Monday, 30 July 2012

Land's End

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been run over by a steam roller. Sleeping on the ground in a tent is no laughing matter. It's also not great fun in high winds and rain. Today's rather beautiful weather, which actually sunburned my face, collapsed spectacularly at 3pm. 

We spent the morning on a beach, swimming in the dazzling deep blue water, our skin turning to sand paper because it was so insanely cold.
At 3pm, as the weather started to turn, Nathan, Meriel and I decided to fulfil one of my life ambitions by driving to Land's End. It's taken me almost 40 years to get to Cornwall, and surely no trip down here is complete without a visit to the southern and Western-most tip of our beloved isle.  
The journey there took us onto King Harry's ferry which relentlessly tos and fros every 20 minutes across an estuary, linking communities which would otherwise be hours apart. It seems to be dragged from one side to the other on giant iron chains and has probably remained unchanged in decades. 
We drove through the most spectacular scenery; rolling dales, green, green pastures, tall hedges; here a disused tin mine, there a palm tree. It feels like Ireland here, or Britain in the 1960s.
Land's End itself is a horrifying mess geared towards the most unpleasant form of tourism with Victorian style lamp posts, and grotesque souvenir shops selling cider-flavoured rock, and tacky photographs of the awful modern sign which tells us the distance to New York and John O'Groats. The cliff faces and rock formations down there, however, are magical, even in a force 8 gale!
From Land's End we went to St Michael's Mount, or more specifically to Marazion, where we sat, eating chips on a harbour wall, staring at St Michael's Mount; a glorious monastery, sitting on top of a wood-lined hill, surrounded by sea just off the Cornish coast. The chips were served by the nicest people in the nicest chippie in the world. 
As we pulled up in Marazion, Meriel emerged from the back of the car wearing some kind of anti-migraine patch on her forehead. She'd been sleeping on the back seat and I genuinely thought she'd woken up with a sanitary towel somehow glued to her head by mistake. It took me some minutes to pluck up the courage to tell her what I thought had happened! 
We returned home to the campsite to play a game with pens and paper which involved writing names of famous people and putting them in a hat. Tanya's incredibly sparky 5-year old daughter immediately started to unfold the paper to see what was written on each sheet. "Oh no, no!" everyone shouted, "you can't look at the names before the game starts..." "It doesn't matter if I see them" said Lily, matter-of-factly, "I don't actually know how to read!" Quote of the week! 

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