slow lane life 3

slow lane life 3

Saturday, 21 October 2017

What we did on our holidays

We went to Cornwall.

We'd returned from our last London trip tired and incubating colds, and in my usual way, I had the From Hell version, which is only just clearing up now. I seem incapable of getting a mere cold, or slight sniffles, or a sore-throaty coldish feeling; invariably I get the full sorry works, the Death-Take-Me-Now, eight boxes of tissues, Day Nurse overdosing, gruesome sound effects and the antisocial visible/audible mega-germiness that lasts for ages.

The Gardener had it too, but fought it off manfully. But with my hopes of being better for our mini-holiday cruelly dashed,  I decided to carry on as normal - after all, I would feel just as ill at home, instead of being able to visit the tiny coves, golden sands and turquoise waters whilst honking and coughing and needing to sit down for a bit at rather regular intervals. And I'm so glad I did, because we had a lovely time.

We took Flossie, having booked a dog-friendly airbnb self-catering cottage. Flossie was in heaven; she had us, her familiar bed, toys, ball and bowl, and new beaches to explore. 

The cottage was in the middle of nowhere, and a sat-nav nightmare without the detailed directions provided by our lovely host, but in reality very usefully positioned to reach just about everywhere, and near enough to Truro to shop at Waitrose. (Well, self-catering and feeling unwell provide the perfect excuse to stock up on ready meals and puddings, and, despite its hefty prices, I do love Waitrose for its over-the-top, sometimes pretentious, choices. We compensated for our extravagance by taking sandwiches for our lunches.)

Our cottage was simple, cosy and comfortable, utterly silent at night, and perfect for a total collapse at the end of a busy day.

There was practically no internet, which challenged The Gardener somewhat, but I didn't mind at all. The books were of the usual holiday sort, except for a rather riveting book on alpaca-keeping. I looked at the three resident alpacas with new-found respect after reading the following:

"Fighting teeth"! Who knew? I was, and remain, particularly amused by this.

Alpacas may be docile, but they are not necessarily biddable.

The main purpose of our mini-holiday was for The Gardener to see a special garden for the first time. I had visited twice over many years, and was interested in its development. Flossie loved the woodland walk before we wandered through the formal and kitchen gardens.

We were in The Lost Gardens of Heligan, which The Gardener loved, having read Tim Smit's original book about this remarkable find and its dedicated 25-years-and-counting restoration. Our early start, repeated each day, meant that the crowds built up just as we were ready to leave. The gentle autumnal weather turned to summer each afternoon, golden light and beautiful colours.

We visited St Ives, busy, tourist-filled, and quite charming.

Fortuitously, we visited on the weekend that the new extension to the Tate Gallery opened, after 18 months' closure; admission was free, and as early arrivals, we did not need to queue, although we were relieved to escape an hour later as the throng poured in after us and the noise, crowding and heat became unbearable. 

A choir sang in the new gallery and then processed in two solemn lines throughout the building. Impossible to describe, I wish I had videoed them; after a few minutes, during which they seemed to be following us everywhere, their wordless song became curiously trying to the nerves; perhaps my cold was exerting undue pressure on my tolerance of noise.

The new extension is a beautiful space, lit only from above. See HERE for more. 

Some of the visitors were rather exquisite too; beautiful clothes and jewellery, easier to observe in the crush than some of the art. 

In the shop, instead of queuing for the cafe with its wonderful view, we bought a print of John Wells' Sea Bird Forms. This and a car full of sand would be our holiday souvenir.

When we emerged, the queues stretched a long way down the street.

And so we walked up onto the headland and quietly watched the waves for a long time.

On other days we visited the picturesque little villages like Mevagissey and Mousehole (pron. Mowzle), the latter sacked by the Spaniards in 1595, the entire village being burned except for one house, still standing. Squire Keigwin appears to have been the only man to resist the Spanish soldiers, and was killed, but State Papers of the time HERE were highly critical of Mousehole's and other villages' lack of resistance. Fascinating to read and see what an immense risk to England the Spanish were at this time.

We enjoyed the seaweed and late sunlight at lovely Sennen Cove:

Labradors seem not to mind slithery, sandy, aromatic stick-substitutes like seaweed in their mouths.... She would have brought it home if we hadn't distracted her.

We went on a little way to Land's End and watched the sun set.

Where The Gardener had a rant about the commercialisation of the area; if you want to gaze unimpeded across the seas you have to enter a rather tacky-looking retail area - The Gardener has very strong views about private (restrictive) ownership of our island coastline. I am familiar with this refrain.... Had he been around in 1932, he would undoubtedly have supported the mass trespass that was later to stiffen the backbone of the Ramblers Association.

We looked out over Newquay's surfers, and decided against the hundreds of steps down to the sand. We marvelled instead at the learners in Mawgan Porth; its beach perfect for some ball-chasing by Flossie.

Surfing is another watery pastime that holds no appeal for me, who can feel panicky when a rubber glove refuses to come off easily - the idea of squeezing myself in and out of a wetsuit is frankly horrifying.

We tottered down yet more steep hills, our knees protesting by this time, to delightful little Port Isaac. I had not watched the tv series Doc Martin, so some of this lovely village was lost on me, but it was filled with fans. Flossie charged exuberantly into the harbour and swam rather too far out for my liking, but by this time she had come to expect at least one enthusiastic swim a day, and there was no stopping her.

We ran out of time. We plan to return in the Spring, to revisit some places, and to see St Michael's Mount, the Minack Theatre and the Telegraph Museum. I hope to be more clued up by then as to the area's local history, too. 

Flossie knows all the best bathing spots, and exactly where she left her seaweed sticks.


  1. After a too-long day I am about to hit the hay.But I will come back tomorrow for a very indulgent wallow.

  2. It sounds wonderful - apart from the cold from hell bit.

  3. Thank you for an interesting and enjoyable post of your holiday. My family history centres around Penzance, Cornwall so your photos of St. Ives and the surrounding area were of particular interest. Thank you.

  4. St Ives - one of my very favourite places. Thank you for a lovely wallow in your photos! Hope you are feeling better!!

  5. I remember that sleeping green man. We went there for my 50th and I had a terrible cricked neck and could only look one way. I have a CD of Heligan birdsong. Very soothing. You were lucky not to queue for the new Tate opening. I often find the visitors more interesting than the exhibits too. Did you see Stargazy Pie anywhere?

  6. What great photos , and lovely to see Flossie again! The "body" in the woods reminded me of the reclining green moss lady that a friend of mine did at Chelsea some 10 years ago. I just found a photo online of H watering said lady!
    Hope that your cold is now subsiding......I have another pal who can't have a normal cold either. She has to go to bed for days!!

  7. Doc Martin is wonderful; great characters in beautiful scenery.
    You'll have to visit Aberglasney, another lost garden , near us in south Wales.