After waking up a little after 7 this morning, I dragged myself out of bed, stumbled off in the direction of the shower and re-enacted the morning scenes of the farmer in the “Shaun the Sheep” movie pretty accurately. Half an hour later I stood in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, and for my eyes to focus on he sparkling ocean in the distance.
Sun. Clear skies. Forecast for clouds later. Need to get the kids up. Now.
An hour later I set off out of the house with the younger children in tow. Miss 12 still had breakfast on her face (a particular skill she practices), and neither of the children had tied their laces properly, but we didn’t let that stop us. Or maybe we did. A mile further down the road – while passing field full of particularly chatty sheep, I tied Miss 10s shoes such that they would be a problem to undo ever again.
Our first stop was the beach at Talland – a mile or so below my parent’s house. It always seems like further due to the winding, steep path that becomes steeper as you grow closer to the sea. We spent perhaps twenty minutes collecting seashells before Miss 12 mentioned being hungry. Being hungry meant climbing out of the bay, and over the headland to find something to eat in the next coastal village.
For the next half hour, as we made over the headland path, Miss 12 began complaining. “I’m tired” became “my back hurts”, and then “I’m not going to make it”, and “I can’t do it”. She must have said “I can’t do it” a hundred times – but she kept walking while complaining, and before we knew it we crested the headland, and made our descent into Polperro.
While walking down the seemingly never-ending twists and turns of the road into Polperro, I started worrying about walking back out. If the kids had trouble walking up the other side of the hill, climbing back out again was going to be a problem. Perhaps.
As we wound our way through the old part of Polperro, passing boarded up ice cream and sweet shops, the children started. “I’m hungry”… “lets have a look around the harbour first”… “but I’m hungry”… and so it went on. After sitting on the harbour wall to re-enact a photo that had been taken 40 years ago, we wandered around the corner and into the warmth of the “Blue Peter” pub.
It was still only 11am. The pub didn’t serve food until 12 noon. What to do for the next hour? Beer, dominoes, and fizzy drinks – that’s what. After a spirited dominoes tournament, and then the distraction of a friendly dog that came into the pub, we ordered three ploughman’s lunches and filled our faces. I might have drunk a couple of beers to help the food down.
Half an hour later we stumbled back out of the pub, filled to bursting with crusty bread, cheese, and pickled onions and went for a wander around the harbour. In a back street we discovered a sweet shop that had opened for the day. Oh my word. I’m not going to admit to quite how many sweets we filled the bags with before leaving. I told the kids they could eat as many as they liked on their way back up the dreaded hill.
Guess what – the distraction worked. They climbed the hill out of Polperro, back towards Talland with no problems what-so-ever. A mile of 30% gradient was made to look very easy indeed by a kilogram of chocolate mice, chewy coca cola bottles, and sour sweets.
We arrived back in Talland “for a rest” and combed the beach for shells once more before making the final climb back to my parents house, perhaps a mile and a half up the road. I thought the job of distracting the children was going to be *much* more difficult during that final slog, but again they surprised me – talking non stop about the animals in the fields, singing songs, and laughing at their own idiotic jokes.
Today was a good day.