Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Of sea kings and sea lions - Chronicles of a Cornwall Holiday - Day 6

Okay, that might have been a bad idea, I thought as the alarm clock woke me. Drinking so much the night before was probably not the best idea knowing what time we had to leave the hotel. Slowly, I began to assess the situation, checking off those parts of me that were protesting, and those parts of me that hadn't quite drummed up the energy to do so. At this point, I realised that maybe the hangover wasn't as bad as I had initially thought. My head was a little swimmy, but not throbbing by any means. My stomach felt a little off, but again, it seemed to be more to do with hunger than the after effect of the white wine/lager combo.

I stumbled out of the bed and went to the bathroom to empty my bladder, which seemed to be about the size of a football. I then stumbled back into bed and proceeded to argue with the snooze button for the next half an hour. After a while, I accepted that I was going to lose the battle, so got out of bed again and headed for the shower. With the hot, steaming water pulling me back from the depths of sleepiness, I did something that up to a few minutes previously had seemed almost impossible. For the first time that day, I opened my eyes!

After nearly drowning myself for quite some time, it was time to get ready to check out. Hastily, we packed our bags before heading down to reception to hand back the keys. With that done, we decided that breakfast was definitely in order, and only one place could possibly give us what we needed. Back to Wetherspoons!

Fed, watered, and with the hangover suppressed, we went back to the car and headed out of Penzance. Our destination for the morning was the National Seal Sanctuary just outside of Gweek. As we were heading there, I heard a loud rumble emanating from the sky. For a few moments, I thought it was thunder, as unlikely as it seemed considering the blue skies that had graced us with their presence. I looked toward the sky for confirmation, and saw where the noise was coming from. Two fighter jets were passing low overhead in search of the airfield at Gweek. As we were heading in the same direction, we decided to take a short detour to the airfield to see if we could find somewhere to watch what was going on.

We found the perfect spot. To the south side of the airfield there is a viewing area allowing for passing traffic to stop and view the vehicles using the airfield. The airfield itself is used both for military purposes and for the local air-sea rescue, whose helicopters save the lives of so many around this part of the coast. There's something about high powered flying machines that has always fascinated me. There's just something so elegant about them that I could quite literally sit for hours watching them fly overhead, which is what we actually did!
After a relaxing hour or so watching the planes and helicopters come and go, and somewhat aware of the time, we left the airfield and headed for the seal sanctuary just a few minutes down the road.

It had turned into an extremely nice day as we left the car once more to head into the seal sanctuary. Started in 1958, the National Seal Sanctuary was opened to aid injured and sick seals found around the Cornwall coastline. By 1975, the sanctuary had outgrown its single pool at St. Austell and was moved to its current location at Gweek. Since then, the sanctuary has grown to five pools, a hospital and several enclosures for other animals such as Otters and Sea Lions.

Unperturbed by the surprisingly expensive entry fee into the complex, we entered the sanctuary and began to walk the length of the park, taking in a welcome stroll and the glorious sunshine overhead. Having bypassed the main pools, we ended our walk at the otter enclosure which is in a beautiful, forested part of the park. I had never realised before how beautiful an animal the otter is. I found myself mesmerised watching the otter lying on its back "juggling" a stone between its paws. I could have watched them for hours, and in fact, I probably did!
After some time watching the otters, we headed back up the park to see the other animals. As we approached the first of the pools, we heard an announcement that it would shortly be feeding time at the pool at the top of the park, so we once again passed straight by the pools. I hoped that we hadn't caused any offence or ill-feeling to the seals by walking straight past them twice without so much as a wink!

The feeding started with the sea lions which were brilliantly trained. It was explained that the sea lions needed to be trained so as not to be too unruly when it comes to veterinary treatment. It was somewhat amazing to see the placidness of such a large animal when the trainers held their hands flat to them and they appeared to lightly kiss the hand.

Having watched the seals and the sea-lions feed, we moved on to the penguins. For a very long time, I have had something of a love of penguins. Personally, I think they are one of the most beautiful creatures to habit our planet. I find them somewhat humorous with their waddle walk, and their "always dressed for dinner" colour. From the grace of the Emperor to the cuteness of the little blue, I love watching them and was rather pleased to find them in the seal sanctuary.

If you are ever in the area, I would urge you, dear reader, to visit the seal sanctuary. It's a great visit, and there is something of a satisfaction knowing that the entry fee goes only to help the animals.

After a good few hours at the seal sanctuary, we got back in the car and manoeuvred out of the very steep car park and headed on our way to our resting destination, Falmouth. Only a short drive, the car deposited us to the outskirts of Falmouth in what seemed like no time at all, and we managed to find a bed and breakfast with relative ease. Having checked in, we left once more, this time on foot into the town centre in search of sustenance.

How could I describe Falmouth town centre in mid-September. Nothing short of dead comes to mind. There seemed to be nobody in the town centre at all, save a few restaurateurs and shop-keepers. We were, at least, able to get some food, after which we went down to the bay where we sat, and talked, and watched the evening slowly drift away!

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