Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Other Side of England

Just returned from a revisit to Cornwall. I was there 45 years ago, stationed just outside Newquay, with my then new wife and small shiny kids. We loved the place in those days: the wild cliffs, the quiet beaches, the fresh, clean winds blowing over from the Atlantic. It used to take us 12 hours to drive from Essex to Cornwall at a time when there were no motorways. It still took us almost that long this time, due to the immense amount of traffic. Wadebridge and Padstow had changed only in the number of tourists: thousands of them, thronging the narrow streets, mostly eating Mr Stein's fish and chips. It was a delight to spend a few days with our son Richard and his wife Julie, and our granddaughter, Chloe. They had been our inspiration for choosing this area since Julie is a garden person and the family had not yet been to the Eden Project.

We went back to St Eval, where we once had a married quarter on the cliffs, and found it had altered only in the privatisation of the houses, which now had an individuality about them. Then we seriously set about sightseeing, going to St Michael's on the Mount, the Telegraph Museum, the little theatre on the Lizard, the Eden Project, and many others. One of the pleasures was meeting up with an old friend and the editor of several of my books, Jane. We were shown around Mousehole by Jane and her husband Abdel, and really got to see the roots of the Cornish coastline. They were brilliant hosts and Abdel cooked us a meal which I can still taste on my mind's tongue. It was delicious. The only downside was having to park on a narrow quay with the sea on both sides. I am not the best driver in the world and my heart was thumping a little as I inched my way backwards along the narrow wall past a French Lieutenant's woman, who stood staring bleakly out at the waves . We left the car there overnight. I was told by my hosts that at an earlier time one bunch of cars was actually crushed by mighty storm waves breaking over the wall. I stared out at the placid face of the Atlantic Ocean and wondered whether it was due to have a tantrum. Happily it didn't lose it's temper but I still had to inch my way off that sea wall the next morning. I could never in a million years work for Eddie Stobbart.

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