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 16: Penzance – Lamorna

Date: Monday 2nd June 2014            Distance walked: 6 miles          Total distance: 143.5 miles 

2014.06.02 (4) Newlyn

Fishermen’s Memorial, Newlyn

I’m struggling to remember the last time I slept in a room with a sea view. Outside my window in the farmhouse above Lamorna where I’m staying for the night there are just three small fields between me and the cliff edge. For the next few days I’ll be taking on the coastline of West Penwith – the stub end of the toe of Cornwall and the most south-westerly edge of mainland Britain; staying overnight at strategic points between here and St Ives to minimise the time wasted travelling to and from home. I’ve been looking forward to this bit. Westest Cornwall is one of my favourite parts and I can’t wait to get a close up view from on foot. Continue reading


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The Sea Takes Back Its Own

They say I’m not to be trusted. Maybe that’s because I’m changeable, but only on the surface. I change my dress with the seasons, with the weather, but so do you, so what’s new there? Silk for summer, so light the quietest breeze disturbs it. Shot taffeta for weekdays, crisp and such a colour and texture, much harder to the fingertips than you’d expect by the look of it. But it creases something terrible. Oil cloth for foul weather. Denim jeans are a favourite too, that indigo/white weave, bleaching in the salt and sun and wind and constant wear, the blue dye running in the wash. Always in the wash. Lace on my petticoats and cuffs. I’m a reluctant girly girl on the outside (all that blue) but it brims over sometimes, like my true nature. There is in me an innate tendency to spill out at the edges. 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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River Fal 3: Don’t Feed the Seagulls

– Prince of Wales Pier to Trefusis Point (where?)

We are required by law to make the following announcement. At the rear of each deck is an orange box, each containing sixty five life jackets. In the unlikely event of an emergency remain seated. Remain calm. Don’t panic, ’coz we’ll be doing that. Listen carefully to instructions given by the skipper and the crew, as we’ll be shouting them to you from the shore…

It gets a laugh every time. Just around the corner from the docks the first passenger ferries of the morning are embarking from Falmouth town’s Prince of Wales Pier and Custom House Quay offering an alternative, and often speedier, route to neighbouring villages of Flushing, Mylor, St Mawes. The more leisurely pleasure cruises upriver to Trelissick, Malpas and Truro, or out into Falmouth Bay and the mouth of the Helford River generally operate from Easter to early autumn, and come complete with an informative, if not necessarily the most accurate of commentaries by the skipper. Continue reading


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River Fal 2: Docks and Monsters

– Falmouth Docks (where?)

Early morning. Falmouth is uncharacteristically still, except for the docks who make their presence known through metallic clanks and rumblings, the whine of a siren, the baseline whirr of an engine throbbing low as the subconscious. Like the estuary on which their livelihood depends, it’s doubtful whether the docks ever sleep at all. As one of the major ports in the south west Falmouth plays host to an international clientele with nautical visitors from all over the world. Lian Xing Hu, Flinterbright, Chambulk Savannah, Mar Elena, Triton Osprey: floating hulks of steel from China, Norway, Spain incoming and outgoing at all hours of the day and night for refitting and refuelling, making best use of rise and fall in the water levels in order to navigate the narrow channel of the harbour entrance. Continue reading