United Kingdom 2005

Day 08

May 20


It was a pretty nasty night and I am very thankful that I was inside instead of outside. So I decide I will check on how the campers faired.


“Any of you fellers that want to come over to our place to shower and get warm, you are more than welcome.”

I had no takers, but they do appreciate it. Guy, ever in search for his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, checks out the little store in the back of the pub. But once again, he comes up with nothing. We gather up the rest of our stuff, and begin to pack the bikes for the day's journey.


We head out for Land's End – the western most point in England. The Brits think it seems a bit too ‘touristy' but I will reserve judgment until I get there. It seems as if some enterprising man bought Land's End and John O'Groats – the two most distant points in the UK (874 miles apart to be exact), and is trying rev up his revenue. When we arrive, it is actually quite deserted and easily to find good parking places for the bikes.


There's a famous sign inside that for a few pounds they will put how far it is to your hometown and take a fine photo of you. I decline, but I'm thinking

"If this is touristy, you ought to see Orlando, Florida!"


Here the coast is still uncluttered and you can look out to the ocean. In the States, there would be a thousand condos and hotel resorts and various vendors hawking their wares or the next free vacation.


Moff gathers Guy and me and we get shot outside of the official picture area and manage to get the sign in the background.


It is a interesting place to contemplate just how far I am from home, but how welcome I feel. You realize that good folks are just good folks, and they can be found on either side of the pond. I really appreciate Peter bringing us to so many sites of interest in such a short time. Our next stop is slightly south of Land's End, near Porthcumo called the Minack Open Air Theatre. Thanks to a tireless lady named Rowena Cade, this marvelous setting exists. Between her and two of her laborers, they constructed most of it by hand, only to have it destroyed during WWII. Never giving up, she took up where she left off and pushed forward with the project at her own expense until her death in 1983. Having studied most every play of Shakespeare in high school, I can only imagine what Macbeth must be like with the roaring ocean as a dramatic backdrop.


Moff asks me, “Are you going down into the theatre?”

My knee, which is still giving me fits, determines my answer –

“Well, I'm afraid if I go down, you'd have to carry me back up, so I guess I'll just stay put.”

Fortunately for me, Peter gets a good shot upward from the seats of the theatre.


When the group comes back up from the theatre, we gather at one of the many cliff views to talk about where we are headed next. Peter lets us know that our next stop will be the Eden Project in St. Austell. Some of the folks decide that they will head back to the campsite at South Molton to get an early start on setting up their tents.



Before we leave, I get my beauty snapped as I stand on a rock perch with the ocean in the background. My precarious perch concerns some of the riders, but I assure them that I am pretty sure-footed for a big feller and grew up in the hills climbing rock quarry walls.



We pass through Penzance (as in the pirates of Penzance) and the group splits up at this point. I fall in behind Moff and just follow his taillight into the Eden Project.


Keith volunteers to watch the bikes and the gear, since he lives in the general area and has been inside many times. The rest of us wander down the stairs and purchase our admission tickets. The Eden Project is a fascinating recreation of various climate scapes enclosed in very large geodesic domes. The creators turned a china clay pit that was at the end of it's useful life into a beautiful setting. There are several different domes, each designed to replicate a particular climate.


The largest, the Humid Tropics Biome, is 164 feet tall at it's apex, and Guy is right at home since the temps and humidity are pretty close to where he lives. I enjoy the scenery, but I am sweating like somebody is after me in the high humidity.


The next dome is the Warm Temperate Biome which is similar to the weather in California or the Mediterranean which suits me better. There is a very nice café in between the domes, which makes for a good place for lunch. On the way out, I notice a very unusual sculpture of a horse made from various types of wood.


But it's back into the chilly air soon enough as we head for South Moulton. It's a pleasant journey through the dark green farming country of Cornwall. It reminds me a bit of the area I grew up in rural Tennessee.


When we come to the Blackcock Inn, we park and meet some other folks that have showed up. As we get ready to mount up, we notice a sign that says “500 Yards To YEO Farm Bed And Breakfast”. I say,

“Well, that'll be nice. We'll be in easy walking distance of everybody.”

Tim replies – “

“Well, that is a bit optimistic. It should read a half mile!”

We follow Tim and Miss Dot down a narrow gravel drive and into the yard. The owners also train and board horses and runs an active farm here.

We see Nick's (AKA SmartHound) ST parked in the garage and I am excited at finally getting to meet him. He fixed me up with the Police Switches for my ST1100s before they became so popular and so easy to find and I really appreciate it. The owners show us upstairs to the room Guy and I will be sharing for the next two nights. We put down our gear and head back to the Blackcock Pub where the group is already gathered. On our walk up, I see a rather tall feller coming toward us and I recognize it as the one and only SmartHound. I walk and up and give him a big, gentle hug.

“Hound, thanks again for getting me those switches. I really appreciate it!”

He thanks me, and escorts us back to the pub, which is full of riders and local folks. It's the gathering place for the valley and you can tell the regulars pretty easily. A lovely lady by the name of Julia is assigned the task of waiting on us funny talking fellers. Guy immediately puts her to the task of trying to find him some peanut butter, jelly and bread for a sandwich. It is quite a challenge out in the hills of Cornwall, but she up to it and delivers the stuff. Guy makes one of his favorites up and offers her a bite.

"Here, take a slice."

She tries a bite and smiles. What we discover in the U.K. is that the peanut butter is more natural and not the smooth paste that we get back in the States filled with sugar and chemicals. We also learn that in the pubs, you go up to the counter and place your order, not wait at the table for service. The food is good and it's nice to be off the road, out of the weather and among good friends. We talk about how things are back in the States and the differences in politics and riding and such. But I'm not much of a night owl, so before long I'm ready to pack it in. Guy, SmartHound and I take the long stroll back to our rooms in the cool, moonlight evening. Back in the room, I break out a few Goo Goo's for Guy and me, as an after dinner treat. We talk about many things – our past rides, our future rides, retirement and future plans. But if I'm going to ride tomorrow, I've got to sleep tonight, so it's lights out and the snore music begins. When I'm really tired, I really snore and I am really tired tonight. I warned Guy before we ever came over that I snore, snore loudly, and snore long. So he has had fair warning to bring very good earplugs. But I guess he though I was kidding, because throughout the night he launches running shoes at me to stop me from snoring. But he is fighting a losing battle because I just settle right back in and have at it. So this night at least one of us has a very blissful rest.