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Lancs & Cornwall 06
Day 9 - King Harry Ferry, Truro and Rock pooling

Saturday, 23 Sep. 2006-  Saturday dawned a bright and sunny day getting our week off to a good start. We started the day off with a nice relaxing breakfast and spent some time exploring the cottage and it�s grounds. Andy realized that the cottage we were staying in was the exact same cottage as his grandmother lived in when he was a young boy. He started telling me about the adventures he had discovering all the wonderful wild animals in the back yard and along the hedgerows. One of his more vivid memories was being forbidden to cross the road to look in the hedge, as there was a pheasant hen sitting on a nest. For a curious lad who loved everything nature had to offer, being forbidden to peak in on the hen and her nest was pure torture. Even though he had a wide area left to explore, the one that was off-limits was the most alluring. He recounted many hours resting against the wall in front of the house peering into the hedge hoping to catch even a fleeting glance of the allusive hen.

After breakfast we wandered around the yard so Andy could see how much things have changed and if anything was the same as he remembered. Unfortunately after such a long period of time a lot had changed and it didn�t feel like he remembered from his childhood. After a while we ended up wandering our separate ways, as I wanted to see what was through the back gate and Andy was busy looking in a couple outbuildings. Out back was a big pasture with some equipment for horse jumping spread throughout the field as well as a couple horses grazing on the grass. After seeing the field, I spent some time wandering around the wall turning over a few stones to see if I could find any interesting creatures but alas, there were none.

When I came back into the yard I discovered Andy had also wandered off somewhere else so I started looking for him. I found him leaning against the wall in front of the cottage simply staring across the road. As I walked up behind him I mentioned that the hen probably wasn�t there anymore.

After we were done wandering through the back yard we decided to head to Portscatho to see if the tide was in or out to determine the order of business for the day. We found that the water levels were fairly high and the tide was still coming in but would probably be changing fairly soon. It�s great to have someone around who can determine these schedules as I grew up in the middle of a huge landmass and had no idea how to tell if the tide was coming or going or when it was going to turn or how long it would take before we could go rock pooling again!

Since we needed to get some groceries for the week, we decided to go and look for a larger grocery store in Truro. After our experience with taking the long route around the River Fal we opted to take the King Harry Ferry across instead to hopefully save some time and fuel. I was every excited to be going on a ferry since I had only been on them a handful of times in my life. Andy mentioned that it was only a short trip, nothing to be really excited about, but that didn�t change the fact that I was still looking forward to it! We arrived at the dock while the ferry was on the other side of the river. There were a few other cars already in line so we parked behind them and I decided to get out to watch the ferry being loaded up and returning. I left Andy in the car and grabbed my camera so that I could get some pictures of the ferry. At first Andy thought this was a good idea, even though it didn�t take him very long to start discouraging me from grabbing the camera at the ferry crossings!

We didn�t have to wait very long for the ferry, as it only tanks the ferry 15 minutes to go across the river, load up and return. As the cars were disembarking I went back to the car and got ready to drive onto the ferry. Once all the cars were loaded onto the ferry the ferryman came around to collect the fare, afterwards I was free to get out of the car and wander around. As Andy tried to warn me, the ferry crossing was fairly short, but I still had enough time to do some exploring. The side of the ferry had clear panels that you could look through and watch the ferry moving along the chains and the views up the River Fal were great. When we were about in the middle of the river we could see Truro. Before long it was time to get back into the car as the ride was over.

Just before entering Truro I came across what I thought was the most confusing intersection I have ever seen. The one thing that I was still uncertain about when driving are round-a-bouts so when we came to the double round-a-bout just before entering Truro I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Thankfully Andy was there to assure me that this was probably one of the worst one�s he�s seen in a long time and that most of the people driving around it probably didn�t understand the complex right-of-ways there neither. For some odd reason though, that didn�t help me very much. The only saving grace was that our exit came very quickly.

Once we arrived at Truro it was time to start thinking about how to find the grocery store. We figured that it would probably be near the downtown core and that once we got there we should be able to ask someone to help us out or if we were really lucky we could spot it along the way. Unfortunately we ended up driving all the way through the downtown area without seeing the store or stopping to talk to anyone who would know where it was. We kept driving in the hopes of spotting a grocery store, but it didn�t take long to notice that the traffic was getting thin, which probably meant we weren�t in the right area anymore. Since we didn�t know where we were so we opted to turn the sat-nav on to help us get back to the city centre. Unfortunately things started to get tricky after this when the sat-nav system didn�t even acknowledge that we were on a road, leaving us to try to backtrack our route. At one point I took a wrong turn and we found ourselves in a worse predicament as we were driving through a new construction area that had roads blocked off unexpectedly and were organised in a maze like fashion! When we finally made it out of the new subdivision we found out that we were close to a road that the sat-nav did recognise so we decided to head for it so that the sat-nav could plot a route for us.

Once we made our way back to the busier city centre we resumed our quest. Our travels once again took us to an interesting area of Truro, but we quickly found out that we were on the wrong side of the River Fal and that the main downtown area was on the opposite side. We decided to continue following the river in the hopes of coming across a bridge to take us to where we wanted to go. While we didn�t find the desired bridge, we did end up taking a nice scenic route through some forested area and a well manicured public park. Soon after coming out of the park area the road we were on came to an end with no wide-open areas to turn around! With some careful manoeuvring I managed to get the car turned around and headed back the way we came.

By this time both Andy and I were getting a little tired of driving around aimlessly and decided to head back to Portscatho and do our shopping at the little village store. Andy reprogrammed the sat-nav and started following it�s directions to get us back to a place that was more comfortable when I spotted a Tesco store on the opposite side of the river. We must have just missed it in our travels as it was very close to one of the roads we travelled on previously. Once we knew where the store was, it was very easy to get there, as there was a bridge to cross the river nearby.

Since Andy isn�t a big fan of shopping he decided to stay in the car while I did the shopping. At this point he did something so amazingly unexpected I was almost speechless! He handed me his wallet with all his money and everything to use and absolutely no limitations what so ever! While I knew that Andy trusted me, I really didn�t realise he trusted me enough to hand over of his funds for the rest of the vacation. Before he could object or change his mind, I took off to do some shopping.

Now I had done some shopping in the UK during my previous visit, however I forgot about one aspect of UK life that completely baffles me. I think that everyone who has ever used a shopping cart in the UK has had to wonder, �What in the world they were thinking about?� when they designed their shopping carts with all four wheels vying to travel in four different directions at the same time. Manoeuvring one of those carts around is a test of strength and determination but it does make shopping more of a sport while you are attempting to dodge other people having similar problems with their carts and ensuring that you don�t smash into any of the shelving units in fear of knocking everything over.

Between exploring a large unfamiliar store and fighting with the shopping cart (which I ended up pushing around at a 45 degree angle after observing many of the locals having resigned to this reality) I lost track of time. Luckily I had a basic list of the things that we wanted so it was only a matter of finding things. However one item on the list that Andy really wanted stumped me. It was something called �Branston Pickle� which I assumed was a name brand product for some � well � pickles. I did come across something that was labelled �Branston Pickle� but to me it looked more like relish then the pickles I thought he wanted so I reluctantly placed it back down on the shelf and continued shopping. After I finding everything else on the list, I headed back to the area I saw the Branston Pickle and continued looking around for any sort of pickles that were made by the same company without any luck. Again I picked up the jar and was going to put it in the cart but decided against it since I wasn�t certain that was what he wanted and thought I would play it safe just in case it wasn�t what he wanted.

I finally made it to the cash register and had a grin on my face from ear to ear as I pulled out Andy�s wallet to pay for the groceries. It was the first time that I had open access to anyone else�s money like that and quickly came to the conclusion that grocery shopping is a lot more fun when it�s someone else�s money you are using!

Apparently I spent a lot longer in the store then I first realised, as upon returning to the car I was greeted with an irritated sounding statement something along the lines of  �I was about to send out a search party for you!� Still grinning ear to ear I loaded the groceries into the car and I started telling Andy all about the adventures and that I had found everything on the list except one item. His reply, �Let me guess, it was one of the things that I requested.� To which I had no choice but to let him know that I didn�t get the Branston Pickle. I explained that I had found it, but thought it was a type of relish and didn�t think it was what he wanted. From the surprised tone of voice he was used to recount my explanation, I think he was amazed and confounded that I had it in my hand, read the label which had the exact wording as he stated previously and yet still decided to put one of his favourite spreads back on the shelf and walk away from it! When I offered to go back and pick it up he quickly said no, probably in fear that I would disappear again and never resurface!

Returning to our cottage in Philliegh was fairly quick and simple since we had the sat-nav to give us directions. Again I was enchanted with the trip across the River Fal on the King Harry Ferry and took a few opportunities to gather more photos which Andy had a premonition of King Harry Ferry photos creating an issue with disk space on his laptop.

Upon returning to the cottage we unpacked our groceries and had ourselves a quick lunch so that we could get to the beach and maximize our time looking for and catching fish. By the time we arrived in Portscatho the tide was  already coming in again so our time at the beach was a little more limited then we would have liked. 

Since I hadn't done very much rock pooling in my life, actually the previous day was the only time I had ever done any rock pooling so I still had a lot to learn.  I watched Andy and took my cues from him.  I started turning over some rocks and just looking into the pools to see what I could find without having to do very much.  The number of animals such as snails, barnacles and anemones was amazing.  Equally amazing was the sheer variety of marine algae growing in each rock pool.  I had imagined that we would be lucky to find a couple different varieties in one area since that's how I found aquatic plants growing in the lakes, rivers and ponds I was more familiar with.

After getting used to running around on the rocks and finding out how slippery they could be if you stepped in the wrong places, I grabbed a couple nets to see if I could catch many fish.  This endeavor proved to be a lot tougher then it first looked.  The fish seemed to know difference between us just staring at them and us actively attempting to catch them because it seemed that they all suddenly disappeared from sight.  Andy was having a lot more luck finding his shannies then I was, but I still had a lot of fun.  I felt like a I did when I was a kid exploring the natural world around me.  Since I was used to exploring ponds, rivers and lakes, I was unprepared nature dictating our time limits and before we knew it the tide had covered up a lot of the rock pools and was quickly advancing on us.  We reluctantly called it quits for the day and returned to our cottage for a nice quiet evening!

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