 December 2005

Another great dinner at “Mount Haven”, where the meals have been some of the best I’ve had in hotels in England. I only booked there because I couldn’t get into my first choice and was almost put off by its “romantic retreat” style marketing.
It goes to the top of my list of especially good and, above all, welcoming places to stay.