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    CHICCHANTAL   28,229
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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:

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:


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
LTMURPHY7 12/17/2012 9:54AM


It makes me want to visit England

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BRIDIEGAL 12/17/2012 9:52AM

    Thank you for this - I have a friend who lives in Hayle, so St. Erth is where I get off when I go to visit, which I admit hasn't been for 3 years, so it was happy-making to read about the journey!

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DDHEART 12/17/2012 9:50AM

    Thank you for the travel education...I confess that although my great grandparents came from Cornwall, my knowledge of it has been zip....lately, being a fan of Doc Martin, I have been becoming intrigued with the area.....Now, I am well aware that an American's view of things by way of Britcoms is well...unfair in many ways...but it also is a wondrous way to get a glimpse of some beautiful scenery so there is is. Now, I can add a little real knowledge of the area through your posts and I so enjoy that. Thanks again!

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WORKNPROGRESS49 12/17/2012 9:43AM

    Beautiful emoticon

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GIRLINMOTION 12/17/2012 9:43AM

    The scenery must be breath taking. Too bad when the train had to stop you couldn't get out to enjoy with a stroll.

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HLOCHRIDGE 12/17/2012 9:42AM

    Love the pictures!

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BUSMOM27 12/17/2012 9:38AM

    nice pictures

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GINGERVISTA 12/17/2012 9:34AM

    If I ever get to England, I'd LOVE to meet you! emoticon

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NIKKIJ55 12/17/2012 9:30AM

    Beautiful photos!

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MOMOSG 12/17/2012 9:29AM

    Enjoy your holiday. It looks absolutely beautiful!

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MAMAHOYT 12/17/2012 9:07AM

    Sounds like a place that would be great to visit. Kinda like out of a book.

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NEWMOM20121 12/17/2012 9:07AM

    Thank you

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DJSHIP46 12/17/2012 9:05AM


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LEANMEAN2 12/17/2012 8:54AM

    I would love to take these walks with you but I can tell that you're not very close to Kansas! emoticon
So I wave at you from across the Pond.

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LENIASTY 12/17/2012 8:54AM

    Great blog, refreshing as usual! emoticon

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CICELY360 12/17/2012 8:49AM

  good blog

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OFGREENGABLES 12/17/2012 8:44AM

    so beautiful!

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MIMIDOT 12/17/2012 8:41AM

    Thanks for taking me on your journey. Always enjoy them. The pictures are great.

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TIPPY211 12/17/2012 8:38AM

    You are right about Cornwall. Great blog and pictures. Will be reading your next blog emoticon emoticon

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NEPTUNE1939 12/17/2012 8:35AM

    Great Pictures

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NETTYDAWG 12/17/2012 8:30AM

    Thanks for a wonderful blog and photos and for bringing back some lovely childhood memories. Can't wait till we can bring the kids over and explore.

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STEVIEBEE569 12/17/2012 8:22AM

    Thanks for sharing

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PATRICIA4472 12/17/2012 8:07AM

    I definitely read the whole blog. One of my dream trips is to Cornwall to walk the coastal path... Enjoy!!

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LINDAOZ62 12/17/2012 8:01AM

  Beautiful photos. thank you for sharing!

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JERICHO1991 12/17/2012 7:58AM

    Thanks for the photos and narrative.

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LUVUJENNA 12/17/2012 7:42AM

  What beautiful photos! emoticon

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NILLAPEPSI 12/17/2012 7:35AM

    Great photos!!!

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DIANNEMT 12/17/2012 7:25AM

    Pretty photos!

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INGMARIE 12/17/2012 7:24AM

    Lovely, thank you emoticon

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SIZE8NOTSOMUCH 12/17/2012 7:06AM

    Your words brought the English Countryside in full view, thank you so much for sharing..

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JANEMARIE77 12/17/2012 7:02AM

    simply thank you

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    Yet another whimsical trip through the English countryside.

Make today a great day!

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GARDENCHRIS 12/17/2012 6:57AM

    how wonderfully fascinating!

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MARUKI52 12/17/2012 6:44AM

    Now this brought back so many happy memories. We used to go down there every year when the children were young. Such a beautiful place.

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JUNETTA2002 12/17/2012 6:44AM

    Beautiful pictures.

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CFMOSS 12/17/2012 6:32AM

    I will not be jealous; I will not be jealous; I will not envy; I will not envy. Thanks for sharing your pictures and your story/ies. I've enjoyed my trips to Great Britain - not all that many trips and not all that long. There is much similarity to the US but...there's that difference which is both subtle and obvious. So here's to enjoying Cornwall and health living and walks in the marshes (???? or aren't they called something else...fens... or something else.) Thanks.

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KRISUA 12/17/2012 6:25AM


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THEIS58 12/17/2012 5:59AM

    Wonderful scenes!

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ADELCASALE 12/17/2012 5:53AM


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DIXIECAP79 12/17/2012 5:33AM


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TRYINGHARD54 12/17/2012 5:28AM

    great pictures as always...

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NCSUE0514 12/17/2012 4:41AM


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MICKEYH 12/17/2012 12:21AM

    What a lovely place. Thanks for sharing beautiful pictures. Enjoyed the blog as well.

emoticon emoticon

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EABL81 12/16/2012 11:55PM

    Can't wait to see more of Cornwall. NIce pictures, especially the lovely sunset.

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DALID414 12/16/2012 11:26PM

    Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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EXSSGIRL 12/16/2012 11:10PM

  I love the pictures! I've always wanted to travel, so I really appreciate that you give us a glimpse into your world. Thanks so much for your posts!

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NELLIEH1 12/16/2012 10:46PM

    Really appreciate your scenic journeys through Devon to Cornwall. Part of my family came from Exeter long ago (great grandparents), but the connection is still deep inside me. Thanks for the sense and touch of the land and sea by train.

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COUPONS0216 12/16/2012 10:15PM

    AWESOME, beautiful, thank you for taking us along on your adventures!

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SUSIESLIM62 12/16/2012 9:56PM

  You sure get around! emoticon I'm sure glad you take us with you. emoticon emoticon

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RAINBOWMF 12/16/2012 9:04PM

    emoticon pictures thank for sharing


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