A Room With A View

With looking around Nether Stowey and spending time at Coleridge’s Cottage and speaking to the locals before driving first to Holford to see Tomazs and Wordsworth’s one time home, Alfoxden Hall, and then to Taunton to follow Coleridge’s trail, and then going straight down to Port Isaac (“Port Wenn”) afterwards to see the beautiful place where the television series Doc Martin is made and soak up the atmosphere, we had had a long day.

After a final look around Port Isaac we decided it was time to call it a day and get a room somewhere for the night. Too easy!

   

We had no intention of staying in the port itself. Toting our bags all the way down the cliff path from the public car park at the very top of the steep hill that overlooked the port, and then back up the hill the following morning,  was too much of an ask. But out of curiosity I asked around the port anyway, and was told that there was not a single bed to had in Port Isaac; if you wanted to stay in the Port, a very popular tourist spot, then you needed to book well in advance.

One guest hotel at the very top of the cliff overlooking the public car park, and the port much further down, possibly had a room for us for the night: would we be prepared to wait until after ten p.m. (when I automatically turn into a pumpkin) to see whether or not the patron who had booked the room (and was supposed to be there earlier that afternoon) actually turned up? “Or you could try the next port along, Port Gaverne [centre of photo below, and which we could see from Port Isaac]–they would have a room for you, for sure they would, yes,” said the pleasant-faced guest-house owner. We drove along the road the short distance to Port Gaverne. Yes, the hotel in Port Gaverne did indeed have one room left. We could view it if we wished: “Just follow me up,” said the friendly proprietor.

The long climb up the extremely narrow, steep twisting stairs to the third floor at the top of the tall hotel were a mere hop, skip and jump for our graceful young would-be host, but those stairs almost did for both Bob and I; and if that extreme sport wasn’t going to do us both in on the spot, then carrying our cases up those devilish stairs definitely would finish us off. Since both Bob and I wanted to live on–we enjoy life–and since we also planned to return home to Australia some day (alive), we decided to give the eagle’s-eye-view hotel room in Port Gaverne a big miss and travel on further. We were certain to find a room somewhere, and if not, as I said to Bob, the magnificent four-wheel drive Audi in which we were travelling had lay-back seats that would do quite nicely at a push.

We followed the coast road north out of Port Isaac partly because that would put us closer to the roads we had to follow when we left the area the next morning in search of Thomas Hardy’s cottage at Shaftesbury, and partly because we thought we might stumble across a hotel close by and where we  could find a place to sleep. But the country we drove through became less and less populated, it was all downs and dunes and moors. Every now and then we caught glimpses of farm buildings scattered thinly around in the distance.

The landscape changed suddenly. Now it was thick woodland. We drove down narrow hedge-lined roads and through a tiny village set in a leafy glen. There were no rooms left at the fairy tale inn on the edge of the village and we drove on. There were no rooms left at the romantic, dark-timbered, brooding Poldark Inn on the outskirts of Tintagel, either. Nor were there any rooms left at the hotel in the village of Tintagel; but, said the pleasant girl at the hotel, she could accommodate us if we would excuse her for a few minutes. The girl came back: she said that the lovely lady who ran the B & B across the road had one room left and would welcome us. We crossed the road. The B & B lady was indeed a lovely person,  but she was afraid she could not provide the gluten-free breakfast I required and the room was right at the top of the house, up the narrow flight of steep stairs we could see behind her. “You could try the castle, it’s down the road and a little way along around the corner, or you can stay here and see my friend at her tea-shop next-door-but-one for breakfast,”  said the B & B lady. We said we would try the castle, and come back and let her know either way…

For anyone not in the know, Port Isaac and Tintagel are in Cornwall:

 

I also found the following piece on the net: [to play this video of the Cornish National Anthem, first click on the heading below, and then on the picture of the Cornish flag in the BBC article]

Recognition that ‘Cornwall is not England’ – BBC News

24 April 2014 Last updated at 10:20 BST

Cornish people will be granted minority status under European rules, giving the same protection that other Celtic communities the Scots, Welsh and Irish enjoy.

Loveday Jenkin, the deputy leader of Cornish party Mebyon Kernow, told the BBC Today programme that the rest of the United Kingdom needed to recognise that Cornwall was not just another county of England.

Speaking from personal experience I can say that the Cornish people are every bit as pleasant and friendly and obliging as the English and the Welsh; where-ever we went in the UK we were made to feel welcome.

Like the Welsh, the Cornish are great singers, always ready to for a community sing-along, always ready to join together in song no matter where they are, and they are justifiably proud of their male choirs– a custom that possibly springs from their traditions as a nation of miners and fishermen and farmers.

 

 

From personal experience also, I found the Cornish to be even more superstitious than either the English or the Welsh. Cornwall is a mystical land: it is a place of corn dollies and sudden mists and strange happenings and goings-on, with a rich history of contraband and smuggling and great battles that are often left out of the English history books, and of corn-men statues at harvest times and the mysterious Beltane Fires of times past. Cornwall is also a land of legends, myths, and piskie folk–I do not believe for one second that the Cornish claim they believe in these things to add mystery and atmosphere to the area for the sake of enhancing the tourist trade. They truly do believe. Of course, this is by no means to say that the English and the Welsh don’t enjoy their fair share of superstition, they too have their myths, legends, wee folk, witches, and ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.

To be continued …

Works cited

  1. < youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cmtqn8wANLY >
  2. < http://bbc.com/news/uk-27138420 >
  3. < youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr9lSll_89A >
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