Cornwall, England

Ten months after leaving we returned to Cornwall, Danny's childhood home and where most of his British relatives still lived. First stop was a town called Helston, to see Danny’s aunt Pat and uncle Keith. They immediately filled us with mince pies (we weren't complaining) then took us for a drive to see Tragadjack, the house and farm that Danny’s grandparents lived in. Danny has many fond memories of Tragadjack, and when we arrived it wasn't hard to see why he was so fond of this place. The main house and barn were both expansive, stone structures, set within newly created manicured gardens. Green, rolling hills surrounded the property, and stretched for miles in every direction. It was picture-perfect. I could imagine us living here, although I wasn't sure how I would cope with the remoteness.

 

Afterwards, we conducted a quick tour of Porthleven, a sleepy port town that is apparently busy in summer. There weren't many souls around today. We strolled along the water’s edge, gazing out at a beautiful sunset while protecting ourselves from the icy wind.

 

Lastly, we made it to Mylor, to the home of Danny’s aunt Jane and uncle Alastair. They were kind enough to offer us a spacious bedroom, which we quickly filled with all of our belongings from the car. By the time we had unloaded everything we couldn't even see the floor. Jane spoiled us with a fantastic lemon chicken for dinner, followed by a huge selection of cheeses. The latter contained the local Yarg, a semi-hard cheese wrapped in nettle leaves, which wasn’t too bad. Most of the night was spent exchanging stories about our holiday and about Danny’s family.

The following day we hit the road to explore Cornwall. Our initial stop was Carvedras, the first house Danny ever lived in. It was a large farm estate, situated on a hill down a long, bumpy road that was definitely not hire car-friendly. The owner unexpectedly came out to meet us as we pulled in, and after learning who we were she happily showed us around. Other than a couple of new barns and a few small additions here and there, the place apparently hadn’t changed much over the decades. It was still a working farm, but it was now stocked with beef cattle instead of dairy cattle. A long-time neighbour, Owen, happened to stop by, and remarkably he remembered Danny and his family very well, even though they moved away over 30 years ago. He had an extraordinary memory, knowing exactly how old Danny was, everyone’s name, and even the month Danny’s brother was born in. Danny was only five years old when he left so I don’t think he remembered much of the property, but I’m sure his family back in Australia appreciated the photos.

Next, we drove down to Penzance, a coastal town offering little action in winter. Local Christmas shoppers made the place seem busy, but there were no real sights to see other than St Michael's Mount (a tiny island only accessible during low tide) way off in the distance. Cornish pasties were plentiful, so of course we both grabbed one for lunch. They were just as flavourful as I remembered. Not far away was Land’s End, a towering cliff that marked the most south-westerly point of England. The view was spectacular, but a nearby children's amusement park disturbed the serenity. We wandered along the rocky shoreline until the cold numbed our bodies, forcing us to return to the warmth of the car. Hopefully we can return in the future, when the weather is more accommodating, to explore the area further. 

Truro, the capital of Cornwall, was where we dropped off the hire car and checked into a B&B. We then spent the afternoon with another cousin, Fran, and her family. After several wines and hours of catching up we finally left them in peace and headed out for dinner. On Fran’s recommendation, we resisted the Cornish pasties and dined at an Italian restaurant, which served us gigantic but superb pizzas.

 

Rolling ourselves outside, Danny insisted we then make a visit to the library. This was no ordinary library, but instead it was a venue that is a recurring joke with Danny's relatives. The library was actually a pub, and it was common to say, “I’m just off to the library” when you were actually going out for a few drinks. When we arrived the pub was hosting an open mic night, so we kicked back and listened to a young woman playing the guitar and singing her own original songs, which were surprisingly good. After a couple of drinks we stumbled back to our B&B, where Danny was overly excited about being able to watch TV in bed (a creature comfort we have gone without for some time). It had been a jam-packed day, and I think I was asleep before my head had even hit the pillow.

I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at our B&B; Danny was too lazy to get out of bed to eat his. Once I could finally drag him out from under the covers we meandered around Truro, taking in the main streets, a small market and a river with almost no water. It rains so much in Cornwall (case in point: it was raining today) that it was hard to believe that the river was a giant mud pit rather than a fast flowing waterway. Despite this, it was a lovely, old city and a pleasant place to spend the morning.

 

Danny’s aunt Toni picked us up from the B&B and drove us to Falmouth. We walked along the streets here too, purchasing a cheap suitcase to carry more of our junk back home to Australia. Once it hit 12 p.m., Danny and I stopped by Rick Stein’s fish and chip restaurant for takeaway hake and chips. Being a famous name we expected an upscale meal, but to us it just tasted like regular fish and chips. I'm not sure it was worth the hefty price tag.

Toni then drove us back to Jane’s and Alastair’s, where we spent the rest of the afternoon meeting yet more family. It was incredibly hectic at times – over the day there were 13 of us in the house. One of the neighbours came over with lottery tickets, giving everyone a line each. It was a thoughtful gift, but an unfruitful one in the end. We also managed to send some packages home, in an attempt to reduce the weight of our check-in luggage. I had no idea that sending parcels to Australia could be so expensive - luckily we were living on the cheap for a few days. Jane cooked a delicious beef bourguignon for dinner, followed up by a brioche pudding. We get fed very well here.  

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© 2017 Kim Matthews. All Rights Reserved

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