There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.
Lennon and McCartney
After the unexpected death of a close relative the week before, it was with both relief and fatigue that I set off with both daughters to Cornwall. We spent our family holidays there when I was a child and apart from one brief visit many years ago, I had never returned. Over 300 miles on British roads is never the best of experiences but my daughters and I were so looking forward to the hot tub and a nice glass of Prosecco that the time sped past until we got close to Deerpark where we were staying. Visitors have always said that if an invading force landed in Cornwall the rest of the country would be safe as they would never find their way out. I began to understand how true the statement is, as signs are scarce and my sat nav seemed totally confused and just wanted to take us round in circles or up very narrow lanes. At one point it directed us up such a narrow lane, where the hedges either side had not been pruned, I feared for my pristine paintwork! After thirty minutes of going round in circles, we stopped and asked for directions. When we eventually arrived we were not disappointed. The lodges were set around a lake that nestled into quite a steep valley. The site would be a challenge for anyone disabled although there are some lodges on flatter ground. The balcony on our lodge looked out over the lake in between trees. Once they realised there were new occupants a variety of birds began to perch and stare in through the huge glass doors as if to say “Get a move on with the seed!” Hannah wasted no time and bought bags of bird food before we had even decided what we were going to eat! Within minutes we were visited by squirrels, a robin, a variety of tits and a nut hatch!
After a brief visit to Liskeard to pick up provisions, the following morning we set off to the small fishing village of Looe. It was here we first encountered the infamous seagulls who watched us intently, hoping we had food worth stealing. Despite running the gauntlet of those beady eyes we enjoyed a walk around the harbour. I photographed the boats which somehow seemed more colourful under the grey sky. We stopped to admire the shiniest Harley David motorbike I had ever seen and chatted to the cutest dog who looked forlorn as his owners set off without him. Finally we found a recommended coffee shop. Kate enjoyed a full Cornish cream tea, which for those of you who do not know, consists of a freshly baked fruit scone with jam and Cornish clotted cream. Hannah and I tucked into a huge Knickerbocker Glory, topped off of course with Cornish clotted cream, truly a food wonder of the world! The girls wandered around the unique little shops and I stood and read an amusing sign rather pleased that the Cornish have retained the sense of humour I remembered!
As the weather improved on the second day, we headed off to find Lansallos Beach. It is owned by the National Trust and possibly, because of its remoteness, lack of any facilities and a very uneven path down a steep valley, there were few people there. As we walked down the track covered by foliage, slithers of sunlight fluttered on the path and a small brook sang a soft song as it meandered its way beside us. I was in heaven. It is so unspoilt and ‘real’. The view from the end of the path forced us to stand and stare. I found it hard to believe that such a place still exists in this busy commercial world. A waterfall caught the sun as well as our gazes as we approached the beach. The girls rushed off to get their costumes on, leaving me to negotiate some rather steep stones on my own. Whilst they braved the cold waters I sat, almost mesmerised by the isolation and the beauty of this small hidden beach. The walk back up the steep path was not so much fun however, and we all needed to take time to get our breath on occasions.
I remembered my father’s tales of smuggling and ghosts as we approached Polperro. I expected it to have changed since I was last there, when I was just 8 years old. Relying on tourism it has a charm of its own, with small canal like waterways running under the houses and streets. Moored boats and quaint Cornish cottages had attracted the attention of an artist who, watched by tourists, painted his own interpretation of this tiny fishing village. It is a very busy tourist area and after the serenity and beauty of the isolated beach I soon became irritated by screaming children and loud voices. It seemed that everyone had bought their dog too. Whilst I love dogs I am less keen on many of their owners who seemed oblivious to the fact that long leads can trip people over or ‘fence’ them in. The town was as I remembered it and I was somewhat relieved to know that time doesn’t always change people or places.
Keen to experience something a bit more exciting Kate had pre booked a wildlife boat trip, so early one morning we headed into Padstow, known of course for Rick Stein’s famous fish restaurant. We thought we would try to book lunch there and were just lucky to get the last table at 12 o’clock. We then began to search for the company with whom we had booked the trip. Two local fishermen pointed at two rubber type dinghies across the harbour and any thoughts I had of a sedate boat ride blew away in the increasing wind. The girls clambered into the front seats. As we set off quite slowly I cradled my camera in a plastic bag to protect it from the salt spray and, lulled into a false sense of security, I began to relax. As we left the shelter of the harbour our speed suddenly increased dramatically. One moment we seemed to be flying across the water and the next minute we dropped like a stone onto the base of the waves. I held on tightly to the seat and my camera, relaxation forgotten! It was very cold in the wind despite the sun staring at us and the girls began to regret sitting at the front. They crouched over to protect themselves and by the time we reached the first set of rocks Kate looked almost blue! There was not much wildlife to see, a few cormorants, shags and the odd sleeping seal with its nose in the air, just above the water line. Getting a sharp picture was impossible because of the trampoline movement of the dinghy, but I tried as usual. Two long cold hours later, we were all relieved to step onto dry land and get out of the wind. We looked rather dishevelled as we made our way to Rick Stein’s restaurant but fortunately it didn’t matter as there is no dress code. The food did not disappoint. We all had a fish starter Kate and I had a steak and Hannah had more fish. The sweets were delicious too and feeling totally full, we set off back to relax in the lodge with yet another bottle of Prosecco!