November can be one of the most miserable months of the year but around the third week into the month Truro’s ‘City of Lights’ festival lifts the gloom with a parade of glowing lanterns made out of tissue and withies.
Usually coinciding with the switch-on of the Christmas lights this small city comes alive with dance and music from local groups and bands. It’s a real community spirit with many schools taking part, not just from Truro but also from many villages around. Hundreds of school kids bring their lanterns and join up with the professionals who make some much larger creations.
This procession is not a competition to see who can build the biggest and best lanterns – just a simple and effective way for people of all ages to take part in the build up to the festive season – and leave the gloom behind. Wonderful!
Skinner's Brewery and the Old Ale House
I’ve been on more brewery tours than I can remember and I’m not sure that I can remember this one already, and the reason for that is I spent more time in the brewery bar than I did going around the brewery itself.
I’m not complaining mind you, because all the samples were free. No mucking about with half pints here – straight in with pints – and that’s before the start of the tour.
There were 10 of us doing the tour – some from England, some from the U.S. and some from France, and together we sat with our drinks and watched an introductory film about how the family brewery started up – as well as finding out who Betty Stogs is!
Skinner’s is only a young brewery and situated in a modern(ish) unit opposite the Truro River. As such the actual tour doesn’t take a great deal of time. We were shown the usual process of how malt, hops and yeast are turned into barrels of beer, and after what seemed like only 5 minutes, we were back in the bar trying out more beers.
By the time I left the brewery I didn’t feel inclined to do much else, so I wandered along the riverside back into town – and into the Old Ale House – where who should be in there but none other than some of the other people that were on the tour.
What impresses me most about this museum is its collection of Cornish rocks and minerals. To a lot of people that may sound a bit anorakish, but I defy anybody with an ounce of interest in the history of Cornish mining not to be impressed as well.
In fact this collection is internationally recognized, and it’s all thanks to a collection started by Philip Rashleigh of Menabilly, near Fowey. Other collectors have helped swell the number of exhibits to over 16,000 – which unfortunately can’t all be shown at the same time.
Of course, the museum has other things to offer as well, including a Cornish Gallery which transports you on a trip through Cornish history from prehistoric times to the modern day.
The Courtney Library has 40,000 books, manuscripts and such like on Cornwall, and the museum hasn’t forgot the nature and wildlife of the county either.
On the first floor they’ve ventured further afield with some artefacts from Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt including an unwrapped mummy.
It may seem hard to believe, but when the foundation stones were laid for Truro Cathedral on 20th May 1880 by the future King Edward VII, they were beginnings of the first Cathedral to be built in England since Salisbury in 1220.
Designed by John Loughborough Pearson it is built mainly of Cornish granite in the medieval Gothic style with the more decorative features made out of the softer Bath stone. Continue reading
If you’re holidaying in Cornwall, it’s unlikely that you’ll be spending much time in Truro. Even though it’s Cornwall’s capital it’s not very big and a day trip is more than adequate for most people.
Having said that, Truro is an easy place to wander around and there are at least a couple of places worth seeking out.
If, like me, you arrive by train, it’s worth knowing that the station is a 10-15 minute walk downhill into the city centre. There are several buses that will transport you down there, but if you don’t use them on arrival you might want to use them for the journey back up.
If you decide to walk, turn left outside the station and walk down Richmond Hill, bear left at the roundabout and continue down Ferris Town to Frances St where you’ll need to turn right. Continuing along Frances St will bring you into River St and the Royal Cornwall Museum on your left. It’s a straightforward walk and if you’ve caught the bus it also stops outside the museum, so the choice is yours. Either way I recommend a visit to the museum and their Arts Café.