After returning from our U.K. trip in September, a friend of mine from my yoga class (retired English teacher) recommended I check out Daphne du Maurier based on my interest in Cornwall. She told me that both Rebecca and Jamaica Inn would be fascinating, especially now that I had a sense of the place.
Indeed I just read Jamaica Inn and I stayed up late as I finished the book. The author had built up such an ache of suspense that it was not possible to simply put the book away and go to bed at a sensible hour. Her writing is evocative and gives a visceral and haunting sense of the reality of Cornwall at the time.
Though I did not visit the particular locations she mentions, the reference to Plymouth reminded me of our trip. The descriptions of piracy gave me an entirely different picture of the place though, and particular sense of a darker time in history. Fascinating. I shall enjoy reading more of her work.
Considering that Halloween is this week, the Jamaica Inn was a suitably haunting read for the season. I realize I am 80 years late to the party, but I am grateful to have discovered her. As we move into this chillier season when we spend less time outdoors in Minnesota, I am always on the hunt for good fiction. If you have suggestions of classic work in this genre, I truly appreciate it.
On Sunday we took the Plymouth Ferry from the Barbican to Cremyll. I was excited to arrive in Cornwall. This is where my Grandfather (Jim) was born, and where my great Grandma Tizzie (Elizabeth) and great Grandpa (James) lived before they emigrated to the New World. Great Grandpa died when Jim was very young. He’d been a coal miner, according to his marriage certificate. It is probably not a mystery why they chose to leave England. Opportunities in the early teens of 1900’s were slim where they lived.
Tizzie raised her two boys mostly on her own. She was a proper English woman, though not of noble birth. She loved her tea and scones.
She was a practical woman, and I believe she was thinking of her health and wellness when she re-married in her 70’s to a man in his 50’s. It was a bit scandalous at the time, but given that she lived well into her 90’s, I believe she chose well.
I dearly love this coastline and the English countryside. So far, this has been my favorite part of the U.K. trip. While in London, it was fun to see the historical sties and to enjoy the city life. But I much prefer the more open spaces and the charm of the coastal towns of England.
There is plenty of history here, and Saturday evening my husband and I found the Mayflower steps, where the Pilgrims first set sail for the new world in 1620. I love thinking about what that might have been like, to get on a ship to a land which scarcely anyone (except the First Nation people, who already lived there) had seen.
I thought about the courage and blind faith of people who sought religious freedom and better opportunities for their families. I considered all of the things that could (and did) go wrong on board the ships. Disease, storms, failures of navigation, starvation aboard ships, and all manner of risks beset travelers in those days.
With odds like that, it is a wonder that so many made the journey. Tossing caution to the wind, early immigrants dreamed of a future that would hold more freedom their past.
It makes me distinctly proud of my heritage and the people who brought me here, particularly my grandparents. I consider the brave choices that they made that allowed for the privilege of my life as it is and I am profoundly grateful. It makes also me sad that today we seem to have a political climate that seeks to isolate rather than welcome immigrants today.
Since I am a mix of English, Swedish, Mexican, possibly Spanish and some German ancestry, of course my bias is that mixing cultures is a good thing. I realize not everyone feels this way. But I hang onto that vision of the “new world” that my ancestors held in their minds as they traveled.
Then I contemplate how we might extend this privilege to more people in a world that is more polarized than ever, yet globalized at the same time. I do not have the answer. I just wonder if it might be possible. What do you think?
Hubby and I are planning our September vacation/honeymoon trip to the U.K. and I would like to ask your advice if you either live or have traveled to England and Ireland.
From September 5-19 we will be traveling. We have already reserved AirBnB’s in London (St. James Park), Plymouth (with day trip to Cornwall planned), Wiltshire (close to Stonehenge), and Liverpool. We are hoping to fly from Liverpool to Dublin for 3-4 days there and then will return to London for a couple of days before the final flight home.
What is the train transportation like? Is it better to just buy the Rail Europe passes to use the trains? What about the Oyster card? That seems like a great deal for getting around London.
While in Ireland, we hope to visit Belfast and Londonderry (where my husband’s family originated). Any advice on things to do in Ireland for non-drinkers? Not that we never drink, but we are not especially into it, and I like historical things, but am not particularly interested in breweries.
Other transportation advice while we are in the area or suggestions for what to visit are welcome. My grandfather was from Cornwall, so we would like to see that Southwestern part of England and perhaps see Land’s End as well.
I know that a number of my readers are from the U.K. and surrounding areas. Hey, if it’s possible, let’s meet for tea while I am in your area! It would be fun.
Thank you in advance for any advice you are willing to give us. I realize some of this can be located on the googles, and I will be doing research that way as well. But sometimes people can give you the inside scoop and that is infinitely more helpful.