Tuesday, 18 September 2012


I've been away; hence lack of blogging.  I went to Cornwall for a week with my mother and elder brother, to celebrate Mum’s 80th birthday.  Cornwall was beautiful, as always, the weather was variable, again as always, and the peace and quiet and fresh air were all blissful. 

The journey down did not go well.  It had all looked straightforward on paper.  Mum and I were to meet at Paddington and get a morning train to Exeter, Stephen would meet us there with his car, and we would drive on as far as Plymouth, picnic at Jennycliff, then drive on to Polruan in the afternoon.  Simple!  Except Mum and I managed to get on the wrong train.

I’m still not sure how we managed to do it.  I really thought we were on the right one.  But we were spotted, and thrown off, because our tickets weren’t valid on the service in question.  The train was extremely crowded and by the time we had managed to get back on to the platform the train we should have been on had left.  Just to add insult to injury (at least in my own mind) one of my favourite actors was on the train and very sweetly helped us with our luggage, and I failed to recognise him and growled “No, no, I can manage, honestly what a bloody cock-up”, when I should have been smiling and saying “Thank you” courteously.  What a cock-up, indeed.  Hopefully not being recognised is a pleasure rather than a pain for the chap in question. 

No, not that actor, alas.  This was the lovely Samuel West.  Who turns out to be rather taller than I had imagined, and in fact damnably attractive in person.  Lovely brown eyes with crinkles at the corners.  Bah humbug.  If I had recognised him I would probably have made a perfect bally fool of myself all the way to Exeter, so I guess it was all for the best.

All this meant we were running late; Stephen rearranged his journey, and was able to meet the next train without undue trouble, but as this meant we arrived at lunch time instead of well before, we went down to have our picnic lunch beside the Exe instead of overlooking Plymouth Sound.  We parked outside St Clement’s church, below Powderham Castle; and Stephen promptly reversed into the church collecting box.  Which was built into a large granite pillar.  So the starboard stern bumper of the car looks as though it's been attacked (though luckily none of the rear lights were damaged).  Poor little Volkswagen; but at least it gave as good as it got - the collecting box looks as though someone tried to stage a smash-and-grab raid on it...

Then we went down to the foreshore with our food, and I sat in a large lump of tar.  Large enough, and warm enough (it was a very sunny day, and tar melts in the sun) that it went through my trousers, through my underpants, and onto me.

I now know one can get tar off one’s backside quite efficiently with a good squirt of WD40, so I learned something useful from this; but still, it was not a good start to a holiday.

From then on, though, things were okay.  It was almost like the old theatrical adage about a bad dress rehearsal meaning a good first night.  Nothing else went wrong, and pretty much everything went right.  We all caught up on some sleep, walked on the coast path and along the Fowey River and its assorted creeks, got a lot of wonderful fresh air, talked to cows, visited country churches, bird-watched, ship-watched, paddled, went to the Eden Project (fascinating but very expensive!), talked our heads off, drank a lot of gin and tonic, and ate too much.  Perfect family holiday, I think.

Sadly I didn’t manage to do much writing, as I was too busy doing all of the above (& too tired by the time I went to bed each evening).  But I’ve got stuck into it again since I’ve been back.  Only I do wish I were still in Polruan, with that clean, clean air to breathe.

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