Our little cottage may be short on decoration and heat, but it abounds in Useful Stuff: enough dishes, flatware, pots, pans and kitchen utensils to cook and serve dinner to a girl scout troop (but where would they all sit?), extra pillows and blankets and towels, and a drawer chock-full of sightseeing Low tide on the Truro River leaflets. We found our best Truro map here, and a little booklet titled Discover Truro's Hidden Heritage on the TRURO TRAIL, with drawings by pupils of Years 8 & 9 of Penair School, Truro. Today, we followed the Truro Trail.
First we explored a road not listed. Barrack Lane wanders downhill, along the back of a series of large houses. We passed Old Coach House, Coach House, New Coach House, all converted into small tidy dwellings. So these were historically the back entrance to the fancy houses, but now a residential street in its own right. At the end of this mews we reached the edge of the shopping area we knew, so we headed through a tunnel under the roadway and came out at the Truro River. It was low tide. The ducks and gulls were busily stirring up mud and fighting over semi-submerged sticks. A couple of boats were moored snugly, floating in boat-sized holes in the mud. Down the river a bit we saw some new apartments with a river view. We also found the most American-seeming of the local supermarkets. TESCO boasts that it provides 13 different kinds of trolleys (shopping-carts) for their shoppers' convenience.
Returning through the tunnel past a young man playing a recorder for coins, we found some of the buildings on the Truro Trail, three hundred years Squeeze Guts Alley old and still in use (by a firm of solicitors.) We saw old St. Mary's, the sixteenth-century Truro parish church, the remains of which is appended to one side of the new cathedral as an extra aisle. It's decorated with a carving of a pelican, which was the symbol used at the local assessors' to stamp the ingots of tin. The cathedral itself is adorned with statues of kings, queens, and bishops, old and new. There are still niches available for more statues.
We think Sunday opening is relatively new, but a variety of shops were transacting business; a mixture of shoppers and strollers filled the street. The main street, two blocks long, is unusually wide for Cornwall, the narrow block of houses between two mediaeval lanes having been torn down in 1797. Now it's about as wide as a typical American street. There are a variety of pavings and sidewalks - cobblestones, cut stones, studded iron plates, macadam, concrete . . . Open gutters catch the rain water and guide it towards the sea. "Truro" is Cornish for three rivers. The compact downtown with tiny curving streets reminds us of cities in Belgium and France.
Truro is full of "opes" -- narrow passages connecting different streets. We slipped through the narrowest, called Squeeze Guts Alley, and crossed a Once a gentlemen's W.C. couple of bridges, winding behind the cathedral. Here we discovered (no kidding) an office located in a nineteenth century gentlemen's WC, and an elephant ramp on the site of an old corn mill. It looked like the elephants could only get wet up to their knees.
Winding back up the hill we again admired the Georgian architecture on Lemon Street. These houses were constructed adjacent to one another, in long rows, with gardens in the back, now taken up by garages. The newer houses have tiny gardens in front. Some of them are decorated with colored stones and small plants, in the Japanese style; many are not yet pruned for spring, all of them sport some blooming flowers. We paused to carefully read the public notice about the replacement of street lamps that had "outlived their design life," and walked another block to see the replacement lamp at location B347 (each lamp has a small metal plate identifying it.) The replacement was nice, but we couldn't see the need to replace the existing lamps. This may be a manifestation of what we learned to call the brother-in-law phenomenon in the U.S.: somebody's brother-in-law does contract work for local government and needs a new project.