Monday, 16 January 2017

Portscatho January 2017: Part 5

All good things come to an end and so did our sojourn on the Roseland Peninsular. We took a chance with the weather and finished off with two shorter walks to join up the dots between previously completed stretches. Walk 1 (after a Magical Mystery Tour on a Number 50 bus) was a 4 mile linear one from Veryan back to Portscatho. Walk two was a circular 4 miler from Portloe to Portholland and back to Portloe via the Coastal Footpath. Hey, no rain on either of them.
I like coming across the unusual in unexpected places and this wasn't far from the start of our first walk just outside of Veryan. A cheery piece of burnished metalwork by the footpath as it passed through an old mill in a wooded valley down to the sea.
Looking east across the sands of Pendower Beach towards Nare Head, which we've already walked a while back.
Looking west at the end of our walk towards Portscatho across Porthcurnick Beach.
The Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick. I've read that it has a cult following for its food and foodie events in the summer months. It's not that hidden but it's a bit of a walk to get there.
And on to Walk 2. The next three shots, taken within a minute of each other, illustrate what makes walking the Coastal Footpath so interesting and varied. Shot 1: looking out to sea at Perbagus Point above Portholland Cove.
Shot 2: a few degrees to the right of Shot 1.
Shot 3: a few more degrees to the right of Shot 2.
Flowers by the wayside: an early Common Violet.
Flowers by the wayside: early flowering Pasties (Crimpus oggyensis). Distinguished by their diaphanous petals and rich pseudo-stamen clusters designed to tempt passing foragers. A rare find and a case of 'finders' keepers', in clear contravention of the 1968 Wildlife Act which prohibits the picking and eating of wildflowers.
Looking west up the coast with Gull Rock clearly visible off Nare Head.
A Robin lurking in the bracken.
A Grey Heron lurking on the rocks. It's not often that we see them on the seashore. It's frozen in concentration and will stay perfectly still by the water's edge for long lengths of time, searching for fish. Grey Herons seem to have an uncanny ability to freeze, all concentration focused on their quarry. I wonder what it was waiting for. Crabs? Small fish? Shrimps? Probably anything it could catch.
Looking down on the end of our second walk, Portloe. A small fishing/tourist village featured as St Gweep in a rather strange comedy in the 1990s called Wild West and starring Dawn French and Catherine Tate. It once had an RNLI lifeboat (circa 1870) but they discovered that the weather that caused demands on their services came from the direction that prevented them getting the lifeboat out of the harbour. They persevered for a few years and then decided to pack their oars away. Nowadays, people are more likely to have heard of the gastropub near the slipway, the Lugger, than Portloe itself.
I liked the undulating handrail on the side of the footpath as it dropped into the village.
One of the guides to this particular walk had the strange instruction: 'turn right at the duck'. Know we know, even though the duck looks suspiciously like a gull. To avoid confusing any rambling ornithologists, perhaps the walk guide should be revised to say 'turn right at the gull'?
She seems to be saying "I'll keep an eye out for you for when you are next passing". We might just do that.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Portscatho January 2017: Part 4

Another day, another walk. But this time with five friends who had come to visit for the day. Our route, just 4 miles, took us across the peninsular from Portscatho to Roseland church and from there we traced a circular track around Messack Point. Windy in parts but dry. Lots of vistas and good company, with a very nice meal at the Plume and Feathers at Portscatho at the end of it.
Map of Saint Just-in-Roseland
This map shows the position of St Just and the size of the parish of the same name. Although much, much smaller than St Mawes, St Just is the parish church and that's where all the burials (and baptisms and marriages) from St Mawes have taken place over the centuries.
The church of St Just in Roseland, founded in 505 by St Just, a son of an early Cornish king, Geraint. The location of this church, situated as it is on the banks of a creek, makes it a very popular tourist attraction. And understandably so as it is in a lovely tranquil spot. Roseland, by the way, derives from the Cornish word for heath, rhos.
The view across the creek from the church. It is a popular mooring spot for yachts as it has direct access to sailing in the Carrick Roads. All of the yachts have been taken out of the water for the winter months.
Inside the light and airy church. It has a very nice atmosphere.
The church was full of many colourful kneelers, most of which had an animal or plant theme. These few were about remembrance.Taken with some friends in the USA in mind.
Set in a sub-tropical garden planted up by a Victorian plantsman called Tresseder, the graveyard rambles over a very wide and hilly area and is an intriguing jumble of styles and ages. So much to look at, so little time to do so.
Here's one that piqued my interest. Of all the headstones in all the graveyards we visit, why is it that those with a WW1 connection leap out at me? More often than not, I don't seek them out deliberately but I still come across them. One of the inscriptions reads: Richard Amyas Preston, RAMC, killed in France 1918 aged 26. The gauntlet has been thrown down and the challenge accepted. What can we find out about Richard Amyas Preston? Actually quite a lot for very little effort.
Richard was educated at the London Hospital, but before taking his M.B., B.S. degree he served in the Balkan War of 1912-13. When the Great War broke out he was holding an appointment at the Poplar Hospital, which he resigned on receiving a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corp. Richard originally joined the R.A.M.C. Special Reserve at the rank of Lieutenant on 6th August 1914. He mobilized on the 12th, then entered the war in France on 20th August 1914. He was promoted to Captain on 1st April 1915, then gained a permanent regular army commission at the rank of Lieutenant (T/Captain) on 1st January 1917. On 10th September 1917 he was given the rank of acting Lieutenant Colonel whilst in command of the 58th Field Ambulance. He gained the full rank of Captain on 12th February 1918. Richard was mortally wounded while attending to the removal of patients under heavy bombardment, dying the same day (7th June 1918). He is buried in the Sezanne Communal Cemetery at Marne in France. He was clearly a very brave man as he was awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre and was mentioned in dispatches twice.
We came across this carved quotation by a wooden bridge over a stream as we dropped into Messack Wood. I was mightily impressed when one of our walkers was able to quote, without hesitation, the rest of it at length. It's from the Desiderata, a prose poem from 1927 by Max Ehrmann. Why was it where it was? No idea. Google failed me on this one.
Not too sure what I did wrong with this shot of a Curlew as it seems to be in focus.
There were quite a few Redshanks poking around in the mud. Shanks = old name for legs and, guess what, they've got red legs.

A single Camelia with, I think, an early White-tailed Bumble Bee out on a forage.

And it was back along the banks of the creek to our starting point at the church.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Porrtscatho January 2017: Part 3

We've been trying to complete the 312 miles of the Cornwall Coastal Footpath for an embarrassingly long time. Our excuse is that we find it difficult to allocate enough time to walk significant chunks of it, hence one of the reasons for 'getting away' and concentrating on completing discrete sections. Quite often we find ourselves in the position of having to 'fill in' short stretches: today was one such when a short walk enabled us to join two pieces together. Just 3 miles in unexpectedly dry conditions above, but with plenty of mud below. It was basically a circumnavigation of St Anthony's Head.
For those wondering where the Roseland Peninsular is, here's a map. Just think due south of Truro and to the right of Falmouth.
Not as clear as for our last coastal jaunt. Looking eastwards across Porthbeor Beach with Nare Head in the distance.
We passed by St Anthony's church again and I took the opportunity to take this photograph looking up into the central spire. The outside is octagonal and you can pick out the eight segments of this around the central section.
Fairly common seabird just out of focus Part 34: Curlew. Downward curved beak so curlew or whimbrel. No whimbrels this far south so it must be a curlew.
Not-so-common seabird just out of focus Part 23: Purple Sandpiper. We've seen lots of them on the Scottish islands but they are not common in Cornwall.
I'm not a great lover of 'arty' shots and this isn't intended to be 'arty'. Simply a collection of bee hives that attracted me. Just think of all the bees contained in them just waiting for the temperatures to rise enough so they could go foraging. Not that foraging at this time of year would be productive.
The lighthouse at St Anthony's Head giving sailors a marker into the Carrick Roads.
Ditto.
St Gerent's church at Gerrans, just up the hill from Portscatho. Norman in origins but extensively restored by the dreaded Victorians. But they did leave the tower alone. It's unusual amongst churches in the county because it is octagonal. So what, you say? Wasn't St Anthony's church tower also octagonal? Yes, but that was a Victorian remodel in wood (to match the tower of Place House?): St Gerent's is in its original stone.
A very pleasant and light interior with two aisles.
Some of the original carved oak pew bench ends have been retained. If only they could talk. I wonder if anyone has written a book from the perspective of a bench end? Imagine what they have lived through: funerals, marriages, baptisms, celebrations of joy and catastrophe ..and so on.
Near the porch was an unusual round-headed Celtic cross. Lost for many years apparently and then recovered from the walls of a farm building.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

A tale of two interviews

Image result for may and sturgeon
Two interviews, two women, two different styles.

Theresa Maybe or Maybenot gave an interview last Sunday, during which she showed off the incredible political skill that has characterised her premiership – speaking at length while saying absolutely nothing at all and never, ever, giving a direct answer to a direct question. And you know that when she says she wants to be clear, she’s going to be as clear as mud. I think if she was asked what is the capital of the UK, she’d say something like: “I want to be very clear on this. We’re working towards the very best capital for all the people of the UK. It’s not a binary choice. The capital is the capital. The seat of government is the seat of government. The people of Britain deserve a bespoke capital that’s the seat of government of a country that believes in free trade and supports our friends and allies but which makes it own laws and controls its own borders, and that’s what I’m going to deliver.” Still, you can’t complain that May is inconsistent. She allows herself to be pinned down on nothing, and she delivers exactly that - nothing, simultaneously saying a lot while saying nothing substantial in an effort to distract us from the vacuity of her policy making. Or are we all wrong in thinking this? See later.......

On the same day, in another political interview, there was some straight talking and some definite commitments. And that could only mean that neither Theresa May nor the Labour party were involved. Nicola Sturgeon is a very different kind of politician. She’s got a plan and assured Andrew Marr that she was not bluffing. If the Tories take Scotland into a hard Brexit, there will be another independence referendum. She’s offering compromises, she’s offering negotiation, and if Theresa May’s government do not meet Scotland halfway then there will be another independence vote. Because if May won’t take Scotland’s position into account then all she’s doing is proving that the Union is as fictitious as her reputation for clarity. 
Image result for theresa may's trap
There is, of course, another interpretation of May's apparent constant spouting of content-free waffle instead of anything that approaches a route map for getting from A to B or, for that matter, any explanation of what B actually consists of. Maybe, just maybe, there is a grand game of double bluff going on and anyone who believes May is sitting on her bum with no plan is delusionary. Maybe she's got her army of civil servants beavering away on the details of Brexit. And when she triggers Article 50, she'll lay her cards on the table and shout “Gotcha. Full House”, leaving us all thinking “What happened there?” It would be wise for the opposition to be prepared for a sprung trap and maybe get their terms and conditions for Brexit out first. But will they? Nicola is doing it but the rest of them? All is silence.



Monday, 9 January 2017

Portscatho January 2017: Part 2

A few people have wondered why, as we live in Cornwall, we don't just travel to our walks each day. Today was one of the days that illustrate why. A leisurely breakfast, a five minute drive to the starting point, a walk, a short drive back to base and a relaxed evening. Why spend three hours travelling when it can be on our doorstep? And now the details of today's 8 miler.
Our walk started and ended just above the  harbour at Portscatho. No map is available as my GPS packed up about halfway around so a verbal description will have to do. We headed west along the coastal footpath, passing Towan and Porthbeor Beaches before we headed inland and crossed the St Anthony's peninsular to drop down to the other side to the River Percuil, one of the many creeks off the Fal Estuary. From there we walked through the woodland on the banks of the Percuil to the head of Porth Creek and then across country through the Rosteague Estate back to Portscatho.
Wayside Curiosity #1: on the front at Portscatho was a monument to the many soldiers killed in Burma during WW2 and who have no known grave. It's unique and was unveiled in 1998, following a campaign by just one old soldier who survived Burma and wanted his comrades remembered.. Another example of the power of  one determined person?
Seascape #1: just looking out to sea.
Seascape #2: looking west towards St Anthony's Head.
It's a Diver but which one? Great Northern, Red Throated or White Throated? Disappointingly, they were too far off to identify, a task made even more difficult by the fact that the winter plumage of all three is very similar.
Wayside Curiosity #2:Just by Towan Beach. A wooden pole about 15 foot high with regular hand/foot holds. A totem pole, perhaps? Installation art (not as far fetched as it may seem)?
No, of course, it's a wreck post but not any old wreck post. It's The Wreck Post. You can read what it is yourself. but, to me, it raises as many questions as it answers. How exactly was this done? From land? From a pretend wreck?
Behold a flock of Turnstones who were turning stones. Well, pebbles actually. But Turnpebble doesn't trip off the tongue so easily.
Seascape #3: with fishing boat.
Let sleeping seals lie - on an isolated cove between Towan and Porthbeor Beaches.

The tower of St Anthony's Church to the left and, in front of it, Place House. Built in 1840 on the site of a monastery,it's been described by Pevsner as 'symmetrical neo-Gothic at its least attractive'. I agree. It's hardly in the vernacular style, is it? At one time, the lawn to the right of the house was taken up by a pool for a tidal mill which served the monastery.
The local style of stone walling - herringbone because of the raw material to hand. It's rather attractive but must take an age to build.
Our first daffodils of the year. They are definitely running later than last year 'back home'.
Looking across to St Mawes from Place House. The commute for the Admirals Spry of Place House? A quick row across the Percuil River to their ships anchored in the Carrick Roads. A very popular place with holiday makers and the boating set, translating into many second and holiday homes and relatively few properties being occupied all year round. A common problem in Cornwall and, despite many suggestions as to how it can be regulated, no easy solution is imminent.