In the summer
I stretch out on the shore
And think of you
Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
And followed me.
After two days of sunny, if a bit windy weather, we had a feeling our luck wouldn’t last much longer. So after another indecently decadent breakfast at Tregenna Castle, we armed ourselves with umbrellas and waterproof hoodies, and set off to properly explore St Ives this time. The plan was to follow a long, somewhat wild looking footpath along the railway out of town and eventually descend on the beach at its furthest end, then walk back along the sea front towards St Ives, where we still had a bunch of sights to check off our list.
It being quite early on Easter morning, we imagined we wouldn’t run into anybody for a while, but we came across countless groups of early hikers, dog walkers and landscape photographers with whom we happily exchanged smiles and morning pleasantries.
I think V and I have a bit of a walking culture, if not an obsession. It’s been a challenge finding equally exploring enthusiastic traveling partners, as most people we know find it strange that we spend our holidays waking up at the crack of dawn only to walk streets, paths and museum corridors for 12 hours a day, every day of a trip at the end of which we’re usually more tired than we started out. What can I say, we’re weird that way.
Minutes shy of two hours later, our footpath finally descended onto the beach. By this time, the sky had turned an intimidating shade of grey and the wind brought hints of the coming downpour.
We walked around for a while, but not before I put on my winter hat and gloves (!!!) and made V add a couple more layers to his already Eskimo style outfit. I’m an absolute cosy-temperature-or-bust freak, so by the time I was done with us we both looked like oversized, waterproof dumplings, dutifully rolling our eyes at the pack of paragliding daredevils and one particular swimmer who looked way too lively for what I imagined was freezing cold water.
And then, all of a sudden, the rains from hell broke through. There’s little photographic proof of our hours long walk back to town through the storm, as we were way too busy keeping ourselves below freezing temperature, mending our clearly wind-is-our-kryptonite umbrellas and squeezing disheartening volumes of water out of our hair, eyelashes, shoelaces and so called waterproof outfits.
By the time we made it back to civilization, we rushed into the first dry looking coffee place and rested our exhausted drenched selves above a tray of piping hot Cornish pasties and steaming, cinnamon freckled hot chocolates. It was well past lunch time by now, and in spite of the seemingly never ending rain we had to get a move on and check a couple more places off our St Ives themed itinerary.
We concluded the evening sipping wine and stuffing ourselves with mountains of mussels at The Ocean Grill, while outside the window the tide was coming in and rain was slowly fading into a shiver inducing memory. As we were making our way back to the hotel, our multilayered clothes still reminiscent of the recent downpour, we decided we’d be coming back in the summer, to try the sand, and who knows, if we’re feeling particularly daring, the waters too, with bare feet.
As always at the end of a trip, I was feeling nostalgic about having to go back to London and our every day lives of walking up and down tube carriages and rooting ourselves in plasticky office chairs. More than a month after this holiday, I still find myself thinking of cramped houses built in grey, permanently damp looking Cornish lime, of the cave drilled cliffs by the beach where I shrieked every time V stuck his hooded head inside a particularly dark, dangerous looking cavern, of the Cornwall green, the greenest green I’ve seen in this country, one you can almost taste, tangy and raw.
I brought back a bag of white shells I’d picked during our beach walk. Ever the hygiene freak, once I got home I rinsed them in a million waters in our bathroom sink, washing all things Cornwall off them. They fill a jar on one of our living room shelves now, and sometimes I pick it up to dust it, way more often than needed, just to hear them rattle.
For our second day in Cornwall (read about our first day of Cornish adventures here) we’d planned to drive out of St Ives and visit some of the surrounding sights. The weather being unexpectedly beautiful, we quickly chomped our way through our diet-friendly-not, full English breakfasts, and left Tregenna Castle towards our first stop of the day, The Geevor Tin Mine and Museum. We’d never toured a mine of any kind before, and V in particular was very much looking forward to it. Truth be told, hopelessly claustrophobic as ever, I was more than a bit reluctant to willingly descend into what I imagined would be a network of tangled, damp, airless tunnels, out of which, best case scenario considered, I would eventually emerge all sweaty and unfashionably covered in soot.
You can imagine I was infinitely relieved upon finding the mine closed, as it apparently always is on Saturdays, despite V stomping his foot in protest. Of course I had to put my understanding, super duper loving face on, and comfort him with promises of touring at least a couple of mines a week from then onwards, the deepest and darkest the better. And we didn’t leave the place before we took advantage of the lovely sunny, green fields around the mine entrance, taking a million Mr & Mrs Smith style photos and climbing atop each and every mossy stone wall in sight.
Eventually we got back in the car and set off towards Land’s End, a place of beautiful scenery at the most south-westerly point of mainland Britain, which had been recommended to me by pretty much each and every one of my Cornwall versed friends. We hadn’t read anything about it it beforehand, which rarely ever happens, the two of us being absolutely obsessive itinerary makers and all, so we had no particular expectations. Imagine our surprise as we stepped out of the car to this:
I think it’s about time I admitted that I have a thing for this country’s coastal scenery. I first became aware of my dangerous addiction when we stayed in Eastbourne for a long weekend during last year’s AEGON International Ladies’ Tennis Championship, and we spend hours walking up and down the chalky Beachy Head cliffs in between tennis matches. Since then, we’ve been regularly planning coastal holidays, and I always put aside a full day to just walk around and enjoy the views. (If V finds all that walking boring, he’s been smart enough never to have mentioned it.)
Land’s End is absolutely stunning. I was on the verge of a heart attack several times throughout, as V is super duper brave aka insane and was monkeying around way too close to the edge of the precipice, relentlessly posing for a million blood curdling Facebook photos.
We walked around the cliffs for an hour or two, very much feeling like we pacing up and down a Lord of the Rings setting, V taking countless photos of me posing next to scary creature looking rock formations, doing cartwheels along the only, tiniest patch of flat grassy land around, and trying the marsh water with the tip of my finger.
All in all, the day had turned out beyond expectations already, and I’d have settled for a drive back to the hotel and a Cornish pasty themed lunch, but V had read about The Minack Theatre being a stone’s throw away, and we couldn’t really pass on the chance to visit a place looking like this:
Minack is Cornish for “rocky place”, and that’s certainly one way to describe this open air theatre built on the rugged edge of what used to be Minack House’s back yard. Work began in 1931 and was planned, supervised and financed by one extraordinary woman, Rowena Cade. The first performance, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, took place in 1932 and was lit by car headlights. It was a success and improvements on the place continued throughout the decades, until Rowena’s death in 1983.
The theatre is very much alive these days, and we’d have absolutely loved to actually see a play there, but there was nothing on that weekend and it was quite windy as well (my hairdo will very much attest to that below), but we definitely won’t miss on that opportunity next time we go to Cornwall.
We came across a million steep stone steps behind the theater’s stage, leading down to a lovely, private looking beach below, so after a somewhat dangerous descent, made even more dangerous by the strong wind, we finally made it to the most stunning slice of beach I’ve seen in this country. There were few people around so we just sat there looking at the waves, sharing a chocolate chip cookie I’d taken from the hotel restaurant in the morning. Note to self: always have a cookie to share after climbing six hundred steps down a deadly cliff.
It was late afternoon by the time we left The Minack Theatre, and the plan was to take the car back to the hotel parking lot, then walk to St Ives in search of a yummy looking dinner place. We had our eye on Ocean Grill, a lovely seafood themed place overlooking the harbour, but as enticing as it smelled, it was absolutely packed, so we booked a table for the next evening and had to take our starving bellies elsewhere for the time being. We settled for Caffe Pasta, also extremely busy at that hour, but where we were lucky enough to get a table for two with a great view.
We both had the lasagna (can’t seem to find a photo right now, but I’ll keep looking and will definitely update this post with mouthwatering proof of our dinner depravity) and a pint of Italian beer each, as they were singing Happy Birthday and exchanging gifts at a table nearby.
It was still sunny and we were considering concluding the evening by playing a bit of tennis on one of the courts at Tregenna Castle, but by the time we finished dinner and I’d dragged V along each and every St Ives art gallery in sight, it was already getting dark, so we settled for a quick badminton session on the hotel’s covered and conveniently lit badminton court instead. I lost by a million points and blame the lasagna.
I’ll definitely follow this up with a day 3 centered sequel, as soon as I’ve recovered from my psycho excitement at only just booking another holiday for early in June, this time in sunny Portugal. Until then, if you fancy checking out some other St Ives related ramblings, have a look at what we did during the first day of our Easter trip.
They say we come from the same puddle.
Not even a puddle, they say, but more like a cup of old, lukewarm water, sheltered from dangers and direct sunlight. It only took us a billion years to meet, to find a place of darkness and dampness where we could explode into a wondrous cell, one that would grow leaves, hearts and hands to build skyscrapers with.
They say we’re made mostly of water even now. We haven’t grown into some extraordinary new substance shaped to fit in tight jeans and t-shirts; in fact, we’re still part of that same muddy puddle, only it’s so diluted now that I sometimes find it hard to believe we’re flowing together towards the same thing.
When I moved to London, this girl who’s never really liked me and whom I hadn’t talked to in years took the time to write me a message on Facebook: “London. Well good for you, I hope you love nasty rainy weather”. Hostility turns out to be as resilient as all other human sins.
It’s been a while and I guess she was right.
I’m most likely in the rainiest place I’ll ever be, surrounded by waters on all sides. There are times when an umbrella left at home turns into a tragedy. There are days when the invention of waterproof mascara seems to beat the discovery of electricity. And yet I’m here still, closer to the ocean than I’ve ever been, walking my 70-percent-water body down these streets of gray. Breathing in. Looking at you. You’re something else, you’ve got limbs of your own and countless hopes and dreams I’ll never know, yet your eyelids and fingertips are as watery are as mine, and I sigh with relief. I am not alone in this puddle of ours.