My daughters had their half term holiday last week, and we took advantage of their time away from school to visit Cornwall. It turned out that train tickets cost about twice what renting a car for a week cost, so I got to drive again. I drove more than 1000 miles (more than 1600 km) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Though I'm now completely acclimated to driving here, reversing is still tough. I never realized how much muscle memory I have in my left hand for driving backwards. Using my right hand to steer while in reverse is akin to trying to write with my left hand.
Scenery out the car window was great. Unlike in the US, roads here are essentially unsullied by billboards. What I did see here much, much more than in the US are windmills and solar farms. My wife took the two photos below while I was driving in Cornwall (click on the image for a larger view).
Good for England for pursing energy sources that represent alternatives to fossil fuels. It was nicer to see collecting stations for wind and solar energies than seeing inane billboards shoving advertising in my face every few miles or so.
We took many back roads in Cornwall. That meant I got to experience beautiful, but dicey, one-lane roads. My wife took the photos below (click on the image for a larger view).
Meeting an oncoming car was a lot of fun! One of us had to back up to a slightly wider part of the road and let the other pass. That's when I put my right hand's reversing prowess to the test. Of course it was fun backing up and meeting up with an oncoming car in that direction!
While in Cornwall, we visited three castles. The first was Tintagel Castle, where King Arthur was supposedly conceived. Putting folklore aside, I can't recommend visiting this castle enough if you're ever in Cornwall. Vistas there are breathtaking. The photos I took simply don't do justice to what we saw (click on the image for a larger view).
The best photo I took of the castle ruins is below (click on the image for a larger view).
We had so much walking and hiking around the ruins, along the myriad of paths, and near the cliff edges.
Restormel Castle was our next English Heritage destination. The circular Norman castle is shown below (click on the image for a larger view).
This castle was fun for my daughters as they ran all over the place and kept hiding from my wife and me. I just hope a little of the historical significance of the castle rubbed off on them while they hid in 800-year-old ruins!
What was great about visiting the third castle, Pendennis Castle, is that English Heritage was hosting a special World War II commemoration. My family were awed by seeing a Howitzer fired. The photo below shows the big gun a few minutes after it was fired (click on the image for a larger view).
We saw swing dancing and heard songs from the '40s. There were also displays that educated us on WWII rationing, coastal defence, and propaganda art from George Butterworth. The photo below shows a good look at the castle Henry VIII got built (click on the image for a larger view).
I relish learning and experiencing history. Trying to imagine the positive and negative ways we humans have gotten to where we are today will never be a boring mental exercise for me. If you've never visited a museum or a monument or other such place, do so. Take your time and read the signs. Most importantly, think and imagine. You won't regret it!
There was no way we could visit Cornwall and not drive out to Land's End. The cool thing about driving there was seeing the ocean on both sides of the road, and as we got closer to our destination, the ocean on each side kept creeping closer. I was blown away by what I saw there. Such beauty at the coast made me feel lucky to behold it. A photo again simply does no justice to reality (click on the image for a larger view).
And we could not leave Cornwall without hitting the beach. The photo below shows Porthmeor Beach in St Ives (click on the image for a larger view).
After getting sun on the beach, we took a tour boat to Godrevy Lighthouse and saw seals in the wild. Check out the lighthouse in the photo below (click on the image for a larger view).
Both sky and water were so very blue and lovely to see. Seeing seals in the wild was a first for my family. It was better than seeing them in a zoo -- by far.
We got to see and experience a great deal of Cornwall. It was a wonderful holiday and a week we'll never forget!