Friday, 21 February 2020

A Cornish Day Gone Wrong... Then Right

On this trip I was hosted by Visit Britain.

Everyone has a day on their travels that doesn't go to plan. Many days, possibly. Even travel writers have days that don't go to plan - we have a self-mocking expression for it on Twitter: "I'm a travel expert, ask me anything!"

One day that didn't go to plan for me was in late May, in Cornwall, UK. I'd arrived in Penzance the previous day by train from London, and the day before that I'd taken trains all the way from Z├╝rich to London, via Paris.

Unfortunately I'd brought something with me from Switzerland - a nasty cold. So I set out by foot from my hotel in Marazion, outside Penzance, hoping I could shrug it off as I walked to the big local attraction, St Michael's Mount - which I could see from my hotel, the Mount Haven:


It was a pleasant stroll through the village, down to the shore, then across the stone causeway which is accessible at low tide:





Once I was on the island, I pottered around looking at displays about its history, from its medieval monastery era through to the present day. I then sat down on the grass in the sunshine, bracing myself to ascend the uneven stone steps which led to the castle at the top of the island.



Except... I couldn't. Sitting on the grass in the sun, listening to storytellers telling kids about the legend of the mythical giant of the island, I realised I felt far too ill to clamber up the steps, especially on this busy long weekend when there was a long wait time to proceed through the castle's decorative interiors.

So I wandered around to the gardens on the far side of the island instead, enjoyed the sloping greenery as best I could, then walked to the harbour to catch a boat back to the mainland with a bunch of Brits and a dog.



I felt a bit defeated by my inability to fully explore the island, but I also felt sorry for myself for being ill. Then, on the way back to the Mount Haven, I passed a pub which was far enough from the Mount to be outside the tourist crush - the Fire Engine Inn:



I couldn't have asked for a better place to heal. I took a comfortable seat facing the bar, was served fish & chips and beer by the friendly staff, and sat quietly; still feeling ill, but less harrowed by crowds.

It was good. Sometimes a British pub is the best place in the world to be.

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