More Scillies

On our return to Agnes from St Martins we ate on the campsite, cooking a ratatouille, new potatoes and some cannellini beans.  There may have been drinking at the Turks Head afterwards – who can say?

On the next day we went to St Marys and walked about a lot.  Visited the grand Bronze Age chambered tomb on Porth Hellick Down, followed the Nature Trail up to Holy Vale and on to the Strudel Haus before returning to Hugh Town for beer and dinner on the harbour – a new and seriously overpriced spot.  Late boat back to Agnes and tents.

I think Wednesday was on St Agnes and fairly leisurely.  Once again we ate in camp, Jerry and I augmenting the vegetarian meal with a burger or two from the campsite shop – Troytown Farm beef in the burgers.  Later learnt that Mary Wilson died on this day – she had been living on the edge of Hugh Town since Harold died – I think.

Thursday was our last day.  When we packed our tents the thrushes were waiting.  As soon as one was rolled up the birds hit the pale grass, stuffing their beaks with small slugs which appeared to thrive under the groundsheets, in the dark and damp.

34. 6th June Thrushes on Campsite

They were just as keen to get inside our tents – in case we’d left anything edible out.  As pests go there are acceptable.  Spent the morning exploring Wingletang Down (the south end of Agnes – a low level granite moorland with pleasing rock outcrops.

36. 7th June Granite snowman Lower Town St Agnes (600 x 450)

Not all of them natural!  And in the case of this snowman, not even on Wingletang Down.

44. 7th June Armadillo in background SSP Rock nearby

The big rock supporting another rock is called Punchbowl on the map, but I think of it as Penis Rock.  And on the far left is a big outcrop which may have a name, or not, but it will always be Armadillo Rock to me.  You might spot its snout, mouth and left eye at the left-hand end.

48. 7th June Great granite and timber bench at west end of Gugh Bar

After a few hours I headed back to the Turks Head and jetty for final beer here and departure.  On the way I saw this delightful granite and timber seat at the west end of Gugh Bar.  Sat there for a while until the thought of beer drove me on.  The 4pm sailing to Penzance, a fine fish pie in the Admiral Benbow and back to Stacey and the Honeydew Guest House for a real bed.

After a fine cooked breakfast we set of for Honiton for coffee, where I said goodbye to Jerry and Tony and my big rucksack, and hello to Paul .  And we headed to his place in Sidmouth, then out for lunch at the ever delightful Swan (a Young’s house).  After a little rest and some music we took a stroll around Sidmouth – Paul is following his doctor’s advice and walking for an hour every day.  In the evening his sister-in-law, Shirley, joined us and we walked to a delightful fish restaurant (Neil’s) for dinner.  Grilled sardines as starter and Baked hake for main, they had puddings, I had another glass of red.

Next day Paul had fully planned out.  We went to Dart Farm Shop to buy some beers.  They have a huge selection, with the biggest range being from Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.

50. 9th June Dart Farm Store part of beer selection, near Topsham (600 x 450)

Just a quarter of the shelves here.  Bought a Proper Job to celebrate Cornwall and the holiday, plus a couple of others:

55. 9th June Three beers from Dart Farm (600 x 450)

Here are the empties at the end of the day.  The Wheat Beer from Sam Smith’s was not as good as the Maisels from the Pump House in Brighton, but bigger bottle and half the price made up some of the taste shortfall.  Arbor’s Citra was just stunning, as ever.

After beer shopping and a coffee and wander around Topsham we motored to Exmouth to follow a 5 mile circular walk Paul had extracted from a local newspaper.  Went to the beginning of the Jurassic Coast, marked with a fine pyramid of Jurassic rocks.  We also passed a fine high terrace of houses which included homes belonging to the wives of Byron and Nelson.  The wives lived here after their husbands had gone off with other women.  Byron Court is here:

53. 9th June Byron Court, Exmouth



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To the Scillies and, well – just the Scillies.

I really must finish this tale before I forget what we did.  It only seems like weeks ago because it was.  We got breakfast, cash and a long term parking spot in Penzance before Jerry tried to find a decent coffee and I sought Proper Job in a St Austell brewery pub beside the harbour.  We both failed, but my alternative was better than his.

19. 2nd June IoS sighted from Scillonian (600 x 450)

The crossing was lovely, I found a seat in the forward lounge-bar, my companions settled in airline seats towards the stern.  My seat came with table and bar, and new beers on board, from Ales of Scilly.  I drank Association (and IPA) and Schiller (a golden ale), both named after ships wrecked on the isles.

After transfer from the Scillonian to the St Agnes catamaran – the Spirit of St Agnes – we soon found ourselves seeking ideal tent sites for the next 5 days.

20. Troytown Farm campsite

One evening, after 8pm, I was at that table reading.  I looked up to a drystone wall and saw a wren land, before returning to the book.  A few moments later a movement on the surface of the wall caught my attention.  I thought it was a mouse darting across a wall stone and disappearing into a crevice, only to reappear nearby and repeat the process.  But it was the wren, with its tail pressed down in line with its back, scuttling  in a most unbirdlike manner.

On other camping trips I have become used to moths flying into my face in the growing gloom, but here it is sparrows.  So keen to find crumbs they aim at your mouth in an attempt to free some extra.  And if you deny them they stand on the end of the table and give you a miffed look from alternate beady eyes.

On visits 10 and more years ago we would hear and see cuckoos.  They were so common they competed for territory with lots of song.  This trip I heard them twice.  Maybe the rock pipits are happier having fewer cuckoos to raise.

On Monday we took a boat to St Martin’s and bought pasties before setting out to explore.  They went on the usual circumnavigation, I went in search of a row of burial chambers not seen last year.

25. 4th June Jerry and Tony on a short and winding road, St Martin's (600 x 450)

I’m on a hilltop burial mound, Jerry and Tony are on teh sandy track heading east.

29. 4th June looking along the tomb sites from first (600 x 450)

Can you see 2 flat stones on edge at right-angles?  That’s a Bronze age burial chamber and there are three more in the background hidden amongst the heather, bracken and gorse.

Over coffee I spotted a Norfolk Island pine in the garden.  I went in search of confirmation and was introduced to the man who planted it, but he was much keener to show me his Wollemi pine.  They had been thought extinct until one was found in the national park bearing its name just outside Sydney in 1993.  My guide proudly told me he had his before Tresco got theirs – and his was cheaper.  But the Norfolk Island pine looks more impressive, and reminded me of the first I met, on a red rocky ridge on El Hierro in the Canary Islands, where I sang ‘Walking on the Moon’, because that’s what the landscape looked like.

30. Norfolk Island Pine at our earlier coffee stop

Its that architectural masterpiece looming over the hedge.  And the coffee was good.

I tried to intercept my companions on the north coast but failed.  Whilst I waited to see if they might come I did a little coloured sketch of the hills, shore and sea before seeking a path discovered last year with Jackie.  A neat little short-cut that ran from the hill top direct to the beer garden of the Seven Stones pub.  Inside they were playing Frank Zappa’s ‘Broadway the hard way’ and I drank a light and hoppy ‘Liquid Sunshine’ from St Austell’s Brewery.

32. 4th June My kind of Captain's chair (450 x 600)

Then had a little dry cider in this delightful chair – too damned hot outside. The others arrived and soon we strolled down to meet our homeward bound boat at 4pm.



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Last day on the Lizard – the west coast.

Left the B&B with my 4kg daysack to find the guys with their 14kg rucksacks, and we headed west on the start of our longest day – maybe 14 miles – down to Caerthillian Cove before turning north for Kynance Cove and coffee.  A pleasing climb out of Kynance with views of mist shrouded headlands behind us.

14. 1st June first climb after early coffee at Kynance Cove (600 x 450)

The rest of the day was walking north with lots of up and down.  Lunch at Mullion in a pleasingly old-fashioned cafe where we met a couple walking the same route in the other direction.  They confirmed a rumour we had heard – there is a 2.5 mile diversion away from the coastal path immediately after we cross Loe Bar.

18. 1st June new drainage for the Loe across N end of Loe Bar (600 x 450)

The same storms which caused the diversion had also damaged the existing drainage system which allowed the water of Loe Pool to reach the sea – so heavy engineering had been called in to create new channels under the Bar.  The diversion made a pleasant change from coastal cliffs.  The Penrose Estate is National Trust, nicely manicured and open to walkers and cyclists.  Instead of following the diversion back to the coastal path we cut through suburban Porthleven to our campsite, leading to a significant change of plans – my first pint was in ‘Out of the Blue’ rather than the Ship.  It was tough, but I coped.  After a shower and a change of clothes (including dry shoes for the novelty value) we walked into town for dinner (more fish pie) and a jar or two at the Ship, then back to camp for a last pint and sleep.

When we were packing I remembered to rescue my frying pan from the long grass where I left it 4 days earlier.  Snails had done a great job of cleaning away burnt bacon and fat, far better than I could have done with cold water and no detergent.  A quick wipe round with a square of kitchen roll and it was ready for use!

We were in Penzance, parked near the harbour and seeking breakfast by 10am.

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Lizard walking – day two.

Yesterday, after a pub lunch in Porthallow, we forced our way up a little used footpath we had been told was the Coastal Path.  It became clear that ‘was‘ was the operative word. This morning we found more diversions to the old path, and a dog-walking lady who explained why.  Coverack suffered a very intense downpour in July 2017.  So intense cars were washed down some steep roads, road surfaces lifted and tumbled downhill with the water, and sections of coastal path washed away.  She told us that hailstones punched holes through the fencing panel they used to cover their heating oil tank.  Today was OK though.  Misty at times:

7. 31st May daisies sweeping down to the misty sea

9. 31st May - mist or low cloud

But warm, and a few surprises – like Blue Pimpernel, nowhere near as ordinary as the Scarlet Pimpernel, I have read:

11. 31st May - Blue Pimpernel - a rarity apparently (600 x 450)

We reached Lizard late afternoon having paused briefly to show Tony and Jerry the wrought iron gates to a National Trust property where Marconi once used his radio equipment.  The gates are nothing special, but the quality of the paintwork I applied to them on a NT working holiday had to be seen.  Met a delightful Lizard resident – an ageing hippy who was tinkering with his huge collection of plants and flotsam on the road outside his cottage – who pointed the way to Henry’s Campsite where I was to meet Jerry and Tony.  A delightful site characterised by a sign near the entrance:

This sign has sharp edges.

We rely on Common Sense.

Falafels, chips and a bottle of red in a busy pub, The Witchball, before retiring to my B&B, the admirable Caerthillian, run by Austin and Linda – a couple from Essex who holidayed at the Lizard for over a decade before deciding they’d rather live there.  My window ledge proved ideal to continue drying my shoes overnight.

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Two weeks in the far west

At the end of May Tony, Jerry and I set out for Cornwall arriving at Porthleven campsite in the late afternoon.  Though I hadn’t seen the campsite before I did know the bar that ran it – ‘Out of the Blue’, the offspring of the Blue Anchor at Helston.  Not a characterful place like the Blue Anchor, but serviceable enough for drinking Helston-brewed Spingo beers – so I had one before putting my tent up.  Rude not to.

Next morning I cooked bacon for Jerry and me (Tony doesn’t eat animals, except the occasional unfortunate fish) before we secured our tents and took a taxi to Helford where our 3 day walk started.  It started to rain just as we left the cab.  It rained all day.  I think my walking shoes resisted the rain, but the socks did not, and they let the rainwater into the shoes, soaking them from the inside.

2. 30th May snack stop beside Dean Quarry (600 x 450)

Tony and Jerry at a snack stop beside a big gabbro quarry which is upsetting the locals by planning to re-open.  This 10  years after it upset the locals by closing and removing the main source of employment.  This was my only photograph today – it rained a lot.

My B&B in Coverack had  a heated towel rail and a hairdryer.  I used both for over two hours to dry  jacket, daysack, socks and trousers.  A copy of the Daily Mail featuring a royal wedding proved valuable for sucking water out of the shoes.  Three changes of paper had them dry enough to put on and walk to the Paris Hotel pub to join my camping colleagues for dinner and beer, and a pub quiz.  We came fourth – no prizes for fourth, but the fish pie was excellent.

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Beach Art

On Monday went for a walk and beer with Eddie.  Sun shone, a lovely day, especially sitting outside at ‘Spoons on the Marina sipping good beers from Franklins Brewery.  Walked back into town along the front to call in on an old school friend of Eddies, a local fisherman and artist who builds creations from beach stones and cement.  Sadly he was absent from his compound, but I took a few photos through the fence.  He gets to have a piece of beach because he is a licenced fisherman and has the right to keep his boat and kit there, but the Council sometimes get a bit uppity about the art.

easter island and Mayan

He draws on many sources – above I suspect Easter Island heads and maybe Mayan art?

african mask characters with navels

African masks become figures complete with navels.

gull with crown

And perhaps a local Herring Gull with a fancy hat??

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Its the First Saturday in May

And you know what that means?  World Naked Gardening Day!!  Oh Yes.  Beautiful weather and a not-busy allotment, so here I am.  Carefully posed whilst fitting sticky bands to our cherry tree.  They might reduce the number of ants and woodlice eating out the fruits, after other beasts have made the initial hole.


Getting ready to deal with the very sticky paper strips – and no clothes to wipe my hands on.


Its tricky stuff, or sticky stuff.  A simple mistake could be as painful as a waxing (or so I’ve heard).


Getting stickier – wrapping the greasy paper around the trunk, overlapping it (so it stays up by itself) then tying waxed string around the paper top and bottom to stop cunning wee beasties from sneaking under the paper.


First piece in place, just two more to go – on the other branches.  But you’ve seen enough.  We went on to weed a bed, trench and plant 25 potato tubers; cut down the canes and weed the raspberry bed, weed another bed and tie in the blackberry canes which should fruit this year.

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