Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Thoughts on Cornwall

I have always wanted to take a road trip to Cornwall, through Bath, Stonehenge, Exeter and Bodmin Moor, Redruth, the Eden Project at St Austell and finally to the beach at Torquay. We didn’t quite manage all of these places (although I have been to Stonehenge before), but we did make it to Cornwall last weekend and I absolutely loved it.

When travelling I have the usual trepidation about how people will react to my family, being both South Asian and also Muslim (I wear the abayah and my husband wears the imamah or sunnah turban, my mum usually wears salwar kameez). After visiting Scotland last year and being surprised by how nice everyone was (lots of staring, but no rudeness at all alhamdulillah), I felt a bit braver and wanted to travel a bit more this year.

I have heard so much about Cornwall and have always wanted to visit the Eden project, so convinced hubby and mum to go. My sisters ended up coming along which helped share the cost. My other objective in keeping the cost down was so that we could afford to go to a few places this year, rather than one expensive short holiday. So we booked a budget hotel, splitting the cost for rooms, hunted the internet for vouchers to attractions and took quite a bit of the food with us as my hubby is very conscientious about halal and not always keen to eat something we haven’t cooked at home.

The Eden project was just as wonderful as I had hoped with the Mediterranean Biome giving me lots of inspiration for my little garden. The Seal Sanctuary was a nice surprise for the kids and very laid back and close to nature. St Ive’s had a strong family feel and the most interesting places to shop and eat (although we managed to get there just after everything was closing). The beach was perfect for sandcastle building as the sand was damp and rather squelchy and for some reason there were crabs legs everywhere. The sea was gentle enough that day for my mum to stand at the edge of it and bath her feet without getting soaked through.

Fistral beach in Newquay was a dream, with fine sand that got into everything but was very hard to walk on. The water was ever so choppy, I could see why this is where the surfers go.

St Michael’s Mount in Maraizon was my favourite. Again we were late as we waited for it to stop raining. Accordingly we were late back across the walkway and had to rush back across wading through freezing water which numbed our legs. I can’t tell you how exhilarating this felt. I will never forget the image of hubby striding back through the choppy waves crashing across the stone path with a little son lodged under each arm (as always my hero!). Little Lady of course was way ahead of the rest of us like a cat who has abandoned her owners. The people right behind us lost heart and turned back to be brought over by boat.

I liked how environmentally conscious people and buinesses in Cornwall were, every place we went to there was some kind of project to raise awareness whether of an endangered species, the environment around us, recycling and re-using or just the basics like paper bags in shops and notices to save energy in hotels.  I found this heartening.  The people were also friendly, and we got lovely service from very friendly people everywhere we went.  A rarity in London and a nice change.

Another of my favourite moments was when we visited a boot sale.  An elderly gentleman started telling us sisters about some hat boxes.  I mentioned to Kooks it would be good for her top hats.  The guy looked shocked, then he mentioned that he had a bowler hat and wore it to the Elsham (I think that's right) dance.  He asked if we knew what that was.  I was about to say no, when Kooks gently raised her eye brows and said "It's a tea dance isn't it?"  He looked even more shocked and started to tell us all about them, I had to sneak away from him, but loved how Kooks gently surprised him.
I think I would love to go to Cornwall again - perhaps with a better camera and some flip flops next time.
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