St Ives is my second favourite place in the world. I love the beaches and the way the town is almost surrounded by sea. I love the light and the hills and the damp air. I love the ease with which the local economy relieves you of your money without you ever feeling ripped off. Whenever I am there I feel free to read and think and cut off from the demands of life at home. I think we all get different things from the place but it works very well as a holiday destination for us. Here's why...
We arrived on Saturday, after a fairly trouble free journey from Brighton. The train down to the west country does tend to suffer from random (usually fairly minor) delays, and this one was no exception - twenty minutes, for some reason. On the whole, train journeys are a total pleasure these days. The children have books and paper and pens and Leo's portable dvd player. I read most of a Barbara Vine book I'd borrowed from my friend, E. Dani knitted and was quizzed on her knitting. Pearlie went off to explore the train a bit and found that a woman was travelling with a large, placid rabbit in a holdall on the seat beside her.
After picking up the keys to our apartment (expensive but with lovely view) we went out to get some pasties for tea and began the work of relaxing...
View from the balcony of our flat.
We had our first swim on Porthminster beach on Sunday and then pottered around the shops buying books and so on. The tv reception is awful in St Ives and we soon gave up on the tv and played lots of games of Bananagrams instead. Then we all tended to read in bed - so much more relaxing than being shackled to screens... In the evening, Leo and I went on a lantern ghost story walk. This was a very good example of such walks - being led by a man who was a local historian, so we did get some history in with the usual apocryphal tales.
On Monday we went to the local museum, which is very odd! Leo was in search of the bible of James Wallace, the last ghost-layer of the town. We looked at that and the other, bizarre assortment of objects they have on display. It is one of those museums that has photographs of nameless people in unusual costumes. My favourite was of a middle aged man in some druid-like get-up, with a campervan in the background, in which a young, bearded fellow was smirking. I'd say it was about 1975 - judging by the young fellow's cheesecloth shirt...
Tuesday was warm and sunny, so we went to the beach again. The sea down there is certainly colder than the channel and I had to talk firmly to myself to get my shoulders under the water. I tend to remind myself that I got through childbirth, so I really can't shy away from a moment of discomfort on getting into the cold sea... Once in, it was lovely. Layers of mum podge mean that I no longer turn blue and shudder - unlike our poor children, who do an impressive line in full-body shivering. We bought them some towelling robes, which proved useful.
On Tuesday night we went on a trip to the beautiful Minack Theatre. I had never been there before and it was as lovely as I'd always hoped it would be. The seagulls and the waves just embed you in the play in some way. It was the Ilkley Players doing The Crucible and I was very impressed. We'd actually watched the film version with the children the night before, which I think was a good idea. They were both total stars, sitting though the whole play in virtual silence. I would guess they were the youngest people there by about three years in P's case and more like six in Leo's! Unfortunately, both kids fell asleep on the minibus back to St Ives and, on waking, Leo threw up rather dramatically down a steep pavement as we walked home. He startled a woman the next day by exclaiming, with some delight, "that's my sick!" when we walked past the splat! It had been a long day - lots of sea swimming and then not in bed until well after midnight.
We were all rather tired on Wednesday and took things easy. We decided to go to the Tate. I have a rather edgy relationship with art galleries - unlike D, or the children, I think. I often feel rather boxed in by the pressure of looking at the art and get nagging thoughts that I'm not looking at it 'properly' or not getting what I might from it. This time I had a surprising and joyous experience when we entered the gallery with the work of Laurence Weiner. Instead of feeling tense and unsure, I felt like my head was exploding with images, characters and stories. I wonder if this is what people generally experience in art galleries? If so, then maybe I do 'get it' after all... The children declared that they had enjoyed the exhibition and we discussed the artists. Both Dani and Pearl like Barbara Hepworth's stuff a great deal.
We popped in at the library that afternoon, just to browse around a little. I read some of the story of the creation of the Minack Theatre and felt I'd like to know a bit more about Rowena Cade. We had tea at Blas Burgerworks - yum.
Thursday turned out to be another beautiful day, so we went to Porthgwidden beach cafe for an extravagant breakfast. After a bit of swimming there, we popped home for lunch and then went over to Porthminster for more swimming.
Leo sets off across the Atlantic.
Pearlie in a hole.
As the tide went out, Dani and the kids managed to get right across to the harbour.
They are the little people right in the middle of this beach shot!
I was devouring the latest Patrick Gale book.
Friday was a bit grey. We set off on a walk along the South West Coast Path. We ended up doing the whole six miles to Zennor. Six miles doesn't sound like much of a walk, does it?
We looked a bit less tidy than this on arrival at Zennor!
Well, on downland or ambling through the weald, it isn't a long walk. But when those six miles are clambering on rocky cliff top paths, in sandals because we hadn't taken our walking boots, it was plenty long enough... We had failed to pack enough water and virtually fell into a backpackers hostel at Zennor, gasping for a drink. Dani and I have something of a history of being over-prepared for minor excursions (full first aid kit in the park...) and then under-prepared for tough walks like this. We were reminded of a giant starway in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, which we failed to notice was marked 'strenuous.' On setting off for Zennor, I had one plaster in my pocket and lack of boots was really rather silly. A turned ankle might well have demanded a helicopter rescue, which would have been embarassing to say the least! The children took it all very happily and tended to scamper on like mountain goats while we lumbered up the rocks... The scenery was wonderful, as was the wildlife, but I think the children will want to be the ones to tell about that.
We got the bus back into St Ives, which took all of twenty minutes. The walk had taken us four hours!
The train journey home ran a little late owing to "being held up in the west country". That was the official explanation, though there were no highwaymen that I saw.
So, that was St Ives this time. Reading, beaches, walking, beauty, art, games, talking - all sorts. Leo is into a new series of books - the Spooks books by Joseph Delaney. Pearlie has taken to reading the Guardian. Dani bought some lovely new yarn. I wonder if I will find time to blog real life now?
But, you know, we don't get to do enough of this sort of thing in real life. If things are quiet here then maybe we're all reading...