Final Day at the Coast

After booking a restaurant table last night, we visited Fowey today (pronounced “Foy”) – across the estuary from the small village we visited so often in my youth. We caught the local ferry, and somewhat remarkably found a parking space in the local car-park.

The route into Fowey takes you through winding back-streets – mostly built a century or more before modern motorcars were dreamed of. Watching occasional cars or delivery vehicles navigating through the town is therefore pretty entertaining – with those on foot scattering into doorways along the route.

Most of my memories of Fowey are from 40 years ago now – from childhood visits. Today I made my way through the town, and climbed a hill to the location of an emporium that used to fill us with wonder when young. While the tiled floor remained, the shop had become a gallery, and was closed. In the middle of the town I spotted the 1930s art deco tiled steps of “W H Smiths” – long since replaced by a succession of cafes and clothes shops.

While walking towards the town I was passed by a flustered looking large lady in a very bright dress, who complained to her husband – “come on – let’s go home – they are arriving like rats from all directions”. I smiled.

Lunch was booked at a small restaurant called “Sams” – a bizarre slice of Americana in the middle of a coastal fishing village. It has been chosen by our daughters in one of the endless debates where if they don’t get their way, they ruin everybody else’s life. The restaurant was lovely – but it would have been nice to sit out on the waterfront in Fowey instead of a dark corner of a diner below a poster of Mohammed Ali.

This afternoon I stayed behind while the children went for a final dip in the sea. They returned a few minutes ago. Given that we all ate enough for several days at lunchtime, we’ll be skipping dinner this evening.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it might be time for a coffee. Or a glass of wine. Or maybe one, then the other. Apparently there are plans to visit the penny arcade in Looe later this evening – a last hoorah of sorts (or rather, an opportunity to exchange quite a quantity of money for some unbelievable tat in response for tipping two pence pieces over a series of steps).


Rainy Days and Aquariums

The weather has taken a turn for the worst over the last few days – so we’ve been rattling around my parents house. This afternoon we’re escaping for a few hours to visit the national aquarium in Plymouth. Our younger children visited when they were young – we doubt they will remember much about it. My main memory is of the main tank and coral reef, where sharks and turtles swim above a glass tunnel.

(several hours pass while we corral the children, and set off towards Plymouth in search of said aquarium)

After an hour journey to Plymouth, two laps of a multi-storey car park, and our middle daughter managing to fall down some steps (we re-framed the story as her picking a fight with a car park to make her laugh), we arrived at the National Aquarium, and saw a complete reversal of character in our children. While our middle daughter went into a huge downer about the stairway incident, our eldest – she of multiple anxiety adventures – was living her best life while looking at fish, crabs, sharks, octopi, and whatever else.

It was a very, very good afternoon.

I had hoped to perhaps buy a book about oceanic research, or marine ecology in the shop at the aquarium, but my hopes were dashed. If you were looking for your name on a fake gold necklace, a novelty mug, or a cuddly toy of a shark, you were in luck.

Before heading back we wandered along the waterfront at Plymouth and explored the fortified defences, and the various “historic” locations at the Barbican. In the heart of the harbour there is a set of steps with numerous inscriptions in the pavement detailing the departure of the pilgrim fathers in the 1600s bound for the Americas. As with any “historic” location in England, as soon as you start reading, the story tends to fall to pieces. Nobody is really sure where the original steps were, let alone the layout of the harbour in the early 1600s.

The story reminds me of William Shakespeare’s house in Stratford – which has absolutely no connection with him. Nobody knows where he lived, what the house looked like, or even really if he lived in Stratford. The house they built is in a faked style “of the era” on a plot of land that was available. Tourists like a nice story.

Anyway. We’re heading towards our last day in Cornwall before heading home on Wednesday. The kids have just set out along the lane near my parents house with bowls in hand – in search of blackberries in the nearby bushes. I imagine blackberry and apple crumble might be on the menu tomorrow night.


A Day on the Beach

After a slow day rattling around my parents house, we escaped to the beach yesterday. A day of sun, sea, sand, and ice creams. We guessed that Saturday may be “change-over” day for many families visiting the coast, so might be the best day to visit the beach – and suspect we were proven right. Not only did we find a parking space in a nearby car-park – we also found space on the beach without difficulty to set-up camp for the day.

No sooner had we arrived, I found myself in the sea with my youngest daughter. I’m convinced she has Frost Giant blood in her veins – while she immediately made her way into the surf, I took a few minutes. While larking around we looked up and down the beach, and realised we were among only a handful of people in the water – a select group of cheerful idiots.

The rest of the day was spent eating ice creams, reading books, and people watching on the beach. I find people endlessly fascinating – especially in places where all manner of different backgrounds are brought together. While quietly sitting on the beach a young lad a few yards away stood up, pointing at a seagull attempting to steal food, and shouted (very politely) “Excuse me Mr Seagull – can you GO AWAY!” – it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.


Walking the Coast Path

After a slow start yesterday morning we set off to walk the coast path towards a nearby fishing village together – with the promise of lunch in a pub dangling like a carrot ahead of us.

Along the way we were treated to several pairs of Peregrine Falcons sweeping along the cliff edges at speed – screeching and stooping over the rugged rocks and scrub below.

Throughout the day I was surprised by the resilience of our younger children, and the emergence of our eldest. She suffers from anxiety and had a massive wobble the day before we came away. She had a very, very good day.

Even when rain began to fall during lunch, the children’s spirits weren’t dampened.

After retracing our steps on weary legs late in the afternoon we eventually arrived home, skipped dinner, and collapsed into sofas and beds around the house.

I think today may be a quiet day. Of course if past history is anything to go by, we’ll find ourselves setting out on an adventure by mid-afternoon.


An Early Morning Walk

Last night I had checked the weather forecast and planned a walk down to the ocean in the early morning sunshine. While the weather failed to cooperate, a little after breakfast I still found myself on the beach. The route follows a couple of miles through quiet lanes and farm tracks – I didn’t see a single soul.

After wandering the beach for twenty minutes or so I walked home – and grinned while approaching the house that it was still not 9am. How time doesn’t fly when you’re away from the usual chaos and mayhem of family life.

While at the beach I remembered years past – visiting with friends and family – and wondered how many generations have done the same. The ocean slowly reclaims the coast. I have read accounts of a small parish here that vanished beneath the waves perhaps a hundred years ago – of a village green with dancing and music in the summer. All of it long gone. I looked out on the slow rolling waves and wondered if they remember.

When I was young there was a cottage on one side of the bay – it’s remains are now long gone – the cliff it once stood on shattered among the strata that breaking waves now wash smooth.

Time is a strange thing. We are here for moments, and we leave little behind. I found myself wondering what the lives of the people that onced danced on that village green were like. What they yearned for and what made them happy. I wondered if they might have really been that different than generations past or yet to come.


It’s probably coffee o’clock. And time to ask my Dad what he might like for lunch.


Daytime Television and Chilli

Daytime television is a strange sort of placatory drug – that teaches nothing while acting as the vehicle for an avalanche of advertisements about life insurance, pensions, and healthcare.

This morning I defrosted the freezer in the garage so my parents can order frozen meals to get them through the next several months without having to worry about cooking. There is a company we have used at home when pushed that deliver good quality frozen food. It turns out they can deliver to my parents house. Huge win.

I’ll write more later – I need to start thinking about making dinner. My Dad has a pretty strict routine with the various tablets he is taking, so I’m having to work around that with meal times. I’m making chilli tonight.

(An hour passes while I go on a magical mystery tour through the cupboards to find long grain rice – it turns out my Mum has no system at all for storing things, but knows exactly where things SHOULDN’T go – and she doesn’t mind telling you).

Dinner is done! Everybody clean plated again, so I must have got something right. We have enough left over to make baked potatoes with chilli later in the week. Apparently tomorrow night we’re ordering something to be delivered. I wonder how I can ensure that whatever gets delivered is at least a little healthy?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m on call to make another cup of tea before finding somewhere quiet to sit down with my book.