Don’t let the sun go down on me
This week we’re camping in Cornwall at Trevellas Manor Farm campsite. What incredible sunsets are provided for us over the Celtic Sea! I don’t remember a sunset that good in the UK. But when the sun does go down it a) gets very dark and b) gets rather cold.
We’re sitting in the tent, the light is fading and the chill factor hits me.
Me: “When the sun goes down it’s not very warm.”
Helena: “I know. It’s funny that.” (I detect a hint of sarcasm).
Living in a tent makes you realise what you take for granted back home. Like having light or heating available at the flick of a switch. I’m now sat here, with a lantern in one hand and book in the other, wondering how I’m going to turn the page. Turns out it’s impossible, so I switch to the Kindle app on my phone. Thanks to technology, I now don’t have to go to bed at 8pm, I can go crazy and go to bed at 9pm.
Sun, Sea, Seals, Surfers Against Sewage and Seasickness
Wow that’s a lot of Ss. Today we’re on a sea kayaking tour from St Agnes with Koru Kayaking. Helena is in the front of the kayak and I’m in the back. That’s just the way we roll, or should I say float. It means I can kick back, relax and get away with it, while she does all the paddling. Read on and you will see that that is not the case.
Our tour guide points out a hole on the cliff wall where the sewage outlet used to be. In 1990 Surfers Against Sewage lobbied the government and managed to get it closed off. I guess then, the people of St Agnes have been holding it in ever since. Seriously though, I think it’s a good movement (no pun intended), who doesn’t want cleaner seas and beaches!
We’re half way into the tour and I notice it’s gone a bit quiet from up front. That’s a sure sign that something’s not quite right. There’s a pretty big swell in the ocean and Helena is now feeling rather ropey. Our Koru Kayaking guide advises her to take a sip of water and then take a dip in the water. After getting back in the kayak, Helena still feels rough. I’ve been seasick before and I know how bad it makes you feel, so I feel for her! A seal has just been spotted close by in the water, but I’m sure Helena would rather be anywhere else right now.
As we round the final cliff face, we aim for the shore, I put the power on and paddle us both in. I ask her if she wants to savour this moment, with what is possibly our last ever sea kayak together. I get a mumbled response. That’s probably a no then. I see a wave coming up behind us, and I time my paddling so that we ride a final wave in.
We’re on the wave and we’re surfing it in like true pros. The RNLI lifeguards are looking on from the beach and no doubt wishing everyone was as good as us, giving them an easy life. Then a second later the back of the kayak starts to catch up with the front until the kayak is parallel to the wave. Yes we’re both going for a dip, the wave tips the boat over and we smash headfirst into the beach. I check to see that Helena is still alive. She’s hit her head and moaning about it slightly, so that’s a positive sign (it’s the silent ones you need to be worried about).
After a (World Champion winning) pasty followed by a (no awards declared) YumYum we are both back to full strength and looking for the next activity. Pasties seem to be so competitive, all competing for world championships left, right and centre.
Lost Gardens of Heligan
Following a trip to The Eden Project we make our way to the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan. Monty Don would be proud of us.
“Welcome to the jungle”, says the sign.
The jungle is a dense, lush area of the garden in a central valley, with a stream and ponds running down the middle. It contains plants more at home in the tropics, but they are thriving here in Cornwall. Giant Gunnera plants, looking like an overgrown spiky rhubarb, that tower over your head with leaves 2 metres across. And magnificent ferns that make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to prehistoric days.
Me: “I wasn’t expecting it be, well so jungly…”
Helena: “I mean, it’s called the jungle.”
She has a point. What I’m really saying is that I’m surprised that all of these plants are growing here. It is certainly not your typical English Country Garden, it feels more akin to prime rainforest. Like a scene you’d see on TV, narrated by David Attenborough where a bird of paradise comes out of the lush undergrowth and does a ridiculous dance, somehow managing to win over his bird.
The First and Last Pasty England
Ok so I’ve had a few pasties this week (don’t judge me) and here’s what I’ve learned. Ginsters pasties from the supermarket really are quite mediocre once you’ve tried the real deal. I just checked their website and it says they are the Nation’s favourite pasty, well I don’t remember being given the vote.
The Vegan and vegetarian pasties I’ve had this week have also been decent!
We make a trip to Land’s End, walking from Sennen Cove south along the cliffs until the land, well, ends. At Land’s End what I find odd is that people are travelling thousands of miles, flying across continents to go there (well they were until COVID-19). And what does Great Britain give them when they finally get there? A Wallace and Gromit experience and a greasy teenager selling pasties. I have to give it to said teen though, his pasty was the best I had all week. I could eat that crust all day. Whether I should or not is another matter.
Why would you wanna live anywhere else?
The Cornish people are a patriotic bunch. I don’t know of any other county in the UK that has its own flag or its own language. They really like to bang on about their pasties and cream teas. Well let them bang on I say, because I bloody love them. But can we have the jam on top of the cream in the Devonshire way please. Sorry Cornwall you’re not perfect.
Recently we watched a series called “Devon and Cornwall”, the title is pretty self-explanatory. It consists of a few characters talking about their lives, with scenic backdrops and they all say “Why would you wanna live anywhere else?” I’m guessing they haven’t lived anywhere else and I like that they don’t think the grass is greener, but they do drill the point home. We get it! Devon and Cornwall are pretty darn good and that’s why we flock there in the Summer, even more so now that foreign travel is basically off the cards.
We visited a nice little town on the South Cornwall coast called Coverack and hired a tandem Stand Up Paddleboard. That is a helluva way to test a relationship. As we were SUPing across the shallow turquoise waters, fringed by white sandy beach, I announced, “I can think of worse places to live.” Paused for a second, while thinking of such a place “Like Slough.”
Now no offence to Slough, I’m sure it has its good points. Random fact for you – I learned to ice skate there. Until the Guildford Spectrum leisure comples was built and Slough was then dead to me.
Back at the campsite we take a walk along the cliffs to Perranporth. We see some choughs, which are endangered birds and a symbol of Cornwall. Basically a crow with an orange beak. It’s pronounced “chuff”. And good luck to anyone learning English, given that Slough, Chough, Cough and Dough are all pronounced differently! I wonder if Cornish is easier to learn than English…
If in doubt. Surf.
I never really got on board with surfing as a kid. If I’m honest, I found bodyboarding a bit scary. Getting smashed by the waves, tumbling around under the water and wondering if I’d be released by the force of the sea to take a breath.
In Polzeath, the sign outside the surf shop makes my mind up for me “If in doubt, surf.” I am slightly in doubt, so I take heed of the sign and surf. Nothing beats time in/on/under the water for improving. Even if you’re good (which sadly I’m not yet), you can always get better on the small stuff. Just don’t sweat it.
Even now when the waves are just a few feet high, I still take a beating from the incoming waves and still get the feeling of being in a washing machine when I wipeoue. It’s as if Mother Nature is keeping me in limbo as to when I’ll get my head above water and take my next breath. Sometimes we’re reminded of our insignificance on this planet when the sea or the weather shows its immense power.
The problem with Cornwall (apart from the jam on top of cream scone strategy) is that it’s quite far away for a lot of us. It’s hard to justify popping down to Cornwall just for a pasty or a surf. I guess Gregg’s will have to suffice for the pasties, or do they only do slices?
So long Kernow (Cornish for Cornwall innit)
On the drive home we pass through “Britain’s best kept village 1997”, so the sign tells us. Quite the accolade. This is followed by a sign for “Barometer World”, I didn’t feel any pressure to stop. Sorry. Moving on.
I stop by my parents’ house to deliver them a Minnack Theatre tea towel. They are not certain whether the tea towel will be shredded by (Arnie) the dog in the first ten minutes or not. Oh good, £8 well spent then! More and more I think it is for the best that Arnie has been rehomed since his previous guide dog career. And a fantastic pet he is in his retirement too (despite his taste for tea towels and portable speakers).
There is a parcel from Land’s End by the parents’ front door and I really hope it’s a delivery full of those delicious pasties. There must be at least 50 moreish parcels of meat, vegetable and gravy goodness in there. Sadly it’s not full of pasties, anyway Arnie would have wolfed them down already if they were. I guess we will have to pop back to Cornwall for a pasty again soon.