Cornwall!

Since I handed in my dissertation, I have enjoyed and dismayed coming home to find that I have no commitments of my time, nothing I have to be doing in particular. Of course, much of that time is now filled with job searching. I filled it with some wonderful leisure as well.

I *finally* had the chance to go on holiday (VACATION in American, yes in caps as well), so Dilan and I booked a retreat to St. Austell, in Cornwall, the southwest corner of England. Took the 4-5 hour train from London Paddington to St. Austell on the morning of Friday the 3rd and returned Sunday evening.

View of St. Austell from the train station

View of St. Austell from the train station

We did a lot while maintaining a relaxing pace. We stayed at Arches Bed and Breakfast. Breakfast was great, host was great. I highly recommend it- as long as you don’t mind a 10-15 minute walk from the town centre/bus stop/train station. I had poached duck eggs for breakfast on the second morning! Nikki, the host, gets all her eggs from a local farmer =) Duck eggs taste pretty much like chicken eggs.

View from outside Arches BnB

View from outside Arches BnB

On Friday, we ventured to the “picturesque port-town” of Charlestown, allegedly used fairly often as a filming location.

Galleon ship in Charlestown

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We got dinner at a highly recommended restaurant, Wreckers. My dinner was NOM very good. But Dilan’s portion of their “famous fish and chips” was a pathetically small piece of fish in a big piece of batter. Famous for overcompensating?SAM_2298

The next morning we got up for a Brewery Tour at the St. Austell Brewery.  Nuthin’ like beer before noon!  St. Austell focuses on cask ales, which tend to be lower in alcohol content and more mild tasting.  However, I gained a slight appreciation for cask ales.  They had a surprising variety- amber ale, a wit beer, ipa, double ipa (take that with a grain of salt), and others- and I could see myself drinking them over a long evening of beer and conversation.

Fermentation!

Fermentation Capsule. The froth looks delicious.

Fermentation tanks, St Austell brewery

Old wooden fermentation tanks

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Old beers!

After the brewery and a nice wander around the little town market, we ventured out to one of the top tourist attractions- The Eden Project.  Built in a clay pit, it’s home to Mediterranean and Jungle Biomes and interactive educational installations that foster knowledge of the earth, agriculture, local farming, and global sustainability.

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The Harvest Beer Festival was on at the Eden Project, and guess who we saw?!  The head brewer of St. Austell Brewery! We heard about how he became the brewer and got to sample even more of St. Austell’s beer.

The next day we stored our suitcases with Nikki, and trekked south to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The gardens are a 300 acre estate that were once nearly lost to the embrace of vines after their desertion in 1914 due to the War.  Fortuitously rediscovered just in 1990 by two men on a Sunday walk, one a descendant of the Tremayne family who purchased the Heligan Manor in 1569.

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The Giant’s Head. Mud sculpture by local artists.

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Nearly extinct blue-fir trees of some variety from the dinosaur age. They were replanted and fostered on the Heligan garden plot.

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There were two litters of piglets! Squeeeee!

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I would like to be a pig.

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We capped our adventures in the small fishing village of Mevagissey.

Mevagissey sign

There was a free museum of the town history and a small aquarium along the water.  Cute shopping, beautiful views across the water, and cliff walks.  I thought Mevagissey was far more picturesque than Charlestown with it’s charming rows of houses set in the cliffs over the water.  We got seafood at a pub, savored creamy Cornish ice cream, and called it a day.

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When we got back to St. Austell town centre, it was deserted.  (Almost) Everything was closed.  That’s a small town on a Sunday for ya!  Luckily, we didn’t have much time to waste before catching our train home.

We returned refreshed and revitalized.  I sure needed that.

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