Tag Archives: Cornwall

Moon Over Pendennis

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Falmouth – our hotel

Earlier this summer, we took a short break away to Falmouth on the south coast of England. Falmouth is a pretty Cornish town with a deep natural harbour and beautiful award-winning beaches. The weather was so gorgeous that we were able to take advantage of the latter with some lovely swims and walks along the shore, both in the early morning and as the sun went down.

We chose a hotel right on the peninsula, said to be the oldest hotel in Falmouth. Not only did we have a lovely sea view from our fourth-floor room but we also had a dual aspect so we could see right along the coastline from east to west. That meant lovely sunrises and sunsets.

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Moon Over Pendennis

From our room we could see Pendennis Castle, a really well-preserved 16th-century fortress built by Henry VIII and now owned by English Heritage (the castle is that blob in the centre of the land mass).  The views from the Castle grounds are fabulous, too, especially across the Fal River to lovely St. Mawes which boasts its own castle.

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From Pendennis to St Mawes

We took a couple of trips during our stay, one to Truro to see its three-spired cathedral. Building was completed in 1910 and it is a great example of gothic revival architecture. The cathedral is right in the middle of town and is reached by quaint little roads and alleyways. Truro Cathedral has a real community feel and appears very much to be integrated into the town’s activities. There is also a thriving cafe and restaurant in its annexe building where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

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Truro with Cathedral

On the way home we took time to enjoy coffee at Jamaica Inn on the edge of the atmospheric Bodmin Moor, with which I have a special affinity, and spent a pleasant hour planning our next trip to Cornwall. Can’t wait.

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Brief Interlude

October didn’t work out quite as we had anticipated and carefully planned. We hoped for a five day break in Cornwall, one of my favourite parts on Britain.  It was a last minute booking due to work pressures on Peter and timescales on three big projects.  I decided on The Cormorant Hotel in Golant, near Fowey (pronounced Foy), right by the river and named after the main seabird that inhabits the area.  Luxury boutique-style hotel, seems the trend at moment, but small with friendly staff.  We had a river view room with a Juliet balcony overlooking the garden and wonderful coastline leading down to the sea.  

The weather had taken a severe turn for the worst and the south west was landfall for Ophelia but early last week she had not arrived.  The journey down was beautiful crossing moors including Bodmin Moor famous for Jamaica Inn. Interesting small towns along the route offered coffee and lunch. Finding the hotel was like a treasure hunt despite directions but eventually we arrived and settled in for the night.  Pre-dinner drinks offered unexpected entertainment in Anne and Ron from New Zealand.  Anne is an international judge of Airedales and the couple were enjoying a break in her judging schedule.  They had arrived from Baltimore that day and were due in Yorkshire at the end of the week.  We spent an interesting hour listening to hilarious stories of the world of top dog shows including Russia as well as their lives in Australia as breeders and farmers. Time for dinner.

Wonderful menu choices but I opted for local scallops, mixed fish chowder with honey pannacotta for desert, topped off with an excellent bottle of Spanish Rosé. Sorry photo of scallop starter gone wrong!

Next day after a breakfast including lots of local produce we set off of Fowey, home of Daphne Du Maurier.  Peter was feeling a little unwell but we set off as planned towards Mousehole (pronounced Mowzle) where we had booked a small, fisherman’s cottage.  Fowey was well worth another visit as I didn’t make it to the Du Maurier Museum.  The weather turned showery so we made our way to Falmouth for lunch and a wander.  Next was Penzance, Newlyn then Mousehole as there are great artists galleries as well as home of the Newlyn Artists. We had planned a coastal walk to really visit these the following day so went to find our cottage.  It was better than expected, so comfortable and well equipped with a scrumptious hamper of local food and a good bottle of wine.  We planned to light a fire in the hearth following a forage for food from the deli in the village which was highly recommended.  I became more concerned over the next few hours about Peter but we continued as planned.

During the night Peter developed a high fever and finally told me he had difficulty peeing, was in pain and it was getting worse.  He insisted on waiting until morning before trying to see a doctor.  Early in the morning I made the decision to take him to Penzance Hospital.  We arrived at 9am and he was seen at 9.15am.  The staff  were wonderful, Peter has “Men’s Problems” as he insists on referring to his symptoms.  The doctor fitted a catheter and told us to visit our own doctor when we got home, if we were residents there he would have carried out further tests. We left hospital at 12.15 and I knew Peter wanted to go home although he said no.  We packed up and drove home, 6 hours in the storm which had hit with a vengeance.  Our own doctor has referred him urgently to the local hospital but his appointment is not for another week.Then the catheter will be removed, testing will begin, diagnosis then treatment.  I hope by November we will know what lies ahead.

Another added issue has been with our internet, now fixed.  We have had to buy a new television, phones and await the next thing! October has been a challenge!!

My Day in Court

Last month, while on holiday in Cornwall, I got to do jury service. But it was a case with a difference. It was for a real murder that took place over 160 years ago on Bodmin Moor. Here’s the blurb from the visitor booklet, The Courtroom Experience:

In 1844 on the windswept slopes of Bodmin Moor, the body of a local girl, Charlotte Dymond was found. Matthew Weeks, her boyfriend was arrested and charged with her murder. But was he guilty? Who do you think was the guilty party?

Come and act as a member of the jury in a re-enactment of Matthew’s trial in the very building in which the trial took place. Guilty or not guilty, you must decide!

SAM_0720Well this sounded too intriguing to miss. So we, along with ten other visitors, became the jury for an hour while the evidence was given via moving wax figures (spooky in itself) and recorded summaries of evidence given at the time. During the trial, I found myself getting more and more angry for poor Matthew Weeks. If ever a boy was set up, it was this poor lad. Even on Charlotte’s death certificate the coroner had recorded that she was murdered…by Matthew Weeks! Can you imagine that happening today? The only real evidence was that Matthew was seen chatting to Charlotte on the morning of her murder. The rest was pure speculation.SAM_0721 (Apologies for the poor quality of the photo of the death certificate.)

Both Matthew and Charlotte worked as farm servants at Penhale Farm on the north west of the moor, and Charlotte was said to be very attractive and flirted with quite a number of would-be suitors. In fact, I had very strong suspicions that one of these suitors was the actual murderer, as all avenues of investigation seemed to lead back to him. But the verdict passed in 1844 was that Matthew was guilty and he was subsequently hanged for murder.

At the end of the trial, we were asked to press a button to indicate whether we thought Matthew was guilty or not guilty. Moments later, we were told that we’d passed a unanimous verdict of not guilty and much debate followed from that. Part of me hoped poor Matthew somehow knew that all these years later people were passionately defending him, and showing their fury at such blatant use of a young boy as scapegoat.

SAM_0716After the trial, we were taken down to the holding cells. It was here Matthew would have been held awaiting trial. In the photo you can see the individual cells along the sides where people were held for hours, sometimes days, at a time (the space at the top was the lavatory). We were invited to experience the incredibly cramped space, where with arms held at our sides we couldn’t move, and it was virtually impossible to turn around. As you can imagine, we couldn’t wait to get out of there. It was very sobering, especially when we heard tales of women being held there for days awaiting trial for having stolen a piece of cheese to feed their children.

There might be a lot wrong with our world today, but I’d like to think that most people get a fair trial. This was certainly not Matthew’s experience. I was compelled to find Matthew’s grave and put some flowers there, but apparently the spot where public hangings took place has long been developed. All I can hope is that he rests in peace. Which, if rumours are to be believed, is not the case for Charlotte. Her unhappy ghost is said to haunt the moor, and many people tell of strange and disturbing encounters with her near the place she was murdered. Hmm. Interesting.

What secret is troubling Charlotte’s ghost? Was an innocent man hanged? Did the murdered escape detection? Only Charlotte knows the answers to these questions and she took them with her to her restless grave.” (from The Charlotte Dymond Murder Trial)