Thursday, June 9, 2011
From Cornwall with Love
I’ve just come back from a little holiday, so this week, instead of rattling on relentlessly about how Qrac did this, and how Qrac did that, I thought I’d tell you a little about where I was and what I did, and spice it up a bit with some photos. I hope that’s ok!
I went to Falmouth, Cornwall, in the south-west of England, where my daughter Olivia is at university. She’s just concluded her Foundation Year in Art and I was looking forward to seeing her end of year exhibition. My parents came too, and my husband would have loved to come, but had too much going on at the office. Besides, our son Greg is currently sitting some pretty big exams, so it was good that my husband stayed with him.
So my parents and I flew out to Bristol last Monday, where we rented a car and embarked on the three and a half hour drive down to Falmouth.
Cornwall is beautiful, and I really love it there. The only bummer is that it’s such a pain to get to. I suppose it doesn’t sound particularly remote by American standards, but for little Swiss people it really is far and away. What bothers me most is that Olivia can’t come home for the weekend, but I go and visit her once in a while, and we always have a lovely time.
You might have heard that England has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to food, but I can assure you that food is one of things I particularly look forward to whenever I go to Cornwall!. We’ve discovered some fantastic restaurants in the Falmouth area, and although I’ve never been particularly big on fish, when I’m there I can’t seem to eat enough of it. I especially love mussels! Oh, and treacle tart for dessert! With Cornish clotted cream! Aie aie aie!
The drive from Bristol was easy, despite the not-so-great weather. The scenery is gorgeous, especially once you leave the motorway for the dual-carriageway. It’s all rolling and green and quintessentially English, with higgledy-piggledy patchworks of hedgerows. My parents enjoyed the ride, particularly my mother who hadn’t been to Cornwall since she was eighteen and was really looking forward to seeing the area again. As we drove down, she told me that she’d passed her driving license, and, the very next day, had driven down to Cornwall from the north of England with her mother and her best friend! I guess there was much less traffic back then, but still!
As if on cue, the sun came out just as we arrived at our hotel. Olivia blew in minutes later, all wild-haired and fresh-faced. I’d booked a double room so that she and I could enjoy chatting and giggling and reading fashion magazines side by side in bed. I unpacked my suitcase, and then we all went for an amazing meal at the hotel’s restaurant. What did I have? Muscles! Unfortunately, there was no treacle tart, so I had go with a big gooey chocolaty mousy thing instead. Poor me!
The following morning Olivia took us to see her exhibition, where we all spent ages admiring all the talent on display. Of course, I loved Olivia’s photographs, and there was plenty of other interesting work to see, including loads of beautiful paintings, incredibly detailed illustrations, some funky fashion, and a couple of short films. There was some pretty weird stuff too, including a painting of a group of people puking their guts out! Hmmm…
Having been plagued by chilly grey skies for months, Olivia had begged me to bring some sunshine with me, and somehow I managed to grant her wish. The sun shone most of the time we were there, which was nice for all of us, but particularly for my parents who got to see the area at its best. My mother couldn’t get enough of Trebah
Gardens, a 26 acre sub-tropical coastal delight that tumbles down a steep valley right down to the beach. Records of the garden date right back to 1085! It truly is spectacular, and you’re ever in the area Trebah is well worth a visit. I’ve been many times now yet so far have never managed to be there to witness the thousands of rhododendrons in full bloom. Maybe next year.
My mother also wanted to go to St.Ives, the sea-side town on the northern coast, which she remembered it as a sleepy little fishing village. Artists from all over the world have been attracted to St. Ives, not only because of its beauty, but also because of its very special light. St. Ives always reminds me of naïf paintings, with its bright colors and strong, flat light. Of course, St. Ives has changed
dramatically since my mother was eighteen. She couldn’t get over how it now sprawled right up the hillside, nor could she believe the amount of pay-and-display car parks, packed with thousands of cars and dozens of tour buses from all over Europe. It was half-term, the sun was out, and the place really was heaving. It took a while, but I eventually managed to find a parking space in the humongous car park right at the top of the town. Since my father has problems with his hips and legs, we avoided the long walk into town and hoped onto the regular bus service to and from the parking. English tourist points are so well organized!
We had a nice little stroll through St.Ives, stopping for drinks at a beach café,
tutting at all the semi-naked people roasting themselves fuchsia pink behind multicolored wind-breakers, smiling at kids running around with buckets and spades, and admiring surfers braving the chilly waves. While my father pensively sipped his Coke, my mother wrote a postcard to the friend who had accompanied her here fifty-odd years ago, parsimoniously choosing her words to best express how much things had changed. It was such a nice moment.
The following day we drove out to The Lizard, which is England’s most southerly point. It’s majestic and rugged and wild, with evil jagged rocks eager to spear unsuspecting boats in rough weather. Of course, there is also a big car cark, spotless facilities, two little cafés and a souvenir shop! Nevertheless, it really
is a stunning spot, and we walked down to the old tumbledown lifeboat station and read the plaque about all the shipwrecks. It was there that my father had quite a long conversation with a giant seagull perched on the cliff wall! For some reason, whenever he whistled at it, the bird would hesitate for a moment, as if mulling over what to reply, and then chatter something back. This went on for at least five minutes, and so entertained a couple of Japanese tourists that they even took a photograph of my father. He’s become big in Japan!
Once the man and bird conversation was over, we heaved ourselves up the hillside again, stopped at the souvenir shop where my mother bought more postcards, and then sat down for a nice cup of coffee at one of the cafés before hopping back in the car and heading back to Falmouth.
We only had three full days in Cornwall, as travelling there takes up a whole day in itself, but we did so many things and had such a nice time that when I got back I felt as though I’d been away for ages. It’s great to have a change of rhythm and scenery once in a while, don’t you think?
But it’s also nice to be home again, to be with my son, my husband and my dogs. And it was great to head out to the stables and go for a nice long ride in the sunshine on my lovely Qrac.