AEGEAN ODYSSEY 17th June 2018 Part 5
Wednesday 20th June 2018
I would like to say the day dawned fine and bright, but unfortunately it didn't as we sailed into Falmouth, here in Cornwall. There was mist and drizzle and we could see very little except the Pilot Boat coming alongside. I went for breakfast and met the Pilots on the stairs as they were being escorted up to the Bridge and Captain. Cheerful 'good mornings' were exchanged. The UK Pilots are such dedicated people and I really admire them as they go about their work.
Many of us are booked on this morning's excursion to visit St. Michael's Mount and I was really looking forward to it. In fact, it is one of the reasons I booked this short cruise - years ago I remember driving around the bay and hoping that one day I would be able to visit the Castle. A few years ago on MINERVA I was with a group taking an excursion to Mont St. Michel and I loved that visit and I am so pleased and excited about today's visit to St. Michael's Mount.
As we prepared to leave the ship and get the coach, the mist lifted slightly and in the harbour we could see TIDESURGE A138. She is a Tide-Class Replenishment tanker for the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA); she was ordered in 2012 and was built in South Korea. She was named on 29th August 2017 and arrived at A&P Falmouth on 27th March 2018 for final fitting out. She will then go for sea trials.
I could also see a couple of tugs, one of which was named PERCUIL This is a local river and reminded me of friends I enjoyed visiting when they were still alive.
The coach took us west across part of Cornwall towards Mount's Bay and Marazion.
It was still damp and misty and when we walked to the beach and causeway we couldn't see much of the Mount and nothing at all of the causeway as the tide was in. This morning it was to be a little boat journey to get to the island, and we boarded SEA MIST to get to the island harbour.
At the top of the harbour steps we could stand for a moment on the brass plate that had been inserted to remind us that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had visited here on 8th September 1846 and this was her footprint. I think she must have had small feet, maybe an English size 2 and a half or 3. There will be time to take a photograph later.
The top half of the Mount was still barely visible but we decided to make the climb. The route was cobbled in places, was bare rock in many other places, wound to and fro amongst occasional grass patches, and climbed steadily and awkwardly upwards at a steep gradient. Many of us needed occasional breathing stops to admire the view, such as it was. Sometimes we could see the mainland, sometimes not.
We finally reached the top of the climb and could walk around and visit the house. The book about the Mount starts with a statement by James St. Aubyn, who is the fifth Lord St. Leven. He welcomes everyone to "one of the most extraordinary places on God's earth"; he also states that "through the ages, St. Michael's Mount has been a major spiritual centre, a military stronghold, a thriving port and a much-loved family home." We then followed our guide through many of the wonderful family rooms to see the furniture, furnishings, artwork and other treasures.
Our tour included a visit to the Church of St. Michael & All Angels, which was largely rebuilt in the late 14th Century, on the footprint of the church built in 1135. The Mount had been a destination for pilgrims for a very long time indeed. Now a family home, St. Michael's Mount is owned and run by The National Trust with the family having a 999 year lease.
We looked down from the ramparts to enjoy the views down to the gardens and to the edge of the sea far below us. It was all very crowded but I thoroughly enjoyed all I saw of this amazing home.
I decided it was time to take the hazardous path down again and set off to the harbour for another boat trip back to the mainland, this time sailing on LOUISA. The tide was dropping but it was still impossible to walk along the causeway.
I made my way towards our coach and was diverted by an offer of a coffee in a beachside cafe, plus the unexpected gift of a stick of rock with the word 'Prosecco' all the way through it. What a thoughtful gift for someone who really likes Prosecco.
Back in Falmouth we decided to go straight out again from the quayside and get a little local ferry across Carrick Roads over to St. Mawes. We had to walk along Falmouth High Street to do this; on the way we passed a bookshop and in the maritime section we could see one of the publications by esteemed author and friend Mr Anthony Cooke.
We caught the ferry DUCHESS OF CORNWALL across the water and then it was time to achieve another ambition: a Cornish cream tea in a local quayside establishment.
We sat in the sunshine and enjoyed tea, scones, jam and cream. The Cornish tradition is to put the jam on the scone halves first, with the cream on top. The Devon cream tea is done differently, as we plan to see tomorrow.
Another ferry arrived after tea to take us back to Falmouth, and on the way we could see Pendennis Castle. How nice to have yet another reminder of my life with Union-Castle Line.
We travelled back on the MAY QUEEN, and I noticed that in the Bridge window were some tiny toy figures, one of which was the wonderful Shaun the Sheep. (Shaun the Sheep is a British stop-motion animated television series of 7 minute films, created by Nick Parks and Aardman Animations, and it is hugely popular with many people world-wide, including me.)
Back on the ship, there was the now-usual routine of preparations for drinks and dinner. Tonight at 9.15 p.m. there is to be a concert by the Keysworth Quartet, entitled 'A Pastoral Potpourri'. This was a selection of popular classical music pieces that we all enjoyed, in the Ambassador Lounge after dinner.
Ships seen: Aegean Odyssey, Sea Mist, Louisa, LizRix, Tidesurge A138, tug Percuil, Helford River, Falmouth Lifeboat, LT119 Z, Tamar Belle, Duchess of Cornwall, May Queen
To be continued....