Today was the day of the eclipse; the first one visible in the UK since 1999 when I remember watching on the telly and looking outside and thinking the telly made it look better than it actually was.
Back then, Cornwall was the best place to be and I remember they filmed at the beautiful St Michael’s Mount. It was a day of patchy cloud, and an eerie quiet enveloped the beach when the last bit of the sun disappeared – at home it went a bit dark but I wished I was in Cornwall.
I’m in Cornwall this time but alas, it wasn’t the best place to be for this one; that would be the Faroe Islands which are quite far away. But it was a sunny morning and crowds of people flocked to Gylly Beach in Falmouth, my temporary hometown, to create an exciting atmosphere for this event.
People brought various devices to view the eclipse; colanders and homemade pinhole projectors mostly, but I just used my phone’s camera – the eclipse was clearly visible in the lens flare which was handy. I didn’t go there expecting to see much though, I just wanted to be on the beach to share the experience with everyone.
It was nice to be on the beach early and reminded me of all the bright mornings and warm summer’s days that are to come. Living the student life by the sea this summer is going to be great!
The weather in Cornwall can be changeable at the best of times but today was no exception. It’s after Christmas and before the start of a new term at university so me and two friends borrowed a dog and went for a walk.
This was the first time I’d visited Maenporth since a family holiday when I was about 12 so it was quite strange to recognise the beach and the accommodation after so many years. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Cornwall in adulthood; I have so many snapshot memories of so many places I wanted to go back and find them all again.
The beach didn’t look particularly beautiful today, just very January-like.
The walk to the Ferryboat Inn follows the South West Coastal Path south towards the Helford River, and the journey involves beautiful views out to sea, hidden beaches and pretty woodlands like this one.
There was also an exposed headland, and when we reached the top of the hill, out of the blue came a ferocious storm that tried to blow us back down the other side. Moments later, all was calm and sunny again.
The Ferryboat Inn is a lovely pub just past Glendurgan Garden on the Helford. I had a classic fish and chips as Hogan (the dog) went splashing about in the river. I’ve walked a good amount of the South West Coastal path since September, but since it’s actually 630 miles long I doubt I’ll even scratch the surface!
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It’s so great living by the sea on days like these. On any days actually, but especially on days like these. Coming from the Midlands, about as far away from the sea as you can get in the UK, I think I have a special appreciation for it. Bliss.
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It was Falmouth Oyster festival yesterday, and I tried oysters for the first time. I had three of them with a squirt of lemon juice. The taste? Pretty alright. The texture? Yep, fine. The violent stomach issues the next morning? Not my favourite moment, I don’t mind saying. Won’t be having oysters again.
Thankfully the worst was over by the time I was picked up for a kayaking adventure in the morning. The trip was to Frenchman’s Creek on the Helford River; made famous by Daphne Du Maurier. The Helford has a history of pirates and smuggling, and now hosts a thriving oyster farming industry (a reminder of my morning anguish after the festival). It’s a beautiful place, and we chose a calm and peaceful morning.
The area is a hotspot for wildlife and we were lucky enough to see a Kingfisher and a rare Osprey on its migratory journey South for the winter. On our gentle paddle we passed a quaint old house; former home of artist and adventurer Percy ‘Powder’ Thurburn, and his shipwrecked boat the Iron Duke. The house is now a National Trust holiday cottage.
We stopped at Sunset Beach for some hot chocolate to warm us up as the sun tried to burn its way through the mist and haze. Kayaking is a great way to explore Cornwall because you get your own little slice of peace and quiet on the water. In the Spring I hope to explore the North Coast, which I’ve been told looks a bit like Koh Phi Phi in Thailand! I’ll keep you posted.
Feeling like a long walk today I set off for Penrose Estate, more National Trust-owned land near Helston. Within the estate is a huge pool called Loe Pool which sweeps towards the sea, separated by a naturally occurring ‘bar’.
The weather was changing all day, and rays of sun were bursting through the clouds and onto the bar when I reached it, creating interesting patches of light and dark to complement the azure sea.
All around the pool were blackberries ripe for picking and I made sure I had plenty as I walked the 6.5 mile loop back up to Penrose. It was hard to believe I was in Cornwall when some viewpoints of the pool looked so much like I was in the jungle.
Unfortunately swimming is banned in the pool – it’s incredibly polluted from surface run-off from nearby farms, mining waste and probably crap (literally) from upstream in Helston. You wouldn’t know it to look at it though, so it’s best to admire it from a distance.
I somehow got lost walking back but eventually found my way thanks to a helpful old local couple who loved the chance to chat to someone new to the area. They were amazed I was so happy to walk this alone, and couldn’t believe their ears when I told them where in the world I’d travelled to by myself. Having said that, they couldn’t believe I’d even go to Birmingham alone so I think they’ve lived a very sheltered life. Lovely people though, and a nice end to my walk.
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