Sunday, August 12, 2018

trip continues in Cornwall.....

I had a 4:30 flight from Manchester to New Quay, much faster and actually even cheaper than taking a train across country. arrived by 5:30 and was a nice quick flight, I sat next to a lady that I didn't speak to much until the descent and landing. I decided her accent was very much like one I'd heard on shows filmed in that area, but I'm no expert just a guess. She had been visiting her son in Manchester and talked about how she grew up near the beach south of New Quay and how many nice beaches and gardens there were and I really should try and see some of them.  This, of course, was when I was still overly optimistic about all the places I could be driving to. ha... I had reserved a rental car from Hertz with a GPS system, but when I picked up the car, they didn't have any there to install and so no. I asked for a map......then the adventure began.
completely and utterly awkward and non instinctual driving, sitting on the right side and driving on the left side and with manual transmission, and not a single road sign to be seen. whew! I sort of pulled out he map and had a look over, then I parked the car again and went inside. another older man inside who knew more of the area north spoke to me about the way to Port Isaac, just follow the signs to Wadebridge and then follow the signs to Port Issac he said...  I got back in the car, turned right, then left like they'd said and began the drive.  at the first round about I took the wrong exit and sensed it a few miles away and turned around. got back going the right direction and from then, it was not road signs, but it was signs at intersections and round abouts that pointed the direction of the town. I also sort of looked at the map and felt myself going the right way etc... oh brother!  and I didn't like it at all, prayed most of the time, took it easy. there are not shoulders  and many times shrubs or stonewalls right next to the lane on the left.oh my oh my.... ha ha...
well about 40 minutes later which should have been about a half hour drive, I was there in Port Isaac, carefully driving into the parking lot of the school/hotel as seen in the show Doc Martin. the parking lot in front was full since it was by then about 7ish and the restaurant and all. I was nervous and awkward in that car trying to reverse and maneuver, the worst. I just parked behind some parked cars and went inside to ask about parking ( I noticed some in back around the left side of the building but there was the wall and the building with an extremely narrow gap).  I checked in and mentioned my car, the waitress who also stopped at the bar to check me in followed me out and said,  you'll have to park in back, would you like me to move it for you!  ANGEL FROM HEAVEN ABOVE!! haha, oh heck yes. what a relief. she took my keys, got it, asked me to push in the mirror on the passenger side, and pushed hers in and then varoom drove it back to the parking lot and the turned and reversed into a space. relief!  I followed her back in and continued checking in, then she went back to working and I unpacked and settled myself and then walked across the hall again into the restaurant to sit down for a dinner. I ordered a salad and then the crab cakes (which was really a starter on the menu but I didn't want a large dinner at that point).
woke up to the sound of seagulls with my window wide open but curtains drawn somewhat. breakfast at the hotel was included with the stay. the town is amazing, just a little itty bitty town on a hill and up and down paths and streets just right there near the bay.  only 25 people really live in the original village area there, the rest are all "cottages" for vacation renters. I wandered all around, took lots of photos, joined an 11 am walking tour of all the Doc Marten points in the village which is done by an actor who is an extra in many episodes who lives there.  Apparently a lot of people come to area who are Poldark fans as well. at some point after 1 pm we were done and then I walked to another bay and then to a Coop store and got a sandwich and some chips and fruit and such for lunch.  I walked back and practiced looking at the roads from the hotel for when I left the next day, so I'd know just where to drive and lanes to turn into etc.  I'd already decided the night before I'd stay right there all day Monday and not drive at all.  after lunch I walked walked walked up onto the pastures on the hills and the sea air and the cliffs and benches to sit and view... ahh lovely! btw, the Danner boots I'd bought for the trip were PERFECT for this hike and walk and climb. eventually I made my way back down, shopped some more, walked back to some Doc Marten points for more photos,  relaxed and pondered etc... eventually back in my room, changed for dinner and went again to the hotel restaurant same dinner. there was an American couple there who I eventually started a conversation with before they paid their check.  Americans were the only ones I felt like talking to strangers to since I was very keen not to be an annoying American overly friendly talking to Brits. (ha). during the meal the wife had been a bit annoyingly asking about how things were cooked and praising the chef for this little detail or that about the meal, and then she also asked a couple times for extra sauce or this or that, which I was sitting there thinking her overly kindness and annoyingness very much reminded me of Dolores Umbridge. ha
Tuesday morning I slept in a bit, got up and walked around the bay and back, more photos of course. had breakfast at the hotel. got all my things packed. by now I'd bought some souvenirs and went ahead and started using a third carry one bag I had with me folded up and packed.  I sort of procrastinated because i didn't want to drive the car again.....I asked around about getting a SIM card and which town would be the closest etc... many said the COOP, which did not have them. and then they said when I got to Exeter etc...  (My plan had been to use the GPS and then possibly get a SIM card for the iphone 5 my friend gave me before the trip, another story about how we had to figure out why I couldn't use her phone until she signed onto icloud and removed it from her find phone list because I was locked out of it, and that was the night before trip! and then the phone wouldn't work in UK because ATT had it locked, and I got that approval after emailing ATT on Sunday night when I arrived in Port Isaac). I finally left town around 10am, thinking well maybe I'll drive to Bath, see the town and have lunch, and then on to Oxford!. I puttered back the way I came into Wadebridge and just happend to drive by a nice large Tesco store. I'd been told they might have a cellphone rep there so I parked and went in.
YEs ! Success, the guy there sold me a SIM card to put in my iphone 5 and it worked! I had Siri to help me the rest of the trip. yay!  I got out of town and found my way to the highway to Exeter, jsut right before Exeter, i exited at a rest stop place with a very nice restaurant next to a gas staion and subway shop.  I had lunch there and relaxed and checked my phone and messaged a few people etc with the internet inside. got back on the road and kept driving on, it was after 1pm by this time....
I kept driving on my way and got all the way to Oxford. I followed Siri all the way into Oxford, nervously in traffic and on the city streets, and found Hertz, BUT i forgot to fill up the tank at the first gas station I saw. in fact I couldn't remember seeing a gas station once I got off the highway.  I asked siri a few times, checked google maps, and for some reason the only thing i could find was one by getting back on the highway and looping around to the south of town. filled up with gas. Siri took my back on the highway back to Hertz, AND!!!!!!! wouldnt' you know it, I arrived just after 6pm, the time they closed. it really pissed me off because I wanted to return the car a day early to save some $$$ but hadn't considered they closed by 6 ( I got the car rented just after 6 in New Quay). I was also very very very ready to turn over the car and rely on public transport. ha but, alas, I had to drive back through the city through a LOT of traffic, buses, cars, people on bikes, over to my airbnb stay... I made it and parked and got settled in.  the lady hosting me there was only a few years younger, extremely kind, reserved, with a beautiful voice.  bookish but sweet. turns out she did writing tutoring online and had grown up in Oxford, her father having been an "academic". very small place on a few blocks from a rather colorful seedy sort of strip south east of all the colleges.  I walked over to said street and washed and dried a load of clothes.  some jerk standing in the shop doorway next door asked me why i had taken a photo of the outside of the laundromat, apparently he was the owner, I explained I was a tourist and loved the 50's style tiled facade. I was smiling and polite but he barely warmed up at all. I couldn't help but wonder what was going on that made him suspicious of me taking a photo, so then i was suspicious. ha
I played on my phone uploading photos and looking at photos and social media etc... eventually going back to the airbnb and washed up and to bed. a little bitty bathroom upstairs with the shower in a tub with a wrap around curtain... and the room, nice enough but window open again all night. (no AC in UK which I got used to but at this point in the trip I was like, and what about FANS?!?!? ha ha).
Wednesday morning was all about Oxford and the Tolkien exhibit that had brought me there. but first I returned the car just after Hertz opened at 8am. I took a better route there and gave it back. there was no change in my fee however, so 3 days. boooo!  I bussed back to the airbnb, and next: an English Breakfast at a place my host recommended. I just love the way the servers and people will call you, my love.  yes, my love. sure my love. ha! I had a nice breakfast there and tea ( that was my new thing having tea with breakfast since I'm not a coffee drinker). then the Oxford Botanical Garden! and then by 12, the Tolkien exhibit! it was amazing, it was so great. I read and saw every single part of it, no photos alas, but there were letters from fans and readers, drawings, sketches, notes, doodles, all this information about his life and mostly focus on the creation of the whole creation of the hobbit and lord of the rings world.  what a blast! my host had allowed me to leave my luggage there but had another guest coming by 5 so by 4:30 I was back after walking around Oxford all afternoon including Christchurch where I was able to take a quick walking tour before they closed for the day. I grabbed my bags and then hopped on a bus to the train station.bought a ticket and continued to follow my trip agenda. excitement lingered for the next stop and for the rest of my vacation: 4 nights in London! :)