open the curtains

and take a look out the window if you want to know what the weather's like

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Coastlining 22: Portreath – Perranporth

Date: Monday 9th June 2014     Distance walked: 12 miles      Total distance: 208 miles

Portreath Beach

Portreath Beach and Gull Rock

I’m running out of words to describe the blue of the sea. Azure. Sapphire. Lapis. Not sure. Check the Pantone chart and it’ll insist it’s Mediterranean Blue. Clearly they’ve never been to Cornwall in fine weather. Arriving at Portreath this morning I could have been at a completely different place – country, even – from where Annie and I left the coast in spotting rain late yesterday afternoon. Except the proprietors of the local shop remembered me. Back again? How far this time, all the way to Porthtowan? It’s a tough walk… Continue reading



A Collective Noun for Ravens

picture credit: Warren Photographic (click for link)

The rain stopped. The cloud came down and sat over the land like a guilty conscience. We parked at the beach and ate our picnic off the dashboard whilst consulting the road atlas as to our next move.

“I want to go somewhere we can see something,” was Cee’s primary request.

I looked up. Strictly speaking we did have a sea view. Beyond the windscreen it was as though someone had drawn down an opaque grey blind cutting off the cove and sky not much beyond the breakerline.

I looked down at the map. “How do you feel about a little meander across the countryside? There’s somewhere we could go that I think you might like.”

It’s not a long way as the corvid flies from Maenporth to Gunwalloe Church Cove. Continue reading

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Bogged Down

A Tale of Getting Mired in Landscapes Past and Present on King Arthur’s Downs
King Arthur's Down

Bodmin Moor: King Arthur’s Downs and Garrow Tor

It was windy up on Bodmin Moor, blowing hard from the north, with the sort of force that makes you want to hold out both arms, turn around and lie back supported only by the strength of the moving air. Underfoot was sheep shorn lumpy sward. The scrub was spattered with vibrant gorse blossoms. A quick perusal of the map at Matt and Jo’s holiday let had revealed several points of archaeological and historical interest within walking distance on the intriguingly named King Arthur’s Down. A path led almost directly from the house up past King Arthur’s Hall, several stone circles and up onto Garrow Tor which, according to the map, was encrusted with ancient field systems and settlements.

We strayed off the path sooner than intended Continue reading


A Dragon for George

It is a truth universally acknowledged that very few of the English can tell you when the feast day of their patron saint falls. St George’s Day is of course, for anyone who doesn’t know, 23rd April: the day the saint was martyred in 303 AD. (A handy way to remember the date is 23-4.)

George was not English. He was a Greek soldier of Palestinian descent in the Roman army, and although he has become one of the most venerated military saints in Europe there is much fantasy and little solid evidence about what it is he actually did. He is most famous for the legendary slaying of the dragon, a part of his mythology that became entangled in his hagiography around the 8th Century and was brought back to England from the Middle East by Crusaders.

As a child I loved dragons. I vividly believed in their existence and was as disappointed to find out that they were actually mythical beasts as I was to discover that my country’s patron saint was most famous for dispatching one. Continue reading


Happy St Piran’s Day

I know that no person will ever get into my blood as a place can, as Cornwall does. People and things pass away but not places.

– Daphne du Maurier

It was a dull old day about fifteen years ago when I first crossed over from the Other Side of the Tamar and began to discover the strange and compelling south-westerly tip of the British archipelago that I have since come to know as home. The A30 isn’t a forgiving route, and it was less so then, having since been dual-carriage-d for vast stretches to ease the tailbacks during the peak season. Entering the count(r)y on this road, rather than over the Tamar bridge at Plymouth is much less dramatic and for several miles much like the Devon you’re exiting. Then you reach the bleak stretch across Bodmin Moor, where the Queues Likely signs usually seem unnecessary from your near-stationary vehicle, and the weather is almost always either piss poor or Proper Cornish depending on where your alliegance lies. Continue reading

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Blackberry Picking

It’s not been a good year for blackberries. Leastways, round here it hasn’t been, judging by my less-than-average haul from my two trips along the coast path in search of the goods. It was a sore disappointment after the purplishly gluttonous week I had gorging on the glossy clots as I tramped my way round the Isles of Scilly in mid-September. How many blackberries are too many blackberries? asked my mum approximately half way round St Martin’s. A couple of hours later she found herself questioning how I could possibly still be eating them after an entire day of near-continual berry-grazing – a hard thing not to do when you’re rambling along bramble-lined pathways heavily dotted with fruits so fat and ripe they practically fall into your hands as you reach out for them. Continue reading