Another early start day but this one was different as it had blue skies.
On the road at 8.30am we headed to Lizard Point, the most Southerly point on mainland Britain. It was also somewhere Karen claimed she had never visited.
I was overly excited due to the fact a Barford Hire van pulled out in front of us at the first Falmouth roundabout. Karen was blasé about it until I pointed out the Norwich telephone number on the back. We then debated about why someone might have hired it and driven it to Falmouth. Then about 20 minutes later we passed a young lad wearing the new Norwich shirt. It must be Norfolk’s Cornwall takeover day.
The roads got narrower as we got closer and there seemed to be a stream of people heading in the same direction even at the early hour. The strange thing was that they all disappeared slowly as we approached The Lizard village. We were surprised by the amount of housing round the village. They were relatively small cheap houses, and we couldn’t see why people would want to live there other than the kudos of being in the most southerly village as there were just a few tourist shops but nothing else to sustain employment for people. We ignored all the commercial car parks and drove through the village to the lighthouse which had the free National Trust car park. There were only 5 other cars in it when we arrived.
The walk down to the point itself was short but downhill.
The views were magnificent and rugged but and made even better by the blue sky and sun shimmering off the sea. We stood for a while and commented that we were the most Southerly people in the country at that moment in time.
We would have liked to stay much longer but we were not sure of parking at our next destination so left reluctantly sooner rather than later. It was a shame as there were tables free overlooking the cliffs at the Southern most café. But it wasn’t long since we had had breakfast and it was too early for drink even for us. We did however have a chat with a lady who is part of the Seal Watch team. She pointed out some seals to us and then told us they know them so well they given them names. In the sea was Zorro named after a scar on his back and Number 25 so called as he had natural markings of the numbers 2 & 5 on his belly.
Just as we were leaving, Karen suddenly recalled that we had been here before together in 1999 although we didn’t appear to have taken any photos as evidence. Next week I will take her to Great Yarmouth as I am not sure she can ever remember going there either.
From here we headed to St Michaels Mount as we had managed to book free National Trust tickets to visit the gardens at 12.30pm. The causeway was due to be walkable from 10.30 – 2.30 and to say Karen was worried about missing the tide in either direction would be an understatement.
We arrived at 10.45am and the causeway looked as though it might sink under the weight of the people as we drove to the car park, which itself was unsurprisingly full. Fortunately, there is a large overflow car park and we easily got on there.
Despite being 90 minutes early for our timeslot we walked along the causeway to the castle on the hill. Although busy it was another of those illusions in that from the wrong angle the causeway looked like a football crowd but in reality, we were walking with some decent space around us. The cobblestones were not easy to walk on for anyone but especially not for Karen with her creaky ankle and knee, but she made it.
Despite being early yet again nobody checked the time of our ticket, and we were let in without any problem. We had only been able to book garden tickets as the castle ones were sold out. I was quite happy about that as I am not sure the castle contained anything that would interest me.
The walk to the entrance to the garden took us passed the Island Café and by now Karen needed a drink. The queue though was quite ridiculous and so we carried on and said we would try again after seeing the gardens.
The gardens were essentially a giant rock garden set on the sea facing side of the mount. They were very pretty and well done. But they were very steep and involved loads of large steps up and down. Because of this and the fact it was one way, meant that the queue was very slow moving. Karen struggled with the uneven steps but again made it with not too much fuss apart from complaining now about the heat from the sun.
We then wandered back to the café, and I found a bench which I thought was an encouraging sign that the queue must have died down. Karen went off to get drinks. After 15 minutes I messaged her to say that if the queue was too long then not to bother. However eventually after another 20 minutes later she finally returned triumphantly with 2 hot drinks, by which time my back was sore from sitting on the picnic bench seats. I wish they would provide benches with backs to them as I find them uncomfortable after any length of time.
As we were walking back along the beach from the causeway, Karen suddenly recalled we had walked across the causeway before in 1999. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. We could see Penzance in the distance across the bay and thought we should at least drive through it before returning to base. Briefly we did consider going to Lands End but thought the car parking would be a nightmare and that we would be going just for the sake of it as Karen could definitely recall going there before and being underwhelmed last time.
On the outskirts of Penzance, we came across a Morrisons and stopped to stock up on snacks and fruit for the rest of our time here and the journey home. We drove through Penzance itself and onto Newlyn, neither of which shouted ‘stop, park and explore’ to us. Instead, we pulled into a Costa drive through to fortify Karen for the journey back.
On the way back we drove through the centre of Helston. Another not particular inspiring town from what we saw. However, as we were just leaving, I remembered that it was the setting for the famous Floral Dance song (although I had to wait until later to confirm my facts). I hummed it to myself for the rest of the journey and regretted that I hadn’t found the time to stop and sing it myself in the town. The song apparently dates back to 1911 and contains several descriptive inaccuracies but nevertheless is a rousing tune.
For our evening meal I had managed to book the Pizza Express in Discovery Quay in Falmouth harbour and we had been looking forward to it all day. We found our way there and onto the attached car park. All the Falmouth car parks we had seen just had a nominal charge for parking after 6pm. It wasn’t until we had parked that we realised this one had an even higher evening charge than during the day. It was £5 for any period after 6pm and was done by number plate recognition and so we were stuck for paying even if we changed our minds and left. I was remarkably philosophical about it for a change, but Karen was really peeved and wanted to complain to someone or anyone about the injustice.
The Pizza Express was enormous, but they were only using about ¼ of the capacity which I assume was down to staff shortages. When we arrived on time at 7pm they told us our booking was for 8pm. I could feel Karen glaring at me for presumably making a mistake, but I argued and showed them my confirmation which proved I was right. They were very nice about their mistake and whether to make up for it or not we got the best table in the place, directly overlooking the harbour. It was almost like being on a boat.
The service was excellent as was the food. We both had our usual of Salads (Caesar for me and Niçoise for Karen). It does seem strange going to Pizza Express and not having Pizza but we both love their salads. We are pleased the chain has survived its financial problems, but it is rather expensive now because it no longer has offers or accepts student discount etc. I suppose that previously nobody was paying full price which is why it ran into difficulties.
I have now read that Cornwall is the poorest county in the country and this does explain much of what we have seen. We all know the Fishermen have a hard time but without tourism the county would seemingly be bereft of any other employment or income. No wonder Boris chose to hold the G7 here to boost the profile of the county. The problem is that it cannot cope with the number of tourists it has and need some other boost to the county economy. The only thing we could come up with quickly is someone coming up with a viable safe way of extracting what must presumably still be layers of tin lying deep underground. Someone far cleverer than us needs to invent this quickly.