July 19, 2007

Measurements

The UK is somewhat crazy in terms of measurements. They have speed signs in terms of miles per hour (50 mph) but then the directions are given in kilometers - it is 50 km to that town.

We even saw a sign that mixed up both - it was a maximum height sign that said something like 7 meters, 5 feet.

When I first got in my car, I thought that the speed limits would be km/hour and I saw 50 and wondered, that is pretty dang slow. I had no idea which one so I kind of went in the middle of both until I confirmed it. It seemed very strange, eh?

Americans: Stop whining about gas prices

Let me just give the stats:

My car here has about a 12 gallon tank.
I filled it up with 45 litres of gas at about £1 per litre. So that was about £45 - or $90. So do some math and you see that is about $8.50 a gallon!

So stop whining Americans.
Start walking or biking.

July 16, 2007

Salcombe

England then really redeemed itself a week ago Saturday (July 7) when I followed a suggestion made by my friend/colleague, Simon Hooper, to visit the cliffs near Salcombe. It is a mere 20-30 miles south of Plymouth yet takes 1.5 hours to drive there because you are on tiny roads. But beautiful roads, nonetheless. I stopped at a wee village to take pictures of a church and then its gravestones.

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This trail reminded me a lot of the Lost Coast trail along the coast of California, north of Mendocino, where Hwy 1 turns inland and joins up with 101 for a time. That hike is also incredible though this was is in constant vistas of the coast and not exactly as treacherous as the Lost Coast trail (or at least feelings of treachery).

Then moved along – another town was having a market day and I was tempted to stop but it was nearing on noon and my whole purpose was to get some walking in. So I kept going toward Salcombe.
When I got to Salcombe, I had looked at a map and saw that there was parking near “south beach? where Simon had directed me to go. However, I kept going up this tiny, tiny (I mean tiny!) road and climbed up and up (elevation I was avoiding walking) and I was delighted to find a National Trust parking lot at the top near the youth hostel – a youth hostel which was absolutely gorgeous. It actually looked like Los Angeles with the palm trees along the road.
I started on my walk and ended up walking for 6 hours and likely walked about 10 miles which was absolutely THE BEST! Since I felt as if I had been indoors for 2 weeks straight which is not far from the truth. I am enclosing pictures from the day.

Town of Salcombe from behind the youth hostel:

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Beautiful bay where people were water skiing with gusto (see the walking trail in the background):
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Another view of the same bay:
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I'd say these cows have a nice view:
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A friend along the trail:
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I ended the day by finding a nice restaurant, The Catch, in Salcombe in which to dine (by myself). I was not exactly dressed for dinner (shorts and Chaco sandals after hiking in my boots all day) but they let me in and I had: deep fried brie with cranberry/raspberry chutney and carmelized onions (incredible). Then I had scallops with garlic butter sauce, veges and a glass of wine.

I got home around 10PM and was utterly exhausted that I could not hold my eyes open!

Traditional Music

About a week and a half ago, England tried to redeem itself and it was somewhat successful. It started on a Thursday night at the Rod and Line pub in Landrake, west of our cottage compound. The whole ed tech faculty and Jean Pierre (JP) who is an international teacher from France but who assists the program director, went out this pub because JP thought it to be great. Their main dishes were crab or prawns – we all chose crab and 3 huge woks full of crab showed up at our table. We all dug in with all 10 fingers each.
Perhaps better than they hearty sea-bed meal was the entertainment. The owner seemed to be already drunk when we arrived around 6pm. Later on, a group of traditional musicians came in and set up camp right next to our large table. There were men and women, mostly later on in their years, some appeared to be siblings, all were drinking a pint or well drink. They were making sweet music and I was cursing myself that I did not have my digital voice recorder with me!!! Brandon also did not bring his camera but Leigh had brought hers (we all have generally the same camera) so shots were taken.
The evening ended way earlier than I wanted it to. I almost wanted to drive right back after our carpool ended at our cottages but alas, work the next day overshadowed my intent on experiencing the English experience. So I went to bed to get my 6 hours’ sleep. Did I mention that this program is absolutely draining the life out of me?

July 5, 2007

Rain and sick

It's raining again. This is 14 days of rain in a row. Now I'm also sick with a sore throat, aches and pains, headache, and stuffed up nose.

I can safely say there is not a lot of enjoyment going on here.

Morning greeting from local

On my way to class on Wednesday morning, I passed a woman walking her 2 dogs through campus. She was wearing a quilted jacket and I approached wearing my everyday uniform, a fleece jacket, while crossing my arms and clutching myself.

She says, "It's like a winter day, isn't it?"

Enough said.

July 2, 2007

Detour

It seems everyday Brandon and I drive home from class, we have a new adventure. We left kind of later than usual and we experienced some traffic. We stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things, respectively. We have each become fans of the prepared food – MSU gives us enough per diem to buy whatever we feel like. I already had enough dinner food but needed bananas and bread and some lunch meat. They hand carved the roast turkey I wanted – ummm, when does that ever happen? And it wasn’t a butcher. I wanted to find scones but they didn’t have any. I will need to find a bakery.

We returned to the car – it was raining. (umm, are you surprised?) We headed back to our main road, A38, and only have about 1.5 miles more to go, but the highway heading our way was now closed by the police. I started wonder, “How are we going to get home? We only know one way?? So we went a different way and fortunately ended up on A38 in the direction we wanted to go. But within a few yards, all the traffic stopped and we could see that all the traffic had to turn off the highway – only a mere .5 mile from our cottage. So we started our adventure. We turned off at the second left and then turned left again when we saw a small sign for Landrake/St. Germans. It was another single-car road and we actually met one lorrie (truck) and car but we made it by. A car was following us. We were so happy to find out that we ended up right at our cottage! The most amusing part of the whole adventure is that the car behind us, assumedly thinking we actually knew our way around, followed us all the way into our cottage compound when I stopped to drop Brandon off at his cottage. They turned around and returned out of our cottage area. We were laughing quite a bit!

Rain holiday

It is raining. It has been raining since I got here. We have not had one day without rain and most days are all day rain or at the very least, all day clouds with rain. --------

There are holiday cottages all over Cornwall.

Ridiculous, lazy food in UK

Want a slice of lemon or lime in your drink? Want some ice in your drink. For a mere 2.50 pounds ($5), you can buy 10 slices of lemon or lime that are individually frozen in water. What a deal, right?

Weather Woman/Man

On TV at night, the weather person gets on and shows a large map of the UK. It has no city names and is covered in clouds and arrows showing wind direction. The cloud cover covers up almost all the outline of the country so you have no idea where you are or what is really happening. They also do not show any other map – just a large unmarked map with cloud cover and arrows. There is no other information to support their weather report so you learn absolutely nothing from the report.

But – what is there to really know? That it is going to rain again? Or continue to rain?

JULY 1: NO SMOKING

Lucky for me, the no smoking extends beyond just Gatwick airport – every workplace bars smoking!!! That means no smoking in pubs, restaurants etc. etc. Those of you who know me well know that this makes me very ecstatic!

Innovation in UK

One innovation I like is that in restaurants, there is no need for the waiter to take your credit card away. They bring a portable card charger with them to the table and charge your card right there and allow you to sign or add tip or whatever right there on the machine which is the size of a small shoe.

Saturday Touring in the rain

Anneke and I toured around Cornwall in the RAIN. First, we went to the Eden Project which is a revamped mine. You can’t believe that just a few years ago, this was an ugly scar on the landscape. (Northern MN should take note.)

Eden Project greenhouses

Anneke amidst hydrangeas

It has the largest greenhouse in the world. We were lucky in that the first hour or so, there was no rain so we were able to walk around outside.

Terraced Gardens

Lilies

Terraced food garden

When it started raining, we moved in to have a bite to eat and then walked through the Tropical (largest) greenhouse. Incredible! My camera lens constantly fogged up when I took the lens cap off.

We then headed to Foway (pronounced Foy I was smartly told by Simon, my colleage at UMN). At one point, we went the wrong way and mistakenly thought Par was Foway and I kept saying “Foway sucks? because it was just a port. But we realized our mistake when we ended up at the same highway (the road we were on was a half circle) and we tracked back and saw the turn for Foway. Foway was very pretty, as you can see, though it was raining and very hilly and steep and there was no parking except in car parks at the top of the hill so we just drove around.

Foway city and waterway

We were about to leave but found our way down to the water by following signs to the ferry. We looked at the map more closely and were sad to see that we had to detour back around this water inlet – likely about 45-55 minutes to get over the water where we wanted to continue our tour. As we sat in the car in the parking lot looking across the water, even seeing a road that ended in the water, surmising that people let boats off there, we happened to see cars driving onto a ferry. We both realized, “A ferry!!? For some odd reason, though we followed the signs down here by following signs for the ferry, we didn’t actually realize there was a car ferry. We drove quickly out of the parking lot to get over to the ferry and I just drove on. Anneke wondered how much it would be and if I should get on. I said, I don’t care if it is 10 pounds, we are taking it! It ended up being 2 pounds. We were so happy to go across on the ferry and it made our day!

Ferry ride

Across the water

We continued on along the coast and went to Polperro next. It was 5pm and, in this town, you have to again park at the top and walk down into the town. It was pouring rain again, and Anneke was trying to make a deal with mother nature for 30 minutes of no rain in exchange for rain all night. It rained the whole time we walked down into the town, and it was desolate. We went into a pub and had a half-pint and rested.

Cheers in Polperro

View from our cubby upstairs in the pub

Then we returned to our car and headed back to our cottage where I took a 20 minute nap because I was absolutely exhausted from teaching.

We then had dinner in a small town called Saltash just near our cottage. The ambiance could have been better but the food was good.

Friday night after class

On Wednesday I went on a run outside and uphill! It ended up being a walk but I found some great fields with sheep and vistas. I told Brandon about it because he was looking for sheep and other animals. We just needed a slightly sunny day to take some pictures that didn’t have a completely white sky. So, on the way back on Friday when it was mildly cloudy/clear, I directed Brandon to the road that I had taken for my walk/run and we ended up driving into the sheep field because we didn’t want to block the road.

Backing car into field

Car in field

No worries – we have 100% coverage for insurance against any scratches (good thing!). No, the gate looks closer than it was.

Later that day, David, Brandon and I went to dinner at a nice restaurant in East Looe, about 30 minutes away from our cottages. It was very nice out and I was actually able to wear a silk skirt and was not cold though it was still cloudy as you might expect. My friend, Anneke who is Belgian but lives in London, was then picked up by us at the Plymouth rail station. Brandon got a picture of David and me as I consulted the map in the car to provide some direction as we returned to Plymouth.

Thursday night after class


On the way home from class on Thursday, Brandon and I decided we wanted to find a really narrow street to drive up so he could get some pictures. We didn’t end up on the road he had been before but still got some pics of us on our one-car road (we didn’t meet anyone, luckily).

Driving on Small Road

Driving on Small Road 2

But we did find a great spot for a vista and some friendly goats and a donkey.

Joan feeding donkey

Joan petting donkey

We also found fresh farmhouse eggs which we stopped a bought (.65 pence/ 6 eggs) at a location that also was a B&B and had a barking chocolate Labrador (Bosco I miss you!!!) who crumbled as we approached and flipped over for a great tummy rub.