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The reasons why they are 3 storeys up whilst I am standing on the ground, describe the Croft dynamic perfectly. There are 4 boys almost constantly locked into some sort of competition. On Sunday morning we made the mistake of suggesting the group picture be taken outside the house, Tash, I think had a wonderful image of the family captured resplendent outside their country pile. Unfortunately there is the scaffolding, so in attempting the impossible (that is getting the 3 available boys and their partners outside with Mr and Mrs Croft at the same time) we got the usual dribble, drabble of people. Pete and Mark, stood outside for about a second and then disappeared up the scaffold, followed by Lucy and then Stephen, the youngest brother, who diagonally transversed up the building ignoring the ladders all together.
This entry is all about the picture; that is the Croft clan, who are standing on the top level of scaffolding that currently encases the lovely old 'Century House'.
My God, it felt like we were in a music video, just full of beautiful stylish people, this image was helped by the random dance music that would fill the house at random times, why?, I don't know, but we are cool stylish people right, we don't ask questions, we just, you know, hang out, be groovy and won't ask why all the doors and windows are open (brrrrrrrr refreshing, hmm, I think not) . It had atmosphere and was very friendly, we struck up several conversations at the bar despite Mark's rule number 14B; Don't ever talk to strangers, they may want to talk back and then you'll most probably be stuck with them for the rest of the evening.
(14A by the way is; Don't make the mistake of thinking that you will save drying time on a pair of jeans by putting a hot air gun in them, it won't they will just catch fire right! - these rules may not have an order, but they are mighty useful).
As we were being part of the bourgeois classes we both had our first Bloody Mary's and it was a magnificent affair, but in our true style, Tash loved it (and the smooth talking Barman) and I hated every drop (and tolerated said barman), but persevered never the less, because you just have to. Post beauty treatments, post dinner, post night, post breakfast, came the bill - oh my! coolness evidently comes at a price.
Tuesday - Wednesday
Rick Steins - St Edmunds House
This is England after all and as such we had been lucky with the weather so far. As the lady who showed us to our room commented "it rains a lot here, but you get used to it" . The rooms were very nice and the town has an odd one way system, which was useful for orientation as the restaurant/hotel is at the start, giving just enough time for Tash to utter "oh there it is" as we sailed passed on our second rotation.
Rick Stein's restaurant in the evening was a causal affair, but this being one of the main reasons for this trip, there was some anticipation involved here. Tash rose to the challenge and whilst I choose carefully, not wanting to go to bed for another night with a 'well stocked' stomach, she elected to have 'hot shellfish' for starters and lobster for main. Some of you sharp eyed readers will already be putting two and two together over this. Shellfish takes up a lot of table space, so as we waited she came to notice the large plates of what looked to be cousins of 'Alien' making their way to other tables, 'oh you don't think that is what I have ordered do you?' - this was an academic question from her to me as I had the chair facing the wall and the only way I could turn to see put me in direct eye contact with the gentleman behind us who's wife had gone for the 'jolly roger' (scarf) head gear. To everyone else it must of looked like they were sitting in 'Chemo corner'.
Half the contents of the sea floor arrived soon after at our table and Tash valiantly dove into it like the new seasons collection at Selfridges, I had expected to be more involved, but the 'Crab Master' broke, chomped and ignored the right amount of crustacean to make a handsome pile in the shell bowl........and then realised that her main was lobster and so would have to go through the same sort of cracking, poking scenario again....oh how I laughed over my truncheon (or a word similar to that) of Turbot, curiously covered in what looked like custard, but turned out to be Hollandaise Sauce.
Thursday - Friday
Next on the list was the hotel Tresanton, the older sister hotel to Endsleigh House. On the way there and sensing a rare break in the rain, we stopped off at the Eden Project. Now it is fair to say that I am not a gardener, or a big fan of flowers, unless I have done something wrong. But this was a very good place, my interest was initially sparked when we parked in the car park designated 'Plum 2' - snigger, snigger. Using the digital camera memory to the full I snapped away like a trooper, erasing those painful art school memories of being only limited to 24 film pictures, 22 of which were out of focus and the other two were of my finger. I am beginning to appreciate that I am becoming a photo geek.
The Hotel Tresanton is the kind of hotel that would turn up on Bergerac, if it were in Jersey, all white paint work with maritime blue edging, we were the youngest couple in residence by about 15 years, but for another young couple who spent the first evening's dinner looking like they were about to break up, that supplied us with a good level of dinner conversation, on this occasion I was facing the window so could see what was happening behind me in the reflection. Also Chemo Club had continued, with a twist this time, as one of the male patrons was sporting what I would describe as an extreme tea-cosy during lunch and dinner.
Our second day in St Mawes, was spent first in Truro, populated almost entirely by people with 11 fingers it would seem and after we escaped St Ives beckoned. St Ives is lovely and the visit was almost entirely punctuated by Tash exclaiming ' My, why has no one told me about all these lovely beaches' I pointed out that if she had asked the Cornish Tourist board they would have gladly told her, we then decided that they were not the sort of people that she would normally associate with, so that was why she didn't know.
The New Angel
Fitting my enormous hangover into the car, we headed off to Dartmouth via the very romantic sounding 'Lost Gardens of Heligan'. I am unsure how you would go about loosing a garden "Now I am sure that there was something outside the back door last night..." but happily they have found it again and have very generously opened it to us the lowly public.
It was at The New Angel that the wheels finally came off our wagon, as most of you are aware I balance up my carnivorous wife by not partaking of any land animals. This can be tricky on occasions and I am always impressed by how our friends accommodate this with ease. Eating out is a different proposition, I usually ignore those dishes whereby chicken stock or the like has been used, but up until last night had never encountered any real issues. The New Angel is a lovely place, very 'London' in style even though it's in Dartmouth. Typically I took the fish option whilst Tash took the Meat combo.
Looking back on the event I now realise that had I thought about it harder, I would have known that the restaurant is in fact a training ground for secret agents and even though the menu made no mention of the use of meat in either of my dishes, had I held the menu up over a steaming kettle I would have seen the words 'cooked with bacon' reveal themselves from the invisible ink in which it was written. To have it happen once was excusable, but when my main appeared the evening went down the pan. As it turned out the secret agent connection was limited as there were no secret passages to use to escape from this nightmare, so we politely complained and got a new meat free option.
The Maitre D's argument was that 'we can't list everything in the menu' was a bit odd considering that pork will manage to offend Pescetarians, Jews and Muslims alike, though I must be positive and be thankful that it was not ground glass.
Our little trip ended with a surprise visit to see my nephew who is at university in Exeter, it was the day before his 21st birthday, so my sister, her partner Jason and the Dean’s descended on him for lunch.
We are off to Morocco on Thursday so will post again next Monday - Remember next week is a big week and will have several posts.