Saturday, 5 September 2015

Meeting up with good friends for a visit to Calstock

Small boats at Calstock 
We hadn't seen our friends Chris and Marta since we were all down Mojaca way in January so have been looking forward to getting together, catching up with all the gossip and sharing travel tales. Chris and Marta are on a different Caravan Club CL nearby, Ottery Park Farm, theirs being less than half the price of ours due to its electricity-free status. They have a 100w solar panel which Dave was keen to discuss. We learned that it is sufficient to keep their leisure battery topped up, even during this sun-free summer, but the lights do sometimes get a bit too dim of an evening. Dave and I have considered adapting to just solar powered 12v and gas for our caravan. We like appliances such as our slow cooker and compact steamer that would become redundant though so it is not really a practical choice for us at the moment.

After a hearty soup lunch and time spent admiring the gorgeous views
Rosie Fierek plaque commemorating the
Tamar Valley Line centenary in 2008 
from Chris and Marta's pitch, we all set off on what turned out to be quite the magical mystery tour. We were taken to meet Charlie, Lee and their son Louie who live in their own handmade yurts deep in the countryside. Charlie kindly toured us around and was happy to talk about her way of life which seems hard work yet with a real sense of serenity. The family grow vegetables and have planted fruit trees, and the yurts themselves were so warm and cosy inside. I could easily see the attraction. Lee gave Chris advice on the construction of a composting toilet and Charlie showed off their ingenious wood-fired waterheater in the bath hut. There is a yurt nearby for rental via airbnb if anyone is interested to try the lifestyle or just wants to get away from the rat race for a while!

From rural yurts we were whisked to the pretty arty commune of
Pottery by Ann-Mari Hopkins 
Calstock village to admire local pottery and an exhibition of weaving. We were lucky to just catch the very tail end of the weaving - fabulous work by Mark Cullen and Ineke Borsboom - as the Old Chapel was in the throes of being set up for a John Otway gig that evening. I wish I'd known! 'Beware of the flowers!'

Swedish-born potter Ann-Mari Hopkins has a tiny shop down by the riverbank which we passed on the way to commencing a walk round and about Cotehele. The tiles and artefacts Ann-Mari creates have wonderfully vibrant colours and we saw several examples of her work on walls and doors around the town too. If you aren't likely to visit Calstock any time soon, some of the work is available to purchase online.

I loved that home-grown produce was a feature of several windowsills around the village. I got a bag of cooking apples for crumble and a bag of runner beans, each a pound and perfectly fresh from their respective gardens.

Cotehele is a National Trust estate which we were far too late in the day
to visit, but there are footpaths through its neighbouring woodland that were perfect for an hour's walk. The hillsides were just on the pleasant side of strenuous! We looked down onto what we took to be an ice house, then were able to enter a tiny chapel. A Sir Richard Edgcumbe had it built in around 1490 to give his thanks 'for his preservation from his enemies, from whom he escaped on that spot in 1483'. The chapel was very sparsely furnished and decorated but with a few ornate touches such as the stonework pictured here.

Once back at Ottery Park Farm we were again treated to a meal - this time a really good barbecue - followed by convivial conversation until practically midnight. Fortunately Chris and Marta have their campsite to themselves as we did all get progressively louder as the wine flowed. I don't think the same will be true when we host them on Tuesday. Dave and I will be celebrating our One Year CaravAnniversary!

Dave, Marta and Chris
Blurred before the wine was even opened! 

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