The drive back to London – Part three of three; Fussells Iron Works.

Monday 21 December 2015 – Mells, Somerset.

The final stop on my drive from Falmouth in Cornwall back to NE London. I took quite a few photos in three different locations on my way back so have decided to make it a three post day.

My final destination for the day – before home of course, was Fussells Iron Works near the village of Mells in Somerset. Like Burrow Mump earlier in the day the iron works were a find from my recently purchased Wild Ruins book.

After finding Mells OK and ending up on the right road out of town I missed the entrance to the valley as it was temporarily blocked by a rubbish lorry. After a mile or so of driving up the narrow country road, I decided I had gone too far and turned round and pulled up outside what I hoped was the right gate.

The sign did not mention anything about a ruined iron works, but it was sort of in the right place so I headed off up the path anyway. If it was wrong, then at least it was a decent walk – and by now the rain had actually stopped, and being in a valley meant there was no wind either. I should have taken the tripod. And another couple of hours…


After a couple of hundred yards of walking up the path, I came across an old sluice gate and some ruined walls and knew I was in the right spot. I didn’t know too much about the valley and the iron works, I had seen a few photos on the internet, but that was about it.


The town of Mells and its surrounding area have been known for iron work since the 14th century, and the workings in this particular site started in the 1500s. The present day remains are from a large foundry site started by the Fussell family in 1744.

James Fussell leased the land from John Horner, who is rumoured to be a descendent of one Little Jack Horner. Little Jack was given the responsibility of taking pies from a nearby abbey to London, hidden inside one of the pies was the deed to a piece of land – now the site of the iron works. He nicked it…

The works lasted for well over 100 years, making farm tools that were used across the UK and exported to the USA. A failure to convert the water powered works to steam in the late 1800s led to the eventual failure of the business and it was closed in 1900. It has languished as a ruin ever since. Yay Smile

The walk up the valley was amazing. It is a wonderful place to explore, especially in winter when the trees are free of leaves and the weak sun can shine through on the moss covered trees and old stone work.



There was even a mystery waterfall with the water pouring out from under the rocks, seemingly coming from nowhere at all.


There was a long section of wall, maybe holding back the valley bank from what must have been a long building along the bank of the river.



I really liked the trees growing out of the stones, they remind me of the some of the ancient Angkor sites I went to, and loved, in Cambodia.


Though I was getting a bit pushed for time I carried on heading along the path and soon found the main part of the ruin. It was looking very cool, though there was security fencing at the entrance to the building.


I walked along the outside edge of the wall for a bit, until I found a bit of fencing that was loose so I stuck my head inside and took a photo of the moss covered wall – slightly blown out by the weird problem affecting my camera.


There was no one around, so I thought ‘sod it’ and carried on through the gap in the fence and down into the ruins themselves. Everything was damp and dripping, the ground was mushy under the rotten fallen leaves, and the tree tops up the valley sides were whistling and creaking in the wind. Fabulously gloomy and ruiny.



Walking back towards the entrance I made my way to the largest of the old ruins.


There is obviously some work going on here to stabilise walls, there was a sign warning people to keep out as stone had been coming down from the walls. I poked my head inside the rooms for a look, but did not hang around there for long before deciding to head back up the path to the car and continue my journey homeward – I still had a long way to go !



Naturally when I returned to the car the skies finally cleared leaving a fairly cloudless and slowly darkening sky. I am looking forward to coming back to explore this place again, maybe take a day out on the way somewhere and arrive when there is some decent light left – and carry the tripod up the valley.

I had seen some quite cool things so far today, but this really was the highlight of the day. It was a shame it was mid afternoon and the light was dropping fast, and it was a shame my camera was just not handling the big contrasts in light very well. I am going to have to come back and allow myself a lot more time.



The rest of the drive back home was pretty tedious, it is a long long drive, though I did pass by Stonehenge which was cool as I have never seen it in real life before. I was sort of faintly hoping for a wicked sunset, but to cap the weekend off it all clouded over again and started to drizzle as dusk arrived, my least favourite driving conditions. Actually, to really cap it off I think I got speed camera’d on the M25 , which is fairly ironic as I said a couple of posts ago that there is little fear of getting pinged for speeding on the motorways. I will wait and see if anything unpleasant arrives in the mail.

It had been a great weekend away, I really enjoyed all the things I visited and saw, I had some very nice food and sort of enjoyed the time away on my own.

The drive back to London – Part two of three; Nunney Castle.

Monday 21 December 2015 – Nunney Castle, Somerset.

My drive north east wards from the lovely church of St Michael on Burrow Mump took me through the historic town of Glastonbury, which I must confess to not expecting when I was vaguely planning my route over breakfast. I tried to stop at the tor, but some moron had parked their small truck almost completely blocking the road to the car park. Given this was a rental car I was not willing to bump the curb and squeeze through. I am sure I will return to Glasto one day. Though, music fan that I am, I will still be avoiding the festival (or maybe it is because I am a music fan…)

I was looking for the small village of Mells – and I did set the sat nav for this one as it is way off the beaten track. I was fortunate to pass through the town of Nunney, which conveniently has a small castle that is free to visit. Most excellent!

Nunney Castle was constructed in the 1370s when Sir John Delamare was given licence to build a castle by King Edward III after returning with a small fortune from the Hundred Years War. It is supposedly modelled on castles he had seen when on duty in France, though this has been hotly debated.

The castle remained in the extended family through the 1500s before finally being sold in 1577 to the Praters. Like many Catholics the Praters sided with the royalists during the civil war and the castle was severely damaged during a siege in 1645. It has slowly fallen into disrepair since,  being gifted to the crown in 1926.

It is a lovely building, and was an unplanned and unexpected surprise bonus for the day. I took a walk around the outside.



From the car park entrance you cannot see if there is a bridge across the moat into the castle, so I was delighted when I walked around to the far side of the small castle to find there was a way in, through the walls destroyed in the civil war.


There is not a lot to see inside the ruin itself, for its height I was quite surprised how small it actually is inside the walls.  It must have been awful living in here during the siege.


I didn’t expect to be visiting a ruined castle today, so even though it was raining and a bit unpleasant (again) this was an excellent mid-day stop – if only I had found some lunch!


The drive back to London – Part one of three; Burrow Mump.

Monday 21 December 2015 – Burrow Mump, Somerset.

The forecast was not brilliant for my return trip to London, and when I got up for breakfast it was hammering down outside, the wind had picked back up again to the level it was on Saturday. I think I am fated to always have a windy and rainy trip when I go away with camera and tripod – perhaps I should chose a nice time of year.

Over breakfast I consulted my ruins book and the road map to see if I could find anything interesting to see that was sort of on the way back to London. There are so many places in the south west that would be intriguing to visit, but with a five hour plus drive ahead I did not want to stray too far from a direct route to the M25. Though I did find a couple of hidden gems to hunt out on the way.

I left Falmouth at 9:45, a bit later than I wanted, but still with plenty of the day left. It was pretty rank outside, definitely the worst morning of the three I have had here, so my timing was pretty good. It was an uneventful drive, I stopped on Bodmin Moor to take a photo under the gloomy skies I would like to explore any of the moors one day, but come properly prepared for a visit. I don’t mind the rain so much, but wind, rain and moorland are not such a great combination for photography.


It took me quite a while to get to my first stop of the day. Off the motorway in the depths of the Somerset levels stands Burrow Mump, a small lonely hill in the middle of farm land. The hill was at a junction of the rivers Tone and Cary, but the Cary has subsequently changed course. It is possible a Roman and a Saxon fort was located on the top of the hill, Roman and early Saxon artefacts have been found in the area and at the confluence of two rivers it would likely have been a trading area back in the day.

It really stands out from quite a way in the distance as I approached from the Taunton side, so I didn’t need the GPS to tell me where it was…


There has been a church here since the 15th century, but the ruins that now stand are from an attempted complete rebuild in the 1790s. Funds ran out and it was never finished. A church was built in the village at the foot of the hill instead and hill top slowly turned to ruin. It is wonderful!


It was still a bit rainy as I walked up the slippery grass slope and the wind was howling too, it was not particularly nice out there. But not bad enough to put me off.


The church is dedicated to St Michael, and is located on St Michaels Ley Line. Interestingly the central line of the church follows the ley line rather than the natural line of the hill.



You cannot go inside the ruin, and in this case I chose not to.



It is quite amazing to look around, and I imagine there are not too many visitors either, so well worth the visit.

Part two of the drive home will be coming up soon !

St Mawes and St Just of Roseland.

Sunday 20 December 2015 – St Mawes, Falmouth, Cornwall.

I had a much better sleep last night than I did the night before. The hotel room is really comfy, though a little warm for my liking. I was awake early and got a bit of typing done on yesterday’s post before heading down for breakfast when the kitchen opened at 8:30. Another nice breakfast!

The weather was not anywhere near as poor as yesterday, the wind has died down significantly – to merely strong, and there was only showers forecast – heavy ones, but still only showers. I decided to try for the ferry over the harbour to the Roseland Peninsula and the village of St Mawes again,  so headed out soon after breakfast. Grabbing a coffee on the way I was at the wharf just as the small ferry arrived, they were definitely running today, Yay.


The 20 minute journey started off smooth enough, but as we hit the middle of the harbour, the swell briefly picked up and we rocked and rolled for a while until we were safe in the lea of the far point.IMG_9682

My first stop for the day was St Mawes Castle, the little sister to Pendennis Castle that I visited yesterday. I could see it on the headland as we crossed the water.



The ferry arrived safe and sound in the small inner harbour at St Mawes and I spotted this great sign on the wall of the wharf.


St Mawes is on old fishing village that has mostly turned to tourism over the last twenty years. It is a pretty place, with lots of the sights common to this part of the country, cute thatched roof cottages and old stone buildings.



Like Pendennis, St Mawes Castle is run by English Heritage, and because I finally signed up yesterday for a year, it was free admission. Not that this is a particularly expensive place to visit. I was surprised to find other visitors here today.

The first view of the castle was a good one ! Like Pendennis it has been really well preserved and looks spectacular.


St Mawes was built at the same time as its big sister between 1540 and 1545 to ward off the threat from Spain and France to the Fal river – and access into Cornwall and England. With the harbour being over a mile wide at the entrance and the artillery of the day only having a range of half a mile, it required artillery forts on each side of the harbour for complete protection. The castle was used militarily up until 1905 when the guns were removed. it was a tourist attraction from 1920 until WW2 when it was re-armed to guard the Fal again, becoming a tourist attraction after the war.

The clover leaf design is really cool, multiple layers of defence and the round walls supposedly made it harder for enemy cannon balls to penetrate. It was quite an amazing design. I really liked, it is now one of my favourite castles. I think English Heritage have done a good job here !

I haven’t used my big old DSLR for ages, I took it away on this trip so I could spend some time with it, remind it that I love it dearly, but it is not user friendly if I am going out with El to do something that is not supposed to be photograph related. I was intending on some sunrise/sunset photography with the tripod, but there was no sunrise or sunset to be seen on any of the days I was away. I had some issues with it not handling really strong contrasts, and blowing out the highlights in one corner of the sensor, hopefully it is a me issue rather than a camera issue. Much as I would like to get a 5dMk2 or Mk3, even second hand they are a lot of money! I must admit I really enjoyed using it over the weekend and it will get some more work outs.

I took my usual walk around the outside of the fort first, I really liked the areas on the walls where Henry VIII’s crest was mounted.



The geometry of the fort is wonderful, I spent well over an hour in this small space, and could easily have taken a lot more photos than I did, and this is just a small part of what I took.


Down the back I discovered a stairwell down to the gun batteries, I was the only person I saw venture outside, so most people would have missed this area. The batteries and a store room were built in the 1850s – trouble with the French again. The main fort was converted into a barracks as new technology allowed for bigger, more powerful guns to be used from the battery. The walls protecting the ammunition store were really thick and hidden behind quite deep earthworks.



Continuing my walk around the grounds eventually led me to the entrance to the fort.



Like Pendennis, the inside had been partially set up like it would have been in the 1700s, and there was an audio guide to take with you explaining what life was like at the time, as well as describing the castle itself. It was all quite interesting.



The weather was sticking to forecast and the skies were actually quite clear when I left the castle. Before I left this morning I had decided that if it was fine I would walk to the tiny hamlet of St Just of Roseland, about 2 miles up the Fal from St Mawes.

The direction was sort of a guess, walk near the water…


The sign was so old, worn and mossy that it was totally unreadable, but there was an arrow heading that way, so I was sure it was OK to walk in that direction.


The walk was not particularly interesting, just along the bottom of farms, near the rivers edge, it was pretty muddy in places, specifically where National Trust had their gates.



At the end of the path at the bottom of the village there is a small shipyard, so I headed up the hill and found the entrance way to the church there. The view down through the gate, down a steep tree lined graveyard to the church was quite lovely, sadly my photo was not.

The graveyard is really big, and looks like it is still being used as there are a number of recent grave stones, unlike so many London grave yards that are close to full now. I loved this Cornish cross, and the mosses growing on the old headstones made for a really interesting view.



There has been a church on this lovely river side site since the 6th century, though the church is relatively modern, having been built in the 13th century. It is such a lovely building in a very special location.




The church grounds are a large garden filled with many exotic trees, palms and things that are very un-English like, the warmer temperatures in this sheltered valley allow some unusual things to grow. I do not know what these were but it looked like a field of large dead bats…


Before heading back the way I came I stopped for a drink of water and a snack bar, it was past mid-day now and I was starting to get peckish. I almost regretted this as when I was most of the way back and checked my watch I realised I was very close to the departure time of the hourly ferry. I picked up my pace and power walked back to the castle, breaking into a run down the road back to the wharf, I arrived just as the ferry was backing out, damn. All that effort, and I am so unfit it was an effort wasted. I resolved to go to the pub and wait, sacrifices had to be made.

When I turned around to head back up the wharf I spotted this massive storm cloud sweeping in across the harbour, I stopped to take a couple of pictures of the ferry moving into the storm – you cannot see it in under the rain in the second shot.



I had just got into the pub and was sitting myself down upstairs when the storm hit, it was ferocious with rain and hail and strong winds – all lasting about 5 mins. I could hear people screaming on the road outside as they were walking down the hill and received an unexpected soaking. I really enjoyed the pint I had in that pub !

By the time I left just under an hour later, the sky had cleared and it looked like my journey across would be fine. I took a couple of pictures of the small harbour before boarding the ferry.




The ride over was pretty good, there was one moment when the swells were quite high and I got quite wet trying to take photos of Pendennis point – luckily I swung my camera out the way before the spray hit me.


As we arrived into Falmouth another storm cloud arrived, I made it most of the way to the end of town before it hit. I got the first hit of hail and the sudden heavy rain before getting into another pub, where I also had a pint while I waited it out. This pub was not so nice so I did not linger, and left as the last remains of light rain fell.


The rest of the afternoon was not spent doing anything useful, I watched football on my laptop, then uploaded photos from the day before heading back into Falmouth for dinner. I was surprised at how many places were open for dinner on a winter Sunday night, pleasantly surprised as it meant I had a choice. I chose a place close to the hotel, which just happened to make a really nice pizza…


I really liked Falmouth, and I am a bit surprised by that, I know I did not stray far from the main tourist sections of town, but it is the last weekend before Christmas and town was busy with local – and not so local shoppers, and it had pretty good vibe to it. As I said back on my first post about Falmouth I had not done much research and was really surprised to find the ship yards, and drunk students on Friday night. This gave me an impression of the town that was not warranted, and it was pleasing to have my opinion change.

PS. Not very happy with the relationship between Windows Live Writer 12 on my Windows 10 PC and WordPress. Formatting did not come across as I set it up in Writer and my photos look a bit crap. I didn’t have this issue on my old laptop. Tomorrow’s job is to find a new blog writing tool. I was warming to Writer after I was forced to switch from Blogdesk.

Pendennis Castle and Falmouth.

Saturday 19 December 2015 – Falmouth, Cornwall.

It was a really windy night, and it is now a really windy morning. The wind was howling around the hotel making things whistle and creak all night long. The weather is pretty lousy this morning too, rain is forecasted for most of the day and with 30mh winds blowing in off the sea I don’t think I will be doing too much coastal walking. But there is a castle, or two to visit – so not all bad !

After a very nice, and not too large Cornish breakfast I got myself organised and was out the door for 10:00, opening time for Pendennis Castle. My hotel is one street back from the beach and wow, the wind was so strong! It wasn’t raining when I left so I made the most of the time and took a couple of photos of the sea before power walking up to the distant castle.

The Lerryn Hotel, where I am staying, I have the near balcony room, but the view has been pretty much entirely grey since I have been here.




At the top of the hill I took a detour around the back of the castle to see if there was a view over the wall, which there wasn’t, but there were a couple of trees just begging to have their photo taken so I happily obliged. I love trees without leaves, most of the trees in and around Auckland are evergreen, so I am just not used to seeing so many naked trees. Such a clear marker of seasons changing.


As I discovered last night on my stroll in the dark, there is a decent, though empty moat, and high walls separating me from the castle.



Once across the moat and through the entrance I decided to do something I should have done about five castles ago – I joined English Heritage for a year, hopefully this will not mean I stop visiting English Heritage run castles now I have paid the fee. I am planning on doing two today, so a decent start.

Like St Mawes Castle, a sister castle on the far bank of the Fal River, Pendennis Castle is a Henrician castle built under Henry VIII between 1540 and 1545 to protect the river from a perceived threat by both the French and the Spanish. I was surprised to learn today that the harbour at the entrance to the River Fal is the third deepest harbour in the world, after Sydney and Rio. This made it very attractive as a naval base, though it was never really used as one at all. The castle is one of a string of castles built across the south coast after Henry decided to annoy the French and Spanish when he rejected the Catholic church.

The castle was expanded during Elizabethan times with the majority of the outer buildings and the high walls being added then. As an artillery fort the site was continued to be modified up to and just after the end of the Second World War as new artillery technology was developed. The fort was abandoned by the military in 1956. A story I heard while I was there was the that most damage done to the fort since a siege during the English Civil War was caused by the MOD in the 60s when they destroyed a temporary barracks building by blowing it up – and cracking the walls of other buildings in the process.

As it wasn’t raining once I was on site, I decided to follow my usual tactic of walking around the perimeter, looking at the views and checking out the outside of the tower.

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I headed down toward the WW2 observation post and had a look at the window.


I tried to find my way to the WW2 gun emplacements below, but my efforts seemed quite fruitless as all the paths were gated off – reading the map was going be a last resort obviously. I eventually came across a tunnel… I so love a tunnel.


This led the way under some earthen defences to the gun emplacements. There was a small group having a tour while I was there so I tagged along and listened in. Turns out the group were the only other visitors on this miserable day – and they were Kiwis too. The wind was really howling on the point, the whistling as the wind passed through the mast was incredible.


I walked around the grounds a little bit more, before finally entering the Henrician artillery tower as the rain arrived again. I liked the gargoyles, sadly I got rain on my lens, but I have decided to keep the photo anyway.

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The inside of the artillery keep was decked out like it was in the 1700’s, including a very loud soundtrack that kicks in when you walk in the door – a bit of a surprise.


The roof was locked off but I was told I could go up there if I re-barred the door once I was back inside, I could see why once i was on the narrow steep, circular stairs to the roof, they were quite wet and slippery. I met one of the Kiwis on the stairs and we took it in turns to go out on the roof and have a quick look around, while the other held the door closed in the ferocious wind.

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Down from the roof I headed over to the more recent barracks block – only a hundred or so years old and had a coffee and piece of cake for a late morning tea, and that was pretty much my last act in the grounds and I left the castle soon after.


I decided to replicate the walk I did round the moat last night.


And then headed down to the sea front to visit Little Dennis, a small coastal blockhouse. The wind was so strong here, I was struggling to stand still to take photos. It is right on the tip of the point with wonderful views across a blustery sea to St Mawes.

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This ice cream seller was very keen, surprisingly I saw a couple with ice creams as I walked up from Little Dennis, so I suppose his efforts paid off. Good on him, it was not nice out there, but at least it was not cold…


I took the coast path around the point rather than walk on the roads like last night.


There were a couple of guys living in tents on the edge of the forest, they must be facing very tough times to choose to be in a tent with wind like this. The coast path was pretty greasy, but so much nicer than walking on the road.

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Soon enough I was back in civilisation, I walked past the ship yards that caught me so much by surprise last night, it was raining pretty hard by now and this was the last photo I took before hiding my camera away in my back pack – and putting a rain cover on the pack as well.


It was a short, but wet and not particularly lovely walk into the waterfront area of Falmouth. Money has been spent in the area nearest the port, with new restaurants and bars including a Pizza Express which I am pondering for tonight, I do love pizza and there is something special about the anonymousness of a chain restaurant when you are a solo eater. There is a Rick Stein’s fish restaurant but it looks too stale for my tastes, though I am sure it is lovely, pricey too I bet. By the time I had passed round the back of the new buildings the rain had passed and I could ditch the rain cover and get my camera out again. I sort of liked the waterfront, it is big yachting harbour, so slightly reminiscent of Auckland and other yachty places.

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Falmouth has allowed itself to be taken over by tourism, as I was walking down the hill from the castle I passed a new waterside development of ‘exclusive’ apartments and a lot of the old buildings in town have become shops or tacky bars and eating places. Who ever thought that the old harbour master building would make a good Mexican cafe and hairdresser was badly misinformed/taking a kick back or something. I understand that towns need to keep relevant and make money, but sometimes selling your soul is not worth the price.


Having said that, so far I kind of like Falmouth, but it has not made the most of its waterfront, unless you count car parking as a value add. All the small wharf areas are full of cars, I have tried to miss them when as I have taken photos, but they are there.

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I was planning on taking a ferry over to St Mawes to visit the sister castle to Pendennis, but due to the really strong wind the ferry was cancelled for the day.


Time for a new plan, it was only afternoon and I had pretty much seen all of Falmouth’s waterfront area. I headed up to the art gallery for a quick peak. Nice building, some interesting local art as well.


That was pretty much my day, it was definitely my day photographically. I went back to the hotel and uploaded and edited photos, watched some football and had a rest before heading out for an early meal. Back in time for the final two episodes of The Bridge season 3.

A nice time so far in Falmouth.

This new laptop I am using is Windows 10 based. So far I am really liking it, a far better experience than I expected –  except the version of Windows Live Writer I have been using to write and manage blogs screws with images uploaded to WordPress. Boo Hiss !!! I hate writing blogs in Wordress, time to find a new writing tool. So far I have loved and lost Blogpress and now Live Writer, hopefully the next tool find is as good and lasts longer….

Roche Rock Chapel

Friday 18 December 2015 – Roche, Cornwall.

I cannot believe that another working year has passed. My first full working year in the UK, and it has been a difficult working year. When I left my IT Management job in New Zealand, just over four years ago, I vowed I would not do stressful work again, and there I was back in it in my first UK job. At least now the main piece of the project is well out the way the second half of the year has not been anywhere near as stressful and tiring as the first half, but I am still doing IT. I guess I just like the money too much!!

To end the year on a positive note I have decided to do one last road trip, no walking this time, well not much walking anyway. I have hired a car, loaded it up with the DLSR and tripod and clothing appropriate for another rainy weekend in Cornwall and headed off to Falmouth for three nights. El is working until Wednesday so I thought I should make the most of those days and head out into the wild.

I chose Falmouth mainly because it has a castle, plus I have not been there before, and of course it is on the South West Coast Path and that is always an attraction. Having a rental car meant I could take my time heading down and stop off on the way.

It was a slow start, it took ages to get out of London, the traffic was actually pretty good, but I am impatient, I do not drive often and when I do I want to be nailing it down a highway out into the country, not crawling along the north circular. I have a diesel Audi A1, it is pretty basic, but it is so much better than the Peugeot 3008 we had in St Ives. Functional and easy to drive. Once I worked out to how get my phone connected via Bluetooth and my sounds going it was sweet as and the miles just flew by – mainly because of the clear motorway and my heavy hoof… One thing Britain has over NZ is a decent speed limit – and less fear of getting nicked for speeding.

A few weeks ago I bought a book called ‘Wild Ruins’ that listed a whole bunch of small and unusual ruin sites in the UK, one of those sites was Roche Rock and it is located just off the A30 about 40 minutes from Falmouth. It was on the way, looked really intriguing in the book so I decided to pay it a visit on the way down. I am so glad I did!

I found the village of Roche OK, but took a wrong turn before finding the site and ended up passing by the back of it, wow! The instructions in the book must have deliberately made you walk around the long way so you get a more mysterious introduction. Nice one !

As I was looking for a spot do a u-turn I found this old kiln site, so stopped for a quick photo. I actually thought it was an old tin mine/foundry site, but reading about it in the hotel later on I discovered it is in fact a 1950s brick kiln. It still looks cool though, and was a good spot to do a u-turn.



I headed back up the road to Roche, looking for a place to park so I could walk to the ‘Rock’, in the end I parked where the book suggested – which was pretty much the only spot. Wisely I changed shoes into a new pair of trail running shoes I recently bought. The walk in was muddy, slippery and in some places a bit dodgy as the layer of foliage hides the holes in and between the rocks. A bit of grip was a good idea.


The ‘rock’ is a small pinnacle of granite that pops magically out of the countryside, it has been a spiritual site for centuries. The town name of Roche, is French for Rock. Site preparation for a recently built housing complex found pottery and other artefacts from the Neolithic period, so this is a really old place.

The main reason for coming here, is not to see the rock, and but to see the chapel, and it is mostly hidden from view from the path I took until you get to the far side of the rock and get the first hint.


The chapel was constructed in the 15th century, there was not a clear reason why, possibly by a hermit who did live there for a long period of time. The chapel is dedicated to St Michael, and perhaps was used as beacon or resting place for pilgrims on the way to St Michael’s Mount near Penzance. No one really knows. One of things I like about it.

It slowly reveals itself as you walk around to front and see it in all its majesty. Yes, it is not the Tower of London, or Salisbury Cathedral, but it is a magnificent ruin. How it was built up there, precariously balanced on that rock is as much as a mystery to me as to the why. That so much of it remains 600 years later in this harsh landscape is quite remarkable.


There is a ladder up to the ruins, but it was very very windy and I did not have a bag for my camera, and I had the big DSLR with me, I wasn’t going to risk it (or me, if the truth be known) by climbing up that ladder in a high wind. So the mystery of what lies up there will remain for me.


As I headed back to the car, a murder of crows arrived, adding to the bleakness of the ruin, the rock and the boggy moorland surrounding it. I was even more glad I did not venture up that ladder!


I walked back around the far side of the site to the one I had come from and took a couple of last shots before heading back to the car. I wish the weather had been worse or better. Big clouds or bright sun would have been good. Flat grey sky was photographically dull !!


I drove onto Falmouth and arrived at the hotel late in the afternoon, just as the forecasted weekend rain arrived. \it is fairly quiet in town, and Falmouth is a log bigger than I thought, as there are not too many guests I have been upgraded from my single room, to a much bigger twin room with a view over the houses to the sea. it is a nice room. I hung out in my room for a bit and went out for a walk and tea in the very early evening – luckily as the rain had stopped.

I took a walk around the outside of Pendennis Castle, my plan for tomorrow. It was very dark, no street lighting at all and even though it is only 6:30 night has fully descended. There was quite a nice view of the castle from the road near my hotel – it is a lot further away than I thought, too far to take a photo hand held and far to windy to use a tripod.  I was hoping to get a clear shot up close, but the walls are too high. I am really glad I thought to toss my head torch in my bag as the walk around the walls was very very dark, and a bit slippery too.  It was really nice up there, completely alone and all I could hear was the waves and the wind in the trees. I took a photo with my phone.


I walked around the headland, hoping to get into town and find somewhere to eat, walking off the tree lined headland I was really surprised to find a working ship yard – I have done no research into Falmouth – and a longer walk into town than I thought. I investigated the main street of Falmouth before finally settling on a small tapas place for a glass of red and some food. It was quiet and enjoyable, apart from the bloody Christmas music.

I was back in the hotel by 9:00, nothing on the telly so listened to music and typed this. Going to get ahead of the photo editing and blogging this time !

UK Subs with The Ramonas @ Islington Academy.

Friday 11 December 2015 – London.

A few weeks ago my mate Steve bought us both tickets to go and see the UK Subs at the 02 Academy in Islington. I haven’t been to a punk gig in ages, the last band I saw that was even remotely punk was The Big Ups back in February last year, so I was quite looking forward to this one. I do not listen to much punk rock these days, my tastes have mellowed marginally, but I was a fan of the Subs a long time ago. I have never seen them – even though they have been around for nearly 40 years, and have released 25 albums. They are recording a 26th and final album at the moment. The first LP was called ‘Another kind of blues’ and the last will be called ‘Ziezo’. A smart person would be able to work out what the first letters of each of the 24 albums in between are.

This is likely to be the last gig I will go to this year, and it has been a busy gig-going end of the year as well. I don’t think I have been to this many shows in a row for years. Hopefully I will continue this in the new year, as it can be a lot of fun.

I was a little late meeting Steve at the pub and after a hurried beer we headed off to the venue, which is in the shopping mall near Angel Station.

I was not particularly excited to be shouted at by a security guard when I got too close to the area where customers were being ‘wanded’ with a metal detector. In fact I was not too happy bout being wanded either. The world is a pretty shitty place when you get searched and checked going into a punk rock show.

This was a really early gig, the support act The Ramonas were on soon after we walked in the door at 7:30, there was a reasonable sized crowd here to see the all female Ramones tribute act.

With all the classic Ramones moves and stances down pat and playing as fast and as hard as the originals they are a great act, and after a bit of warming up the front of the crowd were singing along to some of those great old Ramones songs.  I loved those first four albums, and seeing the Ramones in Auckland back in 1980 was a gig highlight!





Sadly I had moved further back into the crowd when the pinhead came on stage with a Gabba Gabba Hey banner for Pinhead, probably my, and seemingly most of the others here favourite Ramones track.

I moved back up to a spot on the crowd control fence just before the Subs came on, so I could grab a couple of pictures of them as well.

There was not a huge break between the bands and the Subs were on mega early (the whole gig was over before 10:00, my sort of timing!) The original singer Charlie Harper and bass player Alvin Gibbs are in the band tonight, I think this line up has been steady for a while, but there has been many rotations through the years. Charlie always being a constant, and he is now 71 years old. The Stones look lightweights compared to the touring and recording schedule the Subs maintain. Charlie was on great form too.




The set was a mix of classic old material from the late 70s and early 80s, mixed in with more recent tracks that I did not recognise. The main thing was they played Emotional Blackmail nice and early, so I was pretty happy. After that I dropped back further into the crowd, moving forward a couple of times later on for a quick jump up and down for New York State Police, Stranglehold and Party in Paris.



There was a bit of a sing along for Warhead



Jet has been the guitarist since 2008



It was all over by 10:00, it was loud, it was sweaty and it was a heck of a lot of fun. I would definitely go and see them again. Thanks for a good night Steve, The Ramonas and The UK Subs.

For some weird reason WordPress wont let me centre the images, oh well !

St Ives!

Monday 07 December 2015 – St Ives, Cornwall.

In an unusual fit of organisation El and I booked this weekend away in St Ives quite a few weeks ago, hopefully all this pre-planning – and pre-paying for things will become habit forming. It gives us something to look forward to, as well as saves us quite a lot of money on train fares ! This will be our last weekend away before the end of the year, but we do have one last midweek night somewhere new booked in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. One last splurge before a new year of reduced spending, on food, drink, holidays and other things. Save for a trip to New Zealand.


After some slight confusion around which train carriage we were going to meet in, we settled down with coffee for the almost three and half hour ride to Exeter. We had tossed up whether it was easier and/or more cost effective to hire a car and drive or catch the train to St Ives. In the end we decided to combine them and get a train to Exeter to avoid the hell that is London traffic, and then drive from there. It was a good plan – on the way down…

The train trip was pretty good, it was more crowded than I expected, but I got a bunch of emails written and other things done on the way. I have bought a new laptop – I could not help myself on the Black Friday sales – the price I pay for not being at work ! Though to be fair, both my laptops are old and my main photo-editing laptop is starting to warn of pending battery failure. My new laptop is so much lighter than both the old ones, perfect for travelling !

Our hire car was waiting for us at station, and after a quick hand over we were on the way out of town, heading west towards St Ives – Wahoo!!!

St Ives is definitely at the top of the list of future places we would like to live in. I know moving to Cornwall is a bit of a cliché, and I am sure a lot of the Cornish are really unhappy with the flood of outsiders moving in and buying up property. St Ives is very high on that list as it is a beautiful spot, and for us it has the added bonus of being an art destination with a number of galleries and residencies, including a Tate Gallery – which has just closed for renovation… Not that we are artists by any stretch of the imagination, but artists attract a similar type of folk which in theory means a less conservative bunch to hang out with, and more importantly – it should be less UKIP than Folkestone is.

We arrived in St Ives late in the afternoon, just as the sun was setting, so decided to skip checking in to the hotel and go straight to the Barbara Hepworth Museum as the garden was closing in an hour and we wanted to see it today. Tomorrow the weather forecast was not good at all.

We had a GPS in the car, but I am not a fan, and it was a bit confusing, I am not sure how accurate this one was either. I ended up turning it off and finding a car park near the small centre of town, it is not a big place ! It was good to actually see some of the streets away from the centre of town as we are more likely to want to live off the main streets, lovely as they are in winter, in summer it would just be horrendously noisy I suspect.

St Ives is steep !! That sign shows a gradient of 25%.



And very quiet on a winter’s day, in summer this would look a whole lot different.


The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden.


Barbara Hepworth was an English artist well known for her sculpture work, she spent many years in St Ives and the house where she lived, worked and tragically died in a studio fire in 1975 is now a museum. El and I went to a Barbara Hepworth exhibition at the Tate Britain about six months ago and I had been intrigued to see some of her work in the museum garden as El had said it makes more sense in situ. Work that had been inspired by, and made, in St Ives and finally sited by the artist in her garden. The garden is a lovely spot and things do make more sense there than in a museum setting. It was also interesting see the studio much as it was when she passed away.





Though it was still only late afternoon it was dark by the time we left the museum so after a quick look around on the way back to the car we headed off to our hotel. We had a little bit of ‘fun’ when I took a turn up a street that was so narrow the car only just squeezed through, and then after realising it was not the way to the hotel overflow car park, I had to reverse back down, there was some cussing. I was not used to the car.

We had dinner in the hotel, it was rather average, but at least the fish was very fresh, and then it was an an early night as it was raining and very windy outside and the final of The Returned was on the telly!


As expected it was still raining and windy when we got up, the forecast was for on and off drizzle, and high winds all day – the forecast, for a change, was correct… After a pretty reasonable breakfast in the hotel and a bit of lingering for a break in weather we headed out the door for the morning, suitably attired in many layers topped off my waterproof jackets. It was that kind of day.

We had a loose plan to head down to Portminster Beach, which was sort of below the hotel, then walk along the beach into St Ives itself, round the headland to Porthmeor Beach then slowly back through the streets of the town to the hotel. We had lunch booked at the Porthminster Beach Cafe, and as it was open when we got to the beach we decided to grab a take away coffee – I needed a proper coffee to start a holiday day ! The cafe location was fabulous, we stayed for coffee just to stare out the window, and as we left I asked if we could get a window seat for lunch – and we did. I am glad I asked as it was quite busy for lunch.



After coffee we wandered out the door and back into the drizzle. It was really hard taking photos today, I had again just taking my pocket sized G16 camera, and I was constantly wiping the lens. Unlike the trip to Poole and Bournemouth a few weeks ago we were not walking along with the wind blowing the rain in to our backs, it was swirling and gusty and all over the show. I had loads of shots ruined by water splashes on the lens, but this is the only one I have left of Porthminster Beach and its lovely cafe.


We walked along the harbour side, it really is a lovely place, there were more people around than I expected, and more than are in my photos. I was quite surprised at how many shops were open and how many people were there. A good sign that this is not just a summer town, but an all year tourist destination. Important.





We walked out along the Smeatons pier – stupidly, as it was really cold and wet and there was nothing much to see, apart from a fat and lazy gull that did not move when I stuck my camera in its face.


At the end of the pier there was a small lighthouse, worthy of a photo, and under better circumstances a better photo.


I briefly watched a small finishing boat head out of the harbour, it must be a hard life being a Cornish fisherman, depleted stocks and cheap foreign fish make each catch tough work – though it was not particularly stormy I would not want to be out there today. But I did appreciate their efforts last night.


Into the howling wind we walked around the point to Porthgwidden Beach and its very cool beach huts.



And then onto the headland known as The Island. The South West Coast Path goes around the perimeter of the island, though today we were not willing to even walk that short section. It was a bit rough out there.


The top of the Island is home to St Nicholas’s Chapel. Not much is known about the history of the chapel, accept that it was attracting funds for maintenance as far back as the mid 1500’s. It was rebuilt after years of neglect in 1971.



It was really gusty on the top of the point overlooking the popular surfing spot Porthmeor Beach, I was surprised to see so many surfers out, though to my inexperienced eyes the swell looked reasonable and with a bit of an offshore breeze it was probably ideal, though cold, conditions.



We did not linger on the beach. With lunch beckoning we did not stop for tea and with the Tate closed we just followed the arrow into town.


We really liked the small town, there are some interesting shops, most of which were open on this miserable late autumn day, a lot of galleries and nothing really that caught the eye as being the normal tourist tat you get in beachside towns. St Ives has done well to keep it a bit more boutiquey !




After a brief respite, and change of clothes in the hotel we headed back down to the Porthmister Beach Cafe and our promised window seat for a wonderful lunch. I am not normally one to name businesses we visit, but the food, English wine and service was all excellent. This is not a cheap place and it is very popular. I am really glad we popped in for coffee and asked to get a window table, as we just sat staring out to sea over an after dinner whisky, not really wanting to leave.

What did make us leave was a seal! Not something we expected to see out the window, it did not really come close but it was swimming up and down the beach and attracted the attention of a bunch of walkers, and eventually us. So we settled our account and headed out side to have a closer look. Though it was just out of useful photograph range. I did spot a rare SWCP sign though, they are as rare as seals in towns.



Maybe it was the lunch time whisky, but I thought St Ives looked remarkably like Auckland’s Rangitoto Island!


We took the long way back to the hotel and after a relax in front of a bit of telly, a catch up on the Bridge and Dr Who, we wrapped up again and headed out for a late afternoon walk to see what St Ives looked like on a rainy Saturday night. Quite nice in fact.






We checked out a couple of pubs – fact finding of course, and finally settled in one for a glass of wine and a small shared nachos for tea – not that we really needed either! And that was the end of a long day in St Ives. Even though the weather was not at all on our side we really enjoyed the place, the feel and the look, and it would definitely be somewhere we could see ourselves moving to one day.


Naturally as we were pretty much spending the whole day travelling Monday dawned with a bit of sun, and turned into quite a nice day.


We reluctantly left the hotel, which we also enjoyed, we had one of the front rooms with a balcony that over looked the road and a neighbouring hotel before a lovely expanse of sea, sand and the far side of Carbis Bay.


I won’t go into the journey home Needless to say it was horrible, with bad traffic, poor GPS, delayed trains and packed tubes. London – why !!!!