Day 11 |
May 31, 2010

Penzance, England

By Imogen Corrigan, Historian

Coordinates: 49° 47 16'N and 4° 56 38’W

Weather: Sunny, even warm

After yesterday’s dank fog, it was great to have a clear, sunny day when we woke up off Penzance. Even better, there was nothing that could be done until a ferry had moved out of the way at 0915, so we had a leisurely start. That said, there was a small but perfectly formed crowd milling about the reception area waiting to get ashore the minute we were given the go-ahead.

It was a lovely Zodiac rode to the jetty where I was extremely surprised to find that security guard not only remembered us from our landing at Fowey over two weeks ago, but also remembered our names – and I thought the hotel staff on board were good!

Penzance was delightful (which = lots of tea shops open) and not a pirate in sight. A number of guests took the chance to stroll around in the sunshine enjoying some quite good souvenir shops as well as the usual ones found in any tourist destination. Penzance is a compact and pretty place and was looking its best for a Bank Holiday.

At mid-day, the coaches started arriving to take guests off on a couple of excursions: St Ives and Mount St Michael. I think I may have put some off the latter with talk of steps and rough ground because not as many wanted to go there as had first said they would. There were indeed steps and rough ground because the only way to get there is to walk along the tidal causeway, so it may have been a good thing that some made a strategic decision to stay on the mainland. The guests that went all said that they really enjoyed the outing, not least seeing the bronze imprint of Queen Victoria’s footstep, which was made after she visited in 1846. There was also some interesting art and at least three excellent clocks, so Chris ‘Rocky’ Edwards was happy.

The other expedition went to St Ives, with one of the buses in the care of one of the most amusing local guides I have ever heard. It was a lovely ride and I think most people were taken aback to see how precipitously St Ives clings to the hills that surround the bay. We transferred to a smaller shuttle-bus to get down into the town as there is no possibility of anything larger getting through the narrow streets – goodness knows how they manage for deliveries. Our valiant guide led us through the hundreds of tourists crowded into narrow lanes and somehow got us all to the St Ives Tate Gallery, which was something different for everybody. As ever, the modern art divided opinion: some loved it and the rest simply couldn’t see where the skill lay. We had the chance to visit the Barbara Hepworth museum as well; how she managed to make stone look so appealing to the touch seems to me to be an art in itself.

After that, we had free time to explore some of the really excellent jewelry, art and local craft shops and drink more tea before transferring back up the hill in the shuttle bus. There’s a charming beach in St Ives, but it was hard to see it because the British had done what they love to do the most: the minute the sun came out, they had swarmed onto it, desperate to get a wind-tan and an ice cream.

The day ended with Recap & Briefing and much sneaking about to get a birthday card signed for Daniil without his realizing it.