A Famous Five Style Holiday (3)July 20, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Anne, Aunt Fanny, George | Leave a comment
Tags: cardoons, gooseberries, Landmark Trust, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Lympstone, Peters Tower, St Austell
Anne and I have just returned from a long weekend staying in Peters Tower, a clock tower built in 1885 and situated right on the shoreline of the Exe estuary in Lympstone, Devon. Our holiday was a bit of hybrid of Five on a Secret Trail (Anne and George hanging out together without Julian and Dick), Five Go Down to the Sea (Cornish coastal holiday, smugglers) and Five on Kirrin Island Again (a station meeting and journey by train, coastal walks and a mixture of sunshine and showers).
We caught the Night Riviera sleeper train from Paddington. This was very clean and comfortable, reasonably priced with free refreshments served in the first class lounge beforehand (fruit, bottles of water, biscuits etc). It’s really nice to be in a virtually deserted station at midnight (a far cry from rush hour) and to have lots of time to board the train and get settled in and excited about the journey ahead. We had an obligatory midnight feast of cakes and strawberries before turning in in anticipation of an early start. I should add that the cakes, made by the wonderful Violet (and flavoured with such lovely things as English strawberry, salted caramel, coconut and elderflower), are usually things of beauty but they had gotten a bit squashed after an afternoon travelling in my bicycle bag.
We woke up at 6.15 in time to get off in St Austell, Cornwall at 6.50. Here is the deserted station. We had more than two hours to wait until we could catch our bus to the Lost Gardens of Heligan where we planned to spend a couple of hours before catching another train back east to Lympstone. When faced with various situations such as these, we often asked ourselves ‘what would the Famous Five do?’ and concluded they would make for the nearest tea shop for some orangeade and buns. Sadly, nowhere was open and we even got ‘moved along’ when sitting outside a coffee shop waiting for it to open up. It seems that we were social pariahs, just like gypsy girl Jo. Eventually though, a pub/hotel let us in and gave us some hot coffee and bad music before we set off for Heligan.
Aunt Fanny would truly be in heaven in Heligan. Although it’s situated within a gorgeous landscape and has Italianate ponds, ravines and exotic plants, my favourite bit is the kitchen garden where all manner of delicious things are grown. I was excited to see things I had read about in Lucy Yates Country Housewife’s Book, for example, cardoons, as well as enticing and enigmatically-named different types of gooseberry (‘Lancashire Lad’, ‘Yellow Champagne’ and the intriguing ‘Careless’) and plums. Also beautifully laid out lines of beans, lettuces and cabbages.
Usefully, we were also provided with a map and mini compass upon our arrival at the gardens, it’s as if they knew it was the one thing I was missing for the holiday…