Sunday, 25 September 2016

"Land's End," I Exclaimed, What a Fun Time We Are Having

We are not being overly bookish but we are sure travelling'. My friend Judy and I and the Penguin have just spent a week in Cornwall. We saw Port Isaac, Padstow and St Ives Harbour. We spent a happy day at the environmentally impressive Eden Project.

St Ives, Cornwall, England
We enjoyed a late afternoon at Land's End. I was happy to spend time there because in the past I have experienced John O'Groats at the northern end of Scotland and now I was at the other end of this interesting and beautiful country.

The view from Land's End, Cornwall

The Eden Project is so encouraging as the world is full of politicians who don't seem to care about the environment. They are doing wonderful things with this project which was once a Chinese run quarry or rather a large hole in the ground.

We enjoyed the biodomes of the rainforest, though it was sweltering and the Mediterranean, which was lovely and cool.  We had a good look around the giftshop and the three of us enjoyed excellent pizza and cold drinks.

The Biomes

A rainforest plant

A plant from the Mediterranean

The Penguin playing in a cabbage.

The Penguin ready to tuck into our pizzas. They were very good.
Now we are farther north and have crossed back and forth between England and Wales. We are staying at Lowe Farm, about 15 miles from Hereford. This farm accommodation is lovely, lovely, lovely. It also has two beagles, one cat and one hen on site. I have been introduced to all of them.

Margery the rescue hen.
As it is Saturday night there is a little party going on outdoors in the barn, which houses a big spa and loud music.  I am happily ensconced in my room. A room with good reading lights and high speed wi fi. I am enjoying quiet activities. Since I am the driver of a manual rental (I have not driven a manual car in years), SUV going down motorways and unfamiliar one lane roads I need a little rest.  Although we are doing well.

Miss Pringle being quite silly.

We get in the car, set the GPS. It says 3  hours and we know we will be at our destination after 6 hours. That includes missed exits, unnamed roads of which we get lost and grinding the clutch a few times. However the weather is good. This poor rental will be returned to Holyhead, Wales, probably without a clutch, a stuck emergency brake and lots of miles on the odometer.

The Farm Hotel
Tomorrow we are visiting the Hampton Court Castle and Gardens near Hereford and then....
wait for it.....Monday is.....HAY ON WYE!!!!! The village filled with bookshops.

I am really looking forward to that. I hope to get the t-shirt, the bag, the fridge magnet and maybe a Penguin book or two I have not been able to find in Australia. We are planning a day there with lunch and walking from shop to shop.

The farm garden
My friend Judy and travelling companion is being a very good sport in letting me have a day with all the books I can dream of.

Another part of the garden.
The Penguin will probably be excited too. We have done so much in a week. We still have three weeks to go. What a fun time this has been. Though I am missing Mr. Penguin and my lovely dogs and cats, I know they are glad we are having fun, because that is the kind of creatures they are.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Travelling Penguin visits Port Isaac, Cornwell, England

Hi folks,

We are all resting tonight after our very long day visiting Port Isaac/Port Wenn in Cornwall.

The TV show Doc Martin is filmed here and they have wanted to visit this place for a very long time. This road trip saw them make it.

The town is full of little shops, cafe, tourists and more than dogs than you could shake a stick at. Though we would never shake a stick at a dog.

Here are some photos for you.
The town is built around this harbour. When we got there the tide was just
starting to go out. When we left it was way out and the boats were on dry land.

The Penguin used his  pocket money to buy this light house. I really like it.

We all stood at this wall and stared out to sea. The Penguin remembered the stories
he had heard about his ancestors. I bet they were interesting.

This was the view across the harbour to the other side. There were
caves in the cliffs under the houses.

This is the house that belongs to Doc Martin on the tv show. 

The boats were really stuck at low tide.

The view from the other side.

This is a beautiful hotel that overlooks everything.

The Penguin wanted to stay in this hotel but we couldn't afford it.

The Penguin was waiting for Martin Clunes who plays Doc Martin to come
out of his house. But they aren't filming now.

The Penguin really enjoyed his lobster lunch.

This was the last view of the town as we headed back to the carpark.
Isn't it just beautiful.

Monday, 19 September 2016

From Heathrow to Wells.

We made it safely here started the road trip today. Yesterday we had time to run into Notting Hill and Earl's Court in London. My card reader for my camera fell apart in my hand and I needed another one or a cord to connect my camera to my computer. Found one, walked around both areas and ate some great food in a pub.

Today we picked up our rental car. It was supposed to be a compact but instead we got a large 6 speed
manual, Fiat 500 SUV. Big diesel that moves like a truck until you get it going.

Of course we missed two exits on the motorway. GPS British lady with an accent that is hard to understand told us to get on the right side of the motorway but we discovered a mile later the exit was across five lanes on the left. Then we took another wrong exit and ended up going around a fairly big roundabout 3 times before getting off the thing and stopping at a servo to reorganise ourselves. I have not driven a manual car for many years and stalled it twice. But now we have completed one day and everything has fallen into place.

We are in Wells, Somerset. We are staying at the Wooky Hole Hotel. Don't you love that name? There are large caves here but we are bypassing them as both of us have visited lots of caves in the past. Instead we are visiting the cathedral tomorrow. Wells qualifies as England's smallest city with approximately 7000 people living here. But it has the largest cathedral in the country. We see that tomorrow.

I spent this afternoon walking around the town, relaxing with  my camera and enjoying nature, scenery and photography after our harrowing start to the day. I have never driven around a roundabout 3 times before. We started laughing and that caused problems too. So hard to problem solve when one is laughing hysterically.

The Penguin stayed in the room and rested. I recovered from jet lag a bit faster than he did. He should get out tomorrow with us. From the cathedral we head towards Porlock and the national park on our way to Bude. We will visit Port Isaac, home of Doc Martin on Tuesday and then head towards St. Ives Wednesday morning.

So far lots of laughs, good food, beautiful scenery and very friendly people. Travelling makes one realise how many really good people there are in the world.

Enjoy a few photos.

In the garden

Our rooms are on this end of hotel.

This sign made me chuckle. Danger of Death
combined with Wookey Hole Church sign.

We have a Lindisfarne suburb in Hobart. My
friend lives in it so I had to send this to her.

These roses were climbing up the old church wall.

The old church. No name.

The accommodation next door. I loved the artwork of the sheep and cow
on opposite sides of the wall.

The diesel car that happily took us around the roundabout three times.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Thistle Hotel London Heathrow

The journey has well and truly begun. The trip is a long one (35 hours from home to Thistle hotel), planes, airports, trains and a bus in the end. It was hot here yesterday. But a storm broke the weather during the night and today is stormy.

Flying from Melbourne to Dubai I had great seat mates. We chatted and laughed and made jokes. I sat beside a young woman (30?) with blue hair on the ends, and she is meeting up with friends and travelling through London, Paris and ending on a trip to Egypt.

The older couple sitting beside here was a man and his wife. She slept a lot. He is a retired postmaster and enjoyed chatting to us. Everything made him laugh. He had twinkly eyes and was a joy for a neighbour.

I did in the end see the whole 6th series of Downton Abby though the Christmas Special that winds it all up was mistakenly replaced with the Series 6, Episode 8 so whoever programs the entertainment for Emirates needs a talking to. I will catch up with it when I get home.

We arrived safely in Dubai which is a airport of the future. I really enjoy this airport having been in it twice before. Large lifts carry one up and down, people movers everywhere, elegant shops of which I can't afford but fun to window shop.  A couple of hours of stretching our legs and we were back on the plane to Heathrow.

I listened to more of The North Water by Ian McGuire.  ABC Book Club enjoyed it. They all agreed it is a raunchy, gruesome book.  I reached a certain animal incident in it and put it down. I actually deleted the book from my Kindle and Audible after that.  

It is a good story. No doubt about that. The writing is probably also good.  The language is foul. I mean really foul. The whalers of course used the language they probably knew at the time.  It was probably a good representation.

The cruelty to children made my stomach churn. The descriptive cruelty to animals made me cringe. More than cringe. My visual mind could not compromise with my stomach. It was dark on the plane, the story was darker. I was tired while I listened to it and far from home.

I thought, "No, I am moving on to happier stories."  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind harsh stories. I don't mind fictional crime stories or stories about war. I feel crime stories are just entertaining and interesting to watch the detectives solve them. War stories are quite moving usually and of course very sad.

To me the North Water is just over the top with gratuitous violence. If I heard the F word (which I can cope with) or the C word once,  I heard it a thousand times. I hate the C word.  Maybe the author felt he could not get his point across without the swearing every sentence. The animal cruelty, the beatings and pedophilia acts towards the street boys. The suffering.   I could have understood the story without that. I didn't find it gleeful as a couple of people on the ABC Book Club did. It is not gleeful.

I must admit I have a hard time accepting the desensitisation that people have developed towards pedophilia, beatings, killings and animal cruelty. I am glad I am not completely desensitised. I think if I read books like this one constantly and  followed news reports closely, I wouldn't be bothered by anything that happens in the world.  It is bad enough watching the abuse of the refugees in the detentions camp on Manus Island by our government.

Sitting in that dark air seat with snoring people around me, dinner wrappers on the floor, the hum of engines flying over the sea late at night, 40,000 feet high, and missing my husband and pets, I decided then and there, "No more."  I am not going to read books that distress me.  I am not going to join in when people gleefully talk about just how bad that person's or animal's situation is. I want to read the books that tell of inspiring people, interesting travels, gentle stories of the 20th Century. The authors of my Penguin books during the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's.

If I was reading this book in a sunny meadow by a bubbling brook would I have interpreted it differently? Maybe. Does our own setting contribute to our interpretations towards the stories we read? An interesting question.

There is enough suffering in the world. I read for knowledge and entertainment. I don't think The North Water is entertaining. Knowledgeable? Probably.  This book was long listed for the Booker Prize so obviously there are those who stand around, sipping wine, admiring its qualities. It did not make the short list.  The book stands out but to me it stands out for the wrong reasons. I have read a lot of books in my life and curiosity got me after seeing reactions to this. Is it something trendy? Maybe, but I get cross when people encourage me to read books because they are trendy.  I am not sure.

I would not discourage or encourage people to read books as this. They just aren't ' My Cup of Tea'. I had to say that because I am in England.  This is my review and perceptions of this book. Feel free to disagree with me. I don't mind. It is only a fictional book.

I arrived at Heathrow Airport early Thursday morning. Taking the Heathrow Express to terminal 5, then the Hopper Bus at bus gate 6, I arrived at my hotel. Dragging myself off the bus with my backpack, suitcase and purse I was very happy to smell the fresh air of this little neighbourhood. I walking the half block behind the bus to see the large hotel. It is old but clean and quiet. The beds are comfortable. It felt wonderful to shower and climb into a clean bed. I washed out all my clothes. It was the closest I could come to not throwing them all into the bin. Grubby.

Texting my husband to let him know I had arrived safely the Penguin and I fell asleep and slept the next 12 hours, rising once for long drinks of water. The Tiger beer I drank once I arrived ensured I would sleep well.  I asked the bartender what beer he would suggest as a cold beer tastes good when I am tired and dehydrated. Besides the water,  he handed me a Tiger beer which is a Thai beer. I am not a big beer drinker but I toasted my arrival and drank it in one swig. Like they do in the movies that take place in bars.

Today is Friday. My friend Judy arrives tomorrow morning. We are hoping to go into London on the train for a bit if she is not too tired. Sunday morning we pick up the car and head towards Cornwall on the motorway. Weather is stormy today but cloudy and cooler.  I heard thunder in the night. Tasmania does not get much thunder. It was comforting sounding.  London has been in the grips of a heat wave. I have brought Tasmanian weather with me. The next ten days are predicted to be cloudy and not above 20 C. (70F approx). Lovely.

This blog will be my diary of my trip. If people want to follow that is okay. If not that is okay too. After all not all of us like those old fashioned slide shows of someone's trip whilst gathered around the projector and screen. Your choice. My record.

Oh, and by the way.......

Guess who didn't want to get out of bed
this morning.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

  Diary of a Trip   Part I

Today the adventure begins. The Penguin and I are at the Hobart Airport ready to go to Melbourne. We have an eight hour wait in Melbourne airport so need to plan the rest of my day.

I have my Kindle loaded. Will finish up the last chapters of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by audio. I may have to alternate ear buds with those little rubber things you jam as far as you can into your ear in case there are squealing toddlers.

Things we plan to do before getting on the Emirates flight tonight for a 9:30 pm departure for Heathrow is as follows. Will let you know if we meet all the challenges as we go.

***Investigate coffee shop and hotel lounge across the street from Melbourne airport, or I should say across the airport walkway. Evidently they have a good cafe with all day breakfast and comfy furniture in reception. I will act like I belong there. However I still need to drag my large case along with me as Qantas can’t cope with checking me all the way through to Heathrow because they said “the flight is too far away”.  Tell me. At least I am not on  Jetstar as that flight is already 30 minutes coming into Hobart to pick people up. 

***After lounging around the airport hotel for as long as we can get away with we will meander over to the airport in Melbourne and try to unload the big suitcase. I always think I won’t travel with so much stuff. You know those You Tube videos that show a composed young woman packing 237 items into a carry on bag and at the end of 3 days of travel everything comes out wrinkle free. One day.

***It might be time to look for the beauty parlour and try to get a manicure and pedicure. That should take up to 90 minutes in a really nice comfortable chair with my feet in hot water. I might give the Penguin an Australian Geographic to read as he doesn’t have fingernails to polish. I can’t trust him around a big tub of water either.

***After that we will find the gate, which is not at all hard in Melbourne and listen to either The North Water, that sea faring book that ABC Book club raved about or The Hollow by Agatha Christie. That is a play ( I did  not realise she wrote plays). We started it in our play reading class yesterday and I really enjoyed it. Trust them to do a really fun play when I won’t be there. I found it on and downloaded it. I am looking forward to finding out more about these quirky characters.

***I also have The Tempest on download. The play is just over two hours.
After watching QandA on the ABC last Monday evening with John Bell and Germaine Greer answering questions about the relevance of Shakespeare in today’s society I am wanting to reread those plays which were so badly decimated in high school. I know it will be better now.
Also the Tasmanian Museum in Hobart is currently running a large exhibit called The Tempest that is supposed to be wonderful. I would like to go with our writing group in November and take the guided tour as I hear there is so much in it. Riddles, information , art work that sort of thing. It would help if I had the  knowledge of the story in my head to begin with. So sometime along the way I need to finish that.

***Next it should be time for a late lunch. There is a good Sushi bar in the airport so that will take care of itself. The Penguin loves sushi.

***Then a wander into the big bookstore that is there and study all the new release titles and read the backs of all the Booker short list books.

***By then I guess it will be time for some old fashioned people watching. I like to study what people wear, how they do their make up, the latest fashion in shoes for flight and then as the gate fills I can peek at book covers of books that people are reading or listen in on conversations. See what is going on with all of them. Well the flight has been called so must rush. Will get this posted up in Melbourne.  Bon Voyage to me. 


Have arrived in Melbourne. Beautiful day, lots of sun with visible rain in the distance. Finishing off this post and will try to connect to airport wifi and get it up.

Stay tuned. Only about 30 hours until England is in sight.