Ferrly weary and Cornwall musings

(written by Dave)

We reported yesterday that our ferry to Spain has been cancelled.  Today we’ve been trying to come up with a viable Plan B.  The ferry company has no idea when, or if, ferries will go to Spain again.  They have 5 sailings per week to Spain from the UK, but only one per week from Plymouth, the port we are trying to leave from.  Never mind where ferries originate, when they will sail to Spain again is a complete unknown at this point.

The ferry company has made arrangements for alternative ferries to France with a charter boat and by utilizing competitive ferries.  We’ve accepted that we may have to go to France, rather than Spain but none of the alternative ferries leave from Plymouth.  This means that we have to get from Plymouth to Poole, Portsmouth or Dover.  Having no car, this has proven difficult.  The trains require a reserved spot for our bikes and it seems that no spots are available as best we can tell speaking with the train’s call centre in India (I’ll leave my comments on how fun it has been to speak someone in Bangalore about trains in England for another post).  There is an express bus service but they only allow two bags and they require that we box our bikes.  Boxing the bikes is a full day job and even if we did this, we’d still find ourselves 14 or so bags over their limits.  Renting a car to drive the 120 miles may be the best option.

If we can’t get to Poole, Portsmouth or Dover, then we can wait out the strike in Plymouth, holding out for a Spain sailing.  This is problematic as you never know with strikes and the French.  Regardless of how everything plays out, we are moving onto Plymouth tomorrow.  We have a B&B booked for a couple nights (if needed) and we want to speak to someone in the train station about bikes and seats for possible onward train journeys.

I know that we’ve previously mentioned how adventure travel is not all glamorous.  Well, this morning we just about drained our Skype account and the results were decidedly un-glamorous, and for that matter, not even marginally successful.  Next time you go on a trip and all the connections, planes, buses, trains, hotels, meals and everything else happen more or less as scheduled, pass a thank you onto whoever organized everything.  If anything, this trip has certainly taught us that there is a lot more to smooth running trips, or even semi- smooth running trips, than the average traveller is aware.

Trying not to let planning and re-planning ruin our time in Newlyn we made a trip to checkout Penzance town yesterday.  I am happy to report that we finally made progress on our “bitter beer tasting” project.  We had a nice stroll in Penzance and onto Newlyn, finding ourselves at the Swordfish Inn just as the sun pasted the yardarm.  The Swordfish Inn carries all of the big named ales, plus one from Sharps, a Rock, Cornwall brewer called Doom Bar.  I think that you can purchase Doom Bar in a bottle but the best way to drink it is hand pulled at cellar temperature (not room temperature mind you).  We grabbed a pint, a corner table and watched the “show” put on by all the locals streaming in and out – inside to drink, outside to smoke.  Everyone seemed to know everyone and a friendly banter filled the room.  The bartender was a sociable woman with bleached blond hair, leopard print shirt and an easy gravelly smoker’s laugh.  The bitter was great, the experience of drinking it in such authentic surrounds was one of the reasons we are doing this trip.  Fantastic.

To get into town yesterday we planned on walking but just as we left our cottage, the bus was making a U-turn in our cul-de-sac so we hopped onboard.  The roads here are very narrow, lined with hedge rows and overhanging trees.  Never mind that, the bus was a full-sized double-decker.  We caught the bus as it was heading out to the edge of town on a loop, then back into town and we were lucky enough to have the entire upstairs front row to ourselves.  Taking a bus this sized on these little lanes was just crazy.  Our journey was accompanied by constant whacks and grazes as tree and bramble branches struck the bus on our bobsled-style zip through the lanes.  Many an oncoming car had to stop and reverse out of our way with the bus using its size to guarantee right of way regardless of its position.  Normally, Nancy would not enjoy this sort of carnival ride journey but this time both of us were more than ready to exit the bus at the first stop in Penzance.  It took some time before either of our heads stopped spinning.  Perhaps there is a reason that we were the only ones sitting upstairs on the bus after all.  I’ve thrown in a few photos but this is really a case where video (complete with yelps and thwacks) would tell a more complete story.

Our stomachs and heads eventually settled enough for us to try eating.  How couldn’t we ride all the way to Cornwall without trying a couple Cornish pasties?  It seemed as though almost every other shop in Penzance was selling pasties of some kind.  It’s a touristy town but clearly the locals eat the pasties as well.  We picked a shop based the best looking seating and had ok pasties.  We are thinking we’ll try a second sampling in Plymouth – though it is not technically in Cornwall.  Pasties and bitter tasting in Plymouth – that’s probably just the ticket we need to keep perspective on this ferry mess.

I’m pretty sure that we’ll be in Plymouth tomorrow night.  Beyond that, we are not certain which town or country we be in.  We really want to head south somehow.  How and where remains to be seen.  Stay tuned…

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5 thoughts on “Ferrly weary and Cornwall musings

  1. Nice car!! The “pleasures of travel” are many! You are very resourceful so I have no doubts that you will find a way to Spain and a few adventures & sights along the way!

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