St. Michael’s Mount, Land’s End, castles and pub signsBy
BRISTOL, UK – Greetings from Bristol, England where it’s 12:30am. Steve and I just pulled into the hotel and turned on soccer after another long, memorable day.
Our alarm went off at 6:00am in Marazion so we could capture the sunrise at St. Michael’s Mount, the incredibly beautiful castle in the southwestern corner of England. It’s unique for two reasons. It is located in a tidal bay. When the tide is high, it is surrounded by water and accessible by boat. But in low tide, St. Michael’s Mount is not an island and you can walk along a stone causeway or beach to reach the castle. The second unique thing is that St Michael’s Mount has a family living inside. More on the family during my story this summer.
Since the tide was high this morning, we took an amphibious boat across reaching the castle in five minutes. Along the way, we saw two dolphins swimming in Mount’s Bay.
The castle is rich in history dating back hundreds of years. There are more than 50 rooms, many accessible to guests. The views are incredible. In one direction, the coastline of Cornwall. In the other direction, the Atlantic Ocean.
After our tour, the tide was low enough that Steve and I could walk across the causeway, which had been covered in water hours earlier. Since it was a sunny day, there were thousands of people visiting.
We also spent a portion of the day driving along the coastline to Land’s End, a spectacular town along the southern coast of England with beautiful views of the Atlantic. I had the traditional Cornish meal, a pasty which reminded me of a “Hot Pocket.” It was filled with meat and veggies. While it’s popular in this part of England, I will pass on the pasty next time.
Back in the car for an 90-minute drive through Cornwall to reach Andrew Grundon, a talented pub sign artist who works out of a studio in his garage. Andrew designs and paints approximately 200 pub signs across England. While some artists use computers to create signs, Andrew is “old school” doing it all by hand. His work is beautiful. He captures the story of each pub, painting portraits, animals, crowns, crests and dynamic lettering designed to bring visitors inside for food and a pint of beer.
After our interview with Andrew we drove to the fishing village of Padstow to videotape many of the pub signs Andrew created and enjoy my third plate of fish and chips.
Our day ended with an often white knuckle ride along narrow streets to reach Bristol. Imagine driving from Indianapolis to South Bend mostly on a narrow two lane road, in the wrong lane, while sitting in the passenger seat, using your other hand to power a stick shift. That’s what it’s like for an American to drive in England. Again, we didn’t crash. So, it was a good day.
Tomorrow, we go to Thornbury castle where an English couple is getting married. Imagine that. Your wedding in a real castle! Now imagine spending the night in the same room where kings once slept. That’s our assignment Saturday.
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Good night from England!
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