Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Happiness - for me, at least - is a North Cornwall beach

Nirvana - or Booby's Bay as it's commonly known

We're back in London, and the temperature's currently hovering around 87.5ºF on it's way to 90ºF (sorry, I've never understood Centigrade). I'm sitting in my cubbyhole/study at the top of the house, and despite the fact I've got an air-cooler going full blast, it is sensationally disgusting in here. The fact that I only got three-and-a-half hours' sleep last night probably isn't helping, but even if I'd slept like a log, it'd still be disgusting. The Met Office just issued a heat-wave warning (presumably because they assume we'd be too thick to notice how hot it was unless they told us) and even the TV weather folk have stopped pretending that we all love being stuck in a sauna. My heart goes out - genuinely - to all those people who are commuting in and out of London today: I used to belong to your tribe, and I feel your pain.

My wife and I spent most of last week in Cornwall. The sun blazed out of cloudless skies, the temperature never got past 80ºF, and the two beaches we visited - Constantine/Booby's Bay (once) and Trebarwith Strand (three times) - both provided delightful breezes down by the water's edge. It was perfect. Most schools hadn't broken up yet, so the beaches weren't in the least crowded; there was a jellyfish infestation, so I didn't even have to try to swim in the sea, which is always painfully cold; and there were dozens of other people's dogs to enjoy - including Murphy the deranged Tibetan Terrier, who was absolutely determined to get at our pasties.

Trebarwith is my favourite beach. When the tide's fully in, all the sand disappears, and most of the beach is only available for three hours a day (a bit more if you're prepared to get very wet). This tends to discourage sour-faced whiners and grizzlers and rubbish-strewers and footballers and transistor-radio players and the sort of mothers who scream at their children every time they approach the water - the "Kelly, you're doin' my 'ead in!" brigade. (I'll admit it - when it comes to beaches, I'm a raging snob.)

Trebarwith boasts many attractions; it takes about 15-20 minutes to walk from one end to the other (I'm not a big fan of lying around in the sun); you never have to pick your way through a crowd while you're walking - we visitors invariably set up camp at the back of the beach, where the rocks start; there are no pebbles whatsoever; it's dead flat; it's almost completely surrounded by cliffs (there's only one rocky way down to it); all of it is visually interesting and dramatic; if the sun's too fierce, you can escape it, because one end is permanently in shadow; there's almost no litter; the dogs are in a heart-gladdening state of constant ecstacy and they're all insanely friendly; everyone is intent on minding their own business - it's a very English sort of beach.

The sun's shing there today, it's a blissful 72º, and, oh God how I'd love to be there right now!


  1. Very much enjoyed your post and excellent photographs.

  2. Your post took me back to that Betjeman world:

    Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves
    And thyme and mist in whiffs,
    In-coming tide, Atlantic waves
    Slapping the sunny cliffs,
    Lark song and sea sounds in the air
    And splendour, splendour everywhere.

    I fellt the same way when I wrote this:

    1. I really enjoyed your post, mellorview - now that all the towns have bypasses, the one bit of the journey that really brings back the past is the drive through Liittle Petherick, which still strikes fear into the hearts of first-timers. I missed out on the Cornwall experience in childhood - I was 32 when my future wife first took me there. But I've made up for it since, thanks to the generosity of two sisters-in-law who live either side of Wadebrige.

      And I'll definitely be dipping into Betjeman's Collected Poems again tonight as a result of the beautiful lines you quoted.