Cornwall for a couple of days

While the country lanes of Cornwall seemed manageable for Streak and Storm, it seems to us it would be a different matter in a motorcar.  Even though Pat and Andy have chosen appropriately sized vehicles for the narrow lanes, there appear to be few places to pass. Thankfully we meet no oncoming traffic and finally arrive at their new home.  As we ride down their long driveway, I am reminded that we used to do this, on different motorbikes back at their old home in Maleny in Queensland, a sort of déja-vu?

As they welcome us, with yes you have guested it, Champagne, we easily slip back into conversation as if we had not seen each other for only a few weeks, not two years. As we enjoy their company as the sun sets over the Cornish landscape, we are told an interesting two days of local sightseeing have been lined up for us.  Pat and Andy and their choices did not disappoint. So much to see in a short distance of their home.

Pat and Anne catching up for the first time in three years.

Plymouth Dockyard was our first port of call, forgive the pun. Established in 1690, it is one of three major Royal Navy ship bases in the UK.  As the size of the Royal Navy diminished, so did the need for real estate. Royal William Victualling Yard which was built between 1826 and 1835, became surplus to requirements for the Royal Navy in the early 1990’s.  Today it is a mixture of housing, offices and restaurants in the restored old buildings. A great place for lunch sitting outdoors and admiring the impressive and imposing architecture.

Dock at Prince William Victualling Yard
Looking west at Price William Victualling Yard.

Cotehele, sited high above the Tamar river near Calstock was the ancestral home of the Edgecumbe family.  Now run by the National Trust, this Tudor era house reflects the Edgecumbe’s desire some 200 years ago to maintain its then historic Tudor interiors. Lavishly decorated with tapestries, arms and armour and a great deal of oak furniture for others to see. It shows that preservation of historical buildings interiors was not just a recent occurrence.   

Tudor interior at Cotehele house.
Cotehele house

Restormel castle was built in the late 13th century. Its unusual circular construction may have been more for its aesthetics rather than defensive properties as it was believed to have been built as more of  a luxury retreat than a fortification. The ruins still give a sense of the grandeur of the place with large fireplaces and high windows. A visit to the castle wall via a stone staircase allows one to walk almost a full circle and gives superb views across the valley of river Fowey.

Castle wall
Enjoying the Cornish weather at Restormel castle.
Anne’s first real Cornish Pastie, surprisingly good Anne says.

Our final night in Cornwall was rounded off with dinner in Looe. Drinks then dinner watching the sun set across the river mouth was the perfect way to end our three day visit. We will be back to Cornwall. Thank you Pat & Andy.

Looe harbour at sunset.

I have been told that travelling in Devon or Cornwall north to south is much easier than east to west which is direction of the busy main roads.  I have carefully plotted a route that will take us slowly east but travelling some of the secondary roads via Okehampton, Tiverton and Langport. It turns out that the route is not only very scenic and motorcycle friendly but has light traffic, the perfect combination.

Cornwall in all its riding glory.

Our route takes us through Somerset north of Yeovil past the Royal Navy station at Yeovilton.  This is home to the Royal Navy’s aviation wing, the Fleet Air Arm, Museum.  An opportunity not to be missed for an aviation enthusiast like me. Increasing my interest is the fact that both my father and step father had a naval connection.  My father did his national service in the South African Navy on HMSAS Jan Van Reibeik, formally HMS Wessex, and my step father made his career as an engineering officer the Fleet Air Arm.

Spread across four halls, the aircraft range from early years of naval aviation through WW2 to the to the recent Afghanistan conflict.   Hanger 3 has been cleverly modelled on a carrier deck from HMS Ark Royal from the 1960’s .  A McDonnall Douglas Phantom FG1, Blackburn Buccaneer S1, de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW2 are amongst others are on displayed on carrier deck. Access is via a simulated helicopter flight to the carrier deck. The aircraft carrier’s “Island” on one side of the hall contains three levels of compartments showing aspects of life on 1960’s aircraft carrier.  Quite illuminating as the narration is by videos made by modern day sailors looking back on their predecessors.

Contemplating hanger carrier deck replica.
Concorde 002, what a superb shape!

Also there, is Concorde 002, the second test aircraft – not sure what the connection is there or how even the most ardent naval aviation enthusiast could have considered it for the Fleet Air Arm. As we walked through the interior I recalled a tenuous connection to this aircraft. I saw it in Johannesburg at Jan Smuts airport in 1973 while they were doing hot and high testing and even got the chief pilot’s Brian Trubshaw’s autograph.  Anne remembers the excitement of seeing both Concorde 001 and 002 when they were first presented to the public at the Paris Air Show in 1969 at Le Bourget airport. A bit of nostalgia…

Cockpit of Concorde 002, so analogue.

The remainder of the afternoon is spent riding back to Dorset on the back roads enjoying a last few hours riding Streak and Storm before sadly returning them to slumber for another year. Streak needs new chain and sprockets and for a longer trip new tyres and batteries would probably be a good idea for both bikes. They performed flawlessly and like us there are a few miles / kilometres left yet in them. We will be thinking of what to do in the coming months for 2023.

– Anthony

PS. apologies for the tardiness in delivering blogs recently. We are looking to recruit additional staff or motivate the existing team to write faster and be back on track by the end of ???