Cornwall 1

A typical view of our new surroundings!
A typical view of our new surroundings!

Hi, it’s us again! Several people have asked ‘what happened next?’ So now seems a good time to bring you all up to date with developments in the two-and-a-half months since we got back to the UK.

First stop was my mother’s house in Dorset, we spent 10 days there and really enjoyed catching up with family.

Next stop was Cornwall to start house hunting, Plan A was to rent somewhere for a few months while we looked for a house to buy. Some of you will already know that our friend Yvette is moving to Cornwall with us, in our absence she had taken it upon herself to rent somewhere as Cornwall Base Camp. Yvette has two Labradors and none of us had anticipated how difficult it would be to rent a house which permitted dogs. Despite two trips to Cornwall in January, and seeing homelessness looming on the horizon Yvette was unable to find anywhere to rent, so, Plan B, rent a short-term holiday let to give us somewhere to live while we sorted ourselves out.

Kim, Pheobe and Silk settling in
Kim, Pheobe and Silk settling in.

Yvette booked a terraced cottage in Losthwithiel for a month and a farm cottage near Porthcurno for a month. This turned out to be an excellent plan as it gave us a chance to experience living in two different parts of the county.

Lostwithiel is an historic town in south east Cornwall. We enjoyed being in the heart of the village and walking in the surrounding countryside; even if the café at the Duchy Garden Centre across the valley let us down by running out of scones on a Sunday afternoon after we had walked up hill and down dale to get there for a cream tea.

Lostwithiel Base
Lostwithiel Base

The cottage near Porthcurno was much more remote, we were just a mile and a half from Lands End and had easy access across the fields to the South West Coastal Path. We all fell in love with the far west, the landscape is breath-taking and there is something about the light which just raises your spirits. We hadn’t planned to move so far west but having spent time there and got used to the roads and local towns we decided to refocus our house search in that area.

Porthcurno Base
Porthcurno Base

Meanwhile we had managed to rent Little Siverga, a barn conversion just outside of Helston. We have rented it for six months and Yvette has moved her furniture in, it is cosy and comfortable and will do nicely until we find a permanent home. In another significant development marking a new era in our lives we have swapped our SAAB convertible for something more Cornwall friendly (no, not a horse and cart as one friend suggested). We are now the proud owners of a Subaru Forrester, a chunky 4×4 well suited to road conditions down here. All change!!

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We have seen lots of houses since we got down here, we have a very specific brief needing somewhere for us and somewhere for Yvette and her mother who will be moving down too. Several places we saw were farmhouses with barns either already converted or requiring conversion. We have got very good at assessing the potential of different places spotting walls that could be moved and outbuildings that could be incorporated. Some places were too small, some were too remote some needed too much work but every one we visited helped us refine our requirements and learn what we were and weren’t prepared to take on.

At one point we thought we had found the perfect spot, a farmhouse with a triple stone barn garage with an apartment above it and a separate one bedroom cottage. The location was idyllic, a private valley with a river running through it and just 15 minutes from the County Town of Truro. We even arranged a second viewing with an architect in tow to advise us on the implications of converting the garage in to a two-story dwelling for Yvette. Everything was going well until the owner (he’d lived there for 50 years) told us proudly that he had built the garage himself, and that when he’d shown people his plans everyone had said it would never stand up! Suddenly the prospect of converting the barn seemed like a much riskier project than we had anticipated. Back to the search.

Mark and I went back to Haddenham for a long weekend for a friend’s birthday party and to catch up with old friends and neighbours. We had a lovely time but were excited to get back to Cornwall and resume our search. While we were away Yvette had found details of a house near St Just, the most westerly village in Cornwall; it was well over budget but, on paper, seemed such a good fit with our brief we decided to check it out. We arrived on a rainy, windy Saturday morning and figured if we liked it in those conditions we would definitely like it in sunshine. As we toured the property with the agent we ticked off one feature on our wish list after another. Four-bedroom stone farm house, plenty of living space, big garden, sea views, beautiful converted barn, ground floor accommodation for Yvette’s mum, good road access (no scary single-track lanes). Even things that weren’t on the list got ticks, adjoining fields, vegetable garden with poly tunnel, wind turbine and solar panels providing electricity and generating an income. It just felt right, we kept looking at each other wondering whether this was it.

Mark and I went back for a second viewing a week later, while Yvette was back in Shropshire, we came away even more convinced that this could be the house we were looking for. We had a chance to speak to the owners and were delighted to discover that they were willing to sell some of the 4 acres of farmland separately and drop the price accordingly. On Yvette’s return, and after some to-ing and fro-ing with the agents to identify which fields we wanted to keep and which could be sold we decided to make an offer. The first offer was rejected but after a bit more negotiation our second offer was accepted!! We still have to get a building survey done and work through all the contractual stuff but all being well we will be moving in to the farm in September/October.

We have already had some friends to visit us in Cornwall and we are looking forward to many more of you coming down to stay once we have settled in to our new home, we are quite sure you will love this area as much as we do.

 

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We will write again when we have more news, in the meantime please keep your fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly with the house purchase.

Highcliffe, UK

Signing off!

Our welcome home.

Well, that’s it, our round the world adventure has come to an end and we are back home in Highcliffe. Our journey home took us via Brussels to London on Eurostar and then home from Waterloo. We completed our circumnavigation when we crossed Southampton Water and could see across to the docks where we boarded Queen Mary 2 last July. What an adventure it has been, we have memories to last a lifetime and hope you have enjoyed following our journey through this blog. Continue reading Highcliffe, UK

Koln

Chocolate museum opposite hotel – big enough Max?

 

The last destination of our trip! We arrived in Cologne mid-afternoon to grey skies and pouring rain. Our hotel, the Art’otel on the river bank was a pleasant surprise, a bright modern hotel and a big airy room. Despite the weather we decided to head into town for dinner, we needed some fresh air and a chance to stretch our legs after a day travelling. Some online research suggested we try the Brauerei zur Malzmuehle, a local brewery restaurant serving traditional German cuisine, best of all it was only 400m away, we put up our hoods and headed out in to the rain. When we reached the restaurant, we pushed through a big wooden revolving door, and then through some heavy woollen curtains emerging into a dining room with scrubbed wooden tables and waiters in long blue aprons, it looked like it hadn’t changed since it opened 150 years ago. Having found a table, the waiter asked how many beers we wanted, not whether we wanted beer, or which beer we wanted just how many, as it was a brewery pub we decided to go with it and asked for two. The beers, a local brew called Kolsch, exclusive to Cologne, arrived in small glasses which seems to be how it is served here, just as well because it is quite strong. Using the weather as a good excuse to indulge in some hearty German cooking we ordered potato soup to start, I had meatloaf with fried potatoes and red cabbage to follow and Mark had spicy polish sausage with potatoes and sauerkraut, it was all delicious but very filling so we had to pass on the applestreudel. Continue reading Koln

Berlin

Ampelmann characters

Next stop on our Grand European Tour was Berlin. Our hotel was just south of the city centre but a comfortable walking distance to the main sites so walk we did. We headed towards the Brandenburg Gate via Potsdamer Platz. On the way we noticed a whole square covered in concrete blocks, on closer inspection we discovered that it was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, its form reflects the style of a Jewish cemetery and you can wander between the rows of blocks and gaze down the alleyways created by the grid layout. Later on we came across a memorial to the murdered Roma and travellers, these sights made us wonder about the difficult balance the city has to achieve between properly honouring the past and continuing to rebuild itself as a modern, progressive city. Continue reading Berlin

Prague

We call it the Harry Potter room madam!
We call it the Harry Potter room madam!

Next stop was Prague, and what a treat it proved to be. As we left Vienna it was cloudy and grey and it had rained hard over-night, no matter, it was a travel day so the weather couldn’t spoil anything for us. The train journey from Vienna was very easy, to start with we travelled across bare farmland that grey brown colour you get when the ground has been covered by snow for weeks. Midway through the journey we started to climb through wooded hills and gorges, beside the track we could see pockets of snow still laying in shady corners and some of the streams feeding into the river were frozen solid. It was hard to think that not much more than a week ago we were enjoying the lush green coastal plains of Sri Lanka. We were about an hour late arriving in Prague due to some disruption on the line, rather than holding us on the line the train took a detour through some very small towns where people on the stations seemed very surprised to see an intercity train passing through. Continue reading Prague

Vienna

 

Big wheel hasn't changed much in 50 years!
Big wheel hasn’t changed much in 50 years!

The next stop on our trip across Europe was Vienna, we caught the train from Budapest station and settled in for a journey of about three hours, train travel in Europe is much cheaper than at home so we have treated ourselves to first class tickets as far as Brussels then cattle class on Eurostar which is much more expensive. We enjoyed having more room and waiter service at our seats. Continue reading Vienna

Budapest

Street art in Budapest
Street art in Budapest

We had a good flight from Dubai to Budapest, a large part of the journey took us over the snow-covered mountains of Iran; the skies were clear and we had a fantastic view the mountains themselves and lakes and villages scattered through them.

We arrived in Budapest in mid-afternoon and took a taxi to our hotel on the Pest side of the river; the outskirts were quite bleak with derelict buildings and lots of drab soviet era housing blocks, not very promising for a city break! Once we had checked in and freshened up we put on our jumpers and coats (strange to be wearing socks again!)  and went for a walk in the immediate vicinity of the hotel looking for somewhere for an early supper. The neighbourhood felt more historic and we found a small, traditional restaurant opposite the Academy of Music where we tucked in to Goulash and noodles. We had had an early start, and had gained 4 hours so back at the hotel we admitted defeat and went to bed. Continue reading Budapest