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.


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.


The Journey to the Coast

I started writing this post yesterday, while packing bags ready to travel – and then realised I had nothing to write about that hadn’t happened the day before. That has happened a lot since I started working from home. Today was more interesting – I promise.

After scraping myself out of bed at about 8am, jumping in the shower, and downing a coffee, I ran around the house like a headless chicken – picking up the last few bits and pieces strewn around the house so the lady looking after our cats might not think TOO badly of us in our absence.

By ten in the morning the bags were in the roof box on top of the car, we had asked the kids repeatedly if they had packed wash kit, phone chargers, and whatever else, and we set off. It turns out we should have asked our youngest if she had packed both of her shoes, but we didn’t find that one out until six hours and two hundred and fifty miles later.

The journey to the coast was almost pleasant – or at least as pleasant as spending several hours confined to a car with your family can be. After running out of half-decent radio stations we played eye–spy, stopped for something to eat, and then finally knuckled down to the last two hours into the back of beyond.

My parents live quite some way from anywhere. Which is lovely. And a bit of a nightmare sometimes.

After arriving, making a very English cup of tea, and unpacking most of our bags, we walked off in search of the ocean. The path to the sea falls downhill for about a mile from my parents home – past farms, remote holiday cottages, and endless fields filled with sheep and bordered by bramble bushes.

After perhaps half an hour walking and after drinking a cider from the beach cafe, we stood ankle deep in the ocean for the first time in quite some time. We appeared to have timed it just about right – missing the hordes that would have inhabited the beach earlier in the day.

A little later we began the climb back up the hill, and I accompanied my Dad to the local fish and chip shop – which would normally be fine – except my other half is vegetarian, and two of the kids are gluten free – which immediately removed 95% of the menu for them. I ended up ordering a random assortment of cheesy chips, beans, mushy peas, and a veggie burger. The burger turned out to be a fishcake.

After dinner, the children retreated to their rooms, and fell fast asleep – it’s funny how the sea air does that. I suppose tomorrow might be a somewhat slow start – after which we’ll buy groceries, and start making plans to fill the days ahead.

Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us.