January 8th, 2007

Fishy Circumstances

A Trip to the West Country, part 1

Every single person to whom we said, "We're going to Cornwall!", replied, "Are you going to see the Eden Project?" We were, but I was still surprised by the ubiquity of the question. Most of them followed up with a recommendation to see the Lost Gardens of Heligan, but our trip was brief enough that we didn't make time for it. Cornwall's gardens are now its primary identifier. It's always had a warmer climate than the rest of England. Its mining heritage still comprises a fair number of museums. The seashore is gorgeous, attract hikers and surfers. It has an excellent collection of standing stones and stone circles, and later ruins. There is much more to Cornwall than the Eden Project.

What would have been the default response before five years ago when those gardens first opened? What would I have been asked if I was going to see? Before this trip, I'd always primarily associated Cornwall with Arthuriana, and indeed, as a good medievalist, Tintagel was our other major stop on this brief trip. Strangely, I'd forgotten it was mining country. (I need to do more mining tourism! Much more!) The Gulf Stream enfolds the land there, but never having been any nearer to southwest England than Salisbury, up until my trip to Bath last month, I'd never seen any land near it for myself. Cornish pasties were all I knew about any local food identities.

I took a new approach to planning the trip. For Scotland, I used the AA Best Places to Stay for Food Lovers. We weren't best successful with the results, so this time I prioritized the restaurants: I chose our hotels based on their restaurants appearing in The Good Food Guide.

But first, to break up the driving, we stopped in the Cotwolds.