“Cornwall is very primeval: great, black, jutting cliffs and rocks, like the original darkness, and a pale sea breaking in, like dawn. It is like the beginning of the world, wonderful…” – D H Lawrence, Letter 1916
Apart from the odd day trip I had never visited the north coast of Cornwall, so it was with eager anticipation that the girls and I set off, having packed my car with everything needed for the usual self catering holiday. It was so full I could only take one camera so I opted for the Olympus as I wasn’t intending to shoot flying birds and I needed to practise with the settings and rather complicated menu system!
After a nine hour drive and loads of traffic jams we arrived at Porth Towan. The name originates from the Cornish words “porth” and “tewynn” to mean landing place at the sand dunes. Our modern apartment was high up on the cliffs and the views were spectacular. Cornish Gems certainly know how to select their properties. It was beautifully furnished and well equipped. The highlight for me was the outside terrace area where I began to put the Olympus through its paces using slow shutter speeds. It was a treat to stand on firm ground and be able to take pictures of the sea and surfers.
Perhaps because our accommodation was so comfortable or maybe because we had all had a very busy few months, we decided we would take more time to relax this year and visit fewer places. I just wanted to listen to the continuous sound of ‘surfer’s waves’ and the girls were keen to relax in the hot tub! I became slightly obsessed with the view from one of the windows where I could watch and photograph ‘tiny’ surfers.
The following morning we set off to explore the coastal path. The climb up from Port Towan beach is steep and rugged. It wasn’t long before we were joined by a buzzard who swooped low right in front of me. I regretted not having my Canon camera and my 300mm lens. Further on, a small bird seemed to be following us. I had no idea what it was but later discovered it was a wheatear. In the distance we could see the engine room to the old Wheal Coates copper mine. Hopefully the photograph I took gives an insight in to the scale of the scene before us that day.
One of the advantages of staying so high above the beach was that we were able to get an uninterrupted view of the many paragliders who were making the most of the favourable winds. We could even check out the queue at the Blue Bar, before we set off down the private steps and across the beach to breakfast!
A visit to the Minnack Theatre has been on my bucket list for a very long time. As we arrived we were taken aback by the sea around Porthcurno. It was a deep turquoise and blue which glittered in the morning sunshine. The colours were so deep and rich the scene before us looked as if it had been oversaturated in Photoshop. The Minnack Theatre sits majestically on an outcrop of granite. Carved out of the rock itself it retains it’s original design despite being modernised in places to accomodate so many visitors. There were rehearsals and preparations going on for the afternoon performance of The Crucible. We were all amazed at the tenacity of Rowena Cade who dedicated her life to establishing this theatre in what can be, a very inhospitable place. It was hard to imagine as the sun shone on us all, how cold it must be on the exposed cliff face in the winter months. Her heroic dedication has left a wonderful legacy for us all to enjoy.
No visit to Cornwall could ever be complete without a stop off in St Ives. Once again I searched for the grave of my father’s sister, who died when she was just 15 years old, but alas I still couldn’t find it. Looking from the graveyard out to sea and watching the surfers and swimmers I couldn’t help thinking what a wonderful resting place she has. St Ives was just as busy as last year and although it is very pretty and I enjoyed taking photographs of the boats in the harbour, I found the constant crowds and tangled dog leads difficult and I was keen to return to our cliff top hideaway.
On our way back we stopped at Marazion. It claims to be one of the oldest towns in England. We wandered on the stunning beach which was shrouded in mist, partly from the ferocious spray of the waves. I enjoyed photographing the dogs enjoying the waves. There were moments in Cornwall when I just daydreamed about waking up each day to an ever changing view of the sea. Each beach is so different but what they all have in common in September is a wonderful emptiness!