Tag Archives: cornwall

Just like riding a bike!

This sounds like the sort of thing you should do when in Amsterdam. After all the place is full of bike riders – full of bikes too. Everyone rides a bike in all sorts of outfits. Female execs on the way to work in stylish suits with high heels and an infant in the basket on the handlebars.

And no helmets – that’s just ridiculous so the locals say. You are just peddling round the city – not bike racing for goodness sake.

So us tourists come along and jump on a bike – luckily for me at least it was a guided tour so all I had to do was wobble and follow. And yes we were all kitted up with proper helmets – Good Lord – you wouldn’t want to risk an American suffering from concussion after a fall.

I had noticed the slightly irritated looks on the faces of biking commuters in Amsterdam as our raggedy line of wobbly tourists passed by so it was funny when I came across an article on CNN written from the perspective of a local in Amsterdam. What really made me laugh was the quote from one of the local bike rental companies –

“Tourists think they’re in Disneyworld,” says Geert Gelissen, who runs FietsConsult, a side-street cycle hire and repair shop in the Dutch capital. “And Dutch people think they’re God on a bicycle.”It’s a problem. As soon as summer starts, I sell more of these things than anything else,” he adds, brandishing an enormous brass bike bell the size of a clenched fist.”Customers come into my shop and scream ‘arrrrgghh!'”

I totally understand where the locals are coming from. We tourists can sometimes be very arrogant about visiting foreign spots and maybe we do treat it like a Disneyworld theme park when it is in fact someone’s home. Still we bring important revenue to these places – So There!

I do have to laugh though as it reminds me what it was like to be a local in a popular tourist spot growing up in the lovely village of Mullion in Cornwall, England. Every year we had this little spot of heaven basically to ourselves except for the hellish months of July and August when the “holidaymakers” would descend on us from “up North” complete with sunburnt arms, loud “foreign” accents and crying kids with snotty noses.

Hmm – we were complete snobs and went to beaches that only the locals could ge to, avoided the corner fish and chip shop like the plague and signed with relief on the first week of September when the hordes receded and we had our village back.

So I can really understand where the people of Amsterdam are coming from. Trying to get to work, drop the kids off at nursery school or run errands and all the time having to weave their way through long snaking lines of tourists who haven’t ridden a bike in 30 years. Yep – I get it!

Rule Britannia!

More Canadians are visiting Britain – and I am happy about that. Born and raised in Britain has made me a bit “soft” when it comes to Jolly Olde England. It’s easier than ever for Canadian passport holders as they can now use the e-passport gates –

ePassport gates are automated, where a passport reader and camera, rather than a border officer, will verify your identity and check your ‘chipped’ passport. The gates use facial recognition technology to compare your face to the photograph recorded on the ‘chip’ in your passport.”

Many Canadians will find that the exchange rate is a little better now so here are a few trivia bits and pieces to encourage you to plan your next holiday in Britain.

Clotted cream – an absolute delight and treat and a must at any High Tea or Cream tea. But does it come from Devon or Cornwall? Big fight here as both claim the cream. But how they eat it is different – Cornish put the jam on the scone first – then the clotted cream. The Devonshire crowd does it the other way round. Now having lived in Devon and Cornwall I can testify that either way is delicious – but if you eat it the Cornish way there are no calories at all (just kiddin’).

But how is clotted cream different to regular whipped cream (and don’t even think of comparing it that stuff in the aerosol can) – here’s a good explanation

“There’s the ‘little bit of texture to the crust, the initial silky smooth mouth-feel, the cool, fine, slightly nutty flavour’ that comes through as it ‘delicately coats the roof of your mouth,’ eulogises Nick Rodda. He’s describing the clotted cream his family has made at their farmhouse in Redruth, Cornwall, for the past 126 years in the lyrical way that a master winemaker might evoke a particularly good vintage.” from CountryLife magazine.

While in Britain you must try a Full English Breakfast which will no doubt include black or white pudding. Now I was fairly squeamish as a kid so if I had known that black pudding was also known as blood sausage I would have said no thanks Mom.

Another thing Canadians might find strange about Britain is the fact that people drink outside the pubs. Usually in Canada you cannot go outside holding your beer or wine but in England – no problem.

Another thing that visitors find off putting are the traffic circles – tons of them – and some of them very big. But they are called roundabouts and there are sometimes roundabouts within roundabouts – like this one

Oh my goodness – can you imagine? And you are driving on the WRONG side of the road??? Or is it the RIGHT side of the road?

And if you are brave enough to rent a car and really discover the countryside you will find that the roads are very very narrow. Why? Well they are old – built by Romans – some of them only 20 foot wide. But do go down that narrow road – at the end you will discover some of the delights of the not so well known parts of Britain. Here’s one of my favourite places. Can you name it?

World Leaders on vacation

Well – they are human too you know.  They also need a break from the nine to five (they probably put in longer hours than that).  I would imagine that being a world leader is a pretty tiring job and when you go on vacation you just want to relax and try to escape the photographers….. or maybe not.

David Cameron enjoys Cornwall (as I grew up there I really approve his choice) Cheers Mate!
Politicians on holiday: from Cornwall to the Côte d'Azur

And isn’t this a typically English beach scene…… getting changed on the beach with just a towel for protection

Have you ever tried this little stunt.  It is not as easy as it looks.  One false move and there is a photo that will be on the front page of the Telegraph.  I can sympathise with Mr Cameron.  The beaches of Cornwall where I grew up were devoid of things like changing rooms.  Just look –

Dear old Maggie Thatcher loved Cornwall too although unlike Mr Cameron the Iron Lady kept in character right down to the sensible shoes and rigid hairstylethatcher-

Some leaders have tried more exotic locations – Here Tony Blair looks distinctly uncomfortable on an elephant in Bali
Politicians on holiday: from Cornwall to the Côte d'Azur

But first prize has to go to Putin – his tough guy holiday snaps are famous
Politicians on holiday: from Cornwall to the Côte d'Azur
Much more realistic is Obama on holiday in Marth’s Vineyard.  Note the sensible helmet….. shame about the crowd of security cycling behind although I guess being on Obama’s watch means that you keep fit at least.
So you see World Leaders are just like us – they go on vacation, get sand in their shorts, change on the beach and sometimes don’t look the best in their swimsuit.  The difference between them and us is that if my husband took a photo like this of me and didn’t immediately delete I would kill him!