Wife said to me earlier this year “I want to do three totally new things this year”. A smile lit up my eyes and my mind raced, wife saw this and frowned, “stop being lusty” she commanded. “Three new experience things like seeing the northern lights, going on a bobsled or something“. Within a day tickets to the Rewind Festival were booked which despite my dislike of large unfamiliar crowds I’d agreed to go too. Then there was talk of exotic adventures which gradually petered out. With our holiday to Cornwall on the horizon I secretly began researching what new experience South West of England would give us and while booking the various family activities we fill our holidays with I found it – The family would learn to surf!
We rocked up at our Newquay surf school at the start of the afternoon to be greeted by our instructors Alan (A cute little Blonde girl who was to be Boys instructor the lucky lad)and Mr Brazil, a young surf boy for whom surfing was a near religious experience. After giving away our age with a whole load of Point Break (Keanu could be my twin brother) references we got down to business and waist high in the waves of Newquay started to surf.
Surfing it turns out is easier than old think. Boy got the hang of it right away and he’s only seven! Amazed at his prowess – standing on his second wave Wife and myself launched ourselves into the session. We both caught, rode and tamed the waves of Newquay with great ease, we high fived and frolicked in the surf. Boy rode a wave right into the beach and so did we. Next time we might even do it. Kneeling…….or even standing up!!!
An hour and a half later, tired of lying on our surf boards we sat on the edge of the sea and watched our surfer dude boy catch wave after wave. Wife announced that she could have easily have been a surf chic like Alan if she’d been born next to the sea. Looking over to Alan I let Wife know in no uncertain terms that there was still time, after all we still have new thing number 3 to fulfil.
Check out the surf film Point Break here. (Alan would probably point you to Big Wednesday or Endless Summer but I’m a north London boy and a film with Keanu and Patrick wins my vote any day)
We loved our instructors from The Newquay Activity Centre here.we had two instructors for the three of us as we wanted boy to have someone focussed entirely on him and his safety.
The sea air, the sound of seagulls, the lardy tattooed women bending the arms of the beanpole men they’re clinging onto while pigeon stepping over the hot sand to the cool of the sea. The triangle torso gaggle of blokes appriciativly rubbing suntan into each other looking more like the a platoon of The Old Compton Chosen than a group of Cornish lads out to impress the female of the species. Time moves on but the charactures of the British seaside holiday remain the same.
In my time youth the tattooed ladies had belly button piercings and before that Bay Watch high thigh one pieces. The boys have gone from speedos to impractical baggies. The sea of grey hair on the biddies has been replaced by a sea of blonde dye hards wearing leopard print beech wraps and sarongs they bought back from those early Spanish package holidays.
We dined at Sams in Fowey town. Outside Sams doorway a vision walked by and she stirred memories. Perhaps a glamours lady who sunbathed on the beech at Felixstowe of my childhood or one of the Regal ladies who frequented the tea shops of Cordys or the Regal on the front.
We’ve settled into a loose holiday rhythm of Things beginning with the letter B. Beaches yesterday led to Burns this morning soothed with Aloe gel that wife delighted in applying to a moaning husband. Followed by Breakfast then an early morning stroll down to the harbour to arrange the hire of a small Boat. Bosun Boy took charge and soon we were weaving in and out of the Harbour Buoys singing made up sea shanties and wincing when we got too close to the shiny yachts in the harbour. We followed this with Brunch, Bouncing on the trampoline, Badminton, Bathing in the pool and Bats……table tennis………and Boys now safely tucked up in his Bunks.
Bed now calls us and perhaps the hope of one last B to finish off the day…….
We breakfasted early on salmon and scrambled eggs, sausages and porridge, not all in the same bowl. Wife had come equipped with a Cornish secret beaches book and the pages fell open on Donkey beach…the decision was made…that was our destination. Half an hour, one car ferry and 4 miles through perilous country lanes and we were there, or almost there. All the book required us to do now was hike up a hill, over the top of a cliff and down a mountainside and we were there..Donkey beach. surrounded by steep cliffs, rocks and a host of little rock pools the place was big enough for 2 families and we had it to ourselves. Or we thought we did….a discarded pair of pants and the love heart scrawled in the sand , initialled E and S should have been warning enough….Lovers About! Sure enough round an outcrop of rocks lurked a middle aged couple who clearly thought the beac was theirs alone. Or son has a naturally LOUD voice! Within about 10 minutes of our arrival we had the beach to ourselves, it’s amazing how quickly a noisy Little Boy can chase off lovers… For a good four hours we explored the beach, its rock pools and mysterious cave. a couple of hours in we sat down for a lunch of chorizo and chicken pie, roasted veg quiche and sour lemonade we’d procured from a Fowey deli on our way to the ferry. Talk turned to the name of the beach and it was left to Daddy to spin the yarn:
I wonder how the beach got is name wife mused. I stepped up. “Donkey beach got its name during the war, the first one. Trench warfare was costing lots of lives and Lord Kitchener the man in change of the war wanted to start building tunnels under enemy lines in order to mount surprise attacks. He needed expert tunnellers so he conscripted a battalion of Cornish tin miners along with their pit ponies. Well they all boarded a transport ship at Penzance and set off for France. Unfortunately after only traveling a little way down the coast it encountered an experimental German submarine and was torpedoed and sunk; everyone on board was lost.
Three days later a family was picnicking on this very beach when the little boy pointed at the water and said Sea Horse. The family looked at where he was pointing and saw a raggady small donkey walk right out of the sea onto the beach. Much later it was established that the donkey was a pit pony called Lucy who was on the ship that was sunk. The sheer cliff sides and steep cliff path prevented the donkey from leaving the beach so the local took turns on bringing the donkey food. They built it a small shelter and for the next 12 years the donkey lived on the Beach, now known as Donkey Beach……”
Wife was totally convinced by the story. Boy a little less…
After the long drive down to holiday Wife, boy and myself set about creating sand pyramids on the beech complete with mummy and sphinx.
So we’re now sitting in the talented Sams on the beech. The best beech food and vibe in Cornwall. Sam has two bars. One in Fowey the other on this little beech called Pol Kerris. Ready for a mackerel and chorizo sandwich but alas they are out of the oily fish… Have to settle for battered silver mullet.
Yum Yum. And oh my god. Whippy ice cream on waffle on march mellow with a raspberry coulis for pudding. Lush……
The family is having breakfast this morning – Wife – Cornflakes, Me – All Bran, Boy – Coco Pops. (Wife has broken the unbreakable code and let the horrible chocolate things into the house. I’m not impressed Boy should have rubbish cereal like me! Hopfully after she’s read this in a couple of days time it won’t happen again! – I can but hope…)
In the garden we’ve a new guest for breakfast. It’s Foxy Loxy and he’s looking at the fish in our terracotta fishpot like they’re a couple of smoked kippers. We’ve not yet named them so they can’t die (Imagine getting to heaven without a name!). I open the back door I wave my hands about but Foxy Loxy has seen this before. He knows I’m scared shitless of touching him and catching Foxy Flu or whatever it is these beasts carry. Boy is behind me. “Get Broom” I command and a broom appears at my side, thus armed I chase Foxy Loxy to the bottom of the garden where he hightails it into the undergrowth. Flush the success of defending my territory I retire to the Kitchen to enlighten Boy about the correct way to scare of beasts. Then at the top of the garden steps who should appear again – Foxy Loxy – Staring right at me, daring me to chase him. The cocky sod. Testosterone rises and before the family can pin me down I’m out of the door, face contorted in rage, growling from the back of my throat waving my £1.99 Tesco broom – As they say in Starship Troopers – I’m in it for the species.
Foxy Loxy looks at me. Does a little shake of his head and trots calmly off down the garden, this nonchalance stops me in my tracks, I try to remember where I’ve seen that look before…..
Oh yes..I remember ….. Wife….
PS. Mate told me in the playground this morning of her friend who came home at the weekend to find a fox had got into his house and pooped on his bed!!! My advice for dealing with these foxy situations – BROOMS DON’T WORK! Purdey still make cracking good shotguns!
Saturday and Sunday morning TV in the house for the last couple of weeks has seen Boy and myself on the sofa with episodes of the Waltons. Its quite simply some of the best television in the world to watch with a kid. It deals with questions of conscience and growing up like no other television today.
I remember Sunday afternoons of my childhood at Nanna and Grandads; Sunday roast dinner with the best yorkshire pudding then laying stuffed on the sofa with John-Boy Walton telling us about some scrape or test of character. Today some iconic Louis Vuitton luggage arrived on Walton mountain in the hands of a Jewish family fleeing Hitlers 1930’s Germany and Kristallnacht.
Their luggage gets everywhere which isn’t surprising as they’ve been around nearly as long as Levi’s (There is about 1 year between them, Levi made his first jeans in 1853 and Louis opened his first store in Paris in 1854!) You’ll always spot LV trunks in films showing a 1920’s atlantic cruise ship crossing; But this is the first time I’ve clocked them in a 1930’s depression soap opera. A great storyline and kind of spooky to feel a connection with the story through the luggage.
Film maker Christian Borstlap did a great little Art film for a Marc Jacobs LV Exhibition in Paris about a year ago showing the changes and journeys LV luggage has taken over the years. It was presented on Nowness here.