CORNWALL AND ST MICHAEL'S MOUNT
When I was back in the Midlands ostensibly getting Thebus sorted out I took the opportunity of popping by and catching up with a few friends and neighbours, and Chris, the living breathing sat nav had said that as I was so far south at Stonehenge I really ought to carry on down to Cornwall - "which is lovely at this time of year".
I checked and it was about one hundred and eighty miles, which didn't sound all that far to be honest. But I had forgotten to factor in that we can be slow on some of the roads. In fact the road we used was pretty good and I felt I had kept up quite a speed, so why, having got on the road well before five it took till eleven to get to by Perranporth is beyond me. Ok I did stop for a coffee, and took a slight detour to get lpg at a cheaper price, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to take that long. Still at last we were there, and it was a well enough kept site, but it had come so highly recommended that being in Cornwall I somehow imagined it would have views of the sea. I think I have been so thoroughly spoilt by the wonderful, places (not in caravan sites) that I have stopped in Scotland and the various islands that my expectations have become too high
Also we are now well into June and tourist numbers were building up with the consequence one possibly feels slightly less welcome than one might a bit more out of season, unless of course the Cornish were living up to their reputation regarding their love of tourists. Anyway we managed to squeeze up the drive in between the obligatory ‘Cornish Palm Trees’ and park sideways on the gravel next to a high hedge, and stayed for a few days whilst I got my breath back after the excitement of the last week or so. As I have said before continual travel can be tiring, especially when one is not sure where the night will be spent and not only must research be done on where to stay, but how to get there. Perhaps I was just feeling tired from lack of sleep at Stonehenge, but I enjoyed my break from driving, and also took the opportunity give Thebus a tidy out and to get some washing done and dried in the warm sunshine.
It was now obvious there was something really wrong with the way the scooter was charging and I was not sure what to do about it. But a lovely couple who were travelling around in a Vintage VW Campervan suggested getting an Exegon battery charger, and also googling to see if I could get some help from a disabled association, which I thought was excellent advice, and wondered why I hadn’t thought of that myself
I contacted the Cornish Association and a lovely guy turned up that evening to see if he could help. In the event there was nothing he could do, but did give the name of a an automotive electricians who might possibly be able to sort things out.
Phoning them they were busy for a while, but I booked Thebus in and decided to carry on as best I could and tour a little of the south coast of Cornwall before my appointment
St Michael’s Mount was high on my list of ‘must see’ places, and knowing it was owned by the National Trust I phoned them to check parking facilities for Thebus and also to if they had a mobility scooter available to book, which they did. The parking they suggested was in the town which looked quite good regarding my walking to get to the ferry.
The island itself is reachable via a causeway at low tide, but once the waters cover it then regular ferry boats take passengers across. I knew the walk over the causeway would be far too long for me to contemplate, and had decided to park up, wait for the tide to rise - apparently not long gone two in the afternoon - take the boat to the island, and use the National Trust scooter to access what I could of the island.
Knowing the streets in the town were likely to be narrow I set out as usual around five thirty and duly arrived in the sleeping town. I managed to get to the carpark via an excruciatingly tight hairpin bend and parked up looking out over the sea. The sign said parking fees for the day were taken by an attendant, who hadn’t appeared as yet, so I cooked some breakfast and Phoebe and I watched the early morning dog walkers coming and going from the beach, though I was somewhat alarmed when there was often loud banging on the side of the vehicle, and though I looked out I couldn’t see who had done it. At about eight thirty there was even more loud banging this time on the door and the carpark attendant told me I was not allowed to stay there. Thinking of the terrible hairpin, and the now active morning traffic I more or less pleaded to stay, saying it said nothing about no motorhomes on the carpark signs, and I was happy to pay for two spaces, but he was adamant - I had to go, plus he wanted to charge me for parking overnight. Apparently it was him who had been banging on the sides, he said to wake me up!! When I explained I had arrived early he obviously didn’t believe me.
Fortunately there was an easier way out than the way I had come in - Strict Lady must have been in one of her spiteful moods - so after having turned round and escaped we headed to the next carpark along, though being there would give me a much longer walk to the ferry.
The next carpark didn’t open until nine, and the very cross attendant glared at me as I arrived, to such an extent that I asked him if motorhomes were unwelcome in St. Michael’s Mount. To which he replied angrily ’They cause trouble’ - so far my day was not turning out well!
He told me to turn right to park, and when I did ran after me shouting that I should have turned right, turned right, and turned right again, which had he explained I would have done, though it didn’t make any sense to me with a huge empty carpark to choose from, especially when he made me park so close to the only other vehicle in the carpark that I couldn't even open the door fully. Still, I did as I was told, while he returned sullenly to his little hut and waited for me to walk over to it to pay the fee, which he could have easily taken from me when I parked. So it is certainly true in some places about Cornishmen and tourists, well tourists in motorhomes at least.
So I sat for the next five hours looking at his hut, being unable to use the scooter, and wanting to save my walking abilities for the afternoon and St Michael’s Mount. It was not the best of views, and I noticed that those customers he did know were welcomed with smiles and chat.
Still it was another glorious day, and doing my best to forget my introduction to the Cornish seaside I walked the longish distance to the ferry departure point - a large rock about halfway down the sands, from which the little ferry boats plyed across to the island quite regularly, and it was a real pleasure to be so near the sparkling sea again after my sojourn in the Midlands. As we passed the causeway, now completely covered by the incoming tide I was astounded to see people still walking back to the mainland with the sea way past their waists, some with arms held high to keep possessions from the water. I was not sure if they were intrepid locals, or foolhardy tourists.
It was a clear sunny day and there were lovely views back across the bay to the town. Click the link at the bottom to see photos of my day.
Unfortunately although the National Trust allowed me the use of the scooter it couldn’t take me up to the actual castle at the top, and the stairs just looked too much too long and steep for me, especially as I would have even further to walk back to Thebus after the return ferry trip, which, owing to the incoming tide would now land much further up the coast. So I missed seeing inside the castle, which was a disappointment, but at least I got to the island, and was blessed with glorious weather throughout.
Standing in the beautiful stone harbour waiting for a ferry boat back to the mainland I noticed a bronze plaque carefully mounted in the wall with an inscription honouring the visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I looked it up online, and found out that the royal couple had made an impromptu visit in 1846 when they were cruising in the area not long after the launch of their first Royal Yacht. The St. Aubyns were ‘not at home’ and the royal couple had to be shown round by the housekeeper. How irritating would that be? The Queen comes round and you are out for the day. No wonder they put up a plaque. Or perhaps it was in a place they never personally passed, not wanting to be reminded? I wonder if they stayed in during the summer holidays till 1901?