Cornwall was so beautiful; huge open skies and blissfully quiet.
I cannot pretend it was absolutely silent (seagulls, swallows, robins, working boatyards, the wind and passing ships all make a noise of one kind or another) - but compared to the steady rumble of London, the traffic, tube trains, aircraft flying over on their way into Heathrow, and so forth, it felt like the middle of nowhere. And the cold, sunny, bracingly fresh air was like an energy shot to the heart. I feel cleaned out and washed free of clutter, ready to plan and sort out my autumn.
I was staying in the tiny harbour village of Polruan, overlooking the Fowey River. Fowey proper, across the water, was still quite bustling and crowded, but Polruan was peace itself. The Old Foundry was huge, and had the best-equipped kitchen of any holiday property I've ever stayed in. The lounge looked out across the river to Fowey, a pretty pink and grey and cream coloured town scattered along the steep riverside between two ferry landing stages - Whitehouse Quay, for the foot ferry, and the slipway at Bodinnick for cars. One could sit all day and watch the comings and goings on the river. Big china clay ships came in daily to load up at the little docks upriver. An aircrew training ship came in twice, and a HM Customs vessel called, and a dredger. The local lifeboat bobbed quietly at her pontoon, and fishing boats, yachts, dinghies and sailing skiffs assorted bounced by in all weathers. The different types of dinghies and skiffs have lovely names; Sharpies, Toppers, Laser Stratos and Firefly class (I'm so pleased there is a real Firefly class out there!).
I walked along rocky cliff paths where the world's granite bones seemed to be right against my feet, and inland paths above wooded creeks full of birds. I ate too much (a regular feature of my holidays, I'm afraid) and did a couple of pages of sketches, and re-read "Hornblower and the Atropos"; I went rockpooling like a kid at Readymoney cove, and scrambled all over Henry the 8th's little harbour fort, St Catherine's Castle, and the ruined World War Two watching post in the woods behind it... I've had such a lovely break.
I wish I were still there, up to my eyes in beauty and history and wildlife and fresh air.
The train journey home was rather hellish, which was a pity; the train had been overbooked and was fearfully crowded, with people standing jammed in the corridoors and outside the toilets, and luggage toppling into the gangways. The two railway staff on board dealt with it all with amazing courtesy and aplomb; a lesson in quality customer service in the face of extreme difficulty. Watching them in action made a rough journey easier to put up with.
And now I'm back at work. Ah well, at least I like the place where I work. If I lived in Cornwall, who knows? - I might start to take it all for granted.