New Year’s Day in Cornwall

After a pretty crazy and exhausting New Year’s Eve, I think all five of us were more than ready for a calm and relaxing New Year’s Day.  We decided to take it easy, and after breakfast we all threw on wellies or sneakers and headed out our own front door to explore the grounds.

Since we’d arrived at The Old Vicarage after dark, we hadn’t been able to tell what the bed & breakfast or surrounding area really looked like at all.

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It’s a lovely little collection of old stone buildings surrounded by meadows, horse pastures, and even a little stone church with a crumbling cemetery.

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Pitted dirt roads and mossy stone walls wind through the whole place, and we all just kept picking paths as we came to them, splitting up and meeting again at the next corner.

The church on the grounds is Saint Hilary Church which dates all the way back to the 1200s.  Parts of the building and the cemetery are much newer, but we still spotted gravestones from the late 18th century.

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We were wandering along the path that leads around the church when a sweet lady came bustling out of nowhere in her wellies & dressing gown and asked if we’d like to see the inside.  She unlocked the church with a big old-fashioned iron key, told us we could stay as long as we liked, and showed us how to turn the lights off when we left.

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The entire floor was a beautifully tiled clay mosaic and the Christmas decorations were still up from the week before.

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We flipped the lights off and pulled the heavy wooden door shut behind us before we continued our exploration of the property.

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The gloomy weather actually added to the feel of the place, and everything looked brilliantly green against the gray sky and gray stone.

Doesn’t this just look like quintessential old English countryside?

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Having enjoyed a sufficiently leisurely morning stroll, we figured that we should probably extend our experience of Cornwall at least slightly beyond the boundaries of our accommodation, so we piled back into Hip Hop Yellow and drove along the coast.

Just offshore from the little town of Marazion (or Marzipan, as my dad called it) is St. Michael’s Mount, a tiny island that’s home to a castle, chapel, fishing harbour, and even its own little village (sorry my spelling is so mixed up now – there are just some words that look better British).

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The island has been inhabited for over 1500 years, and used to be the Cornish counterpart to Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, although the official connection ended when Henry V went to war with France in the 1400s.

Fun fact time, everybody!  Mont Saint-Michel was the inspiration for Minas Tirith in The Return of The King and St. Michael’s Mount is its English twin, so basically we visited the capital of Gondor that day.

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During low tide, the island is accessible by a stone walkway from the mainland.  We lucked out and happened to get there while the walkway was fully exposed, so even though it was misty and wet, we decided to check it out.

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Not much was happening on the little ol’ island that day, but on Tuesdays and Fridays you can take a tour of the castle, and during nicer days in the summer there are cafes and little shops in the village.  St. Michael’s Mount also has its own underground railway through the island, which is still used to transport goods between the harbour and the castle.

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It was raining lightly but very consistently at this point, and we were all soaked after about five minutes on the island.  Just then, the top half of the closest house’s Dutch door swung open and a guy in a big knit sweater leaned out.  The world’s most perfect Cornish fisherman told us that we’d better scamper on back to the mainland if we wanted to make it, or else he’d worry about us in this weather.

Apparently the tide was coming in quicker than we’d realized, and the island’s last residents were currently hurrying home in a little white van before they were marooned for another cycle.

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We quickly thanked the fisherman and started our mad dash back along the walkway.  Before we were halfway along, the water was already lapping at our toes.

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The rain was coming down in earnest by this point, and the rocks were slippery with seaweed and slime.  The wind was picking up and the waves were getting bigger, and being swept off the path and into the sea did not seem that far outside of the realm of possibility.  If I were a mermaid I would not have been concerned.

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We made it back to shore with a little slipping and sliding, hightailed it away from the beach, and dove headfirst into the first open coffee shop we came across.

It was The Coffee Lounge attached to The Marazion Hotel and we spent the next hour warming up our toes and letting our jackets drip dry while we had tea and scones and chatted with the manager, Susie.

By the time we were ready to venture back outside, the rain had stopped and the sun was desperately trying to poke through the dark stormclouds.

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The walkway out to St. Michael’s Mount was just barely visible as it slid off the beach and into the water, and after a few more minutes, it was nowhere in sight.

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There were a few daring kiteboarders taking advantage of the wind and swells.  It made me miss my Outer Banks friends & coffee customers – I know so many of them would’ve been out there, too, despite the rain and freezing temps!

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Paul, Amity, and I hopped back in the car while my parents decided to brave the three-mile coastal walk to Penzance.  Good on them, but I was getting brainfreeze from the wind.  By the time they met us back at The Longboat Inn, us kids were properly warmed up and a couple pints ahead of them.

We all relaxed in the pub, caught a bit of whatever football match was on, and were glad to fulfill our promise of returning and giving those fine folks some patronage after they’d been so jolly nice and helpful to us during the previous night’s wild goose chase!

The afternoon held another exciting adventure for us, but I have altogether too many pictures of it to keep going right now, so you’ll have to come back again soon…

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2 thoughts on “New Year’s Day in Cornwall

    1. Sometimes I wonder who looked at a little island like that and thought, “Let’s built a castle there!” I’d love to visit the one in France someday, too.

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