At the end of September I want on a 5 day trip to Cornwall.
Here is my diary account of what I experienced during those few days.
This was a journey in to my memory of the past,
and just how what I held to be true has changed over the years.
So with train ticket & freedom Pass I set out from home,
only to find out just how the information which was stored in my memory has been true,
or become distorted,
and just how things have changed in over 42 years.
Now read on —-
Monday September 27th 2010.
I’m on a train from Paddington to Bodmin, via a change at Plymouth.
This will be my first trip to Cornwall in over 40 years.
For the last week or so I have been looking at Cornish Websites.
Yesterday l looked up various hotels and B&Bs within various parts of the North of the county, and even tried to book a few on line. Yet few of them ever managed to reply to my emails, or just had not vacancies.
So now I’m on a train coming to Cornwall, with no idea upon just where I’ll be spending the next few nights.
The Train has just pulled out of Taunton station, and we are on our way towards Exeter, which I first visited during march of 1968. At that time I thought that it was a long long way from London. Oh my just how far have I travelled since then.
In my late teens and early 20s I hitch-hiked all over Britain.
I had heard about the romance of travelling this way, and wanted to have my own set of adventures.
So one morning in the early spring of 1968 I took a train to Exeter.
Within the next few days I went on to North Devon, and landed up at Port Issac.
It was there that I landed myself a job for month and a half working in a Farm Hotel just a short walk up a 1 in 4 hill just outside of the village.
So here I am on my way to Cornwall about to see if my memories match that of modern Cornwall.
As one travels out and away from the urban landscape, it is the quaint and unusual which one looks at from ones train or bus window.
What is normal for the town dweller becomes something which the country dweller stops and gazes upon. As an urban dweller I do the same in the countryside, while realising that I have very little appreciative understanding of just what meets my one.
The bus from Bodmin to Padstow takes just an hour, but it does take you along lots of main and very steep country roads.
I got in to sunny Padstow found a B&B for two nights.
Padstow is much more of a tourist destination than I remember it as being.
It is also much steeper than I remember it as being. At least it’s gonna give me a lot more healthy exercise than I’ve had in a while back.
I write this having only just gotten to the B&B I’ll be staying in for the next two nights.
Next thing is to look around the town, and see just how much it matches up with my memory of the town.
Padstow used to be a fishing village. Nowadays it still has some lobster fishing which goes on, but mainly it is a village which trades it’s fishing history to it’s many tourists.
I have a clear memory of visiting the Padstow Parish Church in 1968.
So I visited it again.
It was also while visiting this churchyard during 1968 which first gave me the insight that grave stones can give one lots of insights into local history. This time I noted just how many of the graves are those of Master Mariners.
The parish church was very quiet on both the two times I visited it 40 years apart. It still has the solid walls & church tower which I remember.
I just stood there enjoying the serenity, which was only disturbed by the sound of the birds in the trees about me.
Here are the words of a grave stone within the churchyard: –
‘ In memory of Thomas Langford of this town, who was drowned with three others at the entrance to this harbour on sept the 11th 1853, aged 32 years.’
I’m in a pub which has wifi.
Catching up on my email.
Something which I could never of envisioned as being able to do the last time I was here.
What also gets me is that most of the shops here close up at 17.30.
Coming from a 24/7 city this is very different way of life.
It’s the kind of reason as to just why I could never envisage making this place my home.
Yet at other level I can imagine doing so.
So what else can one do, except for just to write with a pint?
Thus my day ends,
and it’s back to the B&B for the night.
Tomorrow I’ll plan for the day as it comes along,
visit the town museum, and plan just how I will visit Port Issac on Wednesday. That will mean another visit to the tourist office in order to book up another B&B.
Tuesday September 28th 2010.
Another tick to add to my list of different places I have slept in over the year and over the years.
The best thing about getting up in a strange place with time on ones hand is to think:
‘What am I going to do today?’
Walking out in to the fresh air first thing in the morning only adds to that feeling.
All that is left is for everyone else to get up,
open up for the day, and let me get on with just what I want to do for the day.
I’m out and in to the town.
It’s really beautiful.
I note that I’m on the ‘Saints Way’, and walk along the path which has slate built walls.
This is a different path to the parish church. This time I note that the church yard is full of Celtic crosses upon the graves. I’ve seen some similar ones in the Plaster gallery of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Waiting at a bus stop and about to go in to Newquey.
So far today I have had a pleasant walk around the town, and bought myself an oil painting which I’ll pick up later on this afternoon.
I’ve also been to the tourist office & booked myself a hotel in Port Issac for tomorrow.
I’m feeling very pleased with myself.
The bus is taking me along lots of very steep & narrow country roads. I can see farms, fields, the coast, and all of those trees which have been shaped to lean away from the wind.
We go through beautifully old villages.
This is the landscape I remember from my youth.
This is a town which is more bungalow & B&B spread, rather than an urban sprawl.
The funny thing about the town is that I can not remember the high Street, but I can do the beach.
I watch a woman on the beach teaching three guys how to surf. They then go to the shore line and try it out.
Lunch is a vegetarian pastie. It tastes as good. It reminds me of the very 1st one I ever had at Lynton in North Devon some time during march of 1968.
Newquey is full of surfing shops.
There is nothing much else I want to see,
and so I go back to Padstow again.
Back at the ‘Old Ship’ pub in Padstow.
Drinking a pint of Tribute beer, and catching up on my email.
After I got back here this afternoon I picked up my new painting, and took it up to my B&B. Then I had gone up & out of the town, out along a footpath which has a gloriousview of the town, the harbour, and the river as it goes in to the sea.
Wednesday Sept 29th.
Staying in a B&B always means meeting people you would not normally meet. This time it was an elderly kiwi who was visiting Cornwall to meet her distant relatives.
I’ve just walked down to quayside, and am now sitting in a shelter watching the world & the boats go by.
Next stop a coffee and a final wander around the town.
I’ve decided to get the 10.30. bus in to Wadebridge.
This is very much the small market town.
The local library has a ‘breast feeding friendly’ policy sticker on the window.
Lunch is a pint of Tribute, a local ale in the Moleswoth Arms. It’s a wood beamed 16th century coaching inn.
I them continue to walk around the town until I get my 13.25. bus to Port Issac.
I book in to my hotel, and then go for a walk about the village.
It is exactly as I remember it with a very few details changed.
An ancient fishing village which clusters around the harbour, which is only reachable via some very step hills.
It’s a very small & very beautiful location.
I walk up the hill out of the village. It’s hard going.
There used to be a sign which said it was a 1 in 4 gradient.
Now it just shows 25%.
I walk on out of the village and find the place I am looking for.
In 1968 it was Homer Park Farm Hotel, but is no longer so.
There has been some new building since I was last in at the place,
but the main house and view are very much what I can recall.
These is a local gardener doing some work upon the lawns.
I spend a while talking with him about the place, swapping memories, swapping stories, talking about the past, the future, and the present.
He is only 2 years younger than me, and so we have a common understanding upon just where we have reached in life.
After that I go back in to the village.
I go in to a local potters, and buy some greeting cards which show a painting of the village. They are sold as fund raisers for the Port Isaac lifeboat.
After that I walk up a path to the cliff top to the south.
The view down upon the village is magnificent!
I walk for a while along the cliff path,
I also realise that I’m carrying nothing to drink with me, and that it will involve another steep climb down before the next steep limb up again.
It would also take me another couple of hours to walk to the next village and back again.
Not a bright idea unless one sets out fully prepared for such a walk.
So I just enjoy the cliff view, and walk back again.
I’m staying in the Old School House which was built in 1875, and which served as the village School until 1977.
There is a magnificent view out of my window.
I can see down to the village and the cliffs above the harbour.
Last night I had a meal in the bar,
which was followed by a stroll down to the harbour.
The village streets were very quiet and empty as they are right outside right now.
Walking down the hill last night I could well imagine just what it must of felt to do the same over a 100 years ago, for such is the nature of the buildings here.
If there is just one glitch within this idyllic scene,
then it is not being able to get a signal upon my mobile phone. Is it any wonder that there are still two working phone boxes here?
I’m now going to more on further north within the county.
This will be into a part Cornwall that I just passed through in 1968.
So rather that make this into a holiday diary I will end this account right now.
But what happened next?
So you may well ask?
I took a bus north via the scenic route,
along very narrow country roads,
& landed up at Boscastle were I spent the next 24 hours.
Boscastle is a very beautiful spot to spend a while in,
& a joy of a place to discover for myself.
The very next day I took the same bus back via the scenic route,
and changed on to another one at Wadbridge.
In passing I stopped off in Bodmin,
which I could hardly recall,
except for the outside of a very sad looking B&B in which I once stayed in during 1968.
Thus I journeyed back to London again.
Friday October 1st 2010.
There is an old saying:
‘what goes around comes around.’
Maybe that’s the way memory also operates for us all.