Too hot to blog

So let’s pretend we’re going to spend a week on the Cornish Riviera. I took these pictures on my first trip to England in 1996. I had been doing linguistic fieldwork in rural Mexico for more than a year and wanted to go someplace different. Mission accomplished! England is very different from Mexico, from the food to the silence on the buses. (No blaring pop music! How do they stay awake?) And beautiful, my stars! Those Brits aren’t just bragging when they sing about their green and pleasant land.

I was also surprised and delighted to discover that Tolkein did not invent the Shire out of whole cloth. Evidently he took a walking tour of Cornwall and just wrote what he saw. Their bunnies really are hoppy and fluffy, not like rangy Texas jackrabbits. Their foxes really are red — bright red — with brushy tales. It’s all true, folks!

My first novel starts out in Cornwall, which is why I went there. (That’s the unpublished historical romance.) I’d go back in a minute, but my stories have moved on and there are so many roads I haven’t yet taken. Ah, well. Armchair travel is better in the hot season anyway. So let’s go!

A walking tour through time

The best thing about Cornwall, apart from the breath-taking beauty, is the depth of the historical context you pass through as you walk. Humans first reached the region in the Paleolithic period, and that’s enough history for today. It’s too hot to blog, remember?

(These pictures were taken by me, alas, with a pocket-sized film camera, in the days before auto-focus and jitter-control.)

cornwall-stones
Ancient standing stones
holy-well
A holy well. I don’t remember which one, but Cornwall is full of them. They are ancient and fascinating, worthy of their own tour.
southwest-coast-path
This is the southwest coast path, somewhere south of St. Ives.
Badbury Rings
Believe it or not, this is a Roman road running through Badbury Rings. We’re in Dorset now, sticking to historical time rather than the trip itinerary. I spent a couple of hours in the center of this Iron Age hill fort, doodling notes for my story and pondering the passage of time. Two major Roman roads intersect here, at the spot where I had my picnic.
badbury-rings
Walking between the ramparts of the Iron Age hill fort, Badbury Rings.
Here come the Normans! This is Castle Restormel, back in Cornwall.
restormel
Inside Restormel Castle. Hard to imagine living here, even with tapestries hanging from walls.
For the Daphne Du Maurier fans.
cornwall
Speaks for itself.
coast-path
The southwest coast path. The whole thing is like this, folks. On the west coast of Cornwall in late May, the gorse bushes were blooming in great yellow masses that smelled exactly like Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil. Find a medieval way to describe that scent!
clay-extraction
Can’t remember is this was for the tin or china clay industry. Both were important in the history of Cornwall. The hey-day of Cornish clay was during the long nineteenth century.
lanhydrock
No English village is complete with its manor house. This is the gatehouse at Lanhydrock.
cornish-church
And we mustn’t forget the Church! I don’t remember which one this is. I’m hoping it’s the Church of St. Candida and Holy Cross in Whitchurch Canonicorum, which I went to some trouble to visit on behalf of my characters. (I walked a lot farther than I expected and got soaked in the rain.) It’s one of the few churches in England to survive the Reformation with its original relics. St. Whit had exceptional healing powers.
new-forest-cattle
Old breed in the New Forest, Hampshire. For people who are serious about their paleo diets.

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Steve Bartholomew
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Great pictures. Is that a musk ox? I have always been interested in traces of the Phoenicians, who were probably in Cornwall before the Romans. Carthage had a monopoly on bronze during the Bronze Age. Cornwall was one of the few places to find tin, to make bronze. The copper they got elsewhere, but that’s another story.

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