Sunday, 1 July 2012

Scones in Shropshire, pasties in Penzance and a bit more chickenpox

We left Ipswich a week last Friday to drive to my Uncle's house in Shropshire. Conveniently, this took us almost directly through Northampton where my oldest friend Lottie lives with her lovely four children. We called in for coffee and a long overdue chat - we haven't seen each other for over four years. Whatever the joys of living in Australia, it is difficult to replace life-long friends who know you inside out.

Flossie and Freddie loved playing with big kids Mylo and Merrie. They were very hospitable and shared all their toys as well as giving Rob a guided tour of Northampton's Rock Bottom so he could buy an alien in an egg (don't ask) for his nephew, Liam.

Boys hanging on the stairs
Girls playing with Barbie pony

We arrived in Shropshire in time for the children to have some tea with their (second? once removed?) cousins, Poppy and Tomas, and for us to enjoy some of Sue's amazing scones with home made jam.

Rob and Sue have bought the most beautiful house in a tiny village surrounded by rolling (albeit rain soaked) hills.

It is just the place for a big family get together and we were very spoiled with food, wine, country walks, pub lunches, log fires, newspapers and plenty of help with the kids. Everything you need for a perfect English country weekend. Flossie and Freddie loved playing with their cousins and there were many tears when it was time for Flossie and Poppy to say goodbye.
Rob (aka Grandad Beard), Seth and Lorraine begin a walk
Napping in the backpack (no, we didn't suffocate him)
Yet another impressive cheese board
Sweet cousins

We packed up and left early on Monday morning for the long drive to Newlyn in Cornwall. We stayed in the little fisherman's cottage that Dad and Uncle Rob jointly own. You can't drive a car down the street, so you get a real sense of what it must have been like 100 years ago.

Unfortunately the Cornish weather did not turn on its charms for our visit. We enjoyed an initial sunny day when the kids were able to explore some rock pools on the beach but then the rain came and hung around on and off until our last day.

On one such rainy day, Jess made me do a five hour with limited waterproof clothing - we pretty much walked across Cornwall. We had to navigate an electric fence and a field of very large cows, so it was something of an adventure. Catching the train back from Carbis Bay, I have never been so pleased to see a station buffet and score a cup of tea in my life.

We had a windy walk across the causeway to St Michael's Mount. I hadn't been there since I was a child and I'd forgotten how impressive it was. Flossie loved the castle with its medieval banqueting chamber and state rooms.

We also enjoyed some Cornish culinary treats. Pasties, of course, but Dad and Caroline even impressed their French friends with the quality and quantity of great restaurants around Newlyn. Rob, Jess and I had a great meal at Jean Shrimpton's restaurant in Penzance and then Dad, Caroline, Jess and I enjoyed another feast in Mousehole.

Another highlight was the Golowan festival in Penzance - the traditional mid-summer celebration. School children create huge puppets out of wire and paper mache and parade them through the streets. Together with some traditional Cornish music (think accordion, fiddle and big bass drum), it was blood stirring stuff.

Unfortunately, the Golowan Festival also saw the return of our spotty friends. Flossie started feeling poorly while we were watching the festival and was feverish with little spots appearing by the time we got home. This meant a quiet last day resting for Flossie and I, mainly watching Cbeebies, although I did get her out for an ice-cream and a short drive to my beloved grandparents house in Treslothan. We picked some flowers from the hedgerows to place on their memorial stone and walked down to the cottage where I spent many happy summer holidays. A bit sentiment of me, but I loved doing this with Flossie, even though it prompted another long discussion about death.

Rob, Dad, Caroline and Freddie went a bit further afield, in search of Rob's ancestors. They managed to find evidence of one Boundy - Mary Ann - in the Perranzabuloe churchyard. You cannot imagine how pleased my dad is to have a son-in-law with Cornish heritage. 

Rob was also pleased because he had spent much of the week on a fruitless search for some surf, which was either flat or blown out. They luckily came upon a beach with great conditions, so he managed to get one Cornish surf in.

We left Rob in Cornwall to visit a mine in Plymouth and drove back to Dad and Caroline's in Surrey on Monday. Mum and Jo came up to have lunch on our last Wednesday before we flew out to Dubai in the evening.

It has been a great visit to the UK - for once not too rushed. I managed to see some very old and dear friends, including a wonderful last minute visit from Pooh on our last evening. The children have spent some quality time with their grandparents. So, all in all, a very special trip.

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