Sunday, May 17, 2009
I'm glad I don't have to drive a car here! For one thing, the British drive on the OTHER side of the road -- and their cars have the steering wheels on the other side of the car. Miss Elaine tried to drive in England once, but she kept driving up the curb! Fortunately, Miss Zoe is a very good driver. Even though she had a driver's license in Oklahoma, she had to take driving lessons here.
Some of the roads are very narrow -- like this one. You have to take turns going -- and if you're coming through and you meet someone, one of you has to back up! This road is in Mousehole. They pronounce it Mou (like ouch) zul. It's about five miles from Penzance and also on the coast. Here's a picture of the harbor -- or, harbour, as they spell it here.
Another day we went to a cider farm and mill near Gweek. The names sound funny to us but they probably mean something in Cornish -- the language people used to speak here. I know a few words. Pol is pool, tre is town and pen is head. Penzance actually means Holy Head. Lots of people have names that start with those words -- there's a rhyme that says "Tre, Pol and Pen, by these you know true Cornish men." Here are some of my other favorite town names -- Water Ma Trout and Praze-an-Beeble.
Anyway, back to the cider farm. We took a tractor ride through the apple orchards -- they were in bloom and very pretty. They have about 3000 trees -- a lot of different kinds of apples, too. They make apple juice and cider (I wonder what the difference is) and fermented beverages and jams, jellies, chutneys and mustards.
This is me in a barrel of apple juice bottles. Miss Elaine didn't let me drink any. I think she was afraid I would spill it on my shirt.
Here's one thing I've noticed. English people love animals -- particularly dogs. We see lots of dogs everywhere we go -- but they're all very polite and people keep them on their leashes so they don't run loose and scare children and small bears.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Thursday was rather quiet. We walked to town -- about a mile -- and up this street, Causeway Head, to the farmers' market. It was windy and pretty chilly -- not many stalls set up, not nearly as many as the Edmond Farmers' Market. Still, it's early in the growing season so there's not much for sale yet.
That afternoon we walked in the other direction -- to Newlyn. About a hundred years ago, Newlyn was a famous arts and crafts center -- lots of painters and potters and copperworkers. The arts kind of died out here for a while. Michael Johnson is an artist who works in copper and bronze. He let us see his workshop. He likes to do sculpture but he does all sorts of things -- even made the belt buckles and other metal things for the movies "Pirates of the Caribbean" both Two and Three. The big piece behind me in the picture is called a monstrance. Do you see that he's made some of the rays out of pieces of silverware? He says that art makes us see things in new ways. He must be right. I would never have thought that my fork was for anything but eating!
Yesterday was a big day. We went to the National Seal Sanctuary. Did you know there are 33 kinds of seals? There are six kinds at the Seal Sanctuary -- grey seals (the only kind that live in the ocean off of Cornwall), common or harbour seals, Patagonian sea lions, California sea lions and South African fur seals. They also have the only Arctic hooded seal in the United Kingdom. I don't remember how he happened to come here. The Seal Sanctuary works to rehabilitate injured or sick animals and then release then back into the ocean. They tried to release Sahara, the hooded seal. They drove him north to Scotland and turned him loose hoping he would find his way to the Arctic. Nope, he got turned around and wound up on the coast of Spain so they went and got him. He was very thin and not very well. So now he lives at the Seal Sanctuary where he is safe.
I can't tell seals and sea lions apart. They both belong to the pinniped family, along with walruses. Seals have little ear holes and sea lions have little ear flaps. Do you think this is a seal or a sea lion? Miss Zoe says it is a seal and she's right about most things.
One of the seal trainers took me in to meet Flipper, a grey seal. I had a good time at the Seal Sanctuary. I wish you had been there with me.
Miss Elaine took this picture out the car window on the way home. Look at the roof -- it's made of thatch. In the old days, lots of houses had thatched roofs -- now only a few are left. Thatch is made from bunches of water reeds or wheat straw. Did you know that last names often reflected occupations -- so, hundreds of years ago, if a man worked on roofs, he might be known as John the Thatcher, or John Thatcher. Can you think of some other names that might have referred to work?
I love England and I'm even learning to speak English! In America we speak English, too, but sometimes we use different words for the same thing. It can be quite confusing. Here are some words the English people use and the words we use:
chips: in England these are like French fries
crisps: we call them potato chips
biscuits: we call them cookies
lorry = truck
car park = parking lot
lift = elevator
pavement = sidewalk
pram = baby buggy
nappy = diaper
Did you notice the sign by the thatched house? In America, it would say "Yield."
Friday, May 8, 2009
English people love gardens -- and lots of things like to grow here. There's enough rain (not too much, like you've been having) and sun (not too hot, like it gets in Oklahoma) and good soil. Yesterday we visited a place called the Lost Gardens of Heligan. They were started several hundred years ago -- the same family has owned the property for 400 years. In the old days, there were lots of servants and gardeners to take care of everything. But then, in the 20th century, lots of the men went off to war and the gardens grew over. Now they're being restored and they are really interesting. There are miles of trails wandering through plantings and meadows. We started on the woodland walk - a path through trees and wildflowers and some funny things like this giant head.
Then we cut across a big field to an area called the Jungle. We had to walk down a steep path. It's sort of in the bottom of a canyon. Flowering bushes bigger than trees towered over my head. The flowers were red and magenta and hot pink and white and lavender. These were rhododendrons. They don't like to live in Oklahoma. Mr. Jack has a couple of bushes but they are little and don't grow much. You'll see a picture of a medium-sized rhodie later.
There were several ponds with tiny fish down in the ravine. They were lined with giant tree ferns, palm trees and tall trees. One of the plants had huge leaves. Miss Elaine and Miss Zoe (her daughter) tried to figure out how to put me on one of the leaves. I was scared because I was afraid I would slide off and fall down and they wouldn't be able to reach me. Miss Zoe tied an elastic cord around my leg and tossed me onto a leaf. It wasn't so bad but I was glad when they pulled me up again. Miss Zoe made a joke about letting me bungee jump off the bridge. I didn't think that was very funny. I felt much better when I was wrapped around Miss Elaine. She has a little purse on a belt that she straps around her waist. Then she tucks me in and I can see everything really well. People seem to think it's funny to see a grown-up with a bear and we meet lots of nice people when they ask about me. I always tell them about you!
In addition to gardens, there were cattle and geese and chickens on the estate. Miss Zoe petted some of the cattle but I didn't.
This is my new friend, Miss Mary. She was working in one of the gardens. That's a rhododendron behind her. She asked about me.
Miss Elaine let her hold me. She was very nice. English people like bears. Can you think of some English bears you know about? I'll give you some hints. 1. He lives in the Hundred-Acre Woods, 2. His best friend is Christopher Robin, 3. His other friends are Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet. I bet you've guessed already! And there's another famous bear who's named after a railroad station in London -- we took the train from that station, but I didn't see a bear. He wears a kind of raincoat and a floppy hat. Did you get the answers right -- Winnie the Pooh and Paddington?
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Do you have any idea what it's like to spend 22 hours in a dark bag? Well, I do! But now I'm in England and I'm having a great time. I've had a really busy day. It started with a walk to town. Lots of people walk or ride bikes here. They have cars but gas is really expensive -- about $4 a gallon -- and walking's healthy for you. And you get to see the scenery better. We stopped in front of this beautiful golden rain tree. And Miss Elaine liked the blue front door.
We did some shopping -- and lots of window shopping. They have a lot of things here that we have at home -- like Hannah Montana stuff -- but they have a few things we don't usually see.
Like pasties (I wrote you a postcard about pasties but you won't get it for several days.)
Many years ago, most of the men in this area worked in the tin mines. They had to take their lunches with them because they spent all day underground. Their wives would take pie dough and make pies like these. Sometimes they would put meat and vegetables in one side and fruit for dessert in the other. The circle of dough would be folded over the fillings. The outside circular edge was sealed to keep the filling in and the edge was made thick so the men could hold onto it and it wouldn't break. Their hands were dirty from mining so they would eat the filled part of the pie and throw the thick edge away. The mines are all closed now but people around here still eat pasties.
I'm in Penzance in Cornwall, almost as far south and west as you can get in England. Penzance is technically on the English Channel, the arm of the Atlantic Ocean that runs between England and France. There are still a lot of fishermen around here and fresh fish is easy to buy. I went into a fish market -- that's all they sell -- to check out the fish.
We saw some policepeople and Miss Elaine asked them if she could take their picture with me. They were very nice. The police lady got out her handcuffs and put them on one of my arms. She was just kidding!
Later we saw some firefighters. They were doing some training but they stopped to let Miss Elaine take their picture with me. We did it quickly so they could get back to work. People here are really nice.
Tonight after dinner we walked down to the beach -- it's right across the street from where Miss Elaine is staying. We saw some men lawn bowling and then we saw some swans. This is a beautiful place!
Friday, May 1, 2009
Miss Elaine and I went to Knoxville, Tennessee, last week and we had a great time. We took a cruise down the Tennessee River and I got to help drive the boat.
Tennessee makes a big deal about black bears and there are statues everywhere. I posed when I could.
My favorite thing was going to the zoo. The Knoxville Zoo is famous for its red panda program. Red pandas and giant pandas aren't very closely related. Red pandas were discovered first then when giant pandas were discovered, someone must have thought they look alike. Hmmmm, frankly, I don't see it.
I also got to get close to the giraffes. They were very nice. Fortunately, they like to eat bamboo, not small bears!Miss Elaine and I are going to be on the road again soon. I will try to send you some cards -- but it takes so long for mail to get here from England that I may be home before you get my cards! See you soon.