Thursday, 1 October 2015

Falmouth At Last

Friday 18 September 2015. After yesterday's wrong turning I made sure I knew which direction to take and we set off for Falmouth for the second time, arriving there for the first time! This is the first reason for my title "Falmouth At Last". The second reason is that our visit to Falmouth comes on our last full day in Cornwall.

We parked up a horrendously steep hill and walked down to the shopping streets, knees complaining loudly at the stress. "This will be fun to walk back up later!" went through my mind...

We had a coffee in a cafe near the main pier but they had no toilets and I was advised to go round to the ones on the pier just round the corner. Doing this and in some haste, I burst in upon the scene of a drugs transaction... Being in no position to retire gracefully and come back later, I ignored them in all but every single sense apart from sight... The seller nipped off smartly but the buyer went straight into one of the stalls to get his fix. I made sure I was well out of the way before he came out!

This is Fish Strand Quay where, on 4 November 1805, Lt. John Richards Lapenotiere, Captain of HM Schooner Pickle arrived with the news of the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, tempered by the news of the death of Lord Nelson. He reached London in 38 hours to report to the Admiralty, the journey by coach usually taking a week.

We found Falmouth a little strange. I don't know what I had been expecting or whether we just stayed in the wrong bit, but the riverside was quite built up and there were numerous little harbours and jetties to be found by walking between buildings from the street to the river. You couldn't walk all the way along a river path but kept having to come back to the street, along for a few buildings and then down again.

A ship's figurehead in the alley at the side of The Wheelhouse pub. It is well known for its seafood apparently. We both hate the stuff so we avoided it! Fish I don't mind and prawns providing they are already in their pink state and don't need any bits removing before eating, but things that live in shells I definitely do not want to pass my lips! So oysters, mussels, cockles, winkles, and things like crabs and lobster - you can keep them!

One of the alleys we went down led to a car park and another to this view of a couple of pilot boats. One was moored up but the other had been out on a job, helping a boat or ship in or out of the estuary and was coming slowly back into harbour.

The Harbour Master's Office is the stone building in the centre of the photo. As with Plymouth we found plenty of public houses dotted liberally around the waterfront. From the left there is The Stable (in the singular - I would have expected "The Stables"), The Quayside Inn" and on the right we'll have a closer look in the next photo.

There is actually two pubs here next door to each other. In the two-storey building is The Shipwrights and next door with three storeys, The Chainlocker which opened its doors to Falmouth's thirsty folk and visitors in 1660. It is Falmouth's second oldest pub (after The Seven Stars) missing out on first place by mere weeks.

Falmouth gave us some great views but in bits, rather than being able to walk alongside the river uninterrupted. We also found and looked round a few fascinating antiques shops, stopping short in one as a large dog bounded in through the open door and squeezed past me to get behind the counter. Its owner came in a second later and said, "Don't mind him - he comes here for biscuits!" Sure enough the owner of the shop brought out a packet and gave the dog a couple upon which it allowed him to pat it for a second or two then it was off and out the door, followed rapidly by its owner.

"He comes in for two biscuits and knows that once he's had those there won't be any more until tomorrow!" said the shop owner cheerfully. We had dinner near the main pier in a tea room. I had a milk shake, but sadly most of these have some sort of thickening these days and you need suction like a Dyson vacuum cleaner to get the stuff up the straw. Besides if you eat thickening, what do you suppose that does to you in the end... Milk, Crusha strawberry syrup and a small blob of ice cream and I'm happy. Straining at a drinking straw full of pig fat like swamp muck and I'm not...

The hill to the car park was every bit as exciting to climb as I had thought it might be. Thigh muscles screaming we got to the car and left for the return journey to Newquay.

Having parked the car back at the B&B, we walked down into the town and around the beaches. I decided to have a go at sketching Towan Beach which has an island with an art gallery, joined to the mainland with a short suspension bridge. Fran left me for a look round the shops whilst I sat, huddled in the wind on a balcony overlooking the beach, totally on my own. No one else was braving the wind except the seagulls, one of which landed near me and eyed me hopefully.

About 45 minutes later my phone went. I had moved from where Fran left me and the balcony I was sitting on (and that far-too-optimistic seagull was still standing on) was halfway down the cliff, reached via some narrow steps and then a ramp. I had more or less finished apart from working over some bits to darken them and we made our way back to The Griffin pub for a drink before repeating the success of the first night's helping of steak in ale pie.

The barman was passing our table and did a double take at the sketch that I was finishing off. "Have you drawn that?" he asked... Then he had to nip back off behind the bar as a stag party came in. Miss Franny was not amused at the groom-to-be's trousers being yanked to his ankles and for a moment I had a flashback to my father's frantic efforts to hush my mother in the 1960s as she would get incensed because one of a gang of teddy boys had said "bloody" and she would screech in a loud voice, "I'll tell him about his language in a minute!", no doubt raising visions in Dad's head of him having to step into insurmountable odds to protect her.

They were loud but they weren't all that bad and the only other incident was an almost full pint knocked over which they all roared their amusement at. We went into the dining room for our meal, leaving them behind. The steak in ale pie was just as large as it had been at the start of the week...

And that brings us to the end of this holiday. Unless we decide to nip off for another short break, the next trip will have to wait until 2016. And then we will be in the company of the EGGs. Son-in-law Edward, daughter Gillian and our darling granddaughter Grace. And may well meet up with someone with the initials MM...

Post Script

Phew! This post marks one thousand, five hundred posts on the blog! PARTY!!!

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