Wednesday, 7 September 2011

An unexpected gift

About 3 weeks ago I applied to take part in a cetacean research project up in Scotland. I applied for one of five grants of £1,000 towards the costs of taking part in the project from a company that owns the magazine New Scientist, and New Scientist advertised the grants. If I had been successful, I would have gone up to a little village near Aberdeen for a week in mid-September to take part in an ongoing research and rescue project on the whales and dolphins that live in the area. If I had been successful I would’ve heard at the end of August, but I heard nothing so (although I was disappointed) I forgot about it. Until now...

Something dropped through the letterbox on Monday morning, so I wandered downstairs to see what it was. I had been expecting something from my mum, but this was a thick jiffy bag with a book inside. I hadn’t ordered a book, so had a slight panic that I’d accidentally spent yet more money buying something I didn’t need (and I definitely didn’t need it if I’d forgotten all about it...). But I got a really nice surprise when I opened the envelope and pulled out a little note on New Scientist headed paper along with the book. So the disappointment of not getting a place on the project was made up by getting a nice new book and knowing that I was good enough to be shortlisted, and it was very kind of New Scientist to send me something even though I wasn’t successful.

Day = made.

Izzy and Steve's weekend away

Instead of buying Steve a present for his birthday back in May, I promised I would pay for a nice weekend away somewhere for us both. We decided to go on Saturday 27th and Sunday 29th August, which was probably a bit silly as the bank holiday weekend probably made everything more expensive, but it was my first weekend of freedom after exams and I desperately needed to get away and unwind, so we just decided to go for it.

I let Steve plan the whole thing, so I had no idea where we were going until we got there. All I knew is that we were getting a bus, then another bus, then another bus, then a boat, then walking about 8 miles. So that could mean we were going absolutely anywhere...

We made an early 7.45am start on Saturday morning, stopping off at Tesco for some breakfast then walking round to the Moor to get on our first bus of the day, which I found out at that point was taking us to Truro.

About 45 minutes later we arrived in Truro and hopped on our next bus to St Austell.
When we got to St Austell about 45 minutes later, we had a 40ish minute wait for our next bus, so we wandered down into the town and had a look around. As I somehow always manage to do, I spied some craft shops that I’ll have to go back and visit sometime soon haha. Our next bus was only a short 10 minutes or so, and it was to take us round to Mevagissey. The views along the road out across St Austell Bay were really pretty, but by the time I managed to get the camera out and turn it on we’d gone past the clear views so all I managed to get was a photo of some bushes haha.

We had time for a quick wander through Mevagissey before walking down to the harbour to get the boat, which was going to take us round to Fowey (which I’ve now learned is pronounced “Foy”, not “Fow-ey” as I’ve always pronounced it, and how the spelling of it makes it look like it should be pronounced!).

The boat ride was lovely and smooth (which I was really glad of as I end up feeling really queasy on bumpy boats), and we got some lovely views on our 40 minute journey.
When we arrived in Fowey we had a quick look round then stopped for tasty crab sandwiches in a cute little café. After another little wander round while we digested our lunch, we headed out of town and along the coast path to start the walking section of our journey.
Although the sun we’d had earlier in the day disappeared it still stayed pretty warm, and it was actually quite busy along the coast path. The first half of the walk was a lot of up and down hills, so being as unfit as I am I got worn out pretty quickly, but once we got to Par the rest of the walk was pretty much flat and went pretty quickly.
At one point “nature called” so I went round a corner into what I thought was a deserted field, as you do, and it was just my luck that as I was half way through an old man walked slowly over the hill towards me. It was clearly obvious what I was doing, but I couldn’t exactly stand up and try to pretend that I was doing something else. Major cringe. What then made matters worse was the fact that the man then decided to stop and talk to Steve, so I had to just stand around in the field waiting until he’d gone. I didn’t feel so bad when the man eventually left and Steve told me that the man had only started talking to him because he’d accidentally said “Hello sexy” to the man thinking it was me coming out of the field :p

At about 5.30pm we arrived at our hotel in Carlyon Bay. It was really posh, and there we were with messy hair, sweaty from the walk and slightly muddy. We looked just a tad out of place, the people at reception looked as if they’d never had walkers turn up at their hotel before haha. We checked in, and when we made our reservation for dinner the receptionist said she’d make sure we got a seat by the window. Talk about service! Haha.
Our room was amazing. Lovely big bed, massive TV on the wall, comfy sofa, big fancy bathroom, and our own balcony with chairs and sun loungers. We realised later on that we must’ve been given the wedding suite (which would explain the seat by the window at dinner), and our suspicions were added to by the fact that all the hotel staff who served us seemed to know which room we were in even if we’d never seen them before haha. We reckon they thought that either we’d just got engaged or Steve was going to propose to me :p.
After having showers and getting changed into non-walking clothes we headed down for dinner. I forgot to take photos of my food, but I had a trio of smoked fish (which I think were haddock, trout and salmon) to start, chicken with spring onion mash, root vegetable pureé and green beans with butter and pepper for my main, and lemon tart for dessert. I was so full afterwards, but it was all so delicious and really well presented.
In the morning I had a tasty full English, then we set out to make our way home via a stop in Charlestown. Charlestown is quite small, but it was packed with people. We round the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, which had lots of interesting information and artefacts from shipwrecks, then a random section about natural gas in the middle which was slightly odd. We had fun being kinds and playing on the remote control boats though haha.
Afterwards we went on board the tall ship docked in the harbour which has been used as a set for lots of films and TV programs including Mansfield Park, the new Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who and loads more.
There was a slightly random comedy sketch going on next to the ship with a bunch of people dressed up as pirates acting out an execution. I don’t know if there was really a point to it, but if there was neither of us got it, and the acting was quite bad and the costumes were a bit rubbish.

After a bite of lunch we got on a bus back to St Austell (which was only a couple of miles up the road, all of our travelling the day before had taken us in a big circle!), then got a train back to Falmouth.

I had such a lovely weekend, and it was a nice reward after the stress of exams. I think I could easily get used to staying in posh hotels, but sadly my budget won’t allow it :P