11 October 2012

over the moors to morvah

this morning i set off from penzance to visit the yew tree gallery at morvah on my bike. i stocked up with supplies from archie browns and had a fascinating conversation with a retired farmer who was having a cup of tea in the cafe. he told me all about the ochres he'd discovered whilst ploughing his fields, an ochre pit he'd unearthed at godolphin (one to go and search for) and the process used to protect sails with ochre. he was very knowledgeable about all things ochre and it would have been great to have chatted for longer but the moors were calling.

after some cunning short cuts through housing estates and alleys recommended by locals, ("how could i not stop to give a girl in the rain directions"- but it was obvious he really didn't want to!) i found myself on the road to madron. it was a bit of an uphill climb but i gradually left any traces of humanity behind me and headed into the strong wind and heavy mizzle of the moors. i suspected that behind the blanket of mist there were probably stunning panoramic views but i didn't see them. i concentrated on making myself visible to any passing cars, although there were very few. i knew i wasn't far from either coast but i had the feeling of being somewhere very remote.

after a long steady incline i came to flat stretches but cycling straight into the wind made it feel as if i was still going uphill and then finally a downhill slope but that felt as if i was on the flat. the bushes told of the strong prevailing wind- their wirey branches set uniformly at a near horizontal angle. visibility became a little better as i neared morvah but as i squinted into the rain i was still unable tell if the blank nothingness i was staring at was sky or sea.

it was a relief to be shielded from the wind as i had a look around the schoolhouse gallery. a few years ago i'd bought a friend a chough spotting book- a little handmade notebook where you can record all your chough sightings and i was hoping they'd have some more. but they'd sold out so i'm now looking for a chough spotting book as well as actually seeing some choughs! there was a knitting exhibition upstairs and some pretty spotted feathers.

and then on to the lovely yew tree gallery. it's one of my favourite galleries and has been created from converted barns and has a lovely potager garden. i was met by the owner gilly who supplied me with fresh coffee and homemade scones in her beautiful kitchen. i was very impressed with her multi- tasking- chatting to me whilst cooking her friend lunch whilst waiting on her b and b guests whilst rushing backwards and forwards to the gallery to greet visitors! i ate my scone whilst chatting to her interesting artist friend who was immersed in painting live lobsters in his van outside. the same lobsters were to be on the menu later that evening!

by the time i left the mist had dissolved and there was a completely different landscape. with the wind behind me i made swift progress and passed all sorts of interesting looking places, standing stones and cairns. earlier i'd noticed on the os map that 'break my neck farm' wasn't far off my route but instead i went to have a look at lanyon quoit where i chatted to some german tourists. they asked me if i was a tourist too. i said i was a tourist from falmouth which wasn't very far away. they were travelling around in their camper van and had a guide book in german with the history of the ancient stones. the man was telling me about a site they'd just been to nearby:- "there is one other 2km this way" (pointing back the way i'd just come) "it is circle. you go in it and it give you many many babies!"

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