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TRAVEL TRIPS


TRAVEL TRIPS
 

NEIL GILLON Trip to Cornwall,. England.
Posted July 25 2019

  Neil Gillon spent 26 years as an Announce-Operator with CBC in Prince Rupert and
  Kelowna, B.C. After retiring, Neil took the reverse direction of many and retired to
  Vancouver, leaving the Okanagan behind.

  Having long wanted to visit Cornwall, but fearing to drive on narrow winding roads, Lynn
  and I decided the best way to see the county was by local bus (more on that later). But
  how to get there? As we were travelling to London from Paris on the Eurostar we first thought of a train. Despite costing several hundred pounds we decided to do that except there’s no train the night we needed to go. So we looked into an overnight coach from London to Penzance. Amazingly that coast us ten pounds each. Decision made.  We sat in the seats immediately behind the driver, which meant we had to sit in darkness and so couldn’t read. On the other hand we were entertained by the drivers comments about other motorists driving habits and courtesy.

There were few stops along the way. One at Heathrow and another at a Somerset motorway service area for the driver’s rest stop. I’m sure there were others that I’ve forgotten or slept through. The trip lasted from about 11:30 until eight the next morning. We managed to sleep part of the way —maybe even a majority — but arrived fairly weary (more on the benefits of that later.)

In Penzance we dragged our carry-on luggage up the bumpy, steep streets to the previously booked Union Hotel. The Hotel claims to be the place where word of Nelson’s death first reached England. Some investigation found that’s unlikely to be true as British naval ships would have landed further east at Portsmouth, but does indicate the age of the place.

UNION HOTEL, PENZANCE
At the front desk the host welcomed us and told us our room would be right over the main bar and as it was Friday there would be bands playing from nine til midnight for the next two nights. A hard rock band the first night and a Beatles cover band called Not the Beatles the next night. Great! It doesn’t take much to keep my wife awake at night so that was worrying. Turned out not to be an issue. That night at 8:15 I heard the band play the same tune three times as a sound check and then when they started the tune for the fourth time at nine I fell asleep. Lynn only heard two of the soundchecks and we both slept through the whole head-bashing night.The benefits of the sleep deprived previous night on a coach.

The next night Lynn slept right through Not the Beatles. I heard most of it and was hugely disappointed when they shutdown at 11:15 and didn’t come back for a final set til midnight. Not the Beatles sounded great. The drunks who wandered out of the bar and sang off-key and off-beat, not so much. Still, I enjoyed free Beatles music, so dead silence on the third night disappointed. There was another benefit to being over the bar. The Union Hotel only promised wi-fi in public rooms (being an old English hotel there were several) but as we were over the bar we enjoyed great internet connection lying in bed.

There were two other “old hotel” issues we discovered as we entered the room: a very soft bed (again not an issue because we instantly fell asleep) and a dramatically sloping floor. So much so that anything you put on one of several dressers, instantly shot off onto the floor. That kept us amused for the whole three days.

That all being said we quite liked the Union Hotel. Great location for walks around Penzance, to places like Mousehole (pronounced more like Muzzle than a rodent’s home) and to the bus (I knew I’d get back to that at some point.)

Before we left home research indicated it would be fairly easy to get from place to place on the Kernow buses ---- but when moving from one historic attraction to the next we would have to ride a bus back to Penzance and then a second to the next spot. But when we arrived, the tourist season schedule was on and that meant double decker buses that motored along the coast, easily joining the places we wanted to visit.  The view from the upper deck of the buses confirmed the wisdom of our decision not to drive in Cornwall. Bus and car would meet at narrow spots, and car had to back-up to a slightly wider pull-out. A day pass cost more than the coach trip from London, but still good value


Some of our favourite memories include a visit to the Levant tin
mine National Trust site. We learned all about the development
of steam engines. For instance in this mine the elevator operator
had to know if the next cargo was human or tin. Humans
wouldn’t survive a ride up at the speed the steam engine could
pull the elevator. 



St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island very much like it’s twin on the French side of La Manche. We walked over at low tide to learn all the history of the island, owned by the St. Aubyn family since 1659. In the 19th century over 200 people lived in an island village supported by one chapel and three pubs. Legend says the last pub closed when Edward VII was annoyed by noisy drinkers and had it shutdown. But was he ever there? The first footing of his mother Queen Victoria and later footprints of Queen Elizabeth and the current Prince of Wales were bronzed and are very visible, but nothing by Edward. If he did close the last pub people might not want to remember.

When we left St Michael’s Mont the tide was high enough that we had to take a small boat ashore (but some people struggled to walk through chest deep water.) Other stops included the famed Land’s End (a tacky tourist trap I’d say) and Porthcurno where there’s a museum in an early telegraph station and the famed outdoor Minack theatre right on the rocky seashore.

After three days centred at Penzance we picked up a rental car and drove north on mostly wider roads. After a brief stop at St Ives (just so I could be the man met on the way to St Ives but surprisingly no one wanted to know how many wives or cats I had) we proceeded on to Tintagel for a look at the purported Camelot. I was always doubtful that this rock outcropping could really be the home of King Arthur et al, but once we climbed to the top, there’s plenty of room for a community, even a good well that still works. And after we returned home, I read an article about an archaeological dig at Tintagel (unnoticed by me) that has found  Dark Age buildings near the top. So maybe Tintagel was Camelot —if there ever was such a thing.

Next we drove a bit north to Boscastle ---- a small Cornwall
community best known now for a flash flood in 2004 that rushed through much of the village. It’s a lovely town, a bit touristy, but we enjoyed our Lower Meadows House B&B, our meals in hotels and looking at local history on several walks. One walk had the Forrabury Stitches as the planned final destination. Our B&B host gave us detailed instructions that worked fine at first. We made it easily to Minster Church ---- oddly placed as it’s nowhere near a community, and despite nbeing well above the river was inundated by two metres of water in the great flood of 2004. As we left the church a man working in the graveyard greeted us “Good morning me lovelies”. What a great day!

But it was about then that things went wrong as our instructions were to walk straight across a field. We did, but I think we should have been told to bear left and we ended up no where near the Forrabury Stitches. However we made it to the Stitches in time on a second walk. The stitches were a medieval crop rotation method and nothing much to look at, although a nearby church was worth the walk.

One good bit of advice from our landlord was to dress for ticks. We did, and after the walk our pants were covered in ticks. A good brushing got rid of them but just remembering them brings on the shivers. After Boscastle we continued driving north to Scotland with lots of brief stops at National Trust sites, like the spool and spindle making factory. But that will have to wait for another day.



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JEFF GROBERMAN's Unexpected Trip
Posted July 25 2019

Click here:
http://www.grobetrotting.com/2019/07/my-unexpected-summer-trip.html

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BILL MURRAY's Trip to Parksville
Posted July 9 2019

Parksville is one of my family’s favorite places. We have been going there for over 25 years, usually staying at Ocean Trails or Madrona resorts. Here are a few pictures to help you understand why we love going there.


Back in 1994 or 95 I remember sitting in my office at the CBC (during lunch of course) wondering where to take the family for our summer holiday. I was looking at a BCAA Travel Guidebook and saw pictures of a place called the Rathtrevor Resort. They had one, two or three bedroom units that appeared to be relatively new, a 3 foot deep swimming pool and what really sold me on it was their water slide! Of course being so close to Rathrevor Beach was a bonus. The kids could play in the sand in the morning making sand castles and then when the tide came in later in the day, they could watch their structures disappear in the on-coming water. After that, they could play in the water that had been warmed when it came in over the hot sand and Janice and I didn't have a lot of worry because the water never got too deep, similar to the beach at White Rock. We booked a two-bedroom unit, the kids each had their own twin bed and Janice and I had a Queen. There was a full kitchen, dining area, living room with a hide-a-bed, fireplace and a TV. We were pretty new at this beach holiday business and although we did take along some shovels and buckets to make sand castles, we were envious of the people that had air mattresses and inflatable boats. The next time we went we were fully prepared with a four-man boat. One slight problem was that the Resort is on a bluff high off the beach and one had to carry all the beach gear down a zig-zagging wooden structure and then back up again at the end of the day!

The water slide was a great adventure for the kids, they had never been on one before and the pool at the end was not very deep (just cold). We went almost every year after that. One year a friend of ours heard an item on the news that some people who had booked a stay at the Resort were finding out that they didn't have a place to stay. The units at the Resort are all privately owned and the owners hired a company to manage the rentals. The particular company that they used at that time had taken off for one reason or another and took the books with them. I managed to get a refund of our deposit through my credit card and we then rebooked through the new management company. So Rathtrevor Resort became Ocean Trails.

In May 1998 when I was leaving the CBC and had landed my job with BC Ferries, I had asked Ferries if I could delay my start with them for two weeks so I could get some time with my family as I knew I wouldn't get any holidays that summer. They said no, because that was their busy time of year for hiring, but I did negotiate one week and I managed to get a one-bedroom unit for a few days. We were cramped but at least we were at our favorite place. We didn't miss many years over the next while. In 2003 we happened to run into Cathy Morrin and her family on the beach. They were staying at a resort called Beach Acres which is right next to Ocean Trails. We had a great two-family campfire on the beach that night.

I remember one year having a campfire on the beach and looking with envy at a man and his family who were sitting on the patio outside their beach-front unit watching the sun go down. This unit was in a resort between Tigh Na Mara and Ocean Trails called Madrona,and there was about a dozen two-storey two-bedroom units right at beach level. (They had many more units up on the bluff.) I distinctly recall saying to myself that one day I was going to be that man. Well, one summer, after managing to get some last minute time off I was looking through the resorts listed on a travel site and I sent Madrona an email asking if they by any chance had any beach-front vacancies coming up, half expecting them to die laughing. As fate would have it they had just received a cancellation and we got the booking. What we found out was that a couple had booked the unit but their baby had arrived early and they had to cancel their reservation. When we got there we learned that the people that owned that unit also owned the one next door. It was their daughter that had the baby. We ended up becoming good friends with the owners and their grandchildren played a lot with our kids. We stayed at Madrona every year for a few years after that, but really lost interest in it because during the hot summers we had to leave the windows open at night and there was always a racket coming from people partying on the beach at all hours of the night (and early morning). For the last couple of years we have booked Ocean Trails during the week after school goes back in in September and my son and his wife and my grandson have been joining us. Needless to say, my grandson loves it. I often go back in the off-season during their three-nights-for-the-price-of-two specials to do some geocaching either by myself or with my brother and sister.

Although the water slide was removed long ago (insurance issues) some of the other things that we find attracting us back every year besides the beach are the mini golf (a ten minute walk from Ocean Trails) Rathtrevor Provincial Park and it many trails, the city park in Parksville (a 5 minute drive) – this is the best city park I have ever seen – well cared-for, with a fantastic play area for the kids, a nice beach, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, which are taken over during the day by seniors playing pickleball (look it up). In August there is a professional sandcastle building event in the park. Further along the road is another mini golf park that has bumper boats and an arcade. We regularly visit Coombs which features a market selling fresh produce and other goodies and souvenirs. They even have goats living on the roof!  And even further up the road is Morningstar Farm which is a working dairy farm, and cheese market. And we often also travel further up the island to Qualicum where we always be sure to grab lunch at Bailey's – great food! I also like taking a 45 minute morning walk on the beach out to a point where some creative people have put together a sculpture made of logs. I usually walk with my head down, looking for interesting rocks, but I often get interrupted by the sound of eagles in the trees in Rathtrevor Park.

NOTE The sand sculpting event starts July 12 this year

See below for pictures of the trip

PARKSVILLE Back row Steve Morrin, Heather Murray, Cathy and me! Front row Hayley Kelly and Jeff Morrin, Alex Murray Taken on Rathtrevor Beach

PARKSVILLE Back row Steve Morrin, Heather Murray, Cathy and me! Front row Hayley Kelly and Jeff Morrin, Alex Murray Taken on Rathtrevor Beach

PARKSVILLE the entrance to Morningstar farm

PARKSVILLE the entrance to Morningstar farm

PARKSVILLE one of the sand sculptures.

PARKSVILLE one of the sand sculptures.


PARKSVILLE part of the kids’ playground at the Parksville city park

PARKSVILLE part of the kids’ playground at the Parksville city park

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PARKSVILLE the “sculpture”

PARKSVILLE the “sculpture”

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