Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mount St. Michael (again?) and Land's End

On Tuesday morning we were checking out of the Angel Hotel in Helston when the receptionist asked where we were going. When we mentioned Penzance, she asked if we wanted to stay in the Angel's sister hotel and then mentioned that to a gentleman in the office. He asked how we were getting there and we said by bicycle. He volunteered to take our luggage and so we rode unloaded to Penzance. It turned out that he was the owner of both hotels! As we got close to Penzance it was low tide and we looked across the bay and saw St. Michael's mount.

The tide was low enough to walk on the causeway to the island and we had unloaded bikes as well. Mont St. Michel and St. Michael's mount are two of the four places where the archangel Michael has been seen. He appeared in 495 at St. Michael's mount to warn some fishermen from washing up on the rocks. A religious community was founded on the mount and built a church and other buildings. The mount was transferred to the religious order at Mont St. Michel in 1080. Mont St. Michel's hold on the mount diminished during the 100 Years War with France. The religious community was disbanded during the reign of Henry VIII and the mount was held by various noblemen as a strategic fortification until 1659. In 1659 Colonel John St. Aubyn bought the mount and his heirs have made it the family home since then.

There are symbols of both the religious community and the fortified era.

But it is a really neat residence that the St. Aubyn family has lived in for 12 generations.

We got on the bikes on Wednesday to ride to Land's End, the most western point of England. There was a drizzle that turned into rain that stopped after about 5 miles. Land's End is so famous that it has become a major tourist attraction. We rode up to huge parking lot with lots of cars and several tour buses. However, we were waved through on our bikes. This sign shows how many lighthouse beacons surround Land's End and it's dangerous rocks.

We ate our picnic lunch and then the sun came out. We had a glorious ride back to Penzance. On the way back we stopped at another stone circle, the Merry Maidens.

There are 19 stones in the circle and there is no concrete explanation for their use. However, they were given the name the Merry Maidens by the early Christian church. The legend was that 19 maidens were turned into stone for dancing on the sabbath. This legend was started to discourage the old pagan rites. We finished the day with dinner at the Admiral Benbow Inn. Our desert was a marvelous concoction called Irish Lumpy Bumpy.

It consisted on a bottom layer of pound cake, covered by a layer of flavored cream, topped with whip cream, and then covered in caramel. Mmm... Good!


Beel said...

St. Michael, indeed he was "seen"! Joel, Kevin, our friend Owen and I "saw" Bill Maher at the Convention Center last night, and he was at the top of his "Religulous" commentary; hilarious!! Went to a great Irish establishment before the event.......

Oysters, mussels; yer makin' me hungry, both culinarily and culturally. Again, whatta trip, as it pushes ME closer to retirement!!!


Dave and Belinda said...

Hey Mister Beel, Bill Maher sounds like fun! Say hi to Joel for us. We have certainly enjoyed retirement, We are sure you will too! The key is keeping busy doing things you love to do.