Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Trip Through Time

Not far from here, in the village of Rattery, stands the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. We strolled around the churchyard tonight, looking at the gravestones. That was after we had a beer at the Church House Inn, which is adjacent to St. Mary's - ("within the traditional forty paces of the church gate", says the website). We were drawn to the place by  modest road signs pointing the way. "Church House Inn- 11C",  they read. Surely not. Well, actually, yes. The inn was founded in 1028 -- not as a village pub, but as a lodging house for priests. Apparently there are still remnants of the original building in existence, but the one in which we sat tonight is virtually new - having been built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.

I'm not sure I'll ever cease to marvel at the antiquity of the buildings, gardens -- so many of the things I see here. One has to wonder why we build such flimsy dwellings -- and even flimsy public buildings -- now, when we could be building homes to last for centuries. Oh, I know. It's too expensive to build in the old way -- but I think we do ourselves and our descendants a disservice.

Off the soapbox now - our visit to the Church House Inn was the last of our adventures today -- but I couldn't wait to talk about it. So now I'll go back to the beginning. That was when we drove to Totnes this morning and caught the 8:46 to  Penzance.  The trip took about two and a half hours -- through Plymouth, across the Tamar River -- this time via the Royal Albert Bridge, which was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1859.

 After a stop for coffee near the Penzance station, we set out on a walk. Robin used to work out of Newlyn (once a separate village, I gather, but now a suburb of Penzance), so we walked along the waterfront to the end of the fishing pier in Newlyn and back to the railway station -- four miles altogether, plus whatever I put on when I detoured up the high street to find the Oxfam bookstore. Most of the walk was on pavement -- except for the part where I walked down to the beach to pick up a pebble. Accordingly, my legs have turned to stone. Just so you know.

I had forgotten how close we would be to St. Michael's Mount. Robin and I were there a few years ago, but somehow we didn't get over to Penzance on that trip.  As we walked along the seashore today, I could see St. Michael's Mount in the distance
-- not well, mind you, because there was a haze. The sky stayed grey most of the day, and it even sprinkled on us once, but not for long -- and we were delighted to find Cornwall considerably warmer than Devon. We kept shedding coats and sweaters as we walked. It was wonderful.

The pier at Newlyn is active -- we had to dodge cars and trucks, even chains being dragged and pounded to remove rust. We made it all the way to the end, though, and sat to have a rest and enjoy the view.

Part of our plan was to take a bus from Penzance to Land's End (the railway doesn't go that far) but if we were to get home at a reasonable hour, we simply didn't have time to do that -- so Land's End stays on my bucket list for now. Meanwhile, I've had a wonderful day in Penzance, with that surprising bit of time travel at the end, so I have no complaint.


willow said...

Funny to think the buildings we consider to be old are fairly new comparatively. Now I'm craving a nice dark beer!

Sara Williams said...

I love that part of the world. I had my best childhood holiday in Penzance, crab fishing and discovering rock pools. St Michaels mount is lovely and well worth a visit. Lands End is also a great place to go. If you get the opportunity, try to find Bilbo the only lifeguard dog in the country on Sennen beach!

Sandra Leigh said...

Willow, some of the roads on which we drive here were laid by the Romans. (They've been paved a few times since!) Others were already in use before the Romans got here -- and pretty well every road has a pub on it.

Sara, I dont think I'll make it to Land's End on this trip, or even back to Penzance - though you never know. I'll keep Bilbo in mind for my next visit.

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