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


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Coastlining 18: Sennen Cove – Pendeen Watch

Date: Wednesday 4th June 2014     Distance walked: 9 miles     Total distance: 164.5 miles

2014.06.04 (3) Whitesand Bay

Whitesand Bay, Sennen Cove

It was difficult to get out of bed this morning after the exertion of the past few days, but I knew I’d feel better once I’d got started – especially after a cooked breakfast. I managed to find a more direct path down through the dunes to Whitesand Bay than the one I’d come up by last night. It was bright and blustery out, a refreshing change after the deteriorating conditions of yesterday, although I kept my coat zipped up with the hood up for the best part of the day, for a very different reason altogether. The sea was the white-flecked deep Prussian blue, the horizon a sharp line. Continue reading

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Coastlining 11: Helford – Coverack

Date: 10th May 2014        Distance walked: 13 miles         Total distance: 100 miles

2014.05.10  (2) Helford 2014.05.10  (4) Treath 

Returning to Helford Passage on the first bus of the day I still arrive later than I had the previous day on foot from Falmouth. The wind’s gusting hellish downriver. I zip my coat right up as the boatman begins to ferry me over the short but choppy crossing to Helford village.
“At least it’s not an east wind.” My hair is already escaping and whipping all round my face.
“We wouldn’t be running if it was… few weeks back we were putting the engines in reverse and running right up onto the  beach in those high winds.” I think of the waves spraying over the outer harbour when I was at Mevagissey.
“Going to rain later.” Trust a boatman to give you the shipping forecast. He has the same waterproof trousers as me, not that I’m wearing mine.
“Tha’s alright tho’. Don’t mind a bit of water…” I’d be in trouble in this part of the world if I did. Right on cue a wave splashes up over the bows and catches us both with its salty spray.
“Well, doubt that’ll be the last time that happens today so might as well start early.” Continue reading

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The Values of Desolation

 desolateadj. giving an impression of bleak and dismal emptiness from Latin ‘desolare’ meaning abandon and ‘solus’ alone >> v. to desolate ; n. desolation

A wide expanse of sandflats riddled with tidal streams, deserted in the early morning. A wedge-shaped tidal island at the end of a concrete road: blown dunes empty of human life, the air above the sifting marram sliced about by swallows and martins and pierced by the lonesome shrill of a curlew.

A moorland scene drained of colour under an overcast sky. so cold in summer I wore two coats, a scarf and a pair of gloves to brave the path. A large landscape focusing in the eye on the tapestry of life below knee-level. A loud dam at the head of a reservoir hiding a spectacular waterfall descending through towering crags to the unpopulated landscape below.

Wild winds and the remains of a Roman stone carving depicting three or four sentinels at the Milecastle, hooded and cloaked with only their miserable faces exposed. No wonder the Romans didn’t want to go any further north than this forsaken place. 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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Paper Trains

Six days.

Three rail journeys.

A thousand and one thoughts from here to there to here and back again.

Two thousand words, fourteen hours and twenty three minutes.

Sometimes I sit thinking on trains.

Tuesday. On the train again. I get out my notebook to write down what I see, and to reflect on what I’ve experienced during the train journeys of the past few days. It’s a long way from Reading to Par. That’s a lot of landscape and a whole lot of thoughts in four hours. Continue reading

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River Fal 7: Mothballs

– Lamouth Creek – Roundwood – Cowlands Creek (where?)

From Trelissick garden I meander through the wider estate to Roundwood Quay on the conjunction between Cowlands and Lamouth Creeks and the Fal. The tide waters haven’t made it all the way up here yet, and the creek mud is runnelled with mini-rivulets mapping out fluvial geomorphology speeded up and scaled down. This is where to find all the textbook river features denied the Fal by eustatic sea level rise: look, here’s some channel braiding, leading to a delta before the water drivels into the main body of the creek, and there’s even a tiny ox-bow lake over there. At the end of the creek the remains of an Iron Age fort stand in the woodlands. No one knows why it was built or what it was used for, but even so long ago the Fal must have been a geographical advantage. A troop of green clad National Trusties are wielding saws and shears in the undergrowth – probably removing more of those dreaded rhododendrons. Most environmental management is just gardening on a grander scale after all. It’s the same principle as the weeds in Mylor churchyard, just more plants growing in the wrong place at the wrong time: after all, these guys’ colleagues are weeding round the rhododendrons back at Trelissick.

From Roundwood Quay

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