Monday, September 22, 2014

More Cornwall


During our stay in Cornwall, we spent several days travelling to local sites of interest. 


One day was spent driving to and exploring Tintagel, the legendary home of King Arthur. 


The hills were dotted with the remains of castles and other fortified ruins. 


You could see the erosion of the stones especially around this window, which I assume was meant to rain arrows or boiling oil on invaders.   I guess even castles aren't meant to stand forever.


The cliffs near the water had many large and small caves.  It was fun to think of how they were used back in the day.  Now they are used for tourists to explore.  An altogether fine use.


I climbed about


and explored


and then sat in the tea house and had a delightful scone with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam, while the others kept at it. 


That way everyone was happy.  I have had clotted cream in many a fine tea shop, but the Cornish variety is spectacular and worth the trip alone. 


It is creamy and as thick as a soft butter, but more gooey.  It is meant to be slathered on in a huge mountainous pile.  Or at least that is how much they serve you.  So you must use it up or offend the proprietors.  Don't want to perpetuate the ugly American tourist myth.  OK.  It's not ALWAYS a myth.  But not me!  So I ate it all.  All of it.  By myself.

Then we explored the town full of tourist shops selling things like plastic armor and swords for kids and the obligatory fudge shops for the adults.  No on the swords.  Yes on the fudge.

Here is where you need to notice that all the pictures show beautiful, sunny, but not hot, days.  In England!   This is not the norm for England, but if it is the norm for Cornwall, then I guess that partly explains the crowds of tourists midweek when there is no holiday.  Simply gorgeous.

Friday, September 19, 2014


We like to watch House Hunters International.  It shows people trying to buy or rent houses all over the world.  It makes us wonder what it would be like to move overseas and live a different life.  But it doesn't make sense to sell everything and go when you have never lived in that place to see if you would even like it.  This was the impetus to rent a cottage in England for a week.

We have a daughter who lives in England and it would be a twofer.  Try out a different locale and spend time with Trista.

A library friend introduced us to the TV series Doc Martin.  Although the series was completed in 2013, it can still be seen in the US on PBS.  The title character is a London surgeon who develops a fear of blood, gives up his surgical practice and moves to a tiny town in Cornwall.  His interpersonal skills are lacking and the town is chock-o-block with interesting characters. 


The scenery was beautiful and we decided to rent in a town in Cornwall.  Trista found a cottage for us all in Port Isaac.  Port Isaac is where they film the fictional town of Port Wenn for the show.  Doc Martin has become so popular, that they have even started filming new episodes for a final season.  Much of the town is given over to tours of the buildings used in the series and mugs and T-shirts featuring the star of the show, Martin Clunes.


Port Isaac is a very old fishing town.  The pier was built in the time of Henry VII and the city, centre dates from the 18th and 19 centuries.  It is old.  Old houses and towns in America are in no way comparable to old towns in Europe.

I am not too proud to admit that we went on the Doc Martin tour.  OK.  I lied.  I am a LITTLE too proud to admit it.  In order to salve my sensibilities I can tell you that the fishing history portion of the tour was the main draw.

The tide goes way in and then way out, stranding the boats for another 12 hours.

There is a life boat in a building opposite the bay, but it was not always so.  In the early 1900s the life boat was kept up the hill and had to be hauled up and down by the locals.  The hills surrounding the area are steep and so the houses are terraced up very narrow streets.  There are still scars on the walls of buildings from ropes used to haul the boat up and down the hill.  In places the road is only 6 feet wide.  These are two way streets. 


I mean it. The roads in and around Cornwall are all one car wide and are two way streets.  With lots of twists and turns and with rock walls on either side.  And 40 mile an hour speed limits.  In any of these places if you come up against another car, and you haven't hit them in a head on collision, one of you has to back up to the random "wide" spots (three feet, maybe)  placed there for this purpose.  Then the other car squeezes past you.  You may have to pull in the side mirrors.  And then you must wave a thank you.  Different areas have different finger numbers waved.  Port Isaac seems to be four fingers on the hand that is clutching the steering wheel.  I know a single digit is used in some areas, but it is the pointer finger.  Not the other one that you are thinking.

All of this is done with great good will and smiles. 

A classic telephone booth updates for emails and texts!

We drove through the village once.  There are areas where you can reach out and touch the buildings on either side of the car.  A small car.  People have to stand in doorways to let you past.  We only did this once.  The rest of the time you park at one end or the other of the town and hike in to your house.  Nothing is very far, but it is very steep.

Even the stairs in the house we rented were steep.  The bathrooms and kitchen were an afterthought, although adequate.   As long as you can shower without bending over and don't wave your hands around when washing your hair.

And I would show you the pictures, except I took them on my iPad and I can't get them resized without losing picture quality.  I'll work on that and get back to you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jet Lag

I haven't written a word for two weeks!  Normally when we go on vacation I stockpile a few recipes to post when we are away.  This time I was so busy with guests that I barely had to time to write about current projects, let alone writing a few extra.  But now we are back.

Last time this week we were in Cornwall.  Two days ago we were in London.  Yesterday was spent doing laundry and trying to stay awake.  You have to try to force yourself to stay in the current time zone.  That shortens the jet lag.

NAH!  You didn't buy that hogwash, did you? It does help to get you acclimated, but nothing shortens the torture.  Its like the old saying that if you don't treat a cold, it last about seven days.  If you do treat the cold you can get over it in a week.

I'm going to take a nap and then write about our great vacay in Cornwall.  Not today.  Can't think.  Kind of fuzzy. A wee bit nauseous. 

I love to travel.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Refreshing Drink

Lee and I made the huge jaunt into town.   Roanoke is about 30 minutes away and we tend to save up errands and do them in a big gulp.  If we do this around a meal time, we frequently stop in a restaurant and indulge ourselves.  I refuse to admit to PLANNING these trips around meal times.  It is coincidental when this happens.

We stopped in to Red Robin.  They had a new menu.  One of their new drinks is a Can-Crafted Cocktail.  I went to their menu to get a picture for you, but it is so new there is no picture on the online menu.  They sell the cans the drinks are served in and were sold out of them when we were there.  So I can't show you a picture that I took.

Suffice it to say, the drink was a combination of Coors Light beer and lemonade, that makes it a shandy, plus the delightful addition of ginger liqueur.  Red Robin just called it a Coors Light.


I recently made some candied ginger.  Sometimes it is called crystalized ginger.  When you make it you are left with some ginger syrup.  I saved it for an unspecified (ginger ale?) future use.  Now I have a use!

I placed a Tablespoon of the ginger syrup in a glass of ice. 


Then I filled it half way with some light beer and finished it off with Diet Sprite.  I have no idea how much sugar is in the syrup, but it IS called syrup.  Nonetheless, I will call this a light cocktail.  Perhaps a skinny girl ginger shandy.  Or Skinny Shenandoah Ginger Shandy (SSGS).  Yeah!  That's it.


Can you guess that I once wanted to write commercials and win a Clio?

My SSGS was refreshing and delightful.  And I left the rest for another time...or person. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 2, 2014

September 2, 2014

It is still summer. 


And quite warm and humid.  Even at 11:00 in the morning.


So what's up with this tree?  It is losing its' leaves. 


A few of them are yellow, but most have just fallen off.


The trees in the woods behind our house agree with me.  It is still summer.


So what does this tree know that we don't.

Mind you, I wouldn't mind an early long as that doesn't mean an early...and very cold...Winter.

Are any of your trees prescient prognosticators?   

Monday, September 1, 2014

Laundry and Emergencies

We are still booked solid.  We have guests leaving after a leisurely breakfast and then we have to clean the whole apartment, two beds, two bathrooms a kitchen and 2500 square feet of tile and carpet.  The only saving grace is that our most recent guests have been so fabulous.

Of course, even though they leave the apartment spotless, we still have to clean between guests.  But it doesn't LOOK as though we have to clean.

We recently had some guests that stayed for the longest consecutive time.  They stayed four nights, so I had to think up four different breakfasts.  Then I had to make a grocery list and keep track of all those meals and the following meals, with just a quick trip to the market to get fresh fruit and juice.  And some more eggs, just in case.


Their last breakfast was a California omelette.  California because we added avocado.  Or that is what all the restaurants seem to do.  Yes, it needed sour cream and salsa, but we served that on the side.

These guests were clean, friendly and very thoughtful.  They even left us a gift!


You can't go wrong with wine and chocolate!

It's guests like these that make it fun to have a B&B.  Even with the shopping and cleaning.  And, if you are regular visitors, you know I like to cook.

Yesterday we had a minor emergency.  Lee was doing some work and stood up under a clamp.  The metal corner caught his forehead.  We were worried we would have to go get some stitches and we had guests arriving in an hour.  It looks horrible, but we decided, with the aid of our Physician Assistant-in-training daughter and a cell phone picture, that it wasn't deep enough to warrant stitches.


I made him come in and put ice on it, but an hour later he went out and finished the project.  What is with men?

Anyway, it made me realize I have to have contingency plans for if we DO have an emergency and have to dash out.  What do we do with our guests?  Our current plan is to leave the apartment unlocked with instructions for finding it sent via email or text.  I should probably look for a back-up innkeeper.  That will be my next executive decision.  As soon as the traffic dies down and I have time to think.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


We have had quite a few visitors to our B&B recently.  This means I am too busy making tried and true meals and have no time for experimenting with recipes.  I hesitate to make something for B&B guests that I haven't made for us at least once.  You don't want people to think this was a great place to stay , but the food was a bit iffy.

So here are a few of the items we've had for breakfast lately.

Chocolate Hazelnut Croissants.  They are made with puff pastry and the pastry is flaky and the chocolate is warm and melted and they are REALLY good.


Sometimes we serve red grapefruit. I covered the grapefruit halves with brown sugar and broiled them for a few minutes to warm the fruit and melt the sugar.


Last was the frittata with diced red potatoes sautéed with onions and sausage.  I used a mix of Mozzarella and Havarti cheeses and baked it in a cast iron pan.  The frittata was served with a sprinkling of cilantro and a few slices of cantaloupe..

All are served on china with silver flatware.  And the guest don't have to do the hand washing and polishing.  That is Lee's job.

Don't forget coffee or tea and orange juice.

One of the best parts of our breakfast is that it is served on the screened porch with some gorgeous views of the mountains.