Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Woke at 2:30 and again at 6. Sleeping is something we all do every day , but when you actually thing about it, nobody has any idea how to do it. We both have mouth ulcers – a good sign of being run down – but since we’re half way through our holiday now we should really be feeling less tired.

Undeterred, today we went on an Arthurian quest. Armed with a leaflet detailing the Cornish trail of the fictional king, we went to Tintagel – one of the five castles around the country that claim to be Arthur’s. We discovered that it was actually built about the time the Arthurian legend was being first written down – i.e. some 500 years after Arthur was supposed to have been king.

The road to the bottom of the hill the castle’s built on was so steep, and the climb ahead contained a hundred stairs, so we opted to quit and search for the grail instead.

That quest took us to the scene of Arthur’s last battle, and the Arthurian centre in Slaughterbridge. The Arthurian centre turns out to be a small shack, the walls of which are covered with wordy explanations of the legend’s history along with a few pictures and photocopies of wood cuttings. It resembled the kind of display you see in detective dramas – where the police cover the walls with unreadable scribbles, photos and documents which don’t appear to have any connection with each other.

They did have a lot of toys for George, on the floor though and a video which allowed us to rest our legs before the long tramp carrying him to Arthur’s Stone – a stone with some words on it, but no obvious connection with Arthur whatsoever.

Beside the viewing platform there’s a sign - can't remember the exact words but the sentiment was, why does it matter whether the legends are true as long as the myth gives you the inspiration to take on your own barbarian hordes – and I guess that’s the point. The tintagel ruin is younger than Arthur and built of the strongest materials known at the time. And yet it’s nothing but a pile of rocks now – whilst the Arthurian legend is even now being re-written brand new as a BBC series. Stories are so much stronger than stones.

Carrying george the distance to the castle foot and the carved stone tired me for the rest of the day, but it was worth it. Not least because even though I didn’t run this week, when I went to tighten my belt, I discovered there were no more notches to tighten it to…

But our quest wasn’t over… it became a quest for lunch. And turned out to be a tough one. We toured the county looking for someone who would serve food. Most restaurants here seem to close for lunch and those that don't were either missing chefs or were directed to by signs which in true Holy Grail style disappeared before we found their source.

Eventually we tried driving to the nearest 'big town' Bodmin. Here after touring a few closed restaurants we found a pub who told us they weren't serving (even though a sign on the door said they were) but who directed us to another pub who were. I wanted to ask if there was anyone in this god forsaken county whose idea of food didn't involve chucking a rat in a deep fat fryer, but I didn't and we eventually found a pub with food.

I say food - I ordered the only thing I could have "catch of the day in lemonade batter" no joke. I didn't ask what today’s catch was but it could well have been rat.

Beside us some girls were discussing the difficulties involved in getting broadband... My this is a primitive land.

I think I’ve solved one mystery though. The fabled “Beast of Bodmin” is a creature said to roam the moors devouring the local livestock. Its origins are clear to me now. After a few days sampling the culinary delights of the down, I think I’d find a raw sheep pretty appealing.

On the way home we had what we both decided was the worst mineral water we'd ever tasted (and neither of us had ever noticed the taste of mineral water before)... I looked on the label and it was bottled in Bodmin.

At home I read a little of my new book. The author is tracing the ethical footprint of everything in his life and this chapter was on coffee, booze and cheese.

One of his favourites was cathedral city. when he looked into it Cheddar wasn't involved and nor were any cathedrals. It turns out to be made by one of the biggest daries in the country... who made cathedral city the best selling cheese in the world then used their power to cut the price they paid farmers for their milk. It turns out Cathedral city is in fact made exclusively - you've guessed it - in Bodmin.

The author then went on to trace his favourite whiskey lagavulin... which turns out to be made by the same people as bailies... which won't please my father in law. still, the company doesn't seem to have ruined the local nature of the brand...

George continues not to eat his meals... he seems to want to choose them for himself and this is a well known phase for babies.... and a messy one. we just have to give him things he can pick at as he wants to because if he doesn't want to eat. you can't force him.

This doesn't really matter as most of the world's babies do perfectly well on less protein than George puts in his nappy.


A relaxed day today. trampolines and swimming pools being the only action.

I read some more of my book - learning amongst other things that king prawns from Bangladesh -and that includes at least half of those you get in Asian restaurants are farmed by very poor farmers who get virtually nothing for destroying their environments while the profits are taken by a series of virtually criminal middlemen. The author won't eat them after what he's learned and I think he's probably right.

He also has a lot to say about palm oil (the commonest product we don't know we use - featuring in a huge number of products from meals to soap and toothpaste).

By the way did you know bananas are seedless sterile mutants - so there can never be any variety in the species - each variety (and their are very few) is created from cuttings from a single plant so a disease affecting one will wipe out the global crop forever. This has already happened once, so they've nothing to replace the plantations with if the current variety fails...

The biggest problem seems to be mass production. we can't be allowed to all eat different things s production is forced into huge country sized plantations of single crops or farms. The result is that the vast majority of our agriculture is dedicated to just four crops. with the resulting dangers of destruction of the environment and lack of resistance to disease… Eat variety - that's got to be the only solution. At least that’s my plan.

Holiday over, we made our way back via Grace and Igor’s new home in Bognor. It’s a great improvement on the last home (they even get wine with dinner) – and their both a lot happier there. Although Igor continues to insist on being miserable anyway.

I’m so glad they’re in a nicer place, though.

We met up with my aunt Carole and introduced her to George for the first time, then we sat out on the lawn outside before making the final leg of the journey to Lisa’s parents.

To break the journey home, and to have Sunday lunch we decided to stay over in their crowded house. They’ve got Sally, Colin, their dog, and four boys living with them while the look for a house and it’s a bit chaotic.

No – it’s completely chaotic. I think Lisa’s parents need a break, already and since Sally and Colin have got to find and buy a house before they can move out, it’ll probably be a while.

Lisa’s parents in the meantime are putting a room into the garage… which is seaming like quite a good idea suddenly…

After Sunday lunch we leave for the journey back to London.

The holiday has been a good one – but I’m annoyed with myself for not ending up as rested as I’d have liked.

When I get stressed I tend to get mouth ulcers. Usually one – just to let me know I’m run down. Today I have 10 – and can barely eat…

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