Memories are made of this
If ever there was a place where memories are made, Cornwall is surely it. If you’ve been before, you are probably reliving old memories while making new ones; if it’s your first time, you might be wondering how best to go about the business of creating lifelong impressions, to keep you going in your dotage. We asked Kernowphiles to share their happiest memories with us. Obviously, memory is subjective; some will choose crab ciabatta and sauvignon blanc in a picture-perfect harbour at sunset, while others will plump for the sandy egg sandwiches shared on a breezy beach surrounded by loved ones. But a few common themes could be spotted, woven discreetly throughout the thread. Here they are.
Make the most of the journey
Let’s be honest: Cornwall is about as far as you can go, so you might as well sit back, enjoy the trip and let the sweet anticipation build. There will come a moment that signifies the start of your holiday proper: the “Coming Home Trees” at Launceston, if you’re driving down the A30; the Tamar Bridge if arriving by train.
“That moment, as a child, when our train from Reading crossed the viaduct at Hayle and I saw across the bay to St Ives for the first time, on every holiday from 1973 - aged five - onwards, knowing that amazing last leg branch line ride from St Erth to St Ives was minutes away,” recalls Malcolm. “I arrive by car these days, but wherever I stay, those first signs for Lelant, Carbis Bay and St Ives still conjure up that magic.”
Fran remembers the Paddington train crossing the Tamar, and someone saying, without thinking: "Ahh, back again, that's better." Cue a ripple of involuntary giggles throughout the carriage, and a happy conversation between strangers about their favourite part of returning from “upcountry”. Let’s not dwell too much on Rachel, who did “a lot of damage” to a bottle of gin on the train and wound up leading a sing-song accompanied by rugby players and bandsmen.
Share it with loved ones
For so many, the word “Cornwall” conjures childhood holidays, simple but smothered in love. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that apple-cheeked children featured heavily in this category, as people remembered either their own youth, or that of their offspring.
“We stayed in Marazion, opposite St Michael’s Mount, when the kids were little,” says Alex. “The boys just out of the bath, all damp and lovely, when we saw a beautiful sunset start. They just ran like wild things across the beach in PJs to take photos and soak it all up.”
Claire’s favourite photo of her two children has them sitting on a bench along the Warren in Polperro in an evening, while Lucinda used to have a little modern bungalow in Porthcothan, on the north coast. “The children were two years and six months old. Anytime the sun was shining the four of us were down there in the sand and water - it was a very happy time.”
Find your own special
Different places resonate with different people, for all sorts of reasons. St Ives wins the prize for first-timers: Liz visited for the first time aged 20. “I just fell in love with the architecture and the beaches and marvelled at the wonderful carefree atmosphere and exuberance of the town, and the clear light.” Stella remembers Porthmeor beach circa 1975 as “a huge stretch of sand completely empty, no Tate gallery - it’s a vivid and nostalgic memory of a different era”. Elsewhere, Sue buried ‘treasure’ at Polly Joke with her late husband and scattered his ashes there; Nicola watched “a huge full moon rise out of the sea behind a (pretty amateur) play at the Minack Theatre on a summer's night”; and Chris recalls sitting in the top big window at Roche Rock during the endless summer of 1976, “feeling like the king of the world!”
Remember: it’s not just for summer
It’s definitely worth visiting out of season. You stand a better chance of getting a parking space at your favourite beach, and you don’t have to wait so long for the sun to set. Christmas is almost as popular as August; Sian enjoyed the Mousehole Harbour Christmas lights with her children when they were young, then joined the team of volunteer organisers after making the move permanently. Rachel spent the festive season in Polruan, several years running: “We hired a cottage, the girls took part in the open nativity play in the church, and we took the ferry back and forth to Fowey in the dark with the Christmas tree lit up on the front of the ferry - really magical.”
Savour the food
This might be the landmark meal you had chez Stein or Ainsworth, or it might be simpler fare: the first pasty of the holiday or, like Pam, a classic vanilla ice cream that Cornwall does so well, whether it be a Kelly’s Whippy or a cone from Jelbert’s (the Henry Ford of ice creams – you can have any flavour you like, as long as…). Helen salivates at the recollection of eating boiled eggs and beetroot in the scorching sun on Porthcurno beach of a Sunday, while for Sue, it’s crab sandwiches and sunsets at Crackington Haven.
Live in the moment
It’s often the random things that make your heart sing. Scott loves the cows heading back from milking on his favourite path out of Treen, while Rachel chose the stunning view from the top of Carn Marth while walking her dog just a few days earlier. “Sitting on my own by a fire on the side of a hill, it was so still and quiet, I had a moment of pure bliss,” says Abi. “I was so happy I wanted to remember it forever.”
The bottom line is: don’t sweat it. It doesn’t always pay to search high and low for the perfect place or experience. Just slow down, switch on your senses and feast on the sound and smell of the sea, or the touch of the breeze on your skin. That’s when Kernow casts her spell on you, binding you to her forever.
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