Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Break in Cornwall

In October, we took a long weekend trip to Penzance in Cornwall.  We had a lovely rail journey, as part of the track runs right along the shore (we almost certainly traversed the portion of the track which has since been destroyed at Dawlish in the recent late-winter storms).  We stayed in a Grade II-listed eighteenth-century town house on historic Chapel Street.  The house was much bigger than our flat, with three floors and two separate living areas.  We had to shout to each other to figure out who was where.  We made great use of the fireplace and the two cozy armchairs in the living room and one night watched The Big Lebowski, which was in the DVD collection.

The first two things we noticed about Penzance were 1) that it smelled of sea salt (which reminded me of a family trip to the Canadian Maritimes) and 2) there were palm trees! (because Penzance is in a sub-tropical zone).
We were also just steps away from the house Maria Branwell, the mother of the Brontes, grew up in.  Further up the street was the old Wesleyan Methodist chapel, which I suppose they must have attended (the Branwell were Methodists before the sect split off from the Church of England).
Other than relaxing by the fire with books, Tim and I did two awesome seaside walks.  First we set out to the east for Mousehole (pronounced Mow-zel, I don't know why) via Newlyn.  Here we go along the promenade at low tide.
Mousehole was delightful, set on a hill and surrounding a harbour.  Tim stopped at a pub and had the catch of the day.

The next day, we headed out in the other direction, for St Michael's Mount, just off the coast at Marazion. You can see town and castle/island in this picture.  It was quite breezy that day, so we also got to enjoy watching the kitesurfers as we walked along.
We had checked the low tide time the day before to make sure we could walk across the causeway to the island.  Usually, you can take a boat back to the mainland at high tide, but for whatever reason, it wasn't in operation on the day of our visit and the castle closed early that day, so we mostly just walked around the grounds for a bit, and then headed back across the causeway without seeing the castle itself.  Alas.  We'll just need to visit again someday.
In Marazion, heading back to Penzance, with palm trees!  If you find yourself with the opportunity to visit Cornwall, I'd certainly recommend it.  It was a lovely place for a seaside break, even in October.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Coming Out of Hibernation

Daffodils and blossoming tree in the churchyard of St Leonard's, Eynsham
Well, hello, hello, hasn't it been a long time since I updated?  A scandalously long time, in fact.  I have decided my best excuse is that I was hibernating and now that it is spring (or, at least, it was very springy on Sunday), I had better get back to it.

I suppose the real reasons for lack of posting were partly born out of busy-ness, as this term I have prepared and submitted all my materials for the Confirmation of my DPhil status, and I am currently racing towards the completion of a full draft (!) of my thesis.  I'm also still submitting my YA fantasy novel to literary agents, and should be pushing ahead on the first draft of a new novel.

In the coming days and weeks, I plan to post on
  • my experiences on the third year of the DPhil and the work/writing/life strategies that are currently working for me
  • 2013, the year that was (including the best books I read last year)
  • our recent travels to Cornwall, Munich, Vienna, and Prague
Until then, a few more pictures from our walk up the Thames Path to the deliciously cute village of Eynsham.

The Thames path, rather muddy in places, but dry here.

The 18th-century toll bridge at Swinford.  Still charges a measly 5 p per car at the bottom.  Free for pedestrians and cyclists, however.

The tower of St Leonard's church in Eynsham