Clotted Cream Wishes and Merry Sheep Dreams

Aug
9

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The fabulously poetic Durdle Door (in Dorset), an “eyelet” formed by waves crashing into the chalk layers of the rock.


I went to England, in November, because I’m insane. Mostly Cornwall and Dorset, with a bit of London.

They drive on the wrong side of the road there. By the way.

So, my traveling companion and I got a rental car and together made the bizarre decision that I should be the one to drive out of London. After seven hours in a plane. In a car that had the steering wheel on the wrong side. In a country that drives on the wrong side of the road. With a stick shift, which I haven’t driven in several years, and did I mention the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car? So the stick shift is on the wrong side, too. The only thing that could have made it worse is if I’d been drinking.

Luckily, it didn’t take long to get out of the city. I hit my first roundabout in, oh, about two minutes, and nearly killed myself getting into it in London traffic. Roundabouts. Everywhere. Have these people not heard of stop signs? No intersections with traffic lights or stop signs. Just roundabouts. I finally figured out after about a day that you could just stay in the roundabout, keep driving in circles, until you decided which turn to take out of it. They weren’t nearly as scary after that. I just spent a lot of time driving in circles, that’s all. Then we hit the country. Narrow lanes, some hedgerowed, others canopied by trees. All gorgeous.
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BUT!! So narrow….. Like here, in our backroads. Only the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car. I can’t tell you how disconcerting that is. Like, they might as well have made me drive the car upside down. And the villages!!! Buildings (beautiful old stone buildings that I nearly ran into admiring) right up to the edge of the road.
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What was really odd was in the evenings, they just PARKED RIGHT IN THE ROAD. AS IF THERE WAS ROOM.

But oh–how adorable! Every village was so cute! So tidy! I have no idea what they do with their trash there, but there was no trash. Every village, one after another, so cute, so adorable, so clean. So tiny. All with an ancient church with moss-grown Celtic crosses and stone thatched cottages and a pub.
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A pub in every village! We need to take up this trend in America. The photo above was taken in a 17th-century pub in Mullion, Cornwall.

We drove out of London and headed straight for Cornwall where we stayed for two nights at the splurge of the trip, the incredible Polurrian Hotel, set on a clifftop over the sea.
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The drive should have taken maybe four hours but I turned it into about eight what with all those confusing roundabouts and my fear of driving more than 30 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road. I hereby apologize to the entire United Kingdom for my driving atrocities. But–it was wonderful. All the hedgerowed lanes and fields, the quaint villages, the sea! I loved it all.

For the most part, this trip consisted of driving around in the country. Just driving around. Doing nothing. Climbing over stone walls and hedges to get to prehistoric monuments, petting sheep, stopping in pubs, trekking up steep cliffs to medieval castle ruins, and consuming clotted cream at every opportunity. I didn’t take a single guided tour of anything.

This photo was taken through the crumbling walls of romantic and mysterious Tintagel Castle.
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Sheep were everywhere. Dotting the countryside in some kind of unspoken agreement not to stand too close to each other while properly dotting. I fell in love with sheep while I was in England.
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The only day it really poured was the day we went to Stonehenge. Driving, sideways, soaking rain. I was drenched. I changed out of my sopping wet jeans in the front seat of the car heedless of any passersby and my half-nakedness.
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I mean, we were at STONEHENGE, people. I didn’t care about anything else.

It rained every day we were there, but just a little bit then it would stop. The temperatures were great, and the tourists scarce at this time of year, except when we got to London. But–it gets dark in England in November at 4 pm. What is THAT about? You’d think I’d have gotten used to it after a week, but every day I was shocked. It’s 4! How can it be DARK?

In Dorset, we stayed in a lovely bed-and-breakfast with a warm, welcoming hostess who made us kippers and big slabs of bacon every morning and always made sure we knew where to go and how to get there and explained what all those mysterious road signs meant. (Below, me relaxing at the quaint bed-and-breakfast country house after a day of exploring the West Country boonies.)
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I miss that B&B lady. Each evening, she’d say, “What would you like for breakfast?” And I would get to say things like, “I would like some kippers!” And then, magically, she would make whatever I requested appear by the next morning.

This photo is of the beautiful, bombed-out Corfe Castle overlooking the Purbeck Hills.
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I loved Corfe Castle, climbing around the ruins, poking under openings and inside old towers.

It was an amazing trip, and a real dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to go to England, and I hope to go again. Over the next several days, I’ll share more photos and more details of all the fun.

What about you? Any dream-come-true trips you’ve taken–or would love to take?

I’m on vacation. This week, I’m republishing a series of posts from my 2006 trip to England. Enjoy! Keep up with my current trip on the Daily Farm Photo page.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 9, 2009  

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23 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 8-9
    2:31
    am

    These are wonderful shots! Thanks for republishing……I don’t care that I’m taking a trip 3 years late! This is one place I’d really like to travel…..it’s so beautiful!

    I’m sure the driving would make us feel 16 all over again! :happyflower:

  2. 8-9
    3:06
    am

    Sounds like a good time, don’t fall through the stones…

  3. 8-9
    5:07
    am

    Looks like a wonderful time. I would love to go to England one day. Also Scottland. That is where my mom’s family is from.

  4. 8-9
    5:50
    am

    We’ve been to Scotland twice. It really is as beautiful as the travel brochures show. The first time we went we had planned to arrive in London, do some sightseeing, and take the train to Sterling, stopping along the way and taking it slowly. We didn’t care much for London. I do wish we had seen some of the museums, but it was just another busy city with older buildings, and I am a country girl. The train was too new and confusing for us, so we just went straight to Stirling and spent almost a week rambling around on foot and taking the train to Edinburgh. (No driving for us!) There was so much to see in Stirling, though, and we appreciated the smaller size of the town and the surrounding countryside and villages. Then we spent several more weeks a short distance from Aberfoyle (here: http://www.gartmorehouse.com/). There were lots of walks in the country, visiting the sheep, and trips to the pub in the village. And there was clotted cream. I can’t tell you how much I love clotted cream. Seeing it in your title is what brought me over here this morning. Ahhhh. How I long for some clotted cream this morning.

  5. 8-9
    6:00
    am

    Well, actually, it seems to me that the best time to visit Corwall might be sometime like November. How else could you get the full “brooding” of the place that has figured in so many Gothic tales? And as for the roundabouts, don’t you think there is someone out there in “roundabout Hell,” just going round and round and round and…Sounds like some of my days at the office. The photo taken from Tintagel was wonderful. Surely, surely you have it framed and up somewhere. C

  6. 8-9
    7:06
    am

    Beautiful pictures.
    I’d love to visit Ireland, Sweeden,oh heck any where in Europe. (except Spain)

  7. 8-9
    8:22
    am

    20 years old, Australia, five weeks, glorious! :wave:

  8. 8-9
    8:57
    am

    Sounds simple but my husband and I just took our first overnight motorcycle trip. I can not explain the joy I feel on the back of that bike! The smells, the changes in temperature, the wind, simply seeing everything without the barrier of a window, it is exhilarating to the senses. hopefully it will be the first of many more!

  9. 8-9
    9:02
    am

    AHA We finally see how beautiful you are. Please replace your picture on your website. Have fun in Florida, a place I always want to see, except for the alligators and snakes.

  10. 8-9
    10:15
    am

    Thank you for republishing – it brings back my own memories. I spent 3 weeks in England over 35 years ago – traveling with a tent – and loved it. I was there in Sept. so had a lot of rain, but it just made the castles and cathedrals more magical. You just go on enjoying your girls’ time in Florida and we’ll enjoy your trip to England!

  11. 8-9
    10:55
    am

    On Tuesday, my husband and I are flying out of Nebraska to backpack in Belize and Guatemala for two weeks! Dream come true: check!

  12. 8-9
    11:01
    am

    I, too, didn’t realize how beautiful(on the outside; already knew about the inside from your posts ;-) you are, Suzanne! You could star in one of your romance novels. Surely you didn’t give birth to a son who just graduated high school??!!

    Your comments about the driving brought back my first experience driving in England. I took over the wheel on the highway and figured I would get into the slow lane until I got the hang of the shifter being on the left, etc. It dawned on me in about 60 seconds that the lanes on the highway were also switched. I’d been moseying along in the FAST lane!! The only thing to be thankful for about the difference in driving is that the pedals are the same. Can you imagine if the gas were on the left and the brake on the right?? :-X

  13. 8-9
    11:21
    am

    Yes! Having lived in Europe, I got to take alot of dream come true vacations – Paris, Holland, Austria, Switzerland…saw where the Sound of Music was filmed, etc. Saw the Palace of Versailles, etc.
    My husband and my ancesters are from England/France. My grandfather had a coat of arms from England. My husband’s father does alot of geneology on England and his relatives over there.
    I would love to go to the Corrie ten Boom home in Haarlem Holland and see Ann Frank’s house (my brother went), and see the Holy Land, Israel…
    Switzerland was GORGEOUS and we saw a village of chocolate in a shop window – chocolate shop. My grandmother always wanted to sleep in a dormer window and she got to, in Paris and her ancesters (step grandmother that is) served on the court at Versaille. She had French ancestry. Lots of good things like that. Would love to return to Europe. To Paris too.

  14. 8-9
    1:16
    pm

    WOW, what beautiful pictures! You have a good eye. I would love to go see those tiny little towns and pubs. And let me say this…I noticed you represented good ole WV while there…love the WV shirt!

  15. 8-9
    3:32
    pm

    Well I am so jealous. :hissyfit: I think I would love to live in an English village. In a cottage. With sheep. Well not keep the sheep in the cottage but you know what I mean. :sheep:

  16. 8-9
    4:47
    pm

    Looks and sounds like a wonderful trip! I particularly liked that photo of the sheep! What a cutie!

    I would LOVE to casually trek about in Austrailia!

  17. 8-9
    9:28
    pm

    Oh,my. I also went to Great Britain in November (1999) (also insane, I guess)and I, too, was shocked at the 4PM sunset. What is THIS all about? I thought perhaps, the end of the world was happening, and there I was in London, and I would perish without my sons, who were, happily, HOME ALONE. I checked a map of the world and latitudes and THEN I realized how incredibly far north we actually were. Kind of explains why my plane flew over Reykjavik to get there.

  18. 8-10
    11:26
    am

    When we went to England, I let my hubby do all the driving since he was used to it. I couldn’t get past my ingrained instincts even sitting in the passenger seat–which felt like the driver’s seat to me still.
    We had a tea at a little shop in a little village with scones and clotted cream. Yum! Why don’t we have anything like that here!! My husband, the native, though apparently turns his nose up at any food items that feature “clotted” in their name.
    ~Jenny~

  19. 9-15
    8:30
    am

    Glad you had such a great time, and love your photos. I’m from Dorset myself and if I could make a small correction Corfe Castle isn’t so much bombed out as shelled – as in by cannon balls, hence the state of it!
    I don’t like the darkness at 4pm either and I live here! :happyflower:

  20. 9-15
    9:10
    am

    I LOVE England! I have a sister who lives there (only found out about her in 91!)and so in 92 and 99 I went over to visit. The first trip was all around London and the surrounding villages and then up to Edinburgh for a few days. The next trip was to CORNWALL….I LOVED it! Suzanne isn’t the road to each of the villages fun LOL…I know what you mean about winding roads! Tintagel was beautiful…it was misting when we were there but it got better as the day went along. I loved all the little villages along the coast…St. Ives…can’t remember the others right now but we did get to see ‘Fish and Ships Day’ in one of the villages. You really expected to see pirates and wenches as the little village was centered around a stone dock with sailing ships tied up right in the middle! It felt like we were back in time…wonderful! From there the next day it was off to Devon where we stopped for Cream Tea which included two of the biggest currant scones I have ever seen. My sister then showed me the proper way to ‘lay on’ the clotted cream and then the fresh strawberry preserves. OH MY GOODNESS…it was HEAVEN!!! You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten at least one of those. I’m so happy to know that we have both experienced some of the same places…no one else can appreciate things like these…including roundabouts and righ handed steering etc. I’m just so glad my brother in law did all the driving! Take care. Maura

  21. 8-30
    3:34
    pm

    Hiya I am glad that you enjoyed your time in England. Just to say that in our view we drive on the correct side of the road and everyone else drives on the wrong side lol I found in extremely odd being on the wrong side of the car when I was in Alaska last year. As for the darkness at 4pm we all hate it but we still have daylight savings time for some unknown reason – left over from the war I believe. But we are quite northern on the map and November is an awfully cold and damp month. But Cornwall, Devon and Dorset have some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the country. Hope you come back when it’s not raining which does happen more than you would believe lol

  22. 9-5
    1:02
    am

    My husband and I went to England in 2006 too. It was my DREAM vacation. Most people I know have always wanted to go to HA or Cuba or somewhere else, but I have always loved England. I loved your pics of England. And have found your musings and blogging topics so helpful right now in my life. I have lost my desires for anythings- my family is in a war with two different sides of a blended family and I am caught in the middle. I am too upset to even cry. I have been searching for a lifeline back to my life and your blog may have saved my sanity. There is nothing I like more than having people talk about their adventures in England, and yours is truly a God send for me right now. Thanks

  23. 3-20
    7:43
    am

    I’m GOING! (I hope :-)

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