Wednesday, August 18, 2010

17 August - part 2 (Actually 18th August!!)

I - left - you - in - this - position.............. Haaahaa, the old memories come flooding back eh Gareth!!

Anyway, I'm back on again and updating this as fast as I can!!
The last entry ended as I went to bed in Newquay, so now I shall continue........ are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin........

Right - Wed Aug 11th.
We got up after a lie in and headed out into Newquay for a bit of breakfast, but as it was such a lovely day, this turned out to be 2 hours wandering all the way to the headland overlooking Fistral beach and the hundreds of surfers who were already out in the waves. You can understand why people travel to Cornwall just by looking at the beaches and the sea down in this part of the UK. Sorry, to mum and dad, but you cannot compare the Cornwall coast with its cliffs, sand, rock pools and gorgeous clear blue sea, to Skeggy! It would be like comparing an Aberdeen Angus steak with a battered sausage- I love them both, but given the chance Id have the steak!!
Skegness does what it does well - a good hearted cheap holiday for Northern families who down want to go abroad. But after just a couple of hours wandering around the beaches down here, you can see why so many people come back again and again.

Anyway, after me and Dan finally got some breakfast from a little surf cafe, we got in his BMW and drove south, heading for the most Southerly bit of England - Lizard point.

Lizard Point Old lifeboat station

The roads were quite busy and got thinner and thinner as we reached the south coast, till we were driving down towards the car park at Lizard, touching the hedges on either side of the 'road'.
When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised at how understated it was - there are no massive shops or sideshows, just £2.50 for car parking all day and a path down to the point itself, where there are a couple of traditional shops, housed in rattly old sheds.
The tide was out so we wandered down to the 'beach', which is quite a small shingle beach surrounded by loads of seaweed covered rocks and an old lifeboat station. There are also a few caves to check out, but we decided to do the obvious thing of walking out as far as we could on the rocks, just to be the most southerly people in England for a few minutes.

Then it was back up the path and a massive Cornish ice cream (Cheaper than Duxford!!) before getting back in the BMW for the short drive up to Goonhilly -

Goonhilly is an old BT satellite transfer station, that has massive satellite dishes to look around and would have been a good day out for us 'communication geeks', but after driving down a few country lanes to get there and nearly hitting a bin lorry, we arrived at the front gates to see that it had closed... :-(
So onto Plan B and after checking out the Cornwall map - cheers Gareth and Tracey, we headed off down the country lanes to the nearest coastal village - Cadgwith.

Cadgwith is the closest thing I have ever seen to a famous five book - Thatched houses in a tiny village with one path through the woods to a gorgeous little bay, with kids swimming and a shop selling fish off the boat.
I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a quiet afternoon by the sea. Its a stunning place and unbelievable to think about when you are in big city like Manchester or London.
Cadgwith Harbour

We spent a while just sitting in the sun and watching the locals, before heading back to Newquay. That night we had a few beers in Walkabout with a kangaroo steak and the England Hungary match on the biggest screen I have ever seen - It was at least 5 by 4 metres!

Thursday 13 Aug - The plan today was to drive down to St Michael's mount and Lands End, but the weather was a bit shitty, so we decided instead to go across towards St Austell and visit 'The Eden Project. Now, I like a bit of gardening, but I didn't really know what to expect. But I thought the Eden Project was brilliant.
If you are ever down in the area, you have to go and see it for yourself. It's in a spectacular setting. I expected an uptight and up its own arse place trying to preach to everyone how to save the world from destruction. But, while they do have that message, it isn't thrust down your throat. They have done a brilliant job down there, whether its the bio domes themselves - one is roasting hot like a jungle and the other mildly Mediterranean, or the barbecue that they had on serving brilliant food. Its just a really great place. I really enjoyed the short film that showed how it was all built as well and what it all means. Go there!

Eden Project waterfall

Eden Project bio domes

Anyway, after a good day out we went back to Newquay and decided to avoid the 'young pubs', as there were too many trendy kids, who had their pants hanging out of ill fitted jeans and couldn't do up their shoelaces. We decided instead to have a quiet one in Wetherspoons down the other end of town and then went into 'The Griffin Inn' for one. This turned out to be a great traditional pub, with glasses hanging behind the bar, a barman who was over 30 and a good mix of locals and families. We ended up chatting to a couple at the bar who were on their honeymoon and shared a few rounds with them whilst they told us their war stories from their surfing lessons. Eventually the pub shut and we went home for the last night.

The next morning I woke up and had a shitty hangover, so while Dan drove down towards Penzance and St Michael's mount (after returning to to the hotel to get back his map book) I kipped in the passenger seat.

It was another good day out - the sea breeze eased my hangover as we wandered over the causeway to St Michael's mount and got even better by the time we arrived in Lands End in the early afternoon.

St Michael's Mount

Lands End itself, with the walks and views from the cliffs is great, but it is a little spoilt by the 'theme park' type entrance and side shows of 'Dr Who' and other stuff. I suppose it keeps the kids happy for a while, but at least the views are free.
After a wander around and taking a few pics we headed off to the car and set off for Wales - We had been invited for a night out in Blackwood (Just North of Cardiff) by Neil - a mate of Dans from work. It only took about 4 hours to get there, including a stop to buy a pasty from the garage and a discussion whether Ginsters was pronounced like 'Gin' or not!!

Me at Lands End

We arrived at Neils and he showed us round the house he is doing up - It's going to be great when its finished and has a lovely kitchen and bathrooms (The sinks drain in 1 and a half minutes), but we were to spend the night sleeping on the floorboards, with a sleeping bag and roll mat to keep comfortable.

After the house tour we headed the 7 and half minutes into Blackwood and into Porters - A pub/nightclub/thing............

All I will say is that its a good job it was dark in there - The music was loud, the drink was served in plastic glasses and the people were very friendly. Neil and Dan got on the dance floor with the locals, while I relaxed at the bar until finally I could take no more, said goodbye and headed off home with a Chicken Kebab.

On the floor at Neils House

The next morning we went to a little cafe with Neil where we had the best bacon and sausage butties ever - Served on doorstop hand cut soft white bread and a mug of coffee - It beats McDonald's egg mcmuffin anyday!! So cheers for the night out and the Breakfast Neil!!

That afternoon we headed back to Dans place in Redditch and had a quiet night at cinema watching 'The Expendables', which is the most over the top, cheesy, violent/gun/kung fu/mad film I have ever seen - Its great!!!
Then to the pub for Match of the Day!!

Sunday was spent in Dudley at 'The Black Country Museum'. We had been recommended a visit by Gareth and Tracey and weren't disappointed -apart from the queues at the 2 Chip shops -

But we did go down the 'mine', saw the 1920's cinema, bakery, sweet shop etc and had a drink in the old pub before having a trip on a boat through the old mine canal tunnels and caves.
It really is a good day out and we only left after sitting in the park watching the brass band for a bit and finally left when it closed.

Dinner was in the pub that night followed by the pub quiz, where everyone openly cheats, using mobiles and the Internet. We did OK, since there were only the two of us, but it was another good night out.

Finally the next morning I got up and left,heading back for Northampton.
Dudley Canal Tours - Not in the Jungle!!

I'm in Northampton now and just about to get out of bed and go for a third run in three days - I want to be as fit as possible when I start the trip in two and a half weeks, so I'm trying to run everyday. I also have a bit more shopping to finish off before the trip.............