Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Polperro and Looe - Part 2.

Continuing on from my previous post, we took the very steep climb out of Polperro past the brightly painted fishermen's cottages and re-joined the coastal pathway heading east towards Looe. This part of the pathway heading down towards Talland Bay is beautiful with lovely views of both the sea and the sloping farmers fields.

Walking towards Talland Bay - stunning views.
 The pretty hamlet of Talland Bay has two small beaches with plenty of smuggling history. Only a couple of years ago a gang was arrested trying to land a large haul of cocaine into the bay from a boat offshore!

Once past Talland Bay the coastal path gets much more ardorous and tricky with the pathway undulating up and down the cliffs. The distant views of the coast and headlands are spectacular.

Horses grazing on the sloping fields just outside Talland Bay.

Me on the coastal path. This section was relatively flat....

.... and this section was very steep!

Looking east with Looe and Looe island nature reserve in the distance.

We rounded a headland and there was Looe.

Looe is situated on both sides of the River Looe. The two towns are joined together by a bridge across the river. In medieval times East Looe and West Looe were separate towns. East Looe includes the harbour and the main shopping centre. West Looe is quieter but also has shops, restaurants and hotels. They are joined by a seven arched bridge, built in 1853. This replaced a much earlier bridge from the 15th century and there are still buildings of this period in the town. It has been a holiday resort for more than 200 years, and has relayed more heavily on the tourist industry since its pilchard canning factory closed in the sixties. Looe is still a major Cornish fishing port and boasts England's only remaining day fishing fleet.
Looe harbour.

Boats at Looe left high and dry by the outward tide.

The bridge separating East Looe from West Looe.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

R.I.P -Leslie Neilsen

Rest in peace Leslie Neilsen. You will be missed.
Click the link below for a taste of his genius.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Polperro and Looe in Cornwall.

Polperro from the coastal pathway.
As stated in my previous post we have just returned from a short stay in Cornwall to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. I had only been to Cornwall once before many years ago and then only explored the north of the county and mainly from the inside of a car as the weather was so lousy. This time we wanted to go to the south coast so we booked a small bed and breakfast hotel midway between the two fishing ports of Polperro and Looe.

The narrow lanes with high hedgerows.
We had to lie flat against them to let passing vehicles pass.

We chose well. The hotel was beautifully placed within a couple of miles of the south west coastal path so we had the opportunity of some walks direct from the hotel without driving anywhere. The South West Coast Path is a national trail with some 630 miles of superb coastal walking. From Minehead on the edge of the Exmoor National Park to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset it is the best way to enjoy the wonderful coastal scenery, wildlife and heritage of the south west of England.

We were determined to sample and walk a small part of this great trail, so on the first morning of our stay, fueled by a hearty cooked english breakfast we set off to walk the coastal route to Polperro and then continue along the coast to Looe and then back to our hotel. A distance of about 10 miles.

We started off walking along very narrow tracks with high hedgerows. If a vehicle appeared, which happened infrequently, we would have to press ourselves firmly into the hedges to enable it to pass. These hedgerows were amazing and would have been very pretty in the spring/summer as they were full of flowers and plants. Once we cleared these tracks we were by open fields with a view of the sea in the distance. Traversing the fields we followed the walkers signposts and suddenly found ourselves walking along a small lane lined by coloured fishermen cottages high on the cliff leading down into Polperro.
Walking down the steep hill into Polperro.
One of the most prettiest villages in Cornwall, Polperro is set in a cliff ravine with a an enchanting jumble of cottages, each one unmistakably the work of a Cornish fisherman. This peaceful fishing cove was once a thriving centre for the area's smuggling. The narrow streets are traffic free and there is a lovely sheltered harbour and quay. Although quite commercial with a thriving tourist trade, we were very taken with the beauty and history of this quaint fishing village. We were lucky enough to take a small fishing boat out of the harbour to see Polperro and the beautiful neighbouring bays from the vantage of the sea.

Waiting for the tide to come in by Polperro harbour.
On our return we explored the village, browsed the gift shops and had a relaxed and refreshing coffee before retracing our steps and walking up the incredibly steep hill to re-join the coastal path and head towards Looe via Talland Bay. I will relay details of the rest of our hike in my next post.
Fishermen's nets by the quay.
Interesting carvings above a shop in Polperro.
Note the Cornish black and white flag.

Friday, 5 November 2010


We have just spent a few days in the south of Cornwall celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary (blimey!). We wanted to do a lot of walking on the coastal pathway and to explore the coastal villages and fishing ports. The weather for late October was kind to us and we had a wonderful time. I will post more about our short holiday in more detail in later posts. Meanwhile here are a few photos which show the beauty of the scenery and coastline that is found in the the lovely county of Cornwall.
The coast near Looe.
Approaching Talland Bay.

The fishing port of Mevagissey.

Lantic Bay near Polruan.

Beautiful light near Polperro.

Fowey viewed from Polruan.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Salisbury Cathedral - my first ever visit.

Last Sunday i went to visit my son and his girlfriend who have just moved into an apartment on the outskirts of Salisbury in Wiltshire. Salisbury is a well preserved medieval city with historic streets and alleyways. It also boasts the finest medieval cathedral and largest medieval close (80 acres) in Britain.
A view of the spire from the cathedral close.

When we approached the cathedral i was awestruck the shere size of the building. It is immense and very imposing. It was built in just 38 years (AD 1220 - 1258). The spire was added between AD 1310 - 1333 and is the tallest in Britain at 404 ft (123 metres). The cathedral has the oldest working clock in the world (AD 1386) and the best preserved of only four Magna Carta (AD 1215) on display in the Chapter House. Unfortunately (but quite rightly) we were not permitted to take photographs inside but hopefully the few photos that i was able to take outside demonstrates the pure magnificence of this amazing structure.
There are 67 statues on the west front.

Close up of the statues.
Part of the cathedral cloisters.

The cloister lawn.
The medieval close is also interesting in that it boasts a great array of English architecture dating from the 13th century right the way through to the 20th century. Some of the houses were designed by Sir. Christopher Wren. The original houses were given to the senior clergy, priests, canons and clerks who were recruited to serve in the newly constructed cathedral. Here are some photographs of just three of the magnificent houses that front the cathedral close.
Arundells. Home of former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.

The Hungerford Chantry on Choristers Green.

Wren Hall - circa 1714.
Here are some interesting facts that i got from the cathedral's web site.

The spire weighs 6,500 tons yet it only has foundations of 4 feet. It is still standing thanks to the thick bed of gravel beneath the cathedral which supports the immense weight.
70,000 tons of stone were used to build the main cathedral.
28,000 tons of oak were used to construct the roof.
420 tons of lead covering 4 acres were used on the roof.
The spire leans 27.5 inches (69.85cm) to the south.
The clock has "ticked" more than 5 million times since it was first built.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Salisbury and the cathedral make a point of going. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Battle of Britain Parade

I was privileged to attend the Battle of Britain parade at Brookwood Military Cemetery which regular readers of this blog will know is one of my favourite places to visit. The parade this year was more poignant because this is the 70th anniversary of the "Battle of Britain".
The cadets prepare to lay crosses at the graves of the fallen RAF airmen.
As always the parade was well attended with plenty of Air Training Corps cadets (one of which was my youngest son), Royal Air Force personnel, members of the public and proud parents. It was gratifying that a few veterans of the conflict (all in their late 80's and early 90's) were also able to attend. The Air Training Corps is made up of cadets aged between 14 and 18 and it was a wonderful to see so many of these young people devoting their spare time to honour the dead and living who participated in the Battle of Britain.

The cadets line up in front of the RAF memorial.

Here is a video of the march past. Sorry for the picture quality.


Thursday, 1 July 2010

I'm a very naughty blogger!

Yes, i know i haven't added anything to my blog for a few weeks. It's not good enough and i'm sorry. I'm a very naughty blogger! However, i do have a partial excuse.

I am continuing with my running/jogging/shuffling regime. I now jog twice a week very early in the morning so as few people as possible see this purple faced wheezing excuse for an athlete passing by. I hate meeting other joggers and walkers because instictively i feel that i have to speed up and cutail my rythmic grunting noises to give the impression that i'm a fit veteran runner! One day maybe, but not at the moment.

However, i am making an improvement, albeit slowly. Very slowly. I jog the same route (i think it's just under 4 miles) and i time myself every run. My times have improved. At the beginning i had to stop several times. Then i alternated between jogging and fast walking. Now, the last couple of times i have gone out  i have completed the route without stopping. Only a few weeks ago i thought that was impossible. So, deep down i am really pleased with my progress.

I just wish i could breathe better when i run. I smoked quite heavily for over 35 years so the legacy is that my lung capacity is not brilliant, but hopefully this will improve as well. I'm glad that i forced myself to start running and know that i will continue barring injury.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Is jogging good for you?

It's an age thing i know, but i've noticed over the past few years that my girth is gradually increasing in size. It's not a beer belly, but it is certainly well rounded and her indoors has been dropping a few hints lately, so i have finally decided to do something about it. I'm not a gym person (not yet anyway) so i have started jogging for the first time in what must be over 20 years.

I am taking it seriously. I even went out and bought some jogging bottoms. However i haven't  bought a pair of running shorts yet. I think i'm embarrassed about showing off my legs! That could be why i prefer to run when in the dark when there are not many people about.

I'm running (by running i mean shuffling) in old trainers that are over 5 years old, so i must make the effort and buy a new pair. I did have a look in town the other day but was overwhelmed by the choice and the range of prices and i didn't know what sort of shoes would be best for me. I would appreciate any help or advice on that from anyone.

I have decided for the moment to jog over the same route and time myself so that i can judge whether i'm getting faster. I think my route is around three miles. I've been out four times now and with a mixture of jogging and fast walking i'm out for about 35 minutes. I'm taking it slow, jogging for three or four minutes,  walking for a minute, and then jogging again. I'm finding it very hard. I've no stamina, i am breathless and my legs are very heavy. Hopefully things will improve as i go along and get a bit fitter.

But, am i doing the right thing? Some people have told me that i shouldn't jog because i could damage my joints and i would get fitter and loose weight by fast walking instead. The trouble is i want to be able to jog. I want to have the stamina and fitness to go running pain free for an hour or so. What do you think?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

H.G.Wells and "War of the Worlds" part 3!

I have in the past mentioned in this blog the connection of H.G.Wells with my home town of Woking(link here) . He wrote his most famous novel "War of the Worlds" whilst living here in 1898. He based his novel of an alien invasion from Mars in and around Woking, Surrey and West London. Much of the landscape and areas he described in the book were real places that he came across on his long walks and cycle rides in and around the town.
Having extolled his novel I thought it would be a good idea to get a copy and read it again, the last time I read it was a in picture book form when i was about eleven or twelve. Anyway i'm glad i did. I found the novel fascinating and quite refreshing, very easy to read and for me knowing and recognising the streets, villages and landmarks quite a surreal experience. He even mentions the Mosque. If you haven't read "War of the Worlds" do yourself a favour and get hold of a copy and enjoy!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Early life in my home town.

The above photograph which i took the other day in one of our local woods may just look like a heather covered mound of earth to you and me, but believe it or not it is evidence of early life in Woking. It is in fact a tumuli or a Bell Barrow built by Bronze age man around 1500BC.

Bell Barrows are buriel monuments (not chambers), thought to be for important members of the community maybe chiefs or elders. Bell Barrows are rare nationally and are even rarer in Surrey. The existance of this one indicates that Woking was probably an important site for early Bronze age man, but nobody knows why. All i know is that i find it quite incredible that Woking was inhabited over 3500 years ago. Quite humbling really.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Shah Jahan Mosque.

Woking is the home of the Shah Jahan Mosque. Built in 1889 by the Orientalist Dr. Gottleib Wilhelm Leitner, the mosque was the first purpose built mosque to be built in Northern Europe. Leintner surprisingly, was a Hungarian Jew who as a child had studied at madrassah schools in Istanbul and who memorised large parts of the Quran. Later he worked as an interpreter for the British Raj (he could speak eight languages) and became a Professor at Kings College London before moving to the University of the Punjab.

He came back to England and in 1883 began the Oriental Institute in Woking.  The mosque was built to cater for the worship and spititual needs of the Muslim students at the institute and quickly played a vital role in the establishment of Islam in Great Britain. It also became world famous on account of its publications and missionary work in the early part of the 20th century. Up until the 1950's the Shah Jahan was the major Islamic centre in the United Kingdom and welcomed famous dignitaries from around the world on official visits, but by the 1960's the mosque's status had declined, and instead served as a place of worship for Woking's and neighbouring Muslim populations.
Today, the Shah Jahan mosque is the cultural and spiritual centre for Surrey's Muslims. Hundreds of followers visit the Shah Jahan to pay homage to their faith and to accommodate this, the mosque's 70 person capacity has been supplemented with two nearby prayor halls, which can hold up to 600 people each if necessary. Now a grade two listed building the mosque is very welcomong to visitors and offers guided tours for groups and schools.
I think the mosque is one of the most beautiful buildings i have seen. Its traditional Indo Saracen design has a dome, minarets and courtyard. Geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy are used for decoration. On my recent visit i was unable to go inside the mosque as prayers were almost due to start, but i have been invited back by the very friendly Imam and will do another post with photographs. I can't wait!