My wonderful program at Florida State has some weekend trips planned for us throughout our semester, so our first adventure was to southern England-Cornwall! We left bright and early Friday morning on our coach buses towards Tintagel, Cornwall. Throughout the drive most of the views from our bus was fields filled with complacent livestock. Our first stop was at Tintagel castle (pronounced tin-TAH-gel). Tintagel castle is apparently the birth place of the great King Arthur, and the locals were sure to market that! It was beautiful little touristy town on the edge of the coast. From the cliffs the town looked as if it was balancing on the plateau like a balance beam! The “castle” or ruins, really, were nice but definitely not the reason to visit this landmark. The views from these cliffs were absolutely incredible, although I give you fair warnings about the winds! We spent most of the day climbing the cliffs and taking thousands of pictures, like any tourist would. We were very lucky to have a sunny day on Friday, because the water looked incredibly turquoise. The beach had a dark grey sand with thousands of pebbles under the water. Most of us scrambled around the small caves on either side of the beach, I know I was secretly hoping to find some buried treasure. Or who knows, maybe even ex-caliber!
After Tintagel castle we drove to Newquay, Cornwall and spent the rest of the night getting settled into our very cozy (aka small rooms) hostel. Newquay is the surfing capital of the UK, and it definitely carried over the American beach town vibe. The coast was beautiful, and the town was so easy to wander around and explore. I spent most of Saturday morning and early afternoon rambling around the town. I found this very cool coffee place called The Beached Lamb, which reminded me incredibly of a handful of cafes back in Asheville, NC. It was nice to find an independent cafe in a town that wasn’t caught up in the hustle and bustle like London is. Also, fresh air! Our afternoon was spent sloshing through the small town of St. Ives. Apparently author Virginia Woolf spent some time of her life living here (To the Lighthouse, anyone?) so we attempted to seek out her house. Apparently it’s still a private residence, so this poor family had about 50 students meandering around their property. Unfortunately the beautiful sunny weather on Friday was quite reversed in St. Ives. We didn’t have much time in the city, so most of us sought refuge in a local restaurant or shop. Saturday night we spent exploring more of Newquay despite the heavy rain that seemed to follow us.
Like all good things, the trip had to come to an end. On our way back to London we stopped at an estate house in Lanhydrock, Cornwall. The house had been handed over to the National Trust about 50 years ago, so there were no worries of running into family members. This house is advertised as one of the best examples of “Downton Abbey” style living. As someone who is a little too obsessed with this historical era, I found the house very cool. Although I’m sure many of my colleagues were a tad confused as to why this house constituted a stop on our way home. The gardens were not grand by any means, but certainly lovely. Compared to the other houses we’ve seen this estate had much nicer grounds than the others. I love walking through these old houses trying to imagine living my life here-as a servant or as an aristocrat. What conversations have these walls soaked up, what secrets lie in the floorboards? On the bus ride home I started playing the song “Cabin Fever” from The Muppets’s Treasure Island, because the drive took over an hour longer than we had previously calculated.I was certainly ready to join a mutiny against certain students who felt it was the perfect opportunity to start their stand-up comedy routine.
But, here we are, safe and sound back at “home.” I really loved the small taste of southern England.