Home again after ten days in the south west of England. Old friend and former teaching colleague, Mike and his wife Jan have retired to Kingswear in Devon. They live on a precipitous slope with fifty steps up to the back gate and fifteen down to a little lane that winds down to Kingswear Marina with its ceaseless ferry service to Dartmouth. The view from their living room has a genuine "Wow!" factor. It's like a giant framed picture with a myriad of boats bobbing by the foreshore, colourful quayside buildings on the west bank and Dartmouth Naval College formidable in the middle distance.
View from Mike and Jan's living room
We stayed with them for twenty-four hours which included a very lovely boat trip up the river and a delightful evening meal taken on their lofty terrace. Mike and Jan should be on the cover of a brochure for retired teachers. They made it through the educational jungle with health, happiness and financial comfort. Though their working lives were spent entirely in Sheffield they have quickly become active Devonshire villagers and seem to know most everybody. It was a delightful way to start our little holiday.
Mike and Jan - enjoying retirement
Though she'd been to America, Hong Kong, Morocco, India and several European countries, Shirley had never before visited the ancient kingdom of Cornwall with its strange placenames, wind-stunted trees, winding lanes and wonderful coastal scenery. When I was a litle boy, my family would trek down to Cornwall each summer - always to the village of Pentewan with its magnificent sands. For the first time in forty five years I went back there and saw the very stream where my brothers and I would luxuriate in white china clay mud before romping in crystal clear Atlantic waves.
A thin rain started to fall so Shirley and I headed for "The Ship Inn" in the village for pints of bitter shandy and I recalled vaguely how as boys, my brothers and I would sometimes play outside this pub on August evenings for we were not allowed to follow our parents over that hallowed threshold reserved exclusively for those tall and venerable beings known as "adults".
Highlights of the week were the brilliant Eden Project, strolling round St Ives, homemade Cornish pasties, walking by beaches and ancient hedgerows, pints of St Austell Brewery "Tribute" in "The Punchbowl and Ladle", our peaceful residential caravan in Penelewey, a cream tea in St Agnes, a kestrel hovering expertly in a gusting wind at Land's End, The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, old churches and a Kellys' ice cream cornet. Cornwall or as some prefer in the Cornish language - Kernow - the land that time (almost) forgot.
Porthbeor Beach, Roseland, Cornwall