Jaunt to Cornwall
Hello! How are you? It’s been ages hasn’t it? I hope you’re well and enjoying the summer sunshine (which, as I write has disappeared to be replaced by rain – typical).
So, what have I been up to? Well, I’ve actually been away! Yes, proper away to Cornwall – one of my absolute favourite places! Not just crossing my fingers, donning my mask, saying a silent prayer and nipping into the supermarket, which has been my idea of a big excursion in recent times.
Those of you who follow the blog or subscribe to my newsletter may recall that I had a holiday booked for Cornwall last year, but for obvious reasons it had to be cancelled. Well, we rebooked for this year and just hoped that it wouldn’t fall through again. Lo and behold, in the first week of the sunny month of June, we set off to Cornwall and the Looe and Polperro area, heading to our three-bedroomed lodge, along with our youngest daughter, our daughter-in-law, and our baby grandson, Freddie, as well as Freddie’s best friend – a bouncy Labrador. Actually, that’s not true. the Labrador is his second best friend. His best friend is a fluffy black cat with a white bib and paws, but going on holiday with us is far beneath him so the dog hitched a ride instead.
Not a great start!
We’ve been to Cornwall lots of times before, and we were quite looking forward to the journey. The Husband and I were travelling alone, as the others had set off in the early hours hoping to make most of the trip during Freddie’s sleep time. The Husband was quite confident that we could set off later. Big mistake! We left home at 7.30am, in glorious sunshine and in high spirits. We reached our lodge at 6.00pm! Yes, ten and a half hours! We were shattered, hot, thirsty, exhausted and really, really fed up. There’d been traffic delays once we reached Bristol, and at one point we managed just 16 miles in an hour and a half. Can you imagine?
Anyway, we were all a bit snappy and grumpy because, even though they’d set off much earlier, the girls only arrived a little bit before us, due to having to stop to see to Freddie and the dog several times. So an early night was called for and we all agreed things would look brighter in the morning.
Famous last words! We woke up the next day to fog and rain. I’m not joking. You could barely see a thing. We could have been in Aberdeen instead of Cornwall. Going out was the last thing we felt like doing. In the end we all braved a visit to the supermarket to stock up for the week, and it was a gloomy old trip. Then again, we were still wiped out from the day before so, to be honest, none of us complained much about staying in. We read, watched television, played with Freddie and napped. A lot.
Now the holiday really begins!
The following day was like waking up in another country. The sun shone, the skies were blue and we all felt much happier and raring to go. For the next three days it was absolutely gorgeous, and between us we visited Looe, Polperro, Mevagissey, Fowey, Helford, Helston, and Gweek. We also enjoyed some Cornish fare – the pasty and the cream tea. Worth the trip for those alone! Sadly, on the Wednesday the weather took a turn for the worse. We were back to fog and heavy rain again, so we all stayed in once more and I caught up with my holiday reading.
A Photo Opportunity
The final full day of our holiday was the Thursday, and yet again it was foggy, but it was also dry, so The Husband and I drove up to Bodmin Moor which I absolutely loved. You could barely see a yard in front of you, but there was something very magical about being there in weather like that. Every now and then a pony or a sheep would loom up in front of us, and I’d grab my phone and snap a photo. We called at Jamaica Inn, which was amazingly busy.
We didn’t go inside this time, but carried on to Altarnun, where I was keen to take a picture of the packhorse bridge and a house near the church. It’s my guilty secret that the current cover for New Doctor at Chestnut House, set in the North York Moors, is actually a picture of Altarnun in Cornwall! I know! Well, it had just the right look, okay? Don’t tell anyone… The plan is to update the Bramblewick covers next year so I was glad to get a picture while it still featured on the front.
Location, location, location!
Before we went away, I was hoping that while we were on holiday I’d find inspiration for my new witches series, which I’ll be starting next year. There’s no more magical or mystical place in England in my opinion – although some would say Cornwall isn’t in England at all. Anyway, I know that the branch of the St Clair family I’ll be writing about next will live in this county – or Duchy.
I really wanted to find a location that would do it justice, and that’s what I was looking for. And I found it! I could see in my mind’s eye the perfect place for the St Clairs. It has the sea, and a beautiful little harbour, and a lighthouse, and cobbled streets, and ancient buildings, and boats, and a harbourside inn, and… Well, anyway, you get the gist. There will be two connected locations in the books, based on real places, but with a bit of artistic licence that will allow me to add in anything I need, or to take away stuff that gets in the way.
A Magical Mystery…
The weirdest thing happened to me while I was scouting for locations. I was sitting on a bench with The Husband, watching the hustle and bustle of the boats coming in and out and tourists milling around, and I suddenly noticed a rather attractive man standing on the steps leading down to the water. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and was leaning against a wooden post, as if daydreaming. I particularly noticed him because he was so still, while all around him was activity and noise.
Now, I know this sounds strange, but as I watched him I thought, “I know you! I know which character you are!” He turned his head and looked at me, and I quickly hunted in my jacket pocket for my phone so I could take a quick picture of him and use it for inspiration. When I looked back he’d gone! I said to The Husband, did you see him? He had no idea who I was talking about, and though I looked all along the quayside there was no sign of him. Weird or what?
I met up for lunch with my best friend Jessica Redland the other day, and I was telling her all about it. She joked I’m now conjuring up my characters in real life! I don’t know about that, but you have to admit it’s weird that he fitted so perfectly with my hero, and that he vanished without trace in the blink of an eye. Hmm…
Anyway, he’s going right into the book. I already know his name and his occupation, and I’m looking forward to finding out lots more about him. All you St Clair fans hold onto your hats, because the family will be back – and don’t worry because the original sisters and their family members will be making one or two guest appearances.
Returning to normal
Even without the magical and inspirational aspect, the holiday was fabulous. Despite the sun falling out with us for three days of the week, we had a wonderful time. It was great to spend all that precious time with our baby grandson, who made us laugh every single day. I think we really needed the space away from work and the four walls of home. It’s been the longest, weirdest fifteen months I can remember, and I’d almost given up on returning to “normal” life. However, being away, sharing a home with family members, walking the busy streets of Cornish villages and seeing people interacting and having fun again, it seemed as if “normality” was on its way back at last. I didn’t go in any teashops or cafes, and I only browsed in one or two shops, but even so…
Rediscovering Family Time
Since returning from Cornwall several of my children and grandchildren have visited. I went to my brother’s house for his birthday. We sat in the garden with our sister, mum, and my two nieces. It was the first time I’ve been in their company for longer than a few minutes since the first lockdown last March. As I mentioned previously, I also met up for lunch in a pub with Jessica. We chatted non-stop for four and a half hours. So yes, it does seem as if I’m stepping out into the world again – albeit cautiously.
It can only be a good thing for my mental and physical health. Plus, it stimulated those little grey cells and stirring my imagination once more. Yay! I have to admit, the creative well was running dry. It’s brilliant that a week by the sea and conversations with family and friends can spark so many ideas. I can’t wait to get started!
Have a great week!