Last weekend bought us soaring temperatures. The hot sun-kissed my cheeks and liberated lily-white winter legs to shorts, and, at last, after months and months of biting winds, it was so good to feel that first magic touch again of warm sunshine on exposed skin. I only have to experience one weekend like this to wipe all memory of bad weather and look forward optimistically to a long, hot, barbeque summer.
We possibly should have rushed to the beach to make the most of making sandcastles and catching waves while it lasted. As the weather forecast again takes its inevitably soggy and disappointing turn, I may have to chastise myself for a wasting this golden opportunity. However, I’m a bit reptilian like that. I need a day or two to heat up before I really throw myself into summer living.
With good weather, long evenings and still quiet roads it really is a perfect time to go beyond the familiar turf of home and, crazy though it’ll sound to some, we’d never been to Godrevy before. This is not so surprising since we’re spoilt in Cornwall for lovely places. Natural, spectacular, abundant beauty is on every Cornish doorstep so there’s little need to travel far for an eye-full of lovely coastline. Even my dad, who has lived in Cornwall for more than 50 years, had not been to Godrevy! Had it not been for hearing talk of a colony of wild seals, I might not have bothered to take the trip with my boys at all.
It’s madness, you know, to have missed this stunning place before. Godrevy has the most marvellous sandy beach, which stretches towards the horizon (next time I’m bringing my bathers!) plus dramatic cliff-top views across to the island lighthouse and useful National Trust parking. I kept taking endless photographs in rapturous appreciation of the surroundings and the boys hung their delighted faces over the cliff edge to spot seals– which they named Ernest, Sid and Twitchy – swimming below.
The first time I heard the phrase ‘staycation’ I thought it meant staying at home and not going anywhere for the holidays. I had no idea it actually meant ‘not travelling abroad’ and I can’t help thinking– boring though it may sound – there’s very little incentive to go much further than 20 miles or so from home when you live in Cornwall.
It could be because I did a lot of travelling when I was much younger and didn’t have a family to drag along with me, or it might be because, the more I see Cornwall the more I realise how much more there is to see. I’ve got hooked on the minutiae of every cove, creek, cliff path and coastal village; the seasonal changes, the flowering plants, the songs of woodland birds and the roar of the ocean; I’m fascinated how wrecked landscapes from mining and mineral industries can return to nature and how people who have been drawn to live in Cornwall quickly become assimilated to this way of life rather than try to change it.
If you live in Mid Cornwall on the South coast, as I do, taking a short trip to the North coast is enough to give me the sense of escapism from the familiar like a foreigner abroad. We’ve starkly contrasting landscapes in this county; from wooded estuaries and sheltered beaches on my side to the rugged exposed expanses of sand, cliffs and powerful seas on the other. Plus there’s the rather glorious vision of sleek wet-suit clad surfers to make me feel like a ‘southern softy’. If I take a trip down West the atmosphere seems more illuminated; the light is brighter and the culture more bohemian and arty. And the best part? The fact that there are still so many staggeringly beautiful places – as Godrevy – I’ve not yet been to, even after a lifetime of living here!
So from now until mid July before our roads and car parks fill, I will be aiming to make the most of exploring more of Cornwall. Come the height of the holiday season, when the roads are chock-a-block with summer visitors I’ll need a game plan to avoid the worst of the traffic and venture no further than my very local beaches. And should the weather turn into another rotten season? I know that nothing can take away that long and lingering feeling of late afternoon sunshine on bare skin on that first day of real summer. Or dim the wonder at a stunning view over long sands made more glorious by the sparkle of sunlight on water and in the spray off the wave-tops.
I can’t beat it for therapy so I’ll keep taking my Cornish ‘staycations’.