Friday, 20 April 2007
Goodbye Cornwall - Hello Devon !
The "King's Head" is a former coaching inn , dating from 1623, built at the crossing of "Five Lanes" Apparently, people travelling up to London would take out a will before setting off because of the distance & treacherous roads conditions.
We ate at the pub, Jill booked it earlier, in a panic, as the place was heaving in the afternoon. It turned out to be the locals gathering round the screen for the "Grand National". The food was good, and cheap. We were joined later by a group of Hot Air Balloonists, congregating there to collect their certificates & have a buffet supper. These Cornish pub & shop owners know how to run a business. Always finding ways to bring people in. We went upstairs to bed, lulled off to sleep by the sounds of the Juke Box.
After a basic breakfast, "No we don't have fruit, it would go off" we left for Launceston, sandwichless, because "we can't make sandwiches, it's Sunday & we're only doing roasts" We weren't too worried as we thought we'd find somewhere to eat along the way. We stopped to look at the tiny house where John Wesley preached & stayed for a while, having lost his way on the moor. Walked through the lovely villages of Alturnun & then trudged along through the narrow lanes. The weather was perfect, in the soft, misty haze the landscape looked like a pre-impressionist painting. After a few miles we realised that a) no vehicles had passed us by & b) the reason why, there were no villages, pubs or shops along this route. Kenny was hobbling along with a swollen ankle & we really needed a place to sit down , bandage him up & get something to eat. And then, ahead of us Nirvana! A sign "Teas, Coffees, Snacks" & most importantly, OPEN. Except it wasn't. We tried every door but nobody was home except the dog tied up outside. We eventually arrived in Launceston, which didn't look promising, judging by the litter strewn along the road leading into town. We made our final hike up St Stephens Hill to the B & B. and hoped the landlady would offer us tea & biscuits, she did.
It was like being in a 1970's time warp. I even had a teasmade in my room. Doilies under & over everything. I was really looking forward to spending two nights here.
Launceston is very hilly, it took an effort to climb the hill to town. The pubs were depressingly dismal & half empty. We eventually settled on a fish & chip restaurant which looked like the only clean & bright spot in this dismal town. It turned out to be a really good meal & we toasted ourselves for having completed the first 100 miles. The owner brought us a bottle of wine with a bottlestopper "in case we didn't drink it all" we laughed, no chance of that!
The next day I saw Jill & Kenny off on the bus to Plymouth. It felt strange, but good to be on my own for a while. I went to the library to use the Internet. (expensive- £3 an hour) & managed to catch up on some e mails, and more importantly, look at the fund raising page. I was amazed at peoples generosity. Apart from the general giving I also heard that the B5Y (Banstead Five Churches Youth group) had raised £400 from a collection after their performance of "Mark's Passion" A lot of Sophie's friends were involved in this so it meant a lot to me & my family.
Armed with an OS map, I walked part of the next day's journey. The reason being, it was 17 miles to Bridestowe and one thing I've learnt this last week is 12 miles is manageable, 14 is tough, so 17 ? I thought not, especially as it would be Yvonne's first day. (my walking companion for the next few days)
Back in Launceston, which wasn't quite so depressing on a Monday afternoon, at least the shops were open, I looked for the take-away pizza place I'd spotted last night. "Closed on Monday" So
it was back to the fish restaurant. I wandered around the Castle area eating my fish cake & chips, and realised there were some nice places in Launceston. Some very grand houses & lovely little cottages. It must have been quite smart once.
Back at the B & B, I invited the landlady to share a glass of wine with me and we had a interesting evening chatting as we had something in common. Her grandaughter, now 11, has had treatment for brain tumours since she was first diagnosed 6 years ago. We swapped stories & looked at photographs and as I went to bed I felt inspired and re-energised. I can't help Sophie now, but I can do something for this little girl & others like her, by raising money & awareness.