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Static Caravan In Cornwall 2005


Day 1

I’ve got a friend who’s been going to the same static caravan site now for 20 to 30 years. He used to take the kids when they were young and now they are adults and have flown the nest, they still go down as a family every year. Only this year was different. This year the youngest has got his partner pregnant and she is due slap bang in the middle of the holidays. This means my friend and his partner want to be at home when baby comes along, and the youngest and his partner need to be home for the same reasons. The eldest is still going with his partner. So there are a couple of caravans spare at Gear Park Holidays, in Perranporth, Cornwall. Arrangements are made, cheques pass hands and I’ve booked a caravan for the end of August.

Then there’s the gf. Her back has been bad for quite some time now, and we were still not sure, even with the new painkillers, if she would be fit to go on the bike for so long. We have done a test ride to Derbyshire and that went ok, but 350 miles is a long way. The decision to go on the bike is only settled on the night before we leave. If we were to take the car we would drive down overnight to avoid the traffic, on the bike we plan to leave early on the Saturday morning.

So on Saturday morning at 0600 the alarm goes off. We do not want to get out of bed, no matter how excited we are about going on holiday. We finally scrape ourselves off the sheets and into some clothes and feed. Of course I have to nag the gf to get ready. “Oh, is there room for this…and this…hang on…this?” After all my nagging I give up and sit down. Moments later she’s stood there, helmet on and ready to go. We set off at 0705, 5 minutes late. The nagging paid off.

It’s a perfect day for riding. No rain but some cloud cover to stop the sun from making us sweat to death in the bike kit. We head straight for the motorways. It’s too far to be messing around with A roads. The bike had showed itself to be uncomfortable on the Faro trip but today I’ve got my ass into a groove and we’re moving along. I’m more concerned about the gf. I’m wondering if every bump is agony and each mile is hell. After 80 miles we pull of into Hilton Park services and get off the bike. My ass is a bit numb and my knees stiff. I ask the gf how she is in my best “worried and concerned” voice. Bugger, she’s fine. So pumped up on painkillers I could slap her around the car park and she wouldn’t even notice.

I stretch and have a smoke then we carry on. We manage to clear Birmingham before 0900 that means we have missed the worst of the Saturday traffic. Traffic start to get heavier as we get closer to Bristol, and there must be a few matches on today as plenty of cars are sporting flags and scarves out the window. Another 80 miles down to Michael Wood services, more concerns over the gf as I notice she’s fidgeting a little from time to time. This time I’m starting to suffer on the bike, this time my neck aches and my legs ache and my bum aches and my back aches. Of course the gf is fine. I hate that, I hate that she’s the one I’m worried about and yet she’s fine. Bummer.

At the services we park net to 2 Harleys and a VFR800. The couple on the 2 Harleys are stopping near Exeter and have only another 80 or 90 miles to go. The couple on the VFR are off to Perranporth! We talk for a while and I learn the Harley couple had been to Faro this year, on the plane. They did not wish to get the bikes all dirty in that dusty desert. Another stretch, another toilet visit and another smoke and we are off again.

This time the traffic is getting very heavy. We’re filtering for 4 or 5 miles, a short blast then filtering again. As we filter along at 10 to 15 mph I have to laugh. The bike is wide due to the saddlebags so I’m being careful not to squeeze through any really tight gaps. Even so through some of the smaller gaps I can feel the gf pull her knees into my hips tight. The bars and the bags stick out at least 6 inches further than her knees, but her mind is telling her to breathe in and brace for impact. It’s nice to know she has faith in my ability.

This filtering is tiring and we stop at Bridgeport services for a stretch and rest. Again we set off into the traffic and again we filter. Finally we come off the motorway and head towards Exeter in search of food. Sainsbury’s have the answer and I order 2 bacon butties, the gf has the all day breakfast. I eat my butties and start to eye the gf’s all day breakfast. No chance. The food monster, all 7 and a half stone of her, is in eating mode. There is barely any baked bean juice left on the plate when she is finished.

The A30 which runs through the spine of Devon and Cornwall is busy. Most of this is dual carriageway so the single lane sections are jammed solid. More filtering, more slow riding, more sore ass and more frustration. If we’d used the car it would take a week to clear this road. Another quick stop then finally the Perranporth signs come into view. The road is now single carriageway, twisty and fun. The fun only lasts for 10 miles then I’m in Perranporth. A quick look at the map guides me back up the road a mile into Perran Sands Campsite.

Gear Park is a tiny section of a much larger complex. We find the owner and book in after some confusion over who has paid what to whom. The caravan is a dated old thing but in good order and more than suitable for our needs. We unpack, sort out the bedding and settle in. The evening is drawing in and the air is cooling. Of course the fire is not working. The owner cannot fix this and assures me he will get a man out to fix is on Monday. He leaves so we take an executive decision to light the oven that warms the van nicely.

We go to the shop for basic supplies, say “Hello” so my friend’s eldest and his partner, watch some TV and throw ourselves into a weary bed.

Day 2

I wake up early on Sunday morning. It sounds like there is a feeding station on the roof of our caravan for the local seagulls. And those seagulls have big noisy feet. I fall back to sleep after looking at the gf lustfully for a while. I wake again at 0730 and make sufficient noise to “accidentally” wake the gf. The caravan has a stove kettle that whistles when it’s hot. This makes me smile, so quaint, so simple and so effective. And a teapot! I’ve not used a teapot since I left home, this is like stepping back 20 years and judging from the décor of the caravan I’ve stepped back even further.

After several cups of tea, several rounds of toast covered in lashings and lashings of marmalade and a quick smoke, the first job of the day is to go shopping for supplies. We kit up and I set off for Newquay, but I spot a sign for Truro and follow that instead. We pass by a wind farm we had seen on the way in yesterday. I stop the bike for a moment to admire the magnificent 3 bladed turbines gracefully swish through the air. We ask ourselves how anyone can object to these environmentally friendly machines, I’d have one on the roof of my house if it would fit.

The roads are good fun with sweeping bends and good surfaces. More impressive is the scenery. Rolling hills with green fields, random trees and small villages. The whole area seems to be created for picture postcards. Truro opens up before us as a mid sized town with a large church. I’m very surprised to see a sign welcoming us to the City of Truro, the large church must be a cathedral. It is a city with car parks and concrete office blocks, but a small city that does not feel overwhelming or dreary. We quickly spot a Tesco and after a short detour due to missing the entrance, we pull in.

Supplies are purchased and the bike is loaded for the return trip. The sun is shining and we are getting hot in the bike gear, it is good to get back on the road. It’s only a short ride back to the caravan now I know where I’m going. When we get back we unload and put things away, then wonder what to do. My friend’s son is going down to the beach at Perranporth so we decide to catch up with him down there. For the first time in years I put on jeans rather than my bike pants, but still wear my jacket, gloves and boots. The gf wears the same except she has on shoes and no gloves. Riding without full gear makes me feel very vulnerable so we travel the short distance into town and the beach very carefully.
I park the bike on the beach wall and we look out over the beach. It is busy and quite large, there’s no hope of finding the other folks. We settle on a spot halfway down the beach and spread out our jackets to lie upon in the same way normal folks use towels. The sun is shining and I strip to my shorts and the gf to her bikini. I don’t normally like to do the beach thing, it bores me and it’s all too normal, but today I’m happy to sit and talk with the gf, watch the other people and occasionally dip my toes in the sea. The sand is warm, the beach is surrounded by gentle cliffs and a small friendly town, the noise of the waves pleasantly mask the noise of screaming kids, I am happy to be here today.

We don’t stop too long, enough to rest and soak in the atmosphere but not so long as to get bored. We return to the caravan with plans to go for a walk around the site, but we both fall asleep instead. When we do wake up we look at each other with our blurred vision and laugh. We wander through the campsite admiring some amazing luxury caravans with envy. We talk about what we would like and how we could go about doing this. We settle on a plan to have 2 separate caravans so we both have personal space, sell the kids into slavery and become trailer trash and beach bums. Sounds quite good to me.

The campsite is on top of the steep dunes leading down to the beach. Looking over the beach in the evening sun is stunning. We gently make our way down a steep concrete road onto a concrete sand covered ramp that takes us down to the beach itself. This is perfect. Golden sand leading out to a crisp blue-green ocean, small rock faces and towering dunes, a gentle sea breeze and the company of a sexy woman. We did consider doing “it” but sand in those kind of places could act like grinding paste, and there was nowhere private anyhow. Still, we had a laugh thinking about it.

We walk back up the face of a dune. This is hard as every step up slides back half a step as the sand gives way. Trying to be manly I press on ahead of the gf and arrive at the top with the veins in my head pulsating and my heart trying to leave my chest. The gf arrives only seconds after looking oh so slightly out of breath. We sit on the dune to recover and watch the sun sink towards the horizon.

Back at the caravan we make tea, feed our faces and settle down to watch TV for the evening. We discuss the news, talk of how we would like things to be, what to do tomorrow and eventually get down and dirty. We sleep well.

Day 3

I wake up and get up about 0800, I finally raise sleeping beauty from the pit at 0900 and we shower. I also speak with a friend of mine, M, who moved to Cornwall some 10 years ago but we have remained in occasional contact and see each other at various weddings and events. I arrange to go and see him on Wednesday.

This being the bank holiday Monday all the usual tourist places will be packed. We decide to just get on the bike and head out, follow the front wheel and see where it takes us. Before we set off the site owner arrives with another gentleman who fixes the gas fire. It’s a simple job, replace a small part called the thermocouple, but it takes a while due to a lack of nuts and bolts of the correct thread. Anyhow, the fire is working now.

We leave about 1200 and head towards Truro, going round in circles at one point. The sun is shining and illuminates the green fields and small villages in an enchanting way. I ride with no more direction than following the sun. We travel slowly down single-track lanes with high hedgerows and trees on either side. The road turns round the side of a sandstone farmhouse then suddenly opens up into a lush green valley complete with broad flat river estuary, boats, gently rolling hills and muddy shoreline. I have to stop

The gf gets off and grabs her camera. Whilst I’m getting mine and taking off my jacket I look around, she has disappeared! Being the smart, intelligent and modest man I am I soon deduce she has gone down some steps leading to the shoreline to get some pictures. I get my camera out and start snapping away but I know the gf’s pictures will be 10 times better than mine as she has the artistic eye for these things.

I stand there for a while, taking in the vista. I think Cornwall reminds me of my trip to Scotland in its greenness and it’s beauty. But Cornwall is different. It is brighter and the houses more colourful, it manages to feel rural yet not isolated. Cornwall is dotted with tiny villages and towns but not far apart, Scotland is much more spread out and isolated. Scotland is the place to go for adventure, isolation and a feeling of being in the middle of nowhere alone. Cornwall is pretty, gentle and will suit the less adventurous traveller looking for relaxation, if you can get away from all the other tourists and the traffic.

Back on the bike again I spot a sign pointing towards the ferry. This again reminds me of my exciting ferry crossing in Scotland so I follow the sign. This leads us to a road that drops steeply into a wide estuary. The sign tells us it will cost £1.50 to cross this estuary on the King Harry Ferry. We lean against the stone wall and look across to see a flatbed ferry on the other side, big enough for perhaps 20 or 30 cars. In the water lie 2 large chains that sink into the water. It’s a chain ferry. As the ferry sets off to come back to our side I can see and hear the chains as they rattle through the metal boat.

We get on the ferry still on the bike. Being on the bike we are directed to the front of the platform and I stop and place my feet on the floor to brace for the crossing. I need not have bothered. The crossing is peaceful and smooth save for the metallic rattle of the chains as they pass over their pulling wheel. It is nice to look up and down the estuary but I can’t take pictures as I’m still on the bike.

The road from the ferry leads us down some more twisting roads then I pick up signs for St Mawes. St Mawes is another picture postcard seaside town. We stop in a car park next to the harbour and a harbour officer comes out and says hello. He is a very friendly chap who allows us to leave our helmets in the harbour office and promises to keep an eye on the bike. The only thing he does insist on is that we pay the minimum parking fee. This is only the second time in my life I have ever paid to park my bike! Disgruntled I take comfort in being thankful I don’t need to carry my helmet round with me.

We walk round the harbour and spot a sandwich shop with a bench outside. There are plenty of other places to eat but they are all busy. We sit outside in the sun watching the world go by whilst munching on simple cheese butties and drinking coke. This is the life, this is what it’s all about. Sun, sandwiches and relaxing. Walking back round the harbour we go up some back streets and the gf is taken by an old house on the hillside, with a garden filled like a jungle. I have no interest in gardening but she tells me how odd it is to see a climbing something-or-other, look at how this whatever grows out the wall and how they’ve used this pot to grow that thing. It’s all gobbledegook to me, but I smile and nod in the right places.

Back at the harbour we watch as skinny youths jump off the harbour wall into the water, kids play in inflatables and further out small craft come and go. No-one seems to object to the young ones messing around in the water, we can only assume this a family friendly harbour where everyone can have a splash around. Back at the bike our friendly harbour officer talks to us about what we are doing and where we are going next. I thank him for being so helpful and we ride off. It’s a nice and friendly place is St Mawes.

On the road again I’m following my instinct trying to find Mevagissey. My instinct lets me down badly and when I consult my map we have done a circle almost back to St Mawes. Refreshed from consulting my map I head in the right direction but I’m trying not to use the main road. This leads us to another tiny coastal village called Portholland. This comprises of 50 or so cottages in the bottom of a valley that leads out to the sea. The tiny beach has almost brown sand occupied by a handful of holidaymakers playing in the water. The sea wall is an out of place massive lump of concrete with a steep ramp to the beach. Again we stop and have a quick chat, take pictures and carry on.

We finally get to Mevagissy at teatime. We walk around and stop for a cup of tea in a café covered in pictures and letters from Royalty, particularly the Queen Mother. The owner is obviously very proud to know the royal family and is not shy in letting the customers know this. The tea is good and we talk of how Cornwall presents itself as rural yet full of people. I know I like it here and it’s nice to have company. We walk back to the bike through the narrow streets and set off for home.

The evening brings a ready-made meal of chicken curry, which we burnt but still tasted perfect. This of course brought on a bad case of flatulence, much to the gf’s disgust. I am threatened with being made to sleep outside if I carry on, the gf fears for her health. I think the gf’s nasal passage has been tortured to the point where she can no longer smell anything, because we sit down and watch Mission Impossible 2 together. We enjoy the film not for it’s amazing story or action, but because we are laughing at it’s silliness and cheesiness.

Day 4

Tuesday morning we do nothing. Not nothing as in a boring nothing, just an easy, relaxed and chilled out nothing. I watch a bit of daytime TV, go to the shop for some breakfast and sit and talk with the gf. The topic of conversation still returns to the possibility of owning a caravan. Could we live in one? Could we use it as a holiday home and rent it out? What are the problems with renting out and would we make enough money to be worth the effort?

It’s a splendid, warm, sunny day. By lunchtime the sun is high in the sky above the dunes surrounding the caravan and neither of us is in the mood to do anything adventurous. We decide to walk back down to the beach and have a lazy afternoon. This is what I want to do, this is how I feel today. Yet I still feel I am letting myself down somehow by not being wild and adventurous, by not going out there and being dynamic. It takes a while but I convince myself it is OK to do normal things like everyone else does from time to time.

We get to the beach around 1330. We settle ourselves on the warm dry sand near a stream the springs from the small cliff at the edge of the dunes. As we settle I laugh at the gf, she’s obviously not quite got the hang of this whole sunbathing business, she’s not facing the sun. Some minor adjustments later and we are both optimally positioned and lying in the traditional English sunbathing format. I lie there for maybe 10 minutes but I give up, I’ve got to do something!

I wander down to the surf, full of bathers and bodyboarders. Walking is fine but slightly uncomfortable without my boots on. I have one leg shorter than the other so my boots are adjusted to compensate for this. The surfers are a short distance up the beach. The lifeguards on their 4 by 4 position flags on the beach, between red and yellow flags are the bathers and bodyboarders, between black and white flags are the surfers. I wonder why for a moment then shiver as I imagine a hard surfboard smashing into my skull at possibly 30 miles per hour. It does make sense.

Initially I let my feet get wet. Blinking Flip! The water is chuffing freezing and I let out that familiar “Ffff! Ooooh!” noise. I wander in a little deeper and the next wave splashes my knees and thighs. “Ffff! Ooooh!” I say again. Be brave Ren, you’re a big tough man now…god damn it that’s COLD! It takes me quite some time to be up to my waist then a big wave smashes into my chest. After the initial shock I’m starting to adjust and finally feel confident enough to have a play.

Before I know what I’m doing I’m out up to my neck and splashing around like a six-year-old. I’m screaming with delight and having a whale of a time. I don’t even notice the cold anymore, this is so much fun. I watch with envy as the bodyboarders eye up various waves then ride one back into the shoreline. I almost ask one chap if I can have a go with his, then consider drowning one of the kids and making off with theirs. I think better of this and eventually return back to the gf.

I’m a worrier. I wish I wasn’t and I really do try not to be, but I can’t just switch it off. I’m worried now the gf is possibly bored? She tells me she’s not and appears to be quite content to sit in the sun and relax. I sit again for a while but then I’m itching to do something soon again. As a child I loved to play at building dams in the streams on any available beach. So I’m off to play in the stream.

At first I feel stupid. I’m surrounded by kids all under the age of 10, all building their own dams. The parents are helping the kids, but I suspect they are building their own dams with the kids just helping. I start to build. I’m using my hands to dig but soon enough I have my own dam of about 4 square metres. I’m quite proud of my achievement and take a moment to look at it. I start to extend and strengthen then extend and strengthen again. Then some kids wanders into my dam and says “This yours mister?” I stop and look down in shame then quietly reply “er…yes.” He splashes through it that causes a massive tidal wave which breaches a wall. I leave and return to the gf, sulking.

Later I return to the waves for another splash then finally settle down. I can’t do it! I can’t sit still, so I start to dig. At about 1 and a half feet down I hit the water table and pebbles. Still digging I create a large underground pool. Eventually we decide to leave which comes as a relief because I am enjoying myself far too much. We start the long ascent up the path and concrete road to the campsite.

Back at the caravan I am totally covered in sand. The sand in Portugal seemed to fall of on its own, here the sand sticks to me, hard. I shower but I need to scrub and scrub. The gf has to scrub my back. It takes almost 20 minutes to get the gritty stuff out of all my body parts and when I emerge I wonder if I am pink from the sun or pink from scrubbing. We make tea and feed ourselves then settle in for another evening of watching TV and doing what comes naturally when I’m with the gf.

Day 5

Wednesday morning I wake up and take a look outside. It’s a grey day and it has obviously been raining. This is just fine. Today we are going to ride across the peninsular from the north side to St Austell on the south side. I’m going to see an old friend of mine, MQ. I’ve known MQ for 14 years now, since I joined the bike club soon after my son was born. Back then he was a big scary hairy biker, riding a Harley.

As I got to know him I learnt he had terrible arthritis all over his body. As the years rolled by this started to get progressively worse and finally he and his partner moved to Cornwall for the warmer climate. This was 10 years ago. We’ve sent the odd e-mails and met up at various events and I visited him 5 years ago. Brief communications gave me his address and some reminders for finding his abode.

We kit up after breakfast and set off for the 40-mile trip. Along the way the rain comes down from time to time but the riding is easy and I’m in a gentle sort of mood. We get into St Austell and after a few stops to check my directions I arrive at the gated house. All seems normal here, a ford pickup truck rusting on the driveway, new garage doors, debris from yet another building project and cats in the garden giving me the evil eye.

A voice from behind shouts a familiar “Hello!” and MQ comes ambling stiffly from the side of the house. He looks well enough, his ungainly walk and twisted hands being the only sign of ill health. We shake hands politely yet somehow I want to hug him. I introduce the gf and we step into the kitchen.

We talk for a while in the kitchen then move to the comfort of the living room. We learn he’s looking well today because he’s pumped full of steroids which he needed to make a 700 mile trip to Scotland for a wedding. He tells us about failed operations, side effects of sinister drugs and of different doctors giving him different stories with different treatments. He also tells us of being bed ridden and unable to move. He does this without moaning and allows the gf and myself to relate our ailments and woes.

He then tells us of the 700-mile trip to Scotland then 700 miles back. He tells us about the work he’s done on the garage and his bikes and the trike. He tells us of roller coaster rides and about plans for more work on the house. His ability to carry on and do things even when every joint is crumbling inside his body is fascinating. He admits he needs help with almost everything, but he refuses to give up.

We look around the house, look at the garage and the new remote-controlled doors and the granny flat. Time has flown by but it will be another 3 hours before his partner, A, is back from work. We decide to go out for a short ride and let MQ get on with his day, we will return about 1800.

Back on the road I ask the gf if she is ok. She’s starving! She’s was too polite to accept MQ’s offer of food and now she needs feeding. We find a café next to a supermarket and go in to eat. The gf gobbles her way through a full all-day breakfast while I eat sausage and chips. One thing has been difficult on this trip. I worry about the gf too much. I worry about if she’s enjoying herself, I worry about if she’s bored, I worry about if her back is ok and I worry about what she’s thinking about me. It’s becoming tiresome for me. I decide I need to talk about it.

I don’t. We get on the bike and ride to the harbour of Charlestown. It is only a short hop and we ride down another of Cornwall’s tiny little back roads until the masts of 2 tallships peer out from between the hedgerows. Charlestown is a tiny place with a large harbour and remnants of a once thriving ship building community.

The first ship is the Kaskelot. I wonder if this is some play on the words “Cask” and “Camelot”. The second ship is the Earl of Pembroke. We ponder if we should pay the fee to get onboard and look around, but I am far to mean with my money so we wander along the harbour wall instead. On the far side of the harbour are small little terraced cottages in bright pastel colours. We discuss which we like and look out over the walls to the sea and the bluffs. Again we sit and chat about everything and nothing before we get back on the bike for the 10-minute ride back to MQ’s. I’m still aware I’m worrying about the gf.

Back at MQ’s we talk some more then A arrives home. A is a crazy and loud woman and arrives like a whirlwind. She’s not changed I’m glad to say. A flurry of greetings and introductions follow then it takes a while until we decide to go for a pub meal in Mevagissey. We follow MQ and A down to the ship in and decide what to eat. After ordering we talk some more. A is working for a dry cleaning chain and relates the politics and shenanigans that are afoot. The talk carries on but the meal is taking a long time to arrive.

The bar staff apologise for the wait. It would appear the normal chef is off and the replacement is slow, very slow. Finally we eat and the meal is nothing special but satisfactory. All this waiting though has taken its time on the evening and I am getting tired and thinking of the 45-minute ride back to the campsite. We say our goodbyes about 2200.

On the way home I think about MQ and A. I think of how MQ struggles with his arthritis, of A and her frantic energy and of the gf and how she always seems ok no matter what’s going on. And of myself, how I worry about everything and anything rather than just enjoying myself. For the one-thousandth time this trip I lean around and ask her “Are you ok..?”

Back at the caravan I am tired. Tired physically from being out all-day and tired of worrying about worrying. I need to talk. We settle into bed and I manage to bring the conversation out of myself. The problem is the gf treats me right, what an odd problem. She treats me right and this causes me to worry about if I’m treating her right. I’m afraid I’ll mess up and repay her kindness with unkindness. I’m afraid this girl I respect will no longer respect me when I inevitably upset her. I’m afraid of being the guilty party yet again. I’m afraid I cannot sustain being nice all the time.

It takes a while to get her to understand, it takes longer for her to reassure me I’m alright and she’s not perfect. The conversation rolls on for an hour or two, we eventually fall asleep, exhausted from talking.

Day 6

Thursday morning is another slow, relaxed and lazy morning. It takes until lunchtime to muster up the energy to do something. And that something today will be a trip to Tintagel. For anyone reading who does not know, Tintagel is supposed to be the birthplace of the mythical King Arthur. Tintagel is so intertwined with the Arthurian story, for a while I thought it was perhaps Camelot itself. I want to go and have a look, to say I’ve been, I’m not expecting anything amazing.

After a brief look at the map I set off in the general direction. Getting to the correct part of the peninsula is easy enough but I am trying to be clever and find my own way there. Needless to say within 15 minutes I am totally lost. We ride around, quite happy to be lost in such pleasing surroundings. More tiny villages, more green fields, the hedges are lower here which affords better views and the wind farms still impress. I eventually stop by a bus stop to pay a visit to the gentleman’s boudoir to powder my nose. I’m not panicking but I am a little concerned about ever finding Tintagel.

I need not have worried. A mile down the road I spot a sign for Tintagel. I follow the road and finally we arrive in another of Cornwall’s coastal villages but this is much more tourist orientated. All along the street small shops proclaim to be Merlin’s magical suppliers or Arthur’s café. No sign of a castle though. I pull into a car park and we take a moment to look out over the valley that leads to the sea. This must be the place as a white path leads tourists down the valley.

At the mouth of the path Land Rovers stop to drop off then collect people for the trip down the path. With all the bike gear to carry we wonder if we should do the same. We don’t, we both agree we need the exercise. We walk down the path, dodging the occasional Land Rover, but there is no sign of a castle. Looking up to the ridge above the valley are some remains but not at all castle like. Down at the foot of the valley the path turns sharply then climbs up steep stone stairs.

On this steep stairway is a hut with a national heritage worker taking £3.90 for the privilege of walking up another very steep flight of stairs to see “The Castle”. I make disapproving noises but the gf has already got her purse out. We pay and start to climb. We cross a steep bridge and climb, climb, climb up steep and changeable steps made from slate and stone sets. Wearing bike gear designed to protect against 80mph winds in sub zero conditions and carrying helmets and a rucksack, this is proving hard work.

We arrive at the top. I’m sweating and badly out of breath, but I am ahead of the gf. My male ego is pathetic, I needed to get up here before her to prove how manly I am. I know when she was fit the gf could run 10km, was a member of a running club and was 1,000 times fitter than I have ever been. Right at this minute I am thankful for her bad back, I could not stand the embarrassment of being so out of breath while she stands there smiling sweetly asking “are you alright?”

We sit on a wall, part of the ruin. And it is a ruin. There is nothing castle like here at all, just low walls in a jumble that makes no real sense. The plaque informs us this would have been the great hall, the confusion in layout is from later buildings built over the original hall. The scenery is nice enough but the ruin hardly seems to have been worth the effort.

We make our way back down the steep stairs to face another flight of even steeper and more treacherous steps leading up to another ruin. Again I make my way hastily up these, again my heart is pounding inside my chest and my breath is short and heavy. It is with great relief I take the last step, but I have to sit down again, I feel quite sick for a few minutes. When we recover we find another plaque that tells us this would have been the castle. The great hall is outside the castle on what is almost an island. We also learn the castle would have been much bigger, but the medieval builders who took advantage of the natural coastal defence of the cliffs, forgot to take into account erosion. Soon after completion large sections fell away into the sea, new walls were built and these were washed away too.

This section is much larger but there is still little to show you how the castle may once have looked. I did not have any real expectation but I had hoped for battlements and drawbridges. I somehow feel let down. I am quite worried about making my way back down the steep steps, it is harder to go down steps with my bad leg than to come up them. I need not have worried, we can make our way down a gentle path back to the park.

Back at the car park we again catch our breath for a while then mount up. On the way in I had seen signs for Boscastle, the scene of terrible flooding about a year ago that made the national news and several documentaries. I head out there. Riding through the small town you would never imagine it to have been a scene of devastation. The shops are open and the houses are all pretty. I stop to talk with the gf, she says “It’s very nice, where is this?” I explain but she has never heard of it! I ride off, wondering where she has been for the last 12 months.

The ride back is much easier. We get lost in narrow lanes with grass growing down the centre and pass through tiny hamlets with 5 or 10 houses and a letterbox. The trees cover the road in places making dark leafy tunnels and signposts covered in moss casually lean into hedges whilst pointing lazily. Back on the main road we head back but I decide to go into Newquay.

Newquay is a tacky tourist town with arcades, chip shops, hotels and naff toyshops. It is also a surfing capital, recognisable by the large number of VW camper vans full of “Dudes” and surfboards. In town we take a short break and get directions to Fistral Beach from a chap who’s keen to tell me about his bike. I know of Fistral Beach as my friend whose sons caravan we’re in is a keen surfer, when he is here. Fistral Beach is almost legendary in the surfing community.

Fistral Beach is a wide sandy beach with bluffs at either end. At this late stage of the day there is still life here as surfers and bodyboarders make the last of the daylight. There are several people with metal detectors combing the beach, presumably looking for lost change or jewellery. The bike is parked between yet more camper vans full of surfing dudes and ageing surfer gentlemen. We rest on stones at the edge of the beach and talk of surfing, the glorious weather and what to do tomorrow. We mount up and ride back to the caravan.

Thursday evening we do very little. We cook another pizza for tea and this again gives me terrible wind. I have tears of laughter as the gf gets tears from the smell. The gf’s mother is in a hospice. She’s been in and out for quite some time now but this time it seems a little more serious. She’s understandably worried, both her sister and her mother’s friend assure her she is ok and resting. We talk for a while but there is nothing I can say or do to help her not to worry. She smiles and puts on her best brave face and we spend the rest of the evening watching people on TV trying to build their own houses.

Day 7

Friday morning. These lazy mornings are becoming a habit. It’s lunchtime before we are up, dressed, fed and ready to take on another day. We know we have another big trip ahead of us tomorrow, we plan to take it easy today rather than clock up more miles. We are going to the beach, to lie down and rest, enjoy the sunshine and take it easy.

We walk through the campsite and down the steep road and path down to the beach. The tide is out, the sun is shining, the stream is flowing and the small shop is open. It’s looking good. We spread a big towel out on the sand and get comfy. It only takes a short time before I’m bored and ready to do something.

I walk down to the sea, limping without my orthotic boots on. The water is cold and the waves not too big but soon enough I’m splashing around and looking jealously at the kids with their bodyboards. It’s no good, I gotta get me one of these. I walk back up the beach and look at the small hire shop to se how much it would cost to hire one. £4 for the afternoon. I walk back to the gf and say “We spent £3.90 each yesterday to look at some stone wall and climb steep steps, I’m gonna spend £4 and hire myself a bodyboard.”

I return with a somewhat camp pink bodyboard made from thick strong polystyrene. The gf just smiles at me so I head off down to the water. I wade into the waves and prepare to catch my first wave. Along comes a big one, about 3 feet above me and just starting to break. I turn as fast as I can and push myself inshore with the wave. I move forward a few feet then the wave passes me by. I repeat this action several times then finally I’m off.

I catch a good wave at just the right time. I’m surrounded by frothing water and moving inshore at what seems like the speed of light. It’s awesome. I let out a wail of delight as I ride in. This only lasts a handful of seconds and I’m gutted when the wave finally overtakes me. That was so much fun! I pick up my board and wade back out as fast as I can. Again I try several waves before I finally get another good ride. It’s like disappointment after disappointment then YeeeHaaa! I’m the master of the world surfing in on my wave-driven chariot.

I play, learn, play and learn some more. It’s all about timing and spotting the right wave at the right point between breaking and becoming froth. I practice for maybe another half hour before I notice I’m getting cold. Most other surfers and bodyboarders are wearing wetsuits, me I’m just in my shorts. I return to the gf and tell her all about it like a six-year-old kid telling his mother about a party. She smiles and nods in the right places and I finally settle down to warm up.

After a while I persuade the gf to come to the shoreline and get some pictures of me bodyboarding. She gets her high quality camera, makes various changes to capture action then follows me down. She stands there up to her knees in surf while her immature boyfriend wades out, rides in and wades back out time and time again. She snaps away and at one point is nearly washed away by a big wave as she tries to capture the action.

I finally finish my playtime and I think she has enjoyed watching me enjoying myself, but is relieved to get her and her expensive camera back to the safety of dry land. She’s not a swimmer or a big fan of water. I try to persuade her to have a go but I quickly realise I’m wasting my time. She is a fan or radical sports such as skateboarding and BMX, she’s been to the X-Games before now. I wonder how my futile attempts at being a surf dude have impressed her. Not a lot I suspect. Still, she must love me to put up with me.

Later I go to play in the stream again but constant interference from small people causes project river-divert to be ruined. I give up and return to the gf to sulk. I suspect she might be getting bored. This is due to the fact she has built a whole town out of sand using a polystyrene coffee cup. She tells me of how the people here in her town are not allowed to litter but public sex is almost expected. Stealing is punishable by death and the universities teach free love. I feel better hearing this, I feel she is sharing in my immaturity.

Back at the campsite we take time to look around some of the caravans for sale. They are most impressive. One has 3 bedrooms, the master has en-suite, the kitchen is well appointed and it is stylish. I could happily live in one of these. We talk of how cold they could be in the middle of deepest darkest winter, where we could put all the spare crap we collect through our lives and would it remain stable if we got too passionate. We know it’s only a pipe dream, circumstances are out of our control. But there is nothing wrong with dreaming, if we can’t dream then we will never have a dream come true.

This is the last evening in the caravan. After tea we spend a couple of hours taking with my friend’s son, and the groups of friends with them. There are 4 couples and 3 kids. Nothing exciting happens but it is nice to sit in the setting sun on the grass making easy conversation and drinking coke. All together the day has been a good one. We excuse ourselves and retire to bed.

Day 8

We’ve been lead to believe we need to be out of the caravan before 1200. So it is 0900 before we get out of bed and start the disheartening task of packing up. At 0945 I notice cleaners in a caravan next to ours and think they started early there. Whilst carrying out one of the many items to be loaded one of the cleaners informs me we need to be out of the van by 1000! A mad rush follows trying to get everything onto the bike, get the gf organised and ensuring nothing has been left in the caravan. It is 1020 before we are ready to go.

We get on the bike and set off. On the way out we spot my friend’s son who waves to us. And so it is we are back on the road and heading back to the reality of everyday life. And the first thing that brings us down is the traffic. The A30 is jammed solid, I’m filtering and overtaking at 10mph past cars who are going nowhere. We’ve only done 40 miles before I need a rest and I spot a sign for a lake.

2 miles of twisty lanes take us to Roadford Reservoir. It is gorgeous here, I have stumbled upon a perfect place to stop. The sun is shining on the water and the large concrete dam at the end and it is peaceful. There is a café so I send the gf off to get refreshments and I sit on the banking next to the bike. We drink and I visit the clean toilets. Well, they were clean until I left them. There are 2 other bikes there and one older rider talks to me about his bike and mine then it is time we were back on the road.

The rest of the ride home was very hard work. This is the last weekend of the long summer holidays and the whole world and his wife are going home today. Children are packed into cars between bedding and windbreaks. These cars are packed into motorways for endless miles that move slowly. Everyone is hot, thirsty and short tempered. No-one wants to go home, there is nothing to look forward to. Motorway services come and go and signs and towns come and go. It seems like forever before we are finally back on the familiar roads of the gf’s home town.

And that is the end of the journey. Could I recommend Cornwall? I certainly could. It has beauty and countryside and nowhere is far from anywhere. If you like beaches there are plenty of them, and things to do at the beach. Plenty of small towns, villages and hamlets. It is a tourist trap. BUT! If you are looking for wild adventure, remoteness and a feeling of being totally away from anywhere, look elsewhere. Try to avoid the main peak periods if you can, traffic is horrendous.

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