Hello, thank you for dropping in, you are very welcome here. I have been on holiday, a whole week, for the first time in several years, and it was fan-bloomin'-tastic. So if you fancy a peep inside my holiday album, here is where it begins.
At the beginning of the year, when the grief caused by his mother's death was still quite raw and he was counting his blessings, the Best Beloved said that he would like us to go camping for a week this summer with our (grown-up) children and that he would like us to go to...Cornwall. Now then, Cornwall and I have a complicated relationship: when I was ten years old, my parents rented a small, damp cottage in Portloe for a fortnight and although I remember the pretty, narrow lanes of Mevagissey, tiny ships in tiny bottles, finding my first painted top shells on the beach and my father building a huge sandcastle with his four little girls, my overwhelming memory is of relentless rain, so much rain, in fact, that we packed up three days early and drove home, a journey which took twelve hours. It was the thunderstorm and its ensuing power cut which broke the camel's back. When I was thirty-two we tried again, fourteen of us across three generations, just one week this time: the rain poured down for the first five days, on the sixth the sun shone and we had a picnic followed by an idyllic afternoon on the beach, building sandcastles with our children and watching the dolphins leaping in Plymouth Sound. On the seventh day we drove home. Our last attempt was when I was thirty-seven, just our little family of four, an eight-day camping holiday: yep, you've guessed it, it rained every single day - not all day, so we were able to enjoy some exciting family outings which our girls remember very fondly, but every day. It was so miserable that one day, the Best Beloved asked if I would cook a comforting stew for dinner! So you see, Cornwall owes me Big Time. Tucked away between these holidays are some beautiful memories of Cornwall when I was a student and my boyfriend was studying there, so a couple of times a year I would visit and my memories of that time are bathed in sunshine, rose-tinted by young love and played to a background of guitar music and surf. As I said, Cornwall and I have a complicated relationship.
The time seemed right to give Cornwall the opportunity to redeem itself. I woke very early on the day we were due to travel and, after creeping downstairs very quietly, I opened the front door and watched the sun rise; it was a suitably spectacular beginning for our adventure -
I didn't wake the others because I really like being the only person up during that quiet time, gathering together my thoughts and my things for the day ahead without interruption. It was doubly delicious that morning because of the promise that day held, the promise that by the time the sun set, I would be in Cornwall.
And so I was. After a drive of almost seven hours the Best Beloved, The Mathematician and I arrived at The Lizard Peninsular, the most southerly point of the British mainland, and pitched our tents. This was the view from my dining table -
You see that little slice of deep blue above the trees? That's the sea. THE SEA! I love to be beside the sea and there it was, only a mile or so away. Had I not been so worn out by the journey, I don't think I would have been able to sleep for the excitement!
And so the next day the Best Beloved and I made our way to Kennack Sands while The Mathematician went to visit a university friend in Truro. It did not disappoint. There was sand, rockpools, cliffs, surf, toilets, a café and a little shop - these last are important because when we have a family rule that when we are on holiday, we have an ice cream every day, and where better to have an ice cream than on the beach?! I was struck by a strong feeling of nostalgia because all around us, there were families enjoying the beach together: a woman was playing bowls with her young grandson; a group of teenagers were playing cricket, their fathers acting as fielders; a laughing runaway baby was racing down to the sea, Mum in hot pursuit; a man and his granddaughter went off to the rockpools, she carrying the net and he the bucket, returning in triumph a bit later with eight shrimps. "Cancel tonight's restaurant booking," he called to his family, "We've caught the dinner!" as she beamed beside him. There were children building dams and castles with the sand, surfers and bodyboarders in the waves and everywhere, the click-clack of bat-and-ball played by adults and children of all ages. The fact that families still enjoy an old-fashioned bucket-and-spade day at the seaside made me feel very reassured and very happy - the world has not gone to hell in a handcart, after all!
I lay on the beach and intermittently read my book while the Best Beloved wandered off to suss out the lie of the land before returning for a gentle snooze on the sand. I knew that he was keen to go and play in the surf but he wouldn't do it, not today. "We'll come back tomorrow with the (grown-up) children," he said. Bless him, he was missing his playmates! We stayed there for about five hours before he reluctantly dragged me back to the campsite - and yes, the ice cream was delicious, thank you.
The Teacher and Flashman arrived that evening and the following day, the sun beat down again as we all went to Kennack Sands, which looked a little different as an enormous amount of kelp had washed up onto the sand overnight. The day panned out well: there was a walk up to the top of Caerverracks (pronounced "Gavrocks") to look at the views and feed the girls' Instagram habits; the girls played in the surf with their father - to be honest, it's always been impossible to keep The Mathematician out of the sea; Flashman covered The Mathematician in sand and transformed her into a mermaid, a strongman and, finally, a centaur! There was rockpooling, snoozing, reading and ice creams. It was wonderful, and much more relaxing for me than it was before the children were grown-ups! As we made our way back to the campsite at the end of the day I remarked to the Best Beloved that even if it rained for the rest of the week, it wouldn't matter because these were the two days that we would remember, these two hot, sunny, happy, family days on the beach.
I have more to share, next time I'll show you some of the other places we visited in Cornwall, magical places where the sun twinkled on the water and warmed the stone to mellow.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x