Driving down from Somerset, through Devon, all sleepy lush lanes, verdant hedgerows and trees, trees, trees, there’s a point when the rolling hills open up to brisk sea winds, when solitary wind turbines dot across the landscape and villages are built from stoic grey stone to withstand winter storms.
For some reason we never came west on childhood holidays in my family. Grandparents were in Edinburgh and Norfolk, and it was always north and east on day long car journeys, testing parents’ patience with the eternal refrain of ‘how many more miles?’ So heading there with our combined families wasn’t a nostalgic return but rather a new discovery for my brother and I, taking our kids there for some bucket and spading and family togetherness.
We were near Polzeath in a big house with ample room for us all up on a hill above the Camel estuary. There were several beaches within walking distance (even for my three year old niece though she demanded a shoulder ride every now and then) and it was a wonderful novelty for our farm kids to be able to get about on foot.
I loved the lanes edged by dry stone walls overgrown with flowers, the contrast between the vivid green of the hills and lanes and the steely grey of the local slate, the layers of history that are present everywhere.
The big painterly skies are a common thread with South Africa, but here they were delicate cloudscapes, as the weather blew hot and cold on us, a rainstorm hurtling across the horizon at lunch time, brilliant sunshine for an evening walk.
And we had the kind of weather when you put extra clothes on to go to the beach, but go anyway, only the adventurous going right in for a swim, the rest paddling and defying the waves with sand fortifications and spades.
Another short diversion on the way to the beach at Daymer Bay on the River Camel estuary was to St Enodoc’s church with its appealingly crooked spire and green grassy churchyard.
Apparently it was almost buried by the sand dunes for a couple of centuries before being excavated again in the mid 19th century. There’s a John Betjeman poem about Trebetherick that about sums up the kids on holiday feel of this particular corner of Cornwall. http://www.johnbetjeman.com/trebetherick.html
Four nights was all too short, we could have spent another week or two there.
|Girls at Polzeath beach more interested in observing stranded jelly fish than surfing.|
|The lane leading down to the beach at Daymer Bay|