Day 10: Wednesday, October 3

Leaving Penzance

Well, I’ve been in Penzance for exactly a week now, and what a week it’s been. I’ve experienced some of the most beautiful, natural scenery I’ve ever seen, met and made new friends with some truly wonderful people and engaged in the most physical exercise I’ve had in a very long time. I will always carry fond memories of Penzance and our group’s photo tour with me wherever I go. Sadly, it is now time to leave Penzance for the second, and shorter, segment of my Cornwall adventure.

I was up in good time this morning to get everything packed back up for departure <queue that awful Willy Nelson tune one more time>. I went downstairs to the hotel’s dining room for breakfast and had the pleasure of running into Mary, one of our team members, who also had stayed an extra night in the hotel. We had a lovely breakfast together with lots of conversation, then exchanged our goodbye hugs (as fate would have it I did run into Mary yet again that morning as we checked out of the hotel at the same time).

Before I left the Artist Residence hotel I took a few shots of my room for those who might be interested. It was room #12 if anyone reading this is ever through Penzance and would like to book this room at the hotel.

I loved this room but the only thing that sucked was the “view”:

Nice wall. The only good thing about looking into the wall was that it had a plaque on it from many years ago saying: Notice: any person not fastening this gate after having passed through is liable to a penalty of Forty Shillings.

I just realized I failed to get any shots of the general interior of the hotel – not sure why. At any rate, I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough. It’s fairly quirky and arty (it is called the Artist Residence after all), but the staff are fantastic, the rooms are decorated very interestingly, and they are a fair size (by U.K. standards anyway). Hmmm… I feel another TripAdvisor review coming on…

Anyway, I left the hotel early to catch my 12:04PM train from the Penzance train station to the city of Truro, where I’ll be staying for a couple of days. As I mentioned in my last post, Truro is Cornwall’s only city (the other centres are all small villages and towns), with a population of about 19,000 people. As I was early for the train departure I stopped at Willy Wallers Ice Cream Factory to finally get a taste of that real homemade Cornish ice cream I’d seen advertised everywhere. I had to keep my strength up for the 30 minute journey ahead, you understand.

It’s the real deal: Liquorice & Black Current ice cream, Cornish style
These were the people at the table next to me. In this part of Cornwall it seems dogs are allowed almost everywhere: restaurants, hotels, stores, transit, you name it. Sounds sensible to me.

After getting my fill of ice cream, I entered the Penzance train station:


And found my chariot to Truro waiting for me:


It was just myself and one other person when we left Penzance, although it did slowly fill up later. It was so quiet:


Goodbye Penzance, Hello Truro

I arrived in Truro in good time, a mere half-hour later. To be honest, Truro is not that compelling of a city to me; my reason for coming here is to photograph its amazing cathedral.

Truro train station

Courtesy of Google Maps I found my way to the Merchant House Hotel where I’ll be staying for the next two nights. It was much, much further than indicated on the maps, and Google does not warn you about the severe hills in Truro!! Normally this is not an issue for me but I am travelling extremely heavy this trip with three bulky cases. I think I mentioned something previously about getting the most intense physical exercise I’ve had in years?

I was half way to my hotel when I spotted the spires of the fabulous Truro cathedral on the horizon, so I grabbed this picture with my phone:


As I found out later when I actually went to the Cathedral, it is so massive and the streets so tight around the cathedral, that it was impossible to get an overall shot of the cathedral in its entirely unless you are standing back on a hill, as I was for this shot. There is no wide-angle lens in the world that could get the whole image into one frame from beside the cathedral (although I did later try).

So, bathed in sweat once again after negotiating the hills, I finally found my hotel that will be my temporary home for the next two nights: the Merchant House Hotel:

I checked in to the Merchant House (and yes, there were still many flights of stairs to climb before I reached my room – no surprise, as very few buildings this age in the U.K. have elevators ). After resting a bit and unpacking, I set out with camera in hand to see what Truro had to offer. As I found out from some general wandering, I was definitely not in Penzance! I’m still in Cornwall but Truro is affluent, cosmopolitan and fashionable, quite unlike the smaller centres I’d been experiencing for the past week. Just look at these houses:

This church is St. John the Evangelist. Quite stately:

More shots from wandering the city:

Colourful doors

I then discovered what I assume was Truro’s market square. There obviously had been some kind of goods market happening that day, but the vendors were starting to pack up so I never got to see their market in all its glory:

More Truro wanderings:

OK folks, this pretty little building is – wait for it – Truro’s public toilets. Even the loo has a little class in this city.
Kenwyn Street

The Truro Cathedral

And then – I found my Holy Grail, the thing I’d been looking for: The Truro Cathedral!!

Designed by architect John Loughborough Pearson, The Truro Cathedral is one of only three cathedrals in the U.K. having three spires. The foundation stones were laid in 1880 and the cathedral was completed in 1910, taking thirty years to build. The cathedral is a magnificent example of Gothic revival architecture.

It is free to go in and admire the cathedral, so that’s exactly what I did. I was disappointed, however, to find that the inside of the cathedral had been booked by a private company who were setting up for the presentation of a massive fashion show, complete with a runway that ran the length of the entire nave. They had also set up a large projection screen in the middle of the transept, plus a vendor fair/booths and alcoholic beverages(!) set up along each side of the catwalk. Once I got inside I did my best to ignore this disruption of the aesthetic and try to shoot around the obstacles:

Photographing this cathedral was glorious but I needed a pick-me-up. What’s this? Directly across the street from the cathedral was Pennyworths Traditional Sweet Shop! As Miss Piggy once said, “How amazingly convenient”. I just had to investigate:

Needless to say, I enjoyed some of the finest licorice I’ve ever tasted.

After the sweet shop I was thirsty and in need of a rest, so I found a Caffe Nero and enjoyed a time-out (for those not familiar with the big European coffee house chains, Caffe Nero is one, along with Costa, that pop up everywhere here, much like Tim Hortons in Canada).

As the very friendly and chatty barista at Caffe Nero served me, he asked where I was from and said:

I love your accent…

Huh? Accent? Moi? Well, yeah OK, I do have one – we all do; it’s just never been brought to my attention until now. We in Canada never stop to think about it but, of course, we do have an accent to other non-North American people who hear our voices. Having been surrounded by so many different English dialects – all beautiful to listen to I might add – over the past two weeks, I have become quite aware of my own speaking voice and how it must sound to others – with my hard Prairie r’s, flat a’s and my pronunciation of every syllable – I have become aware of my accent.

Let’s move on.

It was getting late in the day and fatigue was raising its ugly head, so I decided to wrap up my self-directed photo tour of central Truro and head back to the hotel for food, rest and blog updating. I took one last shot of downtown Truro before I headed back:

The Coinage Hall building on Boscawen Street.

And that’s it for Wednesday!

Over and out from Truro in Cornwall. Stay tuned for more in tomorrow’s blog.

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