Wednesday, September 19, 2012

time off in Looe

Here's a few notes on our trip to Cornwall last week - a sort of combination family holiday for the three of us combined with a substitute for the annual Munro trip (which Nia is a bit young for yet, though I have high hopes of bagging a few with her in future) with Jenny and Jim, who joined us for the second half of it.
  • We stayed in St. Germans, which is just a few miles into Cornwall over the Tamar Bridge from Plymouth. Our cottage was rented from here and was very nice, bar a few low beams which the 6-foot-plus holidaymaker needs to be vigilant of.
  • St. Germans has a railway station, which I had contemplated using for a quick trip into Plymouth for a look around combined with a crossing of the Royal Albert Bridge (as a companion piece to my earlier Forth Bridge crossing), but which we never got round to in the end. More importantly it also has a very nice pub which not only serves St. Austell Tribute and Proper Job (which I'd previously had on our trip to Exmoor 18 months ago), both of which were excellent, but also does take-away fish and chips which we availed ourselves of on Friday night, and very nice too. 
  • In addition to St. Austell Cornwall is home to the excellent Sharp's brewery in Rock, home of the ubiquitous Doom Bar, and also Bays brewery, based in Torbay, which I hadn't encountered before but whose Topsail I had a very nice pint of in the Devonport Inn in Cawsand village. 
  • The railway arrives from Plymouth by way of the impressive St. Germans viaduct, which we wandered down to have a look at. Since there are dozens of these on the Cornish main line they were largely built on wooden trestles when they were first constructed in the 1850s as it was cheaper, but all of these have now been replaced by stone structures. In many cases (though not St. Germans, as it happens) this was done by building the stone viaduct alongside the wooden one, re-aligning the tracks across the new one, and then dismantling the trestles. The structures left by this process (many of which are still visible) are known locally as "Brunel's stumps". 
  • St. Germans is named after St. Germanus of Auxerre, who I knew I'd mentioned in a book review a while back. I'd assumed it must have been The Name Of The Rose, what with that being quite lidderally chokka with priests and saints and whatnot, but it turns out to have been this one
  • St. Germans is on the northern edge (the A38 marks the "official" boundary, inasmuch as there is one) of what some call the "forgotten corner of Cornwall", basically the bit south-east of St. Germans principally comprising the Rame peninsula and Torpoint. It's slightly ironic that it was improvements in transport infrastructure that worsened the problem as the building of the Tamar road bridge in 1961 funneled most of the traffic away from the previous best route into Cornwall, the Torpoint ferry
  • Cornwall's most famous culinary export is of course the Cornish pasty, a product I have to say I've never been all that keen on. If you're exceptionally hungry then a pasty will do a job, but I've always found them a bit dry and carb-heavy. A bit more meat, less potato and perhaps a spot of gravy would pep things up very acceptably; of course some would say well, yes, but that would just turn it into a pie, to which I say, well, so be it. It's like a chip butty - I like bread, and I like chips, but all mashed together it's just too much. Lose the chips, bung a couple of sausages in there, sorted.
  • You'll be expecting photos, so here they are

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