We spent last week in Cornwall as it was Herbie's favourite holiday destination and we'd decided to scatter his ashes on his favourite part of Bodmin Moor (Rough Tor - a bleak and desolate place in November).
We set off on Monday morning in torrential rain - it was so bad that on the motorway I couldn't see a thing due to the spray from the lorries. We got there and were in the cottage in 5.5 hours, which isn't bad considering. We stayed in a little cottage in Port Gaverne - 1/4 of a mile down the coast from Port Isaac (as seen in Doc Martin and Saving Grace). Port Gaverne is a tiny little cove filled with holiday cottages and one pub. My family first came to know if in the 70's (I think) when my mothers cousin Gary worked in the pub/hotel. At the time it was owned by an eccentric old Biddie who we think has now died - her apartment was empty and being refurbished. She owned both the hotel/pub and also a set of old fisherman's cottages opposite. We used to take Herbie down there and stay in a cottage called Marigold - right opposite the pub. This time though we stayed in the one called Jasmin as Marigold held too many memories for me.
When we got there we went for a walk in the mud over the headland but soon turned back as it was so wet. We walked up to Port Isaac and strolled round the quaint old streets, looking in some of the shops. There were a few other people about but not many. On the way back we managed to befriend a little cat which we christened Bertie. He followed us for so long I thought he was going to come all the way back with us (he actually turned up one night just outside our cottage !). We went for a drink in the pub that night and both had Doom Bar - a local beer brewed in Rock and named after a sandbank between Rock and Padstow. It's a really good beer but tastes much better from the tap in an authentic Cornish pub, with a roaring fire.
The next day we set off for Rough Tor to scatter Herb's ashes. We got there early and were the only people there - which added to the bleakness. It came back to me why Herb had liked it so much - he wasn't friendly with other dogs and this place was so huge and lonely that the chances of him seeing another dog were slim so he could enjoy his walk without any anxiety. We set off, over the stream at the bottom and then made our way to the left and then up. We got to the top and started looking for a suitable place - finally deciding on the 2nd of the 3 "peaks", mainly due to the fact that it was a very windy day and it was slightly more sheltered. We scattered his ashes, including some dried daffodils we'd picked in April from the little patch over the road (he used to go berserk sniffing them for some reason !) and then carried on with our walk - around the final peak and back down to the car. It was a lovely walk and a very sad moment. I think he's happy there though as it truly was his favourite place.
After we'd eaten our lunch we set off for Polzeath Beach - another of his favourite haunts. The tide was coming in (or going out) so most of the beach was under water but the sea was rough and we had a potter round, fascinated by the waves and movement of the sea. We watched some idiots - I mean Surfers - including one with no wet suit. We left there and had a quick visit to Rock and then back to the cottage before it got dark (I refuse to drive in the dark - especially along those Cornish roads). We went out for dinner that night and ended up in a place called The Crows Nest - it was nice, the food was good. The only other pub in Port Isaac didn't have any vegetarian options but it had a nice Beer brewed by St Austell's called HSD.
The next day we completed our Herb tribute with a trip to Lanhydrock - a National Trust property just outside of Bodmin Moor. It sort of reminds me of a smaller Blenheim Palace, with a hugely impressive house and nice circular walk. We walked Herb's usual route but unfortunately strayed off it into a field for a few minutes. This seemed to anger the field's owner for some reason and she shouted at us to "get out of her field". Pure comedy ! We did, but were still looking for the path in the next field along and she seemed to disaprove of this too, and came up to us still shouting to get out. TPG decided to shout back but I told him to shh and pretend we were lost. When she realised this she reluctantly said she'd show us where the path was - I played dumb (not difficult) and made her take us all the way back to the turning we should have taken. If she'd been politer I wouldn't have done it but screw her !
After Lanhydrock we took a trip to Padstow. I'd never been there before and was very impressed. It's a largish harbour and very touristy, mainly thanks to TV Chef Rick Stein who owns restaurant/cafes/ a Deli/ a hotel/ a fish and chip shop etc etc there. As TV Chef's go I really like Stein - although he cooks a lot of fish dishes I always try to watch him as he's very unassuming and nice. We had a wander round the harbour, took a walk nearly to the beach, bought authentic Cornish Pasties (well, a Cheese & Onion and Chicken and Stuffing) for dinner that night and then visited Stein's Deli. We had a list of stuff for a work colleague and also picked up some Chutney for my parents and some chocolate cookies for ourselves. It wasn't cheap but the quality is good.
The next day - Thursday - we decided to visit The lost gardens of Heligan. It was raining really hard and the drive took 90 minutes ! When we got there the rain didn't show any signs of stopping but we bravely spend 3 hours wandering round, fascinated by it. My favourite bits were the bird hide, the Italian Garden and the Vegetable Garden. After 3 hours we were soaked and freezing so we went to the cafe and had a hot drink - my hands were so cold I wrapped them round the mug and couldn't feel a thing. After we'd warmed up a bit we set off for St Austell - with the main intention of finding the Brewery. We walked round the centre but didn't see it anywhere so left - 0n the way back we saw signs for it though so followed them and found it ! We bought some beer and cider and then set off for the cottage.
That night we ate in the Port Gaverne pub - a Cheddar Ploughmans for me and Fish for TPG. Also more Doom Bar. There were a very annoying couple in that night - the woman was possibly the most irritating person in the world. She obviously wasn't happy with just her Husbands company because she kept leaving her table to go and talk to the Barman and the regulars (who were from London and Manchester !). She tried to drag us into conversation a few times but we didn't get sucked in - instead concentrating on our food and beer. There were a couple of cute dogs in that night - a spaniel called Indie and a black lab called Freddie. We spent most of our time watching him and commenting on how good he was !
Friday we had to leave - unfortunately. We stopped in Tintagel for a bit and walked around the shops and up the the castle. We bought a few cheap souvenirs from a bookshop and then set off for home. The drive home was uneventful - but quicker than the journey there. We got home late yesterday but both wish we were there still. Maybe we'll go back next year with the whole family for Christmas.