Howth, Ireland, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Friday, May 26: Back in Howth, Ireland

First, a quick summary of Thursday, May 25. We drove back to Exeter, dealt with the car damage, took the bus to the train station, and given the tragedy that had just happened in Manchester, I did not want to go back into London. We got off the train in Reading, took a bus to Heathrow, and took a hotel shuttle to our room at a Doubletree Hilton in Hounslow, where we had dinner at the hotel restaurant and relaxed for the flight to Ireland the next day. The police presence at the Tube station at Heathrow was a little disturbing. We couldn’t get our Oyster cards loaded for a ride into London if we had wanted or needed to, at least not right then, because they closed the station.

However, Sandy did get this shot from the train. We thought it was the White Horse of Uffington, but it turned out to be the Pewsey White Horse. Still cool, and the most interesting photo from this day.

The next day, we flew back to Ireland, got back on the bus and DART train to Howth, then took a taxi with our luggage back to Gleann Na Smol, where Sean met us at the door. This time we had energy to walk to the harbour and back. Sean recommended the Oarhouse on the pier, but they were having a record day because of the lovely weather and we hung around for a long time on the pier before they let us sit at the bar and eat. (At first, they turned us away but we pleaded.) The family that owned the restaurant also owned the boats that brought in the seafood, so I rated this the best meal we had on our trip.

On the way back, we stopped at the Cock Tavern, which was recommended as a pub where the locals go to hear and play music. A couple at a table offered to share it with us, we ordered pints of Smithwick’s at the bar, and enjoyed the rest of the night listening to a local musician who sang everything from traditional music to Prince to Guns and Roses (in honor of the superfan patrons on their way to a GNR concert the next day). The friendly couple told me stories about the “local lunatics.” One of the best nights ever!

AND, the next day we got up at the crack of dawn, took a taxi to the airport, and flew to JFK on Aer Lingus, which I liked a lot despite being in enormous pain seated in a middle seat of the middle row of the plane. They had a good selection of movies and TV shows, which allowed Sandy to almost get caught up on Games of Thrones while I watched La La Land and Bridget Jones’s Baby. At JFK, we found out that we were lucky that we decided to fly from London to Ireland on Friday when the British Airways computer system and created chaos at Heathrow. We had some delays, but finally we walked in our front door at about 10 p.m. that night.

Cliff walks, Cornwall, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Wednesday, May 24: Part IV, the walk to Tintagel Castle

Turning north on the Coast Path, we headed to Tintagel Castle. The path was a much easier walk, and took us by old quarries in the cliffs and through lambing pastures.

We made it in plenty of time! Now it was time to face those steps. I do not like going down normal stairs. These took real courage. There was a t-shirt in the gift shop that I wanted that said “I Conquered the Tintagel Castle Steps” but they only had it in children’s sizes. The castle had originally stretched across this gap, but it was on a fault line and that part fell into the sea.

^^^Sandy: “Come on, you can do it! Just a little farther.” Me: *whimper*

Cliff walks, Cornwall, UK, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

May 24: Trebarwith Strand, Part II

There were caves! Neither of us had the guts to go to the very back of one long one, since it got dark back there.

Sandy, who had his reservations at first about coming down here, suggested that maybe we could spend the rest of the day on this beach. But it was our only full day here, and the tide was coming in, and we wanted to go to Tintagel Castle, so we reluctantly left.

Cliff walks, Cornwall, UK, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Wednesday, May 24: The Coast Path and Trebarwith Strand, Part I

Several posts with many photos and little commentary, because I don’t know that many synonyms for beautiful. So take a hike with us here.

Yes! We could see the ocean from our bedroom window after all! After a great breakfast, we walked a short way down to the Coast Path from our B&B, the Penallick Inn. Hikers there recommended that we turn left to go to Trebarwith Strand while the tide was out. It was very good advice.

Cornwall, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Tuesday, May 23: Trerice to Treknow

Trerice was one of those travel plans that I was not going to change. We also had Pendennis Castle on our agenda for today, but I realized that it was going to be too much for one day. At least Trerice was on the way to our next destination near Tintagel.

Trerice was built in 1572 by John Arundell V and was restored and taken over by the National Trust in the 20th century. Winston Graham wrote in his book Poldark’s Cornwall that it was the inspiration for Trenwith, the old Poldark family home, in the Poldark series of novels. Here’s a link if you’re interested in the history of Trerice.

While we were there we played dress-up.

^^^Take a closer look at the CEILING of the bedchamber. That’s original plasterwork.

^^^I could find no information about this small tapestry. There was other old fiber art as well. The embroidered curtains are 400 plus years old!

^^^Turf labyrinth, with baby.

We had a late lunch of salads at the cafe there, roamed the gardens a bit, then headed on to our inn for the night on the north Cornish coast. It had turned foggy and we were on narrow roads.

Sandy turned right across traffic and suddenly got confused about a yellow grid painted on the road and stopped in oncoming traffic. I screamed, “Sandy, GO GO GO!” as I watched a white and purple van come out of the fog right at my side of the car. Sandy pulled forward just as the van passed behind us, horn blaring. I still do not know how he missed us. If ever I were to believe in guardian angels, that would have been my evidence. I was completely freaked out and shaking for the rest of the drive to Treknow, convinced that we had been a second away from death or critical injury, along with the occupants of several other cars. (2020 update: to this day, this is the closest call I’ve ever had to seeing if there was an afterlife, and I’ve had a few.)

We walked a couple of miles into Tintagel for dinner. I was not getting back in the car until I had to. It was too foggy to take the coast path, but fortunately there was a paved footpath (sidewalk) all the way that was pleasant and lighted, with places to sit along the way. We had dinner at the King Arthur Arms, then settled down in our very comfortable room. The problem in this room was the opposite from the room the previous night – it smelled too good and I have a fragrance allergy! I took allergy meds and tolerated it fairly well. I could tell that it was a wonderful place to stay and I didn’t want to leave it, so I found a blanket and a decorative pillow in the room that were unscented and slept with those on my side of the bed.

In the morning, we woke up to perfect weather.

Cornwall, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Tuesday, May 23: St. Michael’s Mount

^^^Walking to St. Michael’s Mount

^^^Morning view from our hotel window (and the hotel pool!)

The owner of the restaurant seemed quite sad when I told him that we did not have time to have breakfast with him. Someone we had talked to the night before said that his mother had run the hotel for years and he was trying to get it into shape, and although I felt a bit sorry for him, there was no way I was eating anything in a dining room that smelled like burned eggs and wet dog.

So we got to St. Michael’s Mount a few miles up the road a little early, but just in time to walk across the causeway (which I liked almost as much as the castle) at low tide. We had a “Cornish cream tea,” scones with local jam and clotted cream, at the cafe and shared it with the little birds there, then walked up the steep hill to the castle on top.

Then up we went on the steep cobblestone path to the castle, with its amazing views all around.

I had a direct ancestor who died here, and I knew that he was friends with and probably related to the family who owned this place centuries ago, so I was on the lookout for evidence of him. There was a shield with the Arundell crest on the wall of one of the rooms (on the left).

The gardens were magnificent, but we did not pay to go into them. We did get a nice arial view of them over the walls.

Let’s not forget the cat mummy:

On the way back, the tide was covering the causeway a few inches in the middle, so our shoes ended up getting soaked. It was kind of fun, though! If we had not made it back before the tide got too high to walk across, there was a boat service.

Then we headed off to another place with ancestral meaning to me – a beautiful Elizabethan manor that was built by a many g’s grandfather of mine – Trerice.

Cornwall, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Monday, May 22: Exmouth to Penzance


^^^Looking back at our hotel in Penzance from the waterfront.

Our wonderful hosts, Judy and Jeremy, made us a full English breakfast on Monday morning. We sat over coffee and chatted for about as long as we could. It was interesting to hear their perspectives on Brexit and politics. One observation that Judy made about us that I was pleased to hear was that we have a very British sense of humor. I guess all the Monty Python and BBC shows have rubbed off! If we lived closer, I feel like we would be good friends.

This was a travel day, and a weird one. In hindsight, we should have returned the rental car while we were close to Exeter, because neither of us had any business driving on English roads. We didn’t understand the road signs. The roundabouts freaked Sandy out, and he drove over a curb and almost into a tree when another car cut him off in a roundabout. The narrow back roads, which often narrowed without warning to only one car width, had no shoulders and hedges and stone walls were only a few inches from the side of the roads.

But the really embarrassing moment for me was when I scraped a curb on a comfortable wide motorway. There was no excuse for it, and I still think that curb must have jumped out from the side of the road. Anyway, I paid an extra 100 quid for that mistake. I’m just glad that they didn’t charge me for the whole rim. My other punishment by Sandy:

We stopped at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor, which was just off the main highway. A real tourist place, but fun enough, with good food and a farm stand. We had some caffeine and pastries and I bought a copy of Daphne du Maurier’s book Jamaica Inn, which I’m reading now.

When we arrived at our hotel in Penzance, I was pleased at the location right on the bay overlooking St. Michael’s Mount. We walked into the lobby, once we could get someone to open the door, and the mess and the stench was awful. I was ready to bolt by the time the owner walked in, but to be polite we looked at our room upstairs, which was tolerable, only a little musty and it was clean. He said that a mistake had been made and that they were in the middle of renovation downstairs, and offered to let us stay that night for free. He said that he would put us down as a no show on the travel service website we used but we’d have to back him up by saying that we didn’t stay there. So that’s what we did. I guess that the benefit to him was that we wouldn’t put up an awful review. We propped open the windows for fresh air and walked into town.

We had drinks at a little pub called the Globe, where the patrons and bartender recommended the Light of Bengal for dinner – again, one of the best meals we had in England was Indian.