p o r t h e r a s

[ 20:53 saturday 4 october – roskear road, camborne, cornwall ]

this morning i woke at quarter past six, took a train from london bridge to gatwick then flew to newquay where i was greeted by anna and adam. since the age of seven i’ve been making the journey up and down from cornwall by train or car. the sheer time this takes (london is six hours) gives it the character of an epic undertaking and accentuates the feeling that cornwall is somewhere separate and different. crossing the river tamar, fixed by athelstan in 936 as the boundary between england and cornwall, always provokes a gulp of emotion. in contrast making the journey by air is very strange. from london it barely takes barely an hour. there’s no symbolic moment when the frontier is crossed and no sense of a great journey. one departs, one arrives.

that said, it does open up the miraculous possibility of traveling down on a friday night or saturday morning, spending the weekend in cornwall then returning on monday morning in time for work. indeed the commencement of low cost scheduled services between newquay and london in the past decade has created a new class of weekly commuters with a consequent escalation in cornish house prices.

this afternoon we drove through the wind and rain to the village of morvah at the far north-western tip of cornwall. parking in a field we walked down the valley to portheras with its white sand beach and jagged granite cliffs. the atlantic rollers were combing in towards the beach with the wind pulling spray horizontally from their crests. i love being on the north coast beaches on days like this. everything is contrasts of grey and white, bleak and strong. for me this is one of the most characteristic moods of the cornish landscape. we had the beach to ourselves except for a hardy dog-walker.

from portheras we walked up the cliff and around to the lighthouse at pendeen watch. arriving at the cliff-head we were exposed for the first time to the full force of the south-westerly gale. it was so strong that it was impossible to open one’s eyes looking directly into it. from here we walked back inland through pendeen village and bowjewyan, cut across a field and managed to get ourselves somewhat lost. at this point my phone’s gps came into its own. i was able to pull up a satellite image pin-pointing our location and plot a route back to the car. along the way we found a sheltered hedge smothered with marvelous blackberries so we stopped and gorged ourselves. now we’re back home with the wood-burning stove blazing and our sodden clothes hung up to dry.

yesterday was london’s first truly cold day since april. when i got home after eddie prevost’s improvisation session i reluctantly got a heater out of storage and plugged it in.

: c :

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