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    CHICCHANTAL   23,113
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Sentimental journey

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Sunday, December 16, 2012


Today I take the train to Cornwall. No, scrub that, I actually take the train to Plymouth. I won't write about the first bit of the journey because it's boring. For me. Anyway the train buzzes along till it gets to Exeter (the county town of Devon) and just beyond Exeter slows down and stops for a bit.

Mixed reviews for this situation. On the one hand, we are sitting looking at the sea and it's gorgeous. On the other hand, how much delay are we getting exactly? Those of us getting a connecting service in Plymouth, the Penzance train that goes the length of Cornwall, know that the timing is pretty tight for catching this one.



But then again, there's that view. This photo doesn't do justice to it. I thought my camera was packed in the middle of my luggage then belatedly found it in a pocket, so you get this one, taken through the window of the train. A large part of the journey between Exeter and Plymouth goes right along the coastline. I mean literally RIGHT along the coastline. At one point there's the track, a low wall, a public footpath and a sheer drop of about 10 metres with the sea underneath it. And this is where we sit and wait while the driver explains about a problem I don't catch with the line. People on the path wave to us. The sea has red sand in it so it looks pinky, and when we start to move again, we go past a tiny cafe called the Red Rock. I want to get out and explore, and the journey's only half done.

You can read about this bit of railway here:
www.visitsouthdevon.co.u
k/information-and-map/trai
n-travel


Just look at the sea splashing up there! Which I'm guessing is the problem with the track today - I've just had a look at the tide tables and sure enough we had a spring tide yesterday and I'd guess the sea's been over the tracks and left some debris. Spring tides, for all the landlocked Americans, occur once a fortnight in line with the moon's cycles. Instead of an ordinary high tide you get a much higher tide. If it coincides with strong wind (and there's a stiff breeze today) you get Trouble.

The train proceeds with caution. It is capable of going at 125 mph, but not on this track. The track is actually one of Brunel's fantastic feats of engineering, built in a place that everyone said was impossible. And that's the issue. It's the only track into and out of Cornwall and it could use upgrading but if it were to get updated it would be out of action for months and months. So, beyond Exeter the trains crawl but we get to admire the scenery.

I'm trying here not to go too far off on my own personal hobbyhorses. One hobbyhorse I cannot avoid however is my 'Cornwall is God's own country' hobbyhorse. There is nowhere like it. Nowhere. It's fantastic. A wonderful place. Being relatively inaccessible (one railway line in and out, one motorway in and out, six hours' train travel from London to Penzance at the end of the line.) means it is also less developed than most of England. This is good if you want somewhere picturesque for a holiday, bad if you need a job. Unemployment is high down here.

Where was I? We get to Plymouth. Plymouth is where Sir Francis Drake was allegedly playing bowls when he was told the Spanish Armada had been sighted on the horizon and finished his game before going off to polish off the Armada. This was 1588. Brits are proud of his sangfroid. He was in fact a pirate who got away with a lot because he was good mates with Liz I, but history is written by the victors and we won the war against the Spanish so you don't get taught the pirate bit at school. Plymouth was bombed flat during WWII and is utterly hideous now, a complete concrete jungle.


The driver gives us a message, the gist of which is 'If you want the connecting train for Cornwall, we're holding it for about two minutes at Plymouth station so head for platform 4 as if you were greased lightening.' This we do. I'm the first person off the train and the third person on the connecting train in spite of the fact that I'm wearing a backpack weighing between 40 and 50 pounds. It has already occurred to me that this is about the weight I have lost this year (I lost some before joining SP). So I used to carry it about all the time. Now, although I am much fitter, I am buckling under the weight.

How on earth did I manage to do anything at all?

Beyond Plymouth is some fabulous scenery again, and the river Tamar.


Once you cross the Tamar, you are in Cornwall.



I think this is the Tamar but I must confess that we cross about four river estuaries in 10 minutes so it's confusing! In summer, there are masses of boats on the water which is bright blue and glittery.

Today it's raining. I don't care.

For those of you who are still awake, an hour or so later, I hop out the train at St Erth, and on to the branch line that goes to St Ives. You thought the bits you've seen so far were scenic? Well they are on a good day, it was cloudy today. But this last little branch line, a ten minute journey, has scenery that belongs in a mirage.



Get to St Ives, nip down the steps at the side of the station car park, take more photos of the sun setting

walk along to my B&B. Dump back pack. It's practically dark but I want to wander round and have a look.


More about St Ives tomorrow. I'll leave you with the Christmas lights.



Late addition: this one's for Lexie. Brunel's bridge over the Tamar (I think anyway), taken over my shoulder after we'd crossed it:

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONLYTEMPORARY 12/17/2012 9:07PM

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JUNEAU2010 12/17/2012 9:03PM

    Being a train buff, I would LOVE this journey!

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CONCHA77 12/17/2012 6:59PM

    Wow, makes me want to go to England! Thanks for sharing a wonderful journey!

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CLAYARTIST 12/17/2012 6:52PM

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KHALIA2 12/17/2012 6:43PM

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L1ZB3TH354 12/17/2012 6:38PM

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FRAN0426 12/17/2012 6:19PM

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures and history lesson of you journey on the train. This America enjoyed it. I've been to London, unfortunately not this this beautiful location

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BANNERMAN 12/17/2012 6:18PM

  T5hanks again for a wonderful description and pictures of a trip many of us will never get to make except through your marvelous gift to us

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JIMNI98 12/17/2012 6:13PM

    Looks like a great trip and some nice pic also. Have a safe one.

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JANETTEB553 12/17/2012 6:07PM

    Oooohhhh I am so Jealous.... Did not manage to get to Cornwall when we were over in 2005. Always wanted to go there... emoticon

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JAMER123 12/17/2012 4:32PM

    Love traveling with you! Thanks! emoticon emoticon

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ALIDOSHA 12/17/2012 4:26PM

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PEGGYO 12/17/2012 3:51PM

    thanks for the traveloge

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NEWTINK 12/17/2012 3:51PM

    Amazing you sure seem to do a lot of traveling .. great blog

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DMSGLASS 12/17/2012 3:23PM

    Wonderful blog! It's great that you enjoy your country so much. Than you for sharing your journeys with us. emoticon

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MAMAOWLS 12/17/2012 3:10PM

    Another wonderful tour of your country. Keep it up. I enjoy your blogs so much. Enjoy your vacation.

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JLLOVETT 12/17/2012 3:08PM

    emoticon
Stay well!!


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PMFISH 12/17/2012 3:00PM

    Thanks for taking us on your trip. Beautifully done. The only time I took a train in England, we took the Orient Express from London to Venice and then caught a cruise ship for a week. All the pictures have gotten packed away on my last move.

Merry Christmas, enjoy your trip.

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BARBARASDIET 12/17/2012 2:43PM

    You are so lucky to be able to do so much travelling!

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PORTIAWILLIS 12/17/2012 2:33PM

    I am so envious of you. I would love to visit England someday. Keep the stories and the pictures coming.

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PINKANGEL73 12/17/2012 2:28PM

    Lovely blog. My OH and I travel down to Devon several times a year because we love it so much there and we sometimes cross over to Cornwall too. Sooo pretty. One day not too many years away we may move down there for good. emoticon

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BRADIA 12/17/2012 1:27PM

    Very nice trip narration. I just travelled myself from Los Angeles California to Chicago Illinois on a long over three days ride by amtrak accompanied by my sister, and we enjoyed it greatly.


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MARILYNBSL 12/17/2012 1:26PM

  Never been to England and this is the first pictures I have seen. To be taken from a train they are incredible. Enjoy you trip.

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PATRICIAANN46 12/17/2012 1:04PM

  emoticon for another wonderful journey.

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KERRYG155 12/17/2012 12:57PM

    Sounds great-makes me want to go visit.

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BESCATS 12/17/2012 12:55PM

    Such beautiful photos, and good narration. Love the Christmas photo.
Hope you had a good trip. emoticon

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IAMAGEMLOVER 12/17/2012 12:51PM

    Beautiful pictures. Enjoy your trip.

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DONNABURTON17 12/17/2012 12:38PM

  I've been on that train trip, and you do a wonderful job of describing it. Cornwall is magic and is one of my favorite places in the world. My husband's family still lives in St. Denis, outside of St. Austell, and it's been amazing to see my California-native grandchildren introduced to the joys of a small English village. I wish I was there with you!

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DEBLYNN323 12/17/2012 12:34PM

    Enjoy!

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LELERS 12/17/2012 12:29PM

    Nice pics! Sounds like a very enjoyable trip!

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MARITIMER3 12/17/2012 12:10PM

    Thank you for reminding me of some of the train trips I've enjoyed in Britain. I love south-western England, although I must admit I've never been to Plymouth... perhaps next time.

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MOMMY445 12/17/2012 12:08PM

    what wonderful pictures! thanks for sharing and have an amazing day!

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LIVELYGIRL2 12/17/2012 12:07PM

  It's amazing to see these charming places, you have there.

How kind of you to take such a huge crowd.

We all thank you, because many of us haven't been to your homefront and wouldn't have such an opportunity..

and your really good at it, you could be a tour guide in real life.

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YULLABELLE 12/17/2012 11:59AM

    emoticon The pictures are amazing.

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KARRENLYNN 12/17/2012 11:57AM

    Thank you for another great tour. I get to learn more about places you like and I like that.

Have a great day,

Karen

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KIMBOLEAN 12/17/2012 11:56AM

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ANNANN63 12/17/2012 11:42AM

    Wonderful blog as usual. Thank you.

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THOMS1 12/17/2012 11:18AM

    Thank You! You have taken us on yet another wonderful trip. emoticon

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KITTYCART8 12/17/2012 11:12AM

    Thank you for sharing your vacation photos...will add Cornwall on my must see list! emoticon

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KARA151 12/17/2012 10:58AM

    Loved the pictures. Glad you got the time off. This year I won't get a vacation again, so it's nice to go with you.

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SAKS20111 12/17/2012 10:48AM

    good reflecting journal. Fresh air clears the mind. 40 lb luggage comment is so true.

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NOTSOFLUFFYDAD 12/17/2012 10:40AM

    I could here the song sentimental journey in my head during the entire blog, thanks for sharing

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CAM2438 12/17/2012 10:38AM

    What a beautiful place. Enjoy your holiday! emoticon

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TINY67 12/17/2012 10:34AM

    Great Blog and Pics.

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KNYAGENYA 12/17/2012 10:31AM

    Very nice!

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JOANNHUNT 12/17/2012 10:22AM

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SHOAPIE 12/17/2012 10:18AM

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REDPEPPERS 12/17/2012 10:09AM

    Love your blogs!

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DEEJACKSON 12/17/2012 10:07AM

    Beautiful!

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ESILBO 12/17/2012 10:01AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon LISE

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