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Cornwall – The Running Away Place

In Places on August 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

Mousehole In The Sun - Angela Jardine

When I was four I was adventurous and without the wisdom of fear, so I often ran away to teach my parents a lesson when I was upset with them. At forty I was all fear and, sadly, there was still no sign of any wisdom. So, when life got tough I ran away again and as Cornwall was the furthest I could get without needing a passport, crossing the sea or painful injections, I decided it was going to be my refuge of choice. Besides, it had a wild and romantic appeal to the odd pint of my blood that was Celtic. So I upped and left, feckless as a hare, to deepest Penwith to find solace among strangers.

On that first day of arrival I sat, a disconsolate heap of untidy tweed in my jumble-sale coat, on the cliff path overlooking Mount’s Bay, bemused by the loveliness of my surroundings. The early daffodils fluttered their golden skirts like coquettish can-can dancers and an azure sea played a leisurely game of tag with the rocks below, just feet from my feet. I waited for the sun to thaw out my frozen heart. It was healing by landscape.

After three days of this intensive treatment I was strong enough to return to the mayhem of my life in the North, though I wept as I crossed the Tamar and felt that I was going into exile. I did not know then that one day I would return to Cornwall and I would return to stay.

A mere fifteen years later I ran away again and headed, lemming like, for the same coast, the great bay of Penwith, having held the memory of it in my heart and mind, precious as a pearl in an oyster, for all the years in between.

I settled in the tiny fishing village of Mousehole and knew myself to be the luckiest person in the world. Everyday I found excuses to walk about the tiny, twisting streets, proud in my localness and anxious to be envied by the less fortunate visitors. My soul wrapped around my surroundings like a hen round an egg.

At least once a day I would walk to the end of the quay to gaze out across the bay towards the castle on St. Michael’s Mount, enthralled by the ever-changing scene with the sea below me as temperamental as a toddler one minute, as placid as a sleeping cat the next. Sometimes there would be tall ships, ghostly in the mist, rigging creaking, sheltering in the shadow of the Mount. Ships caught in a time warp.

Other days the scene would be hot and continental with yachts and motor launches idling about on the water and the gleaming white ferry charging purposefully across the bay, stalwart in its support of The Scilly Isles.

Mount’s Bay, and the land that encircles it, has held my soul in thrall ever since I first saw it all those years ago, and it still does. I am still its humble worshipper and I can only leave it with a sense of suspending time, of holding my breath, until I stand on its shore once more. It is the place I love above all others.

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