So here I am again! It has been a while since the diary has made an appearance, but this week sees me taking off on yet more adventures only this time more of the type that doesn’t require a passport! I have been basically trying to settle myself down in London in quite a non spectacular fashion and dealing with the normalcy of life. Getting the tube, organising gas and electricity readings and avoiding the hostility of living in one of the must congested cities in the world!
But that is all behind me for now as I sit on a train bound for the fabulous South West of England. I have developed a healthy and deep interest in this area ever since my beloved friends decided to move down here only a few weeks ago! The call of the water, the beach and the (hehe) English Surf!!!!! But truly when you have lived here and are a part of the inclement weather that can choke the sunshine out for days on end, the relative beauty of any body of water is an enticing thought to cling to!
The train journey takes us south to Plymouth which is obvious at first for the shipping and marine vessels that populate one of the more picteresque ports of England. The wide river opens out onto the South Sea and the sense of freedom is inhaled in the salty sea air! All of a sudden you feel strangely like an explorer; or is that just my colonial heritage harkening back to being shoved on a prison boat bound for Botany Bay??? But the scene is rather idyllic. The houses, whilst still close together, do not suffer the congestion of London and being built literally on top of each other. Even the colour scheme is a subdued collection of pastels and soft shades that remind me very much of Brighton in Victoria! They sort of suit the ‘English Harbourside’ image, gently lining the haphazard streets that lead from water to town square!
We arrive in Truro which is the Cathedral City of Cornwall. Truro lies between the two coasts of the region serving as the central point of all the outlying villages and townships. Cornwall lies on the southern tip of the English landmass that juts out into the Atlantic. It seems to me that anywhere that is south of London has the luxury of just being that little bit more indulgent and dare I say it ‘privileged’. Devon, Somerset, Cornwall; all of them have a very attractive and relaxed class to it. Perhaps it is the slight warmth (on average a degree or two warmer than any where else in England) or the sense of space of the picturesque lands about the area. It could also be that going south was always considered the ‘restorative’ option for the land and gentry of English society! Cornwall today is ‘suffering’ from the haven that it could ultimately be, as investors from London seem to be driving up house prices and council rates, purchasing 2nd holiday homes in the region. But when you look at the quaint towns that lie on the coast and have actual beaches in close proximity you can understand why! This is what they all desire! It has that sense of getting away and being able to indulge in long seaside walk along paths that lead to nowhere but have a sense of meditative quiet about them.
Our first night is spent at one of these aforementioned ‘holiday homes’ of one of the dancers. We are in a small cottage that has many small rooms and all laden with floor boards and limestone walls, each room having a small but ideal window looking out onto the ocean. Directly outside are two levels of decking, one with a studio to the side and an excellent view down to the meadow that lies behind and directly runs onto the beach; the other with a stone campfire, complete with obligatory tree trunk from the beach that serves as a perfect stool for stoking the fire. The cool October evening comes on but it is perfect bliss as we sit around the fire and look out over the ocean as the moon rises in the distance. We even indulge in some American Marshmallow toasting and ‘Smores” thanks to our native US Touring Co-ordinator. (one for you Mischler -or should that be Cass-Beggs now!)
To the right of our view is St Michael’s Mount – an outcrop of craggy cliffs which is linked directly to the mainland when the tide is out but becomes it’s own ‘island’ surrounded by water at other times. Atop this jutting in the water is a castle that looms on the edge of the cliffs looking out to sea. It is listed and has been kept to it’s original glory by a Trust and as the sun sets you can see that there are a few lights left on in the southerly rooms. As the sky blackens you feel that you are glimpsing a seafaring Admiral or Captain, seated in his southern wing with a few candles, watching the unseen horizon for sign of a returning ship or cargo that will signal with faint bells or a single lamplit mast! AH, it’s all a bit Pirates of the Caribbean but it is a great scene nonetheless and I spend quite a bit of time looking out over the water indulging in this image!
The town itself has a wonderful Cathedral at the centre and is surrounded by hills and green fields with farms and homesteads about it. If you go 15 miles in any direction you will hit the ocean and this makes for a rather content pace of life. I am looking forward to returning here and seeing my friend’s new home and spending more mornings with coffee and tea looking out at their new view which I have been told, includes the beach and the river where trade used to flourish! Think I had better set aside a whole week for that!
There is something very attractive about ‘village life’ in the UK. It has a very charming appeal to it and far belies anything you can experience in London! I think that most advantageous thing is that you can live a village life and still be relatively close to the metropolis. Just walking the streets and being able to view everything in reality can make it very attractive. Either that or I am just getting older and more ‘retired’!