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As Bilbo Baggins said, “I’m going on an adventure!” Today, we’re on our way to Cornwall.

We looked up a few things last night, but didn’t settle on anything till this morning. I’d about finished breakfast when Kate came down and started poking at the computer. We both did that for a bit; I’d packed my rucksack after I brushed my teeth, so there was no worry there. (As a side note, I think I’ve managed to pack it better this time than ever.)

Then Kate got down to the business of sorting out trains and places for us to stay. On this leg, we’re on our way to Bodmin, because it’s the closest place to Tintagel with rail service. We’ll be staying at a B & B there called Roscrea, which is fairly central, I think. Tomorrow, after we visit Tintagel and I soak up some Arthurian atmosphere, we’ll be off to Exeter and Castle Drogo on Dartmoor. We’re staying at the White Hart there, then back to Romsey on Thursday.

At Romsey station, Kate got our tickets, 2-day returns, Bodmin Parkway to Romsey. I think I understand how it works: when we head back, we go to Exeter St. David via Bodmin Parkway, then from there back to Romsey. At least I think that’s how it works, with no extra tickets bought.

We caught the train at Romsey, and changed at Salisbury. It’s something like four hours to Bodmin Parkway.

It’s raining now. It’s been a fairly damp trip this time, which I suppose is far more typical of English springtime weather. I foolishly checked the weather for Cornwall before we left: lots of rain, and possibly hail. But as Kate said, it’ll probably change twenty times in the next day.

I’m going to amuse myself now by staring out the window at the scenery. At least the rain makes everything very green. We’ve got about two hours till Exeter St. David, where we change for Bodmin Parkway. We’ve just stopped at Gillingham at the moment.

Later—on the Penzance train

At Exeter St. David we had to change trains. We had a bit of a wait, so we popped into the loos, then into the Pumpkin café for a quick bite of hot food. Nothing special: I just had tomato soup, but it hit the spot.

Our next train was the 14:08 to Penzance. We got on and settled in. The train line here goes along some of the amazing Devon coastline: rugged red sandstone cliffs topped with shaggy trees and undergrowth, tumbling down to the water’s edge. There’s an entertainment screen in front of me, but it’s fairly pointless: why would I want to watch TV when I’ve got that passing by outside the windows?

Away from the coast, we passed through green fields rimmed with hedgerows. Sheep grazed here, trailed by lambs. No gambolling, I’m afraid; the weather’s too wet.

We went by dear old Totnes (I’ll admit to checking the on-screen map). We’re stopped at Plymouth right now. I saw a row of lovely houses—Regency, I think, or early Victorian. Very pretty. The rain appears to be really coming down now.

We’re moving again. Kate says once we cross the river, we’ll be in Cornwall.

Later still—Bodmin

I watched the River Tamar pass beneath the train, and we were in Cornwall—farther west in England than I’ve ever been. Before long, we were at Bodmin Parkway. The train station is, it seems, a long way from the town itself. When Kate booked us into Roscrea, the landlady said she’d order up a taxi to pick us up. And there was indeed a taxi. Kate hadn’t written down the address, so she phoned up Directory Enquiries and got it when she couldn’t get through to the B & B. It’s No. 18, St. Nicholas Street. Beautiful old building that’s been home to Bodmin’s first schoolmaster (1800s), base for the WAAF (1940s), and a Weights and Measures office.

Roscrea

Sarah the landlady is lovely. She showed us round a bit (breakfast room, common lounge, bathroom, our room), provided us with some lovely home-made carrot cake, and gave us directions to the banks.

Ah, the banks.. I had to cash some travellers’ cheques, of course. We went first to HSBC; the lady behind the wicket suggested The Money Shop—I think she thought we wanted to change money. The Money Shop doesn’t do travellers' cheques. We tried Barclay’s; I was refused there because my cheques weren’t Barclay’s travellers’ cheques, and they sent us on to Lloyd’s. Lloyd’s refused because I don’t have an account there. Lloyd’s used to do them; my last trip, two years ago, they still did. They suggested the Post Office. The Post Office did cash them, and for a very reasonable fee. Also, I could buy stamps.

We went to the tourist information centre—Sarah had told us that it shut at 5 PM. Sadly, today the Shire Hall was shut at 2 PM for some reason. It’ll be open again at 10 AM tomorrow.

So having failed to get any tourist info, we stopped in at the newsagent across the square for milk, Kate refusing to use those little UHT milks that hotels provide. I spotted some local postcards and bought a bunch. I also spotted an adorable wee teddy bear in a Union Jack shirt. I suspect he’ll wind up being one of Julieanne’s presents.

We returned to the B & B at 5 PM and repaired to our room, where I wrote up my postcards and Kate worked a bit on her story. We chatted a bit as well, then just before 6 we organized ourselves to go out for tea. Sarah had recommended a pub called The Hole in the Wall, which is in the old debtors’ prison. Kate refreshed herself on the directions, and off we went.

The sun had started to break through the clouds by this point, so though it was windy and chilly, it wasn’t wet. We walked down the hill—Cornwall appears to be built on an incline—across the square and down the little street past the HSBC. There, behind a wrought-iron gate, we found The Hole in the Wall.

We were greeted by the landlord, though we didn’t know he was such at first. He showed us the upstairs dining room—there’s one downstairs as well—and we took a table in the far corner, near the radiator. The walls were all black-painted stone—very cool. All the tables had a tea-light burning in a holder.

Kate and I both opted for the daily special, chicken and mushroom pie, with chips and seasonal veg on the side. There was a half-hour wait, since the pie was made fresh, but we weren’t in any rush.

We had a lovely chat before, during, and after our meal. The food was absolutely delicious, and perfect for the weather. The veggies were done to perfection, especially. And the chips were to-die for.

When we were ready, we settled our bill and toddled out into the now-pouring rain. We arrived back at Roscrea contentedly full but rather cold and damp. Fortunately, the heating is on; my jeans are drying on the stool.

Our room at Roscrea

Kate phoned Steve to ask him to look up how to get to Tintagel. He’s just phoned back with the info. Apparently it’s a bit of a nightmare with buses, getting there and back. Kate’s teasing him now, trying to match me up with one of his unmarried brothers.

The wind is rattling the outer windows right now, and I can hear church bells. It’s only 8:45 PM. Dear me…
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September 2015

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