Updated: Apr 4
This summer, we decided to drive over to England from Ireland. We took the ferry from Dublin over to Holyhead, and drove to Hay-on-Wye, where we spent two nights. The idea was to see a bit of Wales, and get lots of books to read for the remaining two weeks of the trip. As it happens, one of the highlights of the whole trip was Hay, and our walk through the fields, along the river, into the town, from where we staying. What a beautiful place. We had to walk back then laden with books.
Then we headed for Devon, where we stayed another two days, with my lovely aunt, before heading south to Cornwall for a few days. For the first couple of days we explored the beautiful coastline near St Austell and Truro, and then drove down to Saint Ives, and Saint Michael's Mount.
Saint Ives was pretty but packed with people. Coaches of tourists lined up in the car parks above the harbour. My husband and kids loved it, me less so, not because it wasn't charming - in fact, it reminded me a little of Saint Martin on the Ile de Re, but without the beautiful ice-cream places - but it was just so crowded. The seagulls stopped us from having any lunch, as we tried to eat a pick nick on the beach. It was impossible. We had our pick nick instead later that afternoon at Zennor, in a grassy patch near the church. The sun was hot and the only creatures we saw were rabbits, surprised to see people in their home patch.
Saint Michael's Mount was gorgeous. This was my first time there. In fact it was my first time on any Michael Mount.
We stayed there for the afternoon. You couldn't imagine a nicer terrace to drink tea on than the café on the mount, which overlooks the bay and the coastline.
In the little audio visual room, there is a series of pictures on the wall, each one has a photo of someone who lives on or works on the island, and a few words about them. The lady of the house says that her favourite thing is to look out over to the sea at night and watch the trail of moonlight catching the water - or something to that effect.
That must be lovely. It also reminded me what the Michael Mounts may actually be all about: the sun, the moon, the stars, all perfectly visible, measurable and trackable over a constant horizon. All perfectly beautiful too.
We stopped at Tintagel Castle, on the way back to Devon. The town was full of witches, ladies in groups wandering round, not reciprocating friendly glances, conspicuous by their intensely furrowed brows, as they soaked up the pervasive magic, standing around as if to say, this is our true home. Lesser mortals such as ourselves watched them from a bench, licking ice creams. We bought fish and chips and carried them over to a field to eat them, and we knew by now to eat as fast as we could before the seagulls got to us. We couldn't get down to the actual castle, which is on a small island, as there was a new bridge onto it under construction. It will be amazing when it is finished.
We stayed another two days in Devon, and on stayed our last night in the UK in Somerset, on an organic farm. That evening, we stopped by at Burrow Mump, or Burrow Bridge, which has a church of Saint Michael on its summit, and is precisely aligned with Saint Michael's Mount, Glastonbury and Avebury. It had a nice atmosphere, so we stayed for a good while.
We also stopped at Glastonbury, the following morning, but we were really rushing for the ferry and we had one hour only - half of which was spent meandering around the town's many weird and wonderful shops, the other half frantically running half way up the tor to get a glimpse of the top, take a quick photo, and run back down to the car park before our parking ticket ran out. We didn't visit the abbey, you had to pay in, and it wasn't worth it for the time we had.
Time was getting a little tight, and of course there was unexpected traffic on the way which slowed us down. I have never driven so fast a I did along the north welsh coast that evening. We made it to the ferry by the skin of our teeth, and arrived at our front door back in Dublin just after midnight.
Of the other two Michael Mounts, Skellig is the closest to home. That will be next - though when, I don't know. I enquired by email but they don't allow children under twelve on the island, and two of my children are under twelve. I don't want to go without them. We'll see!