Falmouth is in Cornwall, at the far southwestern tip of England. Its climate is far milder than its latitude would suggest, because the Gulf Current brings warmth (and tar balls?) from the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the lush plants we saw growing here would be just as happy in the Carolinas in the US. Sir Walter Raleigh, a pirate who plundered with the royal blessing, was one of many who took advantage of the deep waters and many inlets. Smugglers also made a great living here, importing goods without having to pay customs fees. Since Roman times people mined tin and copper in the area. Mining was the single greatest industry in Cornwall until most of the copper was removed and the local economy was devastated. 13,000 Cornish miners immigrated and brought their skills to many parts of the world along with their favorite pasty, which they ate down in the mines. We recognized many of the town names as having equivalents in the US. Today the local shops sell these half moon shaped pies, filled with all manner of stuffing as well as scones and clotted cream. Apparently “clotted cream” is the British term for heavy, whipped cream and this unfortunate name reminds us what it is doing to our arteries. These days the major industry in Falmouth is tourism.
Our tour took us through a considerable chunk of the Cornish countryside, which had green, rolling hills full of grazing sheep and cattle and some crops being grown. Every so often we would come to a picturesque village - 20,000 residents is a big city here. The first stop was in Charlestown, which boasts three tall ships, which are available for overnights and longer trips. Then we spent a few hours in Polperro, a fishing village that has worked hard to preserve its original appearance. The white washed houses were trimmed with bright colors and many had fabulous flower gardens. Serious fishing boats were moored here, waiting for the tide to rise
Although the water is deep in Falmouth, it has no docking facilities for ships our size, so we had to use tenders (life boats) to go to shore. Although the ship’s staff is generally very efficient at moving people, we were delayed about 45 minutes getting off and had to stand in line for an equally long period of time to get back on. The locals must be accustomed to this and many volunteers showed up to keep us in orderly lines as we waited, avoiding acrimony and bloodshed.