Day of the Lizard
Today was Lizard day. The Lizard has a special place in our affections. There is no train service to the Lizard nor a direct bus service from Penzance.
The “official” route is to take a bus from here to Helston and change there to a bus for the Lizard but Tigger worked out an arguably better and faster route. We bought Ride Cornwall tickets which provide a day’s unlimited travel on buses and trains and took the train to Redruth and the bus from there to the Lizard.
We reached the Lizard at about 11:30. We had left Penzance at 9:30 and were now looking forward to a hot drink. The day was cold and a biting wind was blowing over the fields from the sea. Our first port of call was the cafe on the green only to find it had closed for the season.
We crossed the road to the Top House, the pub but it too was closed. It was now raining and we wanted somewhere to shelter. Shops? Except for the village store, they too were closed.
Fortunately, Summers coffee bar was open. This was new to us but has apparently existed for two years so far. We ordered two large hot chocolates and soon felt more cheerful. We surmised – correctly, as it turned out – that the pub would open at 12 noon. It did and we found a table right beside the open fire.
After lunch, we went for a walk and found that the craft shops were beginning to open. We went into the first which sold articles in serpentine made on the premises. I bought a small serpentine egg as a memento of the Lizard though I hope to return in the not too distant future.
We learnt that the serpentine industry is in crisis as local supplies of the stone that for many is a symbol of Cornwall have nearly run out.
We had thought to explore more thoroughly but as it was so cold and there were frequent showers, we decided to move on. The bus back to Helston also serves villages in the neighbourhood of the Lizard so the first part of the journey is quite scenic.
We had a little wander around Helston. It is a pleasant little town with a good museum, though didn’t visit it this time. Instead we went to the Blue Anchor. This is a quaint little pub. On the right as you go in is a small but traditional bar room. On the left is a children’s room. We went there to avoid the tobacco smoke in the bar. Further along on the left is another room for drinkers to occupy.
We then took the bus back to Redruth where we joined the Penzance train. We did all this with our £12 bus and rail tickets.
On reaching Penzance aboard a rather crowded train, we repaired to our hotel room for tea and a rest. The plan was to continue using our tickets with a trip to Land’s End but by the time we went out again it was 6 pm so we thought we would eat first.
In the nearby shopping arcade there is a cafe restaurant called Renaissance. We had tried to eat there several times but each time we were too late and the kitchen was closed (things do tend to close very early in Cornwall, especially out of season). Today we were finally successful. We enjoyed a surprisingly good meal with splendid views of the sea and Saint Michael’s Mount.
By the time we had finished dinner, it was becoming late in Cornish bus terms. It was now not easy to find a destination that we could both get to and get back from. We thought we might go to Mousehole again but would have had to wait for an hour for the next bus and we knew everything would be closed apart from pubs. In the end, we took the easy way out and went back to the hotel.
Outside the station is a concrete plant holder. As we passed it this time, Tigger noticed a movement. We both looked and saw a small rat scuttle among the plants. It was quite slender and light coloured. It was not visible for long enough to get a good sighting, let alone a photo but my guess is that is either a wild field rat or an exotic species that has escaped.
Our train doesn’t leave for London tomorrow until 5:35 pm so we hope to make it to Land’s End early in the day.
From being virtually a dead language of interest only to a small number of enthusiasts, the Cornish language is becoming a force to be reckoned with. More and more signs are written in both languages. For example, outside Penzance station is a large stone bearing the legend “Welcome to Penzance” and underneath this in even larger letters “Pensans A’gas Dynergh”.