Cornish Pastiche – Finale

After two and a bit weeks tapping away at my PPK and using my T3 for surfing and email, I had almost forgotten the joys of using a full sized screen and keyboard. Twenty four hours after returning from the family vacation, the pile of laundry still resembles Annapurna and the washing machine has barely stopped except for reloading and removing beach sand from the fluff filter. All things considered, it was a fine holiday and the whole family had a great time. By way of a closing chapter to the Cornish Pastiche saga, I thought I would simply relate a couple of the highlights – with links, now I have the capability.

For those not familiar with the Lizard Penisula in Cornwall, it is a beautiful county, set at the far south west of England and is pretty much the last dry land before the east coast of the USA. It is for exactly this reason that Guglielmo Marconi chose the area for his ground breaking work in wireless communications. His experiemental transmissions in January 1901, between The Lizard Wireless Station and the Isle Of Wight 186 miles away, proved definitively that radio waves could travel well beyond the visible horizon. Incidentally, the Lizard Wireless Station was also the first coastal station to handle an SOS signal from a ship. This work paved the way for another transmission eleven months later that changed the world and paved the way for pretty much all modern communications technologies. From a small wooden building located above Poldhu Bay ten miles north of Lizard Point on the 12th December 1901, a member of Marconi’s team repeatedly transmitted the letter ‘S’ out over the Atlantic. These bursts of three ‘dots’, boosted by what was then the world’s most powerful transmitter, were received by Marconi himself at Signal Hill in Newfoundland, Canada. Today, Poldhu Point is home to the tiny but excellent Marconi Centre exhibition, which is jointed managed and run by The National Trust and the Poldhu Amateur Radio Club GB2GM. Completing the local Holy Trinity for geeks is the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, which was the home of the British Empire’s first international telecommunications network and, at it’s height in the early decades of the twentieth century, was the world’s largest cable station, with 14 telegraph cables in operation. These undersea cables reached out to the very furthest corners of the globe, connecting Britain with it’s by then fading empire. I can highly recommend all these to anyone with an interest in technology or communications. To those not so inclined, they are still great places to visit, not only as memorials to the work of those who makes much of modern ‘push-button’ life possible, but also as stunning locations (on the South West Coastal path) in their own right. It is worth acknowledging the ham radio volunteers and National Trust folks who staff the Lizard Wireless Station and the Marconi Centre, not only for their enlightening talks and the opportunity for hands-on Morse Code tuition, but for staffing these tiny huts that can only be reached on foot.

Whilst we were self-catering on this holiday, we also took the opportunity to eat out when we fancied and avoid the washing up. Whether cooking for ourselves or cooked for, we took advantage of the excellent local produce. One evening, I rustled up a mackerel and prawn farfalle dish using fish from that morning’s catch at Cadgwith, a tiny village with small working fishing fleet located on the eastern side of the Lizard Peninsula. Other local specialities include Yarg, a Cornish semi-hard cheese, traditionally wrapped in nettles; scrumpy cider, which is a world apart from it’s massed produced counterpart and, of course, the reknown Cornish Pasty, a pastry casing with, traditionally, a filling of beef and potato with slices of onion and swede mixed in as well. The Old Inn in Mullion and The Smoke House in Porthleven both provided us with memorable meals, the former with it’s generous pub grub proportions and the latter with an imaginative and tasy menu. The dish of the holiday for me was the fresh – and I mean fresh – brill with mussels and saffron linguine accompanied by a cracking chenin blanc at The Smoke House, who also do fresh handmade pizzas and pasta dishes for kids that puts the usual fare served up for kids in restaurants to shame.

Archie Trees is a name that was oft-repeated during car journeys on this holiday. On the first day, whilst we were driving down some of the famously narrow and winding Cornish lanes, sprog 4 suddenly exclaimed ‘Arch-ieee Tree-ees!’. SWMBO and I looked at each other in a puzzled way – who was this Mr. Trees? Was the sprog asking for us to play his CD? This was repeated quite a few times until the other sprogs noticed that she only made these exclamations when we drove between hedgerow trees whose boughs overhung the lane so far that they met in the middle above the car. Ah – not Archie Trees but archy trees. We never tired of hearing it and eventually the whole family would chime in with ‘Arch-y Tree-ees!’ any time we drove through a tunnel or arch of tress.

That’s it. I could go on and on but it would be more boring than inviting you all over to look at pictures and home movies so I will resist – normal service will now be resumed.

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