Cornwall and Me

The big move north to the southern most tip of T-Park, or K-Town North as I prefer to think of it, has left precious little time for jotting down notes about my hectic life. Hence no blog. Hence no life outside the world of heaving heavy boxes, dusting shelves and readjusting to my new postcode which looks like ‘SEX’. Hence no blog.

Having almost settled in – we still don’t have broadband – I’m taking a moment to reflect. My first such moment in weeks. And that’s why I’ve decided to reminisce about my Easter trip to Cornwall…rather than lamenting the fact that I will have to keep Carson, my beloved Raleigh Vektar BMX ‘bike of the future’, outdoors from now on.

Being by the sea is one of the finer things in life. Being by the sea in North Kernow is better. And roaming around my uncle’s huge house with its vacant rooms stroon with antique treats makes being away from London even more like being in another world than it normally would be.

Cat-scratched rocking chairs, grandfather clocks and Narnian wardrobes are standard. Mirrors don’t exist. There are damp-scarred walls in forgotten bedrooms and a splendidly overgrown secret garden surrounded by a slate wall, which separates the house from the Camel estuary. When the tide comes in it’s like a castle with a moat and when pink grapefruit suns set on the estuary the flashes of light off the water simultaneously blind, poke and prod me in the eye, belly and back until every last ounce of ‘London Townie’ is coaxed out of me. Thus is the bliss of slipping pleasingly into the horizontal holiday position. Even if it is only for a few days…

I’ve been holidaying there for almost as long as I can remember and used to such fascinating things as obsessively monitor the height to which the water rose at high tide, wondering what would happen if it didn’t subside. The idea of being stranded in my own castle had a strange appeal despite the obvious worries about lack of provisions. The main attraction was the idea that a flood might prevent my timely return to Kent for the autumn school term.

None of this has changed, despite my now being well and truly too old to be able to maintain fantasies of being trapped in my sea-surrounded fortress and thus unable to make it back to London for work. That’s because happily very little about the house has changed, much less updated. The creepy old doll’s house at the bottom of the staircase is still there. As are the creaking cabinets stuffed with tattered books, gathering dust and sequestering space. Since my grandmother died noone seems to have any use for them. The well-stocked junk rooms harbour all manner of treats and if tidied up could pass for a scene from a BBC wartime drama.

Opening the closed doors makes me marvel like a child staring into a thousand 1950s toyshop windows. And because there’s rarely anyone else around it’s like being one of those old-fashioned children who’s seen but not heard, and for the most part not even seen. Solitude is bliss.

I can tuck myself away among the stacked possessions stored away, out of sight out of mind, such as all those years of memories, of lives left behind in the drawers of a bureau. Letters and letters and letters kept to commemorate the very best and utter worst of the past 90 or so years. 

Outside is good too. There are the same vacant beaches I’ve been going to for forever, empty with people who are only in the distance – people specks, who look like they might be families having fun with dogs etc. And the sea and those pink grapefruit suns that set over the horizon – the same ones that set on the estuary, but bigger and longer lasting…