Les Deli Cumbri XX – Clotted Cream and Road Kill?
Last weekend RW and I went to Cornwall to visit the eldest child – Derwent and the butterfly expert Betsy. It's difficult picking nom-de-blog – with real names like Derwent & Betsy. How do you do anything with those names - D & B? They are soon to be parents and this was a pre visit to see their new house and get the feel of where they are living. D is very much a Cumbrian by breeding, naming and passion (though born in Joburg!) and B is from Cornwall and her parents live close by in Luckett. D & B live in Stoke Climsland. Stoke Climsland (what weird names they have in Cornwall!) is a very alternative community – lots of beards and sandals. To the south of the parish is Kit Hill, a significant landscape feature . As well as Stoke village and Luckett, the parish contains many hamlets of Beals Mill, part of Bray Shop, Downgate, Higherland, Luckett, Monks Cross and Venterdon. At one time there were seven mines employing over a thousand men, but these went into decline at the end of the 19th century, although the Luckett mines were reopened for a period of just over five years in 1947. There's a blog link with Cleator Moor at some point - but not today dear reader.
Cornwall and Cumbria have a lot in common. For a start they are as far that way as we are this way. It feels more remote than Cumbria and certainly the bits that we saw were very very rural. It's less hilly and the lanes and roads seem to run in verdant troughs. The hedges are very high – a bit like driving in a maze. I had no idea from the beginning to the end of the weekend where we were because there are no visible points of reference. In Cumbria we have Skiddaw, Grassmoor and Chapelcross cooling towers – well maybe not the cooling towers (see previous blog). In Cornwall you have hedges and …uh … er… well…. road kill. It seems you can navigate by whatever's dead on the road, though Betsy (mostly a vegetarian) will collect freshly dropped rabbit and deer and, as long as they are dead, quite happily butch, cook and eat - thus removing the aids to navigation.
The farm, next to the D & B boheme, is not allowed, under some EU ruling, to make or sell clotted cream. D, insisting that we have a cream tea, and with typical Cumbrian guile has found that for a pound the farmer's wife will rent D a dish and fill it free with clotted cream. The scones, jam and cream were wonderful, washed down with free cider in rented bottles from the farm on the other side.
On Saturday we found ourselves at a music festival on the banks of the Tamar under the arches at Calstock (now there's alternative). The Tamar is the border between Cornwall and Devon. Now I know that Cumbrians can be very partisan but there's no touching your average Cornishman. A boat sailed by - the MV Gloria (it's owner a Van Morrison fan). The captain announced over his PA system, to all 2 of his paying passengers, " Lady and Gentleman (I can only write in Cumbrian by the way – so won't attempt a Corrnish accent) … The Tamar is our border. On our left is Cornwall on our right England, Wales and further North – Scotland."
Home rule for Cornwall seems a lot more likely than for Cumbria.