With a weather forecast for a dry, bright and sunny day, one day last week, we decided to have a drive out to the coast-. A breath of fresh air and a change of scenery was needed. So along the winding, narrow, muddied lanes we motored, across to Boscastle, where, in years gone by, we had spent many happy summer holidays.
The day was calm, the fields were neat and green, visited only by the odd cluster of sheep, or solitary seagull out for a meal.
Along the roadside, prickly gorse - green and golden, took turns with stone walls and beech hedges, entwined with various oaks and hawthorn, to edge the highway. Wizened trees and bushes, leaning forward, lined the landscape on the horizon, these taking the full force of the rough and constant winds and elements of a coastal habitat.
The sky was a dramatic picture of opposing opinions- an ice blue sky to the coastal side, with voluminous cumulus clouds, streaked in places with rays of golden sunlight, much like one of the old religious paintings which often contained cupids and a deity, immerging through the sunlit rays. Then to the south west, a deep purple, raw and angry sky, with thunderhead clouds mounting, ready to burst. We drove through one such storm, ice, hail, and slushy rain, further on fizzling out to nothing, but a bright sky once more.
Nearing the coast, the more temperate clime won and as we neared Boscastle, lying in its heavily wooded valley, wisps of wood smoke arose, swirling up through the trees from brushwood fires, watched by industrious gardeners, taking advantage of the fine, dry weather.
We parked up and took an easy stroll past the grocery stores, fudge and sweet shop, café, outdoor clothes and gift shop, lingering by the pasty shop, enjoying the savoury aroma of baking pasties. Families were out and about, on the school break in convivial gangs, some with pet pooches. There was a fine array of breeds being exercised that morning. Pugs were popular, with their funny squashed faces, happy Labs, frisky Collies and Retrievers and sturdy little Terriers. These various breeds sniffed, pulled and trotted, in eager anticipation on reaching every possible obstacle, post or stone, for examination, seemingly in full appreciation too, of the dry, clear day.
Pasties were being eaten, as folk wandered about, one eye on the pasty the other on the scenery, a shop front or the harbour. Whether it was breakfast, brunch or lunch, we could not tell, but all were consumed with seeming gusto and satisfaction.
Three National Trust workers were down below on the bank of the fairly rushing waters of the River Jordan. They were purposefully engaged in making repairs to the collapsed stone bank. It appeared to be an intricate jigsaw puzzle of boulders and stone and not an easy job as the gushing river was but a few feet away.
We stared, entranced by the clear sparkling waters, the ebbs and flows and whirlpools of river meeting sea. The scene was peaceful, unhurried and mesmerising. A small child in shiny red wellies paddled on the very edge of the low slipway into the shallow waters, carefully watched by its parents. Dabbling and splashing, plopping and playing with pebbles and driftwood. Seaweed was scattered all along the slipway and beyond, from some earlier stormy day.
A single fishing boat leaned close against the harbour wall, painted in a smart blue and white and slung along the side hung bright pink buoys. Piles of blackened lobster and crab pots were stacked on the rough slate harbour side.
Either side of the harbour, the cliffs climbed to great heights, slate sides trickling with the drip of excess water. Rough grassy, rocky slate paths led to the watch tower to the left and a fish-ornated weather vane to the right. Many times in the past we had scrambled up these precarious routes, to take in and absorb the beautiful and stunning sea and coastal views, but not today. We had to satisfy ourselves with the scenery which physical limitations allowed!
We made our way slowly back to the café where we enjoyed hot pasties, Phil`s with chips, mine with salad. Tea for him and a pint of Tintagel Special Ale, made from the spring water of Trebarwith Strand, for me. It was very good! We sat in the café window “people watching” and chatting easily and laughing, as many couples do, with an easy familiarity.
After resting, we carried on to Tintagel, where we bought iced creams for “pudding”, and sat on a wall in the street, taking in the sun and day trippers passing by. Soon, we made our way to the church at Tintagel. This church is placed in a dramatic position, settled near to the cliff`s edge overlooking King Arthur`s Castle. It is well away from the hustle and bustle of the summer crowds, shops and commerce that is Tintagel on a busy day. The church and surrounding area near the cliff walks, is a peaceful place to rest and reflect.
The churchyard has some very ancient graves. We noted one as early as 1703, but apparently the oldest stone is dated 1672. The coastal erosion of weather, lichen, along with the passage of time has obscured many of the grave stones and their epitaphs. One grave, with its wooden cross, is of the fourteen year old cabin boy of a shipwreck at Bossiney Cove, where all the crew were saved but the boy. This was in 1893. The ship was named Iota and one of the original buoys from the ship is placed in the church.
At the two entrances to the church yard, stand ancient stone seats and a coffin stone placed in between, much need in earlier years, when coffins were conveyed some mile and distance overland, on the shoulders of willing and strong men.
Also in the churchyard there are three ancient grass burial mounds from a much earlier time. Apparently this spot was revered by previous religious groups, well before the church was built between years 1080 and 1150.
We stepped inside the church. It took several minutes for our eyes to acclimatise to the dark corners of the inside. It was so cold we could see our breath. The stained glass windows glowed beautifully in deep rich reds, blues and golds and the brass commemorative plaques were polished to perfection. It is a peaceful church, a very atmospheric church, as indeed, most are. We lit a votive candle and said a prayer in the chapel.
This was another wonderful day, which I will tuck safely away in my album of happy memories..