I ended up with quite a compilation of Finnish sketches from our three weeks there. I tried hard to capture the landscapes around our cabin at Nallikari, because they were inspiring.
I had also compiled a collection of sketches from England.
But my best painting was one I did when I got home, of that snowy day at Chatsworth.
To end the series (really, this is the last post about England), how can you not go past the English pub? We visited some wonderful pubs on our English adventure, some modern, some comfy, some unbelievably old and quaint. Hubby’s favourite drinking spot was the old Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell – an 18th Century pub with blackened old beams, that could barely sit a dozen guests, but which served the best beers in town.
Hubby, a beer geek, was really happy to be trying out new beers everyday. I was more happy to try out the food. Pub grub was generally of good quality in generous-sized portions. By the sea at Lyme, we ate the biggest piece of fish ever. It’s a locally caught plaice, with chips and peas.
And the best food can be found in the most out-of-the-way places. The North Inn in the tiny village of Pendeen, Cornwall is a great example of that. It was the best pub out of a two-pub village, and during our stay we ate there some half-a-dozen times in all, so we really got to know and love their food. These fish cakes were the best I tasted, so tasty that I was half way through my first cake before I realised that I hadn’t taken a photo.
But the best meal we had there were their curries. Even though we had a few curries in London, the two curries here were so much better, and fresher, than any curry we had in our entire trip. I chose the black-eyed pea dahl which was full of flavour.
Hubby chose a beef vindaloo which was out of this world.
It’s wonderful to find these little places to eat in England. It certainly made the frigid March weather a little more bearable. That said, we were quite happy to leave it and discover Greece…
Out of London, the choices were not so varied, but the quality of good old fashioned British cooking and local ingredients were hard to beat. In Chatsworth, I had a Ploughman’s lunch that was of the highest order, complete with a pork pie, homemade bread, assorted cheeses and pickles and salad that was mostly sourced from the estate itself.
The bed and breakfast places that we stayed at were a constant source of good food. In Cornwall, our B&B also served afternoon tea. I had a Cornish tea with scones, jam and the (in)famous clotted cream.
In Derbyshire, the owner of our B&B had hand-caught the trout that we ate for dinner in the Derwent River, conveniently located across the road. Needless to say, the trout was succulent and awesome.
We didn’t just visit the Geevor and Levant mines, but walked south along the Coast Path to find other remnants of mining. Nowadays, the land has been turned back to grazing, mainly that of sheep. As with walking in the British Isles, there were a few stiles over stone fences to navigate over.
Sure enough, there were abandoned buildings and stacks all along the coast.
And the British weather never failed to surprise. We saw our fair share of rainbows that day.
But the weather cleared up just as we reached the Botallack mine site. This is also a World Heritage site, and is probably the most scenic mine sites you will ever see.
Where’s the mine, you say? The shaft entrance is down the bottom of the cliff. Needless to say, the miners got very wet when the tides were high. The miners dug shafts up to 500 metres deep and 400 metres out to sea. Once again, it was hard and dangerous work.
But as international trade ramped up during the Industrial Revolution, local mining work such as that in Cornwall dried up. Many Cornish miners immigrated abroad to find a better life. There are now descendants of these miners in USA, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Australia (in South Australia) and New Zealand (which I visited and will post about one day). It certainly explains how pasties and rugby and soccer got to all those places.
You might think it was the end of mining around Pendeen when the Levant mine closed in the 1890’s, but the lure of tin and copper was too hard to resist. In 1911, the Geevor Tin Mine opened up the hill to work the same area as the Levant mine.
The mine was worked through until 1990, and was the last mine to close in the area. When it first opened, it was mined by miners returning from the Boer War, but by the time WWII ended, miners were scarce, and the mine employed Polish and Italian miners. Working conditions improved over time – the shafts were properly re-enforced, they wore safety gear, they had proper head torches instead of oil candles for lighting, they had rules and regulations with blasting with dynamite, but life underground was still dirty, hard work.
The good thing about Geevor is that it is also covered under the World Heritage listing, and has since been made into a tourist attraction. It has a great museum, and interesting tours where they take you into the old processing plant as well as into an old shaft. We had a young man lead us around the site, and gave us many insights into life as a miner. At least now the old life won’t disappear completely from people’s memories.
The old Levant mine site was very extensive, and also very picturesque, perched as it was above the sea. The site was open for tours on some days, but being still in the ‘winter’ season, they weren’t too frequent here.
Back then, the old miners weren’t there to enjoy the scenery. Their twelve hour shifts didn’t start until they started working their shaft. If the shaft was a hundred metres or more underground, then it would have taken two hours or so to get down there. Added to that was the fact their accommodation each night was as far away as St Ives, almost 20km away, which they walked in the freezing cold. The miners were lucky to get four hours sleep per night. No wonder their average age was around forty. It’s a wonder they lived that long given the hard lives they led.
In the distance we could see Pendeen Watch, the lighthouse on the next headland. The Coast Path winds its way through all of this coastline. In fact, it starts on the north coast of the peninsula in Minehead, Somerset, and ends on the south coast in Poole, Dorset – 1013km or 630 miles! That’s a lot of coastline. Throw in the everchanging British weather, and the undulating coastline, and the mud, it’s a wonder that it attracts the thousands of visitors that it does. But the British do love their walks, and the stunning scenery and the (comparatively) mild climate are major drawcards as far as they are concerned.
Closer to Pendeen village, and a kilometre inland, is the newer Geevor Mine. We’ll go there tomorrow.
From Dorset we travelled to the most south west corner of Britain. You might know or have been to Land’s End, but there were far more interesting things to learn about this corner of the world.
Cornwall might be famous for its seaside and its cream teas, but its original claim to fame is its natural resources. Cornwall is a place rich in metals – tin and copper in particular – and even as far back as the Bronze Age (more than 2000BC), everyone in civilised Europe knew of it. In the Bronze Age, Tin from the Cornish was traded as far east as the Minoans in Crete, who consequently built their empire from it. The Cornish locals must have gotten very wealthy.
Back in those days, the tin and copper deposits were very close to the surface, and could be dug out from shallow pits, but as time went on, the miners had to dig deeper and deeper into the ground to get their bootie. By the time the Industrial Revolution came about, mining in the area was done on an epic scale.
This is the remains of the Levant Mine from the Victorian Age, near the village of Pendeen. It closed in the 1890’s and is now part of a World Heritage Site. Back in its heyday it employed around 170 people. You can see the remnants of buildings and stacks at the top of the cliff.
At the bottom of the cliff you can see the old pumphouse, which pumped the seawater out of the mine, since it was so close to the water line. The whole countryside is riddled with shafts, and shafts were dug as far out as a mile out under the sea. The shafts are still there, and one shouldn’t go underground unless you are with someone who knows them well since you can easily get lost. In recent years there have been incidents where people have died in shafts as they couldn’t find a way out.
The old mine is now on crown land, and the famous South West Coast Walk winds its way through it, so everyone can see what mining was all about.