Sunday, 11 October 2015
The beast of Bodmin
We went into Launceston today, which is a charming little town on the border of Cornwall and Devon. I'm told it was once the county town of Cornwall, which I find a little surprising, due to its proximity to its neighbouring county. It has a little, fairly well-preserved motte and bailey castle which sits on the top of a natural mound in the centre of the town. We went up to the top of the keep, obviously. As I said in the wedding (of Nathan), "if there's a tall building, he'll want to climb it because the view from the top might bring a newer perspective." The view was predictably stunning. You can see for miles: all the way to Dartmoor. And, for the record, the woman who works there is a delight. Friendly, witty, knowledgeable... One of our number, a Scottish bloke called Colin, was keen to go to a "real English moor" simply to see what one looked like, so we jumped in the cars and headed for Bodmin in search of the famous beast! We found ourselves pulling up outside the infamous Jamaica Inn, immortalised, I understand, by Daphne Du Maurier. As a non-reader, I was a little non-plussed by the location. These days it's something of a grotty cafe-cum-pub where people walk along counters helping themselves to terrible food in the style of a motorway service station circa 1983. Tucked around the place in various corners were dreadful mannequins dressed as pirates and 18th Century sleazy publicans. If you've read the book, I assume this would make perfect sense. We were deeply confused, so bid a hasty retreat, and drove further into the moors. It's sometimes rather nice to be buffeted by the wind, stopping at brown signs by the side of the road having a little look, and allowing information posted at that site to take you to the next location. It was like a giant Internet search! We stopped at the Golitha water fall, which took us on a charming walk through beautiful yellow and brown-leafed woodland. A stream winds its ways through the trees, becoming more and more excitable as it starts to drop down hill. It never really becomes a waterfall, more like a sort of mini-rapids system which are too small for anything but a toy boat! From the falls, we headed to a little village called Minions and were hugely disappointed not to find a enterprising shop selling little yellow creatures called Colin and Kevin! What was considerably less disappointing was the wonderful pair of standing stone circles called the Hurlers on bleak moorland outside the village. It's a hugely atmospheric spot, which sits underneath the ruined shell of a tin mine. A pair of bare-footed hippies were searching the grass for something, who knows what. Magic mushrooms maybe? Another woman, possibly about sixty years old and wearing a little red Mac, was hugging each stone in turn. Communing with nature and the universe and all that... We had our medieval banquet this evening. I wore a aquamarine velvet knee-length smock with fancy sleeves over a pair of black tights and Nathan wore a Shakespeare In Love-style olive green corduroy Elizabethan doublet. There were thirteen of us at the banquet and I'm pleased to say that everyone made a huge effort when it came to the costumes. We had two men in drag: one dressed as Anne Boleyn, a King Philippe of Spain, a cardinal and pair of Venetian gigolos. It was all rather good-natured and great fun. The food was brilliant.