It’s now well over a week since we returned from our fabulous holiday in the far west of Cornwall. We are both suffering badly from withdrawel symptoms and feel a twing of jealousy towards all of the people who are booked into our little holiday cottage after our departure. We did threaten to barricade ourselves in and refuse to leave. As far as we were concerned that was our cottage and we would only leave kicking and screaming. Of course we left without putting up a fight, but I can’t say we departed willingly. Later that day it dawned on us that another couple were settling in and still had a holiday ahead of them to look forward to, and that made us very sad indeed!
I have been visiting Cornwall for holidays ever since I was a little girl. Back then we were bundled into the back of the car with pillows and blankets at the unearthly hour of 3am. Getting to Cornwall from Bristol seemed to take forever. Of course there were no motorways, duel carriage ways or town bypasses when I was little and my dad was a stickler for keeping well below the national speed limit. We would finally arrive excited and exhausted by mid afternoon at some caravan park to spend a week in the tiniest of mobile homes without electricity and certainly no loo or shower. Part of the fun was watching dad light the gas lamps in the evening and making our way en famille with washbags and towels dressed in our brushed nylon nighties to the shower block every evening. Of course it goes without saying that dad definitely did not wear a brushed nylon nightie !
Cornwall for the 8yr old me meant long days on the beach. Shrieking the first time you dip your shoulders under the freezing water of the Atlantic, but then happily jumping and diving in the waves for what seemed like hours on end. Exploring rockpools wearing jelly shoes and brandishing a bucket and net bought from the caravan site shop. Going for drives down impossibly narrow lanes with impossibly steep banks on either side whilst my dad tooted the car horn the entire length and mum held onto the dashboard shouting “Slow down our Tone!” We ate cream teas whilst mum swiped madly at the wasps keen to get to the pots of thick clotted cream, or more worryingly, our jammy faces. Hot salty chips always tasted better out of paper sitting on a harbour wall watching the little boats bobbing up and down. Days were long and I always remember them being hot and sunny, which they most probably weren’t, but that’s how you remember your childhood summers don’t you! As a child I didn’t appreciate the natural beauty of the rugged coastline and wooded creeks. Nor did I consider the pretty fishing villages anything special. What was special about those holidays was the fact that we were spending time together in our happy little family unit, not having a care in the world and days full of laughter and fun.
So here I am nearly fifty years later and still drawn to my childhood holiday destination. How is it different now? What does Cornwall mean to the 54yr old me? Well, for a start I no longer stay in a caravan. Even though todays mobile homes are fitted out with all mod cons, I much prefer to seek out pretty little holiday cottages tucked far away from the caravan sites of my youth. I return to Cornwall to be surrounded by its natural beauty. To listen to the roar of the sea, feel the sand between my toes and to wonder at its industrial past and exciting projects firmly rooted in the present. I prefer the working towns of Penzance and neighbouring Newlyn to the pretty picture postcard coastal villages. I love the ancient moors of Penwith dotted with stones put there by people from a time long, long ago. I love the festivals, the gardens, pasties, clotted cream, seafood and local produce. The fact that the people who live there are passionate about their county and have a true sense of identity constantly amazes me. I no longer brave the seas. Dipping a toe in is all I manage these days. I admit that I’m a bit of a wuss and more importantly, me in a swimming cossie is a sight no one should be exposed to!! Mr R never beeps his horn whilst driving on country lanes and nor would I dream of telling him to slow down, although I do tend to close my eyes when rounding bends as nine times out of ten there’s a tractor or herd of cow ahead!
As always I’ve rambled on. I won’t bore you then with a blow by blow account of our holiday, but will leave you with some snapshots of the best bits!