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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!

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!

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

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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.

June 27, 2007

Death by Bus

Yesterday we almost died by bus crash.

We were carpooling with our colleague, Jody, who should we say is a tentative driver in the UK. I was in the front passenger side and trying to not interfere with the driving but she occasionally forgets which was to go, so I help her. We were approaching a roundabout near a bridge and she gets very nervous near any roundabouts that have more than one lane in them. As we approached, she did not look to the right to see if any cars were coming but just focused on the path ahead. I waited a bit to see if she would look and when it appeared she was going to continue and AND WE WOULD GET HIT BY THE BUS UNLESS THE BUS DRIVER DID EVASIVE ACTION, I said very loudly, "Please stop. STOP there is a bus." Luckily she was driving slow enough that stopping was no problem, and we avoided our death by bus.

You might not be surprised that Brandon and I have decided to carpool together as alternative drivers.

June 24, 2007

Well, slight jet lag

Okay, I guess I have slight jet-lag in that I can easily stay up very late but have a difficult time getting up. But perhaps that had to do with the fact that I read a book until 1:30 AM (see easy to stay up) and then at 8:30 I just could not rise. Perhaps it also had to do with the dreary rain this morning.

This will all come to head tomorrow morning when we need to leave at 7 AM to teach at 8:15 AM. And, if it were the director's choice, we'd be leaving at 6:30 AM. My co-teacher and I decided that we would rather leave at 7 AM and we all have our own cars ....so 7 it is! I prefer to plan everything out the night before and sleep as late as possible. Others I guess like to get there more than an hour early.

June 23, 2007

Jet-lag

I really have no jet-lag. I did almost everything right with the exception of being able to sleep well on the plane. I passed up the free booze on the international flight for water and ginger ale. I drank tons of water. Last night I went to bed at about 11:30 PM, granted I was very sleepy yesterday, the first day I arrived while I was in Gatwick. I slept until 8am this morning when my alarm went off with maybe one awakening in the night. I was very tired this morning and went back to bed to rise at 9:15. But since then, I’ve been walking around without sunglasses to get what little sun is in the sky into my eyeballs so my body can understand what time it is. Tonight I also went to the Golf Club/gym/pool we have access to and went swimming for 40 minutes. So I’m feeling great.

Despite missing the evening of my favorite day, June 21 – the longest day of the year – because I was in an airplane – it is 9:21 here and it is still fairly light out.

Consideration

I was encouraged to keep a blog of my journey to the UK to teach for a month. I thought I wouldn’t (and who knows I’ll probably get too busy to even keep up) but then so many things started happening or I took note of interesting similarities or differences and I just have so many great stories …already. Unfortunately, I must have thrown away my handwritten notes I kept so now I must recollect some of the funny tidbits.

So, first we’ll discuss consideration in terms of reclining your seat on an airplane. I’m sure many of you – actually all of you – come down on one side of the fence or the other in terms of reclining seats. Just up front, I’ll say that I am a big fan of the reclined seat. I am very short and the way those airplane seats are made, my head hits the headrest where the normal male – who they are likely made for – would have his neck. So it bumps out and my head, as my physical therapist would say, is not in a neutral position, as it is bumped out forward. So to relieve this undue pressure and position, I like to recline my seat.

Now consider an 8-hour transatlantic flight and I’m sure you’d imagine most people recline their seat. This trip, I unfortunately had a 7 hour layover in London Gatwick because the earlier flight to Plymouth was booked solid. Thus, I was determined to get as much sleep as possible in order that I could survive the 7 hours in Gatwick. A bit after the flight started, I reclined my seat and got ready to snooze until dinner. I immediately heard the British couple behind me complaining LOUDLY – mostly by the woman – about my reclined seat. I simply ignored it all but when I moved slightly to insert my earplugs in my ears, the husband asked me to move my seat forward because his wife had “no legroom.? I said “that is the nature of flying.? I did not go on to explain how they should buy Business class tickets to avoid this in the future. I moved my seat forward a bit but I was incredibly uncomfortable and could not sleep. Might I also point out that I become incredibly annoyed by weak women who either allow or ask their husbands to do talking for them. I turned on a movie and waiting through the dinner serving. After dinner, I was determined to get my sleep but I knew was I was in for. I made a lap around the plane, used the restroom, and returned. I approached the flight attendant who had already fielded several complaints from this same British woman “it is too cold,? “can I have tea?? etc. etc. I told her about the earlier situation and asked her advice about how I should approach this. She walked back to my seat and told the husband (the wife was not there) that she was going to recline the wife’s seat so that it would not be a problem when I reclined my seat to sleep. He protested saying that the wife didn’t want to recline her seat on her son’s legs. The attendant explained that that was his or her choice not to recline but that I had the choice to fully recline if I so chose. He then yelled at me that I was not considerate and trailed on I think about Americans being inconsiderate….. earplugs were inserted.

Earplugs, however, were not enough to drown out the wife’s loud protests upon returning from the restroom. They proceeded to kick and push and pull my hair every chance they got in the next 4 hours. Hmmm…. Now, who was inconsiderate?

Needless to say, I slept for 3 hours on a bench in Gatwick with my arm slung in one of my backpack’s straps, my knees resting on my suitcases, and my neck cradled by my blow-up neck pillow. I know I looked fantastic!