Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Winter 2005-2006

Short breaks from poring over the newspapers as the Bushies implode



Devon and Cornwall in the springtime

Whenever things start to pile up and get on top of you, it's time to take some time off and go to Cornwall.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Mousehole, Land's End, Godolphin House

St Michael's Mount, 500 meters off Marazion near Penzance -- like Mont St Michel in France you can walk out the causeway when the tide's low, or take the little ferry in summer. A medieval castle and abbey, still a family residence and a National Trust property. It's a very big hit with the tourists! And tourists come mostly on Saturdays, and here WE are on a Saturday. And it's not open on Saturdays.

(The leaping dolphin in the foreground is a fake.)

We pace about the town, deciding. We could wait six hours and walk out the causeway, and stare up at it from the pier, but . . . but, well, no. Skip it.

We'll move on to Mousehole instead.

Mousehole

Mousehole (improbably pronounced "Mowzel") is still a working fishing village just south of Penzance, in early times a more important port than Penzance but not now, though still a lively tourist destination and recreational boat port. That's Kristin hoarding our lunch.

The port is almost entirely enclosed by a breakwater, which is said to be closed off during the winter to protect against storm surges.

Kristin breaking out The Independent and The Guardian and getting ready for a little lunch (whitebread jammy sandwiches purchased at the newspaper shop. Awful, so we shared reading The Guardian and ate The Independent.).

If the name "Mizpah" sounds familiar -- of course, it's the town in Gilead where Jephthah "made his rash vow and his daughter submitted to her mysterious fate" (Judg. 10:17; 11:11, 34).

Mousehole port inside the breakwater. Never mind about escaping the threat of invasion by the famous Spanish Armada of 1588, which never landed anywhere (except for a lot of shipwrecks along the coast of Ireland) -- Mousehole was burnt to the ground by a Spanish invasion in July 1595. One house, Squire Jenkyn Keigwin's (below), got spared from destruction, but the Squire didn't.

Jenkyn Keigwin's digs in Mousehole. There were actually three more Spanish Armadas in the 1590s, but this one in 1595 was the only one that actually came ashore, somewhat accidentally in fact. A few hundred Spanish marines roamed about for a while and thoroughly trashed Mousehole, Newlyn, and Penzance, celebrated a mass, and did a runner before the district Lord Lieutenant could call up the farmhands and get them lined up with homemade pikes and march them down to the rescue. Squire Jenkyn seems, like many people, just to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The "Merry Maidens", ancient ritual semi-megaliths west of Mousehole (not the one in purple and orange, that's Kristin)

Land's End

Land's End, situated at the end of the land, is reputed to be an 'orrible tourist place, but in the off-season, with few tourists, the buildings look pretty interesting.

That's the hotel-restaurant facing out to sea, so far everything's looking pretty good.

The "First and Last House" at Land's End, out on the point, with an RSPB property for encouraging birdwatching and appreciation of waterbirds.

Kristin at the First and Last House

We reckon that that's a big piece of the Torrey Canyon there at the base of the cliffs towards Sennen Cove. The Torrey Canyon was Big Oil's first really serious supertanker assault on our environment -- March 1967, the first big oil supertanker presumed a little too much on the reefs getting out of its way and dumped its whole cargo of Kuwaiti crude onto the coastlines of England and France, mainly Cornwall. It was a USA-built and Japan-modified nearly-unsteerable tanker owned by a subsidiary of Union Oil of California, registered in Liberia, chartered to British Petroleum, with an Italian crew -- so who do you blame? (George W. Bush)

Wrong again. A kind reader from Penzance sent a correction: "It's actually the wreck of the Mulheim which ran aground in 2003, carrying loads of plastic, most of which was salvaged, but a lot of which washed round in the sea for a long time."

Merlin's Cave again

An air-sea rescue helicopter executing a difficult maneuver at Land's End

It's a bit chilly today, but it's easy to imagine these picturesque streets at midsummer, lively with people in large shorts with sausage rolls in one hand and double ice cream cones in the other. But we'd better not wait.

The tackier side of Land's End (not the one in the orange, that's Kristin) -- The Last Labyrinth! All manner of even more inspired attractions, also all closed today.

Godolphin House

Kristin was headed back for the Bristol Airport, 23 April, but stumbled upon Godolphin House, not far east of Penzance, near Helston. Mostly built in 1475 (Godolphin House, not Kristin), an enormous crash-pad extending back up the hill with five courtyards (only one remains), started by a Norman family whose variously-spelt name settled down as 'Godolphin' and was virtually synonymous with tin-mining and engineering from the 13th century through to the 17th (when the funding dried up and some of the buildings came down).

This palladian-ish front, though, was added in 1630. There's a fine medieval garden off to one side, 16th century stables, and outdoor facilities for family days out. The present owners are restoring the gardens and what's left of the house, and if Mr Schofield himself is around to explain things for you, seize the opportunity! He tells a fascinating history.

"Kristins at the Gates"

The courtyard, with the state rooms on the upper left

The front door, looking out

Grand old gardens still to be seen

Godolphin House from the gardens

Kristin and Godolphin. Wasn't that fun? A few more dripping sights to see on the way back to Bristol, like Totnes in the rain, and then back to the USA and Switzerland respectively. With lots more of the Southwest Coast Path waiting for us for the future.

Totnes in the rain

Pubcrawling in Devon and
Cornwall, 2006


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 9 May 2006, revised 18 September 2008, 7 May 2013.


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