Leaving London I pop last week’s omnibus of the Archers into the CD player (yes I am very modern with my podcast burning) - Nigel’s funeral week. And blow me, steady ladies, if it doesn’t get me blubbing and I can’t stop for about an hour. Now driving and blubbing aren’t partners of choice, especially at traffic lights where pedestrians and fellow drivers get to see one’s puffy wet face at unflattering close range.
But I’m on the A303, always a good sign as you can only end up in Devon on that road, and remember – summer does come soonest in the south.
As its January and before lunchtime everyone else is in bed and so the roads are empty – out of London and into the South West.
Five and a half of your English hours later and suffering from non marital stiffness, my sat nav, precariously pronounces the name of my final destination and confirms that I have arrived, in extra good time and whilst it is still light in her Majesty’s Cornwall. God Bless ‘em all.
There is something so very excellent about crossing the border into Cornwall. It instils a near immediate sense of calm and relaxation in me. On this, my first night, without any external forces and sans grape I am in a borderline comatose state of idyllic relaxation, and I sleep better than I have done for years. I would have slept longer had my sister not been attempting a very good impersonation of my father by clattering around with the washing up under my bedroom, and before dawn. It’s a family thing, it can’t be helped. At least she puts the milk back in the fridge after use which my dad never does – but best not get me started; I don’t want this typewriter wearing out.
I’m plagued by lack of internet, which after 3 weeks of no broadband at home I am not happy about. I have a mobile dongle – no reception, my sister has wireless broadband – my computer won’t talk to it, my phone has a tethering option, my computer isn’t into S&M. All roads point to the fact that my computer is shit. But I try very hard to blame everyone else’s equipment and let it simply wash over me. It is like a strong saline solution over a deep cut, that’s how well it washed over me. But my wonderful, beautiful new phone is still working so I fall back on it for all my connection to the world needs and its multitude of options, facilities, communications and entertainments.
But I am, after all, south of the border, young*, gorgeous*, still mobile and never far from wine, so nothing (much) to complain about.
Did I mention I love Cornwall?
Mary and her partner are leaving today for a variety of locations and activities, starting with a visit to Leamington and associated joy. Whilst casually pondering what holiday adventures to undertake today and as they finished off their packing and sundry, I lie on my bed and listen to Shirl doing Goldfinger. My sister, whilst she packs his bag, calls out a long list of instructions to her partner, detailing what he should do and how he should do it when he gets to his final destination in York. Apparently it’s required.
I am a free man today. I have my sister’s house and the lanes of Cornwall to myself. I decide to head to Falmouth for lunch, a mooch, vista bonita del mar various and merriment a vaccance in general. Kernow submersion day one stylee. Bring it on.
The sat nav finds a much better route to Falmouth than I have ever taken before which is great as it brings me to a central car park right on the chuffing harbour if you please. The views of the estuary have me reaching for the retirement home pamphlet and longing for a future by the sea. This is not helped by the squawk of seagulls, the sound of masts rattling in the wind and the sight of boatmen painting their boats on the quay – all button pushers for me and my idyllic dream. And this a university town to boot – pass mummy her smelling salts.
Driving back I realise how I would happily make a profession of driving in Cornwall, going too fast down deserted lanes in glorious countryside is one of my favourite boy activities.
So first day done. Tomorrow? Well I crave the coast; I must get near the sea tomorrow. My sister is coming back on Thursday and wants to go in search of Art, and so I will save my favourite drive in the whole world – St Just to St Ives, until then. But the coast is calling me so I will definitely commune with the sea and enjoy a lot of coast and harbour tomorrow. But I have two coasts to enjoy – it’s like drugs, just cheaper, legal and a with a better high.
Did I say I loved Cornwall?
Grey eggs! Is that an Arab custom?. Not the brightest of days today, but that’s never put me off much. I’d stay in bed if I was at home but I feel the call of the sea and must answer it. J’arrive!
I’ve been extra nice to my sister's cat. Smiling at it, not shouting at it, no mention of blue juice, no threats of muff making, giving it food, but still it runs at the sight of me. Some things never change in life I suppose. But hey ho – I’ve shown willing, that’s the main thing. If it does want stroking and for me to speak to it in a stupid voice like my sister does, well it has to actually come nearer to me. I even laid a trail of cat crunchies between the door and where I was sat last night to try and encourage our blossoming love – but no, he shunned me. ‘Blossoming love’ is quite rude when you think about it. I think imagery of anything opening should have an R18 certificate.
On the subject though, I was strangely drawn to love yesterday, most out of character at the moment I know, but listening to Gerry Rafferty as I whizzed cross country, reminded me of being a teenager and having those intense feelings for people. A magical and powerful time of lust and longing and dreamt futures of warmth and perfection. I thought if only love could be like that and without the nagging, the arguments, the expectation that you will change who you are so as to fit with the other persons deficiencies, the ultimate disappointment and the stretched out tedium of that final closure, then that, I thought, that would be nice.
I’d like to think that it wasn’t me, and that I just haven’t met the right girl, but I think it highly likely that it is me. But hey – there’s plenty of snap left in my celery. There’s air in them there tyres, and 4 stroke in the tank. Don’t stop me now, cos I’m having a good time, having a good time!
And we’re back in the room..... Look at the muck in here!
It is getting very grey now – a perfect day to inspect the coast me thinks. (Enter your own Daphne Du Maurier imagery here – it’s cheaper for me and with lack of broadband I can’t Google any references for checking)
And he’s off. I think I’ll start with Porthleven and then head off to Marazion and maybe Penzance. I had wanted to go to Newlyn to the gallery there, but unfortunately this week seems to be the week many of Cornwall’s key galleries are hanging new exhibitions. Many finished last week and new ones start next week – but this week – all dust sheets and polystyrene coffee cups I’m afraid.
The cat is sitting outside in the cold waiting for me to go and my sister to return I imagine. Oh no, wait a minute, now it’s decided to forget how much it dislikes me and head for the warmth after all.
My word, what a lot of weather we’ve been having. My drive home today was through mist on the hills – fantastic.
Oh, all of a sudden I’m the cat’s best new friend. It can’t get enough of me. I suppose the men always come round, especially when they are hungry.
As planned I started in Porthleven – a gorgeous harbour with a splattering of galleries and vistas bonita a plenty. I thought I’d spotted two Gays at lunch, but then I realised they were just fat with beards. Maybe I’ve been straight all along, but my wrong side of svelte and hirsute face have been swerving my bedroom calibration. Anyway apart from the non Gays and a lack of Walnut in my gorgeous Cornish salad Porthleven was everything an out of season seasoned traveller, sea and art lover could have hoped for and so much more.
Just walking in the harbour and watching the sea crashing against the stone and rocks, watching a fisherman tend to his net scrutinised hawk like by hungry seagulls, spying in every corner some actual or residual piece of Cornish history of the sea, of mining, of art – these things trump all others for me and generate a great sense of strength and peace inside me.
I took some pictures in the harbour, some of the small fishing boat I had been watching. The resounding image I have of Cornwall is small fishing boats all with their area codes, PZ for Penzance for e.g. Also the place names get shortened to their boats codes. So we don’t say Penzance we say PZ, and we don’t say Porthcurno we say PK. I absolutely love it. Oh to live amongst fishermen and artists by the Cornish coast. I certainly think it is my ultimate dream.
I then drove on to Marazion and to the causeway leading to St Michael’s Mount. Again, beautiful and some great art here. I walked on the beach and took lots of snaps of the mount. The light was not good but the moody greyness of the sky somehow enhanced the mystery of the castle atop. I paid a call on a very posh gallery with a London stylee floppy haired gallery assistant. I pretended I was interested in buying one of their very expensive paintings; it got me a much better quality of attention than they would have otherwise furnished me with. Then a drive into PZ for a spot of econo shopping – Bluetooth adapter, Yorkshire tea, some great trainers, a waterproof coat and a postcard for Evie, my Goddaughter.
I’m on the wild Atlantic Coast today - much to my enjoyment, but there do seem to be a lot of old ladies sitting in the back of cars whilst their presumably male drivers have stepped out to enjoy the bracing vistas various. Now if I remember the public information films correctly you are supposed to leave the window open a jar if you leave your old lady in the car, so they can get some air.
Now those regular to this Parish will know I’ve spoken of head scarves before, and there is a jolly good reason for that; they are very sensible. And in certain weathers they are particularly practical, and today is certainly breezy enough to warrant a Hermès square.
I’m not quite sure why my late Mother didn’t befriend them more – they would have been a real boon to her and enabled her to get out and about more. The merest thought of the wind messing up here hair was enough to keep her in her bedroom refusing to even answer the front door.
So I find myself going for a lovely walk - It’s ok it was National Trust Land. Beautiful coast at Godrevy. I saw seals, deserted coves, a light house and even old people with Thermoses – it’s traditional. I even sat on a bench inscribed in memory of an Ice Cream Man – 1989 – 2009. More of an ice cream boy if you ask me, but he picked a good spot, I’ll give him that. And with my new trainers scampering across the rocks was like walking on air.
‘Aktually it is only fotherington tomas you kno he sa Hullo clouds hullo sky he is girlie and love the scents and sounds of nature’
One up, all up. Paper thin these walls and floors. I could hear my sister discussing the price of Tin with a neighbour before sun up. The ease with which I am party to all this nocturnal chatter is starting to make me worry that maybe the girls upstairs in London can hear me like I can hear my sister. If so I’m surprised they even say hello in the street. The angry vulgarity I hurl in their general direction if they are being particularly heavy of foot – well it would be enough to make a midwife blush. Sitting quietly is generally underrated as an acceptable pastime by the youth these days and my neighbours are no exception.
Pasties in St Just, the most wonderful drive from St Just to St Ives, and then in the bright sunshine and arctic wind of St Ives we saw art, art, art and more art. Gorgeous. Highlights were our visits (pilgrimages) to Barbara Hepworth’s studio and Penwith Society of Artists Gallery – a joy to behold in every way. Oh and on the drive home my sister told me that when I was a baby I called ice cream nim nim, and food num num. I’d need three these days – num num, tem tem and wim wim.
Did I say I love Cornwall?
Well that’s what we like to call a polite sufficiency and for those of you not yet asleep, thank you for listening.
(*May not necessarily be true)