September 1, 2008

The Lizard

Filed under: England — sensel @ 1:28 pm

I will add, though, that as I was moving south-west toward England’s south-est point, known as The Lizard, I was thinking, “hmm, I’ll have to ask someone there why it’s called that, ’cause it’s sure not apparent from the map.” And then I turned a headland and there it was, plain as day. The headland and some of the rocks around it look as much like a lizard as any landmass I’ve ever known to look like what it’s supposed to look like. I took a photo but don’t think it’ll do justice, but The Lizard has a snout, a head, a very prominent eye, a curling body, all the legs it needs, a tail, even a flicking tongue. Kinda cool. Glad it wasn’t foggy the day I got there, as it was the next day, or I never would have known.

My favorite stretch here is The Lizard to Porthleven — the rockiest, barren-est stretch, with westerlies and hairy cows that I’m pretty sure are Highland cattle grazing what are almost moors — and Porthleven even has a cute little town band that plays weekly on the pier. How good are they, this combo of brass from grandpas on tubas to 8 year old boys who aren’t remotely on the beat but are playing percussion anyway? That’s not the point. :-) I haven’t been eating dinners, usually, but I had fish & chips (duh) and fudge cake with cornish clotted cream last night, and could barely move after, but boy, it was good.


Filed under: England — sensel @ 1:18 pm

The drystone walls have been replaced by hedges, the heather by gorse (think scotch broom with 1″ spikes) and the sheep by… fish? New hay rolls amass on the hillsides as if to attack, or perhaps to make a lemming-like roll and tumble into the sea.

And the sea speaks, though in a different language from the rivers in the dales, or at least the River Kent. While the river spoke mostly of itself, the sea speaks mostly of elsewhere, other shores, other places its been. It can be a bit disdainful: These are no rocks. This wall is no barrier to me. I’ve seen whiter beaches, and blacker ones, broader strands than this that clink under my stroking. This cliff is all right, though, I like it. It presents me a worthy challenge. I will batter it down with a patience unknown even to stone. While I work, let me tell you of islands and storms out to sea, of basking sharks and cormorant fleets and rainbows.

I have less to say about Cornwall; I’ve stopped counting miles, though it must be around 250 now based on the official trail segments, and fallen into a sort of zen. Brainwashing is a good thing when it’s the wind and sea doing the washing. Hope to see St. Michael’s Mount tomorrow, weather cooperating, and then I’m off to Paris. Bon chance!

Crossing the line

Filed under: England — sensel @ 1:11 pm

From the Lakes, 8/24:

I’ve noticed that there are lots of teen girls out walking here, with their dads, with their moms, in groups, and hardly any teen boys. There are a few under-12 boys, but even they’re outnumbered by girls their age by at least 2 to 1. Where are they boys? Home playing football? Video games?

Today (after writing to the end of a chapter) I hiked up to Walla Crags (a rocky overlook to Keswick and Derwentwater — and a draw not only because my fabulous B&B man, Andy, recommended it, but also because of the Walla Walla connection) and could not resist the additional climb to a high point called High Seat. There was a bog in the middle that even Andy’s guidebook gave warnings about. And…

There’s a fine line between “my feet are already so wet and muddy, I might as well keep going” and “completely ridiculous.” I crossed it. Near the far side of the bog I was staring into a patch of that devious cottongrass mud (see previous post) and I made the wrong choice. Bloop! In right up to my knee, and for all I knew there was no solid ground below that, either, but my left leg was then horzontal out behind me like a pontoon, keeping me afloat, and my hands had flown forward to, I guess, swim. (I didn’t learn a martial arts fall for this particular situation.) If there hadn’t been solid ground nearby to crawl out on, I’d probably be up there swimming still. Fortunately, the mud was surprised, too, so even though I was wet and covered with peat to the knee, the mud did not recover from its shock quickly enough to seep into the top of my boot (just everywhere else). I’m sure everyone who saw me thereafter wondered what my problem was, even if I was grinning like an idiot — I’ve also noticed that I seem to be the only one to get very dirty. These Brits are dainty about it, somehow. I hope I get to tell someone that I believe in the philosophy that if you aren’t getting dirty, you aren’t having enough fun.

Sidenote: I’ve also noticed that I can NOT keep my tongue in my mouth whenever my boot sinks into mud to the ankle. It has to poke out, although I CAN keep myself from saying “bleh” or the like if I try. I’m not sure what this reflex is for, or what it signifies. Do you?

Signing off for perhaps as long as a week, unless I get internet lucky down south. More later from Cornwall!

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