Saturday, March 26, 2005


This is the first time the Big Fella and I have been away together, just the two of us, for more than a weekend. Which, when I think about it, seems ludicrous, but it’s true. We’ve spent time together at his mother’s in Manchester, at his aunt’s house in the Lake District, at various locations around the country for friends’ weddings, but never a week together, just the two of us, somewhere new to us both, somewhere different.

So that’s what we’ve been doing this last week. North Cornwall, a cottage, sea views, the two of us and the vagaries of British weather. We arrived in bright sunshine last Saturday wondering whether Mother Nature had decided to skip spring and launch straight into summer for our benefit. Sunday was kind too, lulling us into a false sense of security. A few clouds scudded between us and the sun, but this didn’t deter us from picnicking on the beach, watching the surprisingly numerous surfers lying in wait for that perfect wave, silhouetted against the Atlantic ocean.

Of course, she was playing one of her little tricks. And, to be fair, you don’t book a holiday in mid-March in Britain for the weather. From Monday to Thursday, it was... erm, let’s say changeable – particularly on the day we chose to visit Boscastle. Setting off in bright sunshine, we weren’t sure quite what to expect from this village which had suffered the devastation of the flash floods in August 2004, but I wasn’t really prepared for the place to still resemble a building site six months later. I’m guessing that remedial works have been slow to get off the ground over the winter months, judging by the lack of progress apparent in the buildings closest to the river.

Photos and memorabilia of the flood were apparent all around – official "guidebooks" and postcards for sale in most shops as well as the newspaper clippings displayed in their windows. I noted that my car was parked in an area which, according to the photos, was completely submerged on that day in August. The heavens opened as we wandered among the scaffolded buildings and I couldn’t help wondering how long it had taken for these same streets to become raging torrents on that rainy day which had probably seemed, at first, like any other... Try as we might to tame her, Nature has a habit of reminding us who’s boss in some pretty catastrophic ways.

During the uncharacteristic breaks in the typical March weather, we managed to have cream teas on the patio, a number of games of tennis on the on-site courts and a glorious Friday was spent on the beach again. We arrived back in Taunton as we’d left – in bright sunshine.

Whenever I go on holiday I’m always torn between my desire to see and do things and my desire to wind down, relax and do as little as possible. The theme for this holiday was definitely relaxation rather than exploration. Not least because I didn't want to spend a week driving around on country roads - an issue which probably merits a post of its own...

All in all, we had a wonderful time, enjoying each other and our surroundings. I was captivated, as always, by our proximity to the sea. I kept pausing to contemplate the views from our cottage and to listen for the distant roar of the ocean. There are many noises which jar and grate on the mind, destroying any hope of relaxation, but I can never tire of the sound of waves crashing upon the shore...

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(Widemouth Bay - Black Rock. Both black and rocky.)

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