Of all the places we have been and all the things that we have seen I've never seen a house like this before! (I reference this video which is awesome and funny and also I've been those places! Okay, I haven't gone in the London Eye, but I've seen it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywqpf1Nge3k ) We drove back down towards Penzance (I forgot to mention, the End of the World was near Penzance and we stopped there before walking off towards Land's End.) and looked across the water to St. Michael's Mount. More stories! Once upon a time, St. Michael appeared to the shepherds here. Hence the name. There was also a giant once who was eating all the cattle (possibly other things more nefarious, but I don't want to put words in their mouths) so they caught him by digging a well and they buried his heart up the path a ways and if you stand on the heart-shaped stone, they say you can hear his heart beat. (There's another heart nearby, so Carolyn proposed the idea that he's a Gallifreyan.) Then this island became a focal point in a bunch of wars because, hey, island! Fortifiable! So we walked over to it to explore.
...Yes, we walked. I exaggerate not. Not on top of the water, nor wading through the shallows. Dry (ish) ground. We didn't pull a Moses, either; there's a causeway that comes when the tide is low. We started right when it was starting to appear and by the time we were across, it was high and kind of sort of dry. Charming island; there are 8 families who live there; of course, that means their lives are ruled by weather and tides especially if they want to do anything extra-islandal.
Michael's Mount, then, is essentially a small hill stuck out in the middle of the bay. There's a protected cove for docking boats and a ramp up from the causeway and out of the sea for people who walk. The road leads up to a castle on the top through the gardens, which are rather nice but we didn't spend too long in them. They were allowed to be wilder than any of the other gardens we've been to. I rather felt like the castle, too, was allowed to be less imposing. It felt more comfortable and more like a home than any of the others. So I decided of all the places, this is the one I'll take. It's still a castle, but it's not trying to scream POWER! in your face like most of the others--it felt like somewhere a person could live without being smothered in opulence. Also...it's on a island! Really! You've got a 5-minute walk to the beach when the tide is out, and you just walk down to the water when it's not! Beat that. There were some nice rooms around; they didn't let us into all of them, of course, but those that were there felt elegant--there was wealth but there was also control. (See also: Not the Palace of Versailles) There were some courtyards/outdoor walkways that overlooked the ocean, the town, the little bay below, and the causeway, which were cool and fresh in the (misty again) morning. Even the chapel there was small and controlled, its decoration coming from the beautiful stained-glass windows, the candle holders--it was well decorated, but it wasn't overly done to the point of making you feel like a tiny speck floating out in nowhere.
After that, I spent several hours combing the beach for sea-glass and interesting shells, wading in the water (which grew increasingly difficult as the tide continued to recede), and enjoying being on the beach, which I haven't done for years. Funnily enough, while we were looking for sea-glass, a gentleman came up and warned me about being barefoot because there was glass on the beach. Speaking of which, ah, the joyfulness of being barefoot! So much more connection to the ground that way. I just felt bad that I tracked a lot of sand on to Tony's bus.
This was followed by a long long bus ride to Salisbury where we stayed overnight at the hostel--I missed the people going to the cathedral and I didn't want to try to find my way there in the dark. Blargh. I keep missing things and it is not a happy thing for me.