Booked our first couch surfing experience with a real surfer named Richard, who picked us up at Penmere station in Falmouth. Rich is a research student studying animal behaviour, jackdaws specifically, which he describes as “dumpy crows.” He records their calls and plays them back to them to see if they react more to calls of birds from their local vicinity, and has collected evidence that indeed they do. More jackdaws will show up for an alarm call recorded in their locale than one recorded somewhere else. It’s fascinating stuff, and he gets paid to live here and do it.
Is that a banana in a tiny house with tiny guitars? No, it’s a surfboard in a normal house with normal guitars!
Couch surfing, by the way, is an online service that connects travellers with hosts, complete with a reference system to weed out any weirdos. Rich had excellent references and lived up to all of them.
Falmouth is a lovely coastal town in the south of England (“Fal” pronounced like HAL, as in “Open the pod bay doors, HAL,” and “mouth” pronounced the same as in “Plymouth,” which is a considerably less lovely coastal town everyone here is forced to visit for train connections). Ian is Rich’s housemate, also a surfer (couch and actual) and spent the afternoon with us trying to figure out why traffic is left-sided in England and reversed everywhere else. Turns out the Romans started it, the English followed, and Napoleon messed it up for everyone else.
Ian took us on a walking tour of the high (main) street and the waterside, where we ate traditional Cornish pasties (no, I didn’t forget an “r”). Sea shanties echoed through the streets – this weekend was the sea shanty festival, and everything felt too British to be true. But it’s true!
That night Rich took us to our First Real English Pub called the Boathouse, with a view of the harbor in twilight. We were joined by his friend Marco, an Italian doing pharmacology in Penzance. (He joked that he “sells drugs.”)
From left to right: Ryan, whose self-inflicted haircut is so bad he is now invisible, Marco, Rich, and Karen
Next morning Rich cooked us our First Real English Breakfast: beans on toast, black pudding on top of the beans on toast, bacon on top of the black pudding on top of the beans on toast, and coffee (not on top of anything, but inside a mug like we do it in the States). What is black pudding? I’ll let you google it for yourself, but I will say we loved it and had seconds.
No one is expected to pay their couch surfing host – the whole idea of it is a free place to stay – but we helped Rich paint his house as a thank-you. He chose a blue called Atlantic Surf #3. It looked more like a #4 to me, but I’m no expert.
That afternoon Rich’s colleague Guill joined us for a trip to Kynance Cove, one of the loveliest beaches in the world, according to a poll somewhere. Guill is Scottish, but likes to “play with his voice,” and has modified his accent with hints of Irish and English. He brought along his dog, Louie, and his housemates’ dog, Honey. Her obsession with her tennis ball equaled Harley’s back home.
Then a trip to the Lizard, the southernmost point in the UK, for some real Cornish ice cream. Cornwall, by the way, is the southern county, and is known for its dairy products. Eating his ice cream, Guill exclaimed, “I’m so happy!” As were we all.
Harry Potter Time:
Falmouth is home to the Falmouth Falcons, a famous Quidditch team known for it’s violent-minded players. While visiting the lovely city of Falmouth, we paid tribute to a Quidditch team that reminded Harry of his earlier days at Hogwarts, when competing with the Slytherin Quidditch Team. Here he is in Richard’s street.
We thought we glimpsed a Cornish pixie in its native habitat, but it could have just been a regular pixie, or a bee.
“Happy Birthday, Dad!” says Karen.
And Happy Father’s Day to both our dads, and dads everywhere!