Sunday 1 July 2012

Crantock, 2012

Ending an al fresco meal with clotted cream - and choice of wine
Natural arch at Park Head on a misty day
Herring gull among the thrift
Poppies and corn marigolds by Polly Joke
      Well, it wasn't the best of holidays we've had in Cornwall. I don't think we've ever spent so much time sitting in our tent listening to pattering rain, or drunk so many mugs of tea.  A silver teaspoon used to stir our tea was stained a deep mahogany brown by the end of the first week.  Our stove ran out of gas half way through cooking an evening meal. My wonderful partner's nose spent an awful lot of time buried in her Kindle whilst I ploughed through a paper version of Laura Hillenbrand's fairly disturbing but brilliantly written biography of Olympic athlete, Louie Zamperini, in her book 'Unbroken'.
      But it wasn't all doom and gloom for us.  Weatherwise, by all accounts, we fared better in the south west than people elsewhere in the British Isles who'd experienced terrible storms, severe flooding and a great deal of structural damage.  We managed to run on twelve of our thirteen days and only once got wet, though it wasn't the weather that prevented me from running on that blank day. To put it plainly I felt absolutely knackered after eleven consecutive days when I'd notched up 56 miles along five and six mile routes with a fast interval session thrown in for good measure. After a day's rest we both clocked our fastest times of all over 5.10 miles which augurs well for our next race, a seven miler at Kilburn on July 8th.
      Not satisfied with our morning mileages my wonderful partner was chomping at the bit for more action in the afternoons.  So we roamed coast paths under threatening skies, marveling at the wondrous rock formations, natural arches and nesting haunts of noisy seabirds. We searched for seals in the thrashing seas, found wild orchids raising their red/purple heads among cowslips, trefoils and yellow rattle.
      Particularly beautiful were the riotous reds and yellows of poppies and corn marigolds at West Pentire, a real feast for the eyes on a day of boundless blue sky. Carpets of pink thrift were still blooming along the coast, for some reason attracting herring gulls that spent hours picking their way amongst it, obviously finding something nutritious. Wild mountain thyme, as it's often called, seemingly isn't confined to higher hills but grows in profusion on sandy heaths where it forms divinely scented purple cushions.
Out walking on one of the few sunny days
      We stayed at Higher Moor just outside Crantock, a campsite we've used for several years because of its wonderful situation, integrated market garden that supplies delicious accoutrements to our barbecued chickens and, most of all, because it lies at the heart of some of the best running country in Britain. We call it our warm weather training camp and usually return home fitter and trimmer than when we left. This year we could easily strike out the word 'warm' though in all other respects it satisfied our needs. If the site lacks anything, it's an 11pm curfew which I once suggested to the owner but which went unheeded.  
      I got particularly annoyed this year when a group of five Italians set up camp next to us. Italians speak very loud and very fast and can be fascinating to listen to. But not when they don't settle down to sleep until dawn is breaking and birds are singing their morning matins.
Wild thyme growing by the coast
      On the very next night a group of eight boisterous children and two adults arrived on the other side of us who were also prattling away when I thought it safe to remove my ear plugs at 4am. I'd had words with the Italians, who'd apologized profusely, but who, I'm told, still yapped into the wee small hours with lights blazing away in their tents. Generally speaking, I like Italians, their food, their wine, their coffee, their land, their music and, after they'd knocked England out of the European Cup, was rooting for them to go the whole way and beat Spain in the final. I may well change my mind!
      Having reached a certain age, I find myself becoming increasingly intolerant of such behaviour and, sadly, may have to revise next summer's warm weather training plans.


  1. i'm telling you...those italians...what would the Black Night say about this??ha ha!!! Camping is so amazing and therapuetic at the same time...but i do know firsthand and understand how difficult it can be when those around you aren't on the same schedule!!! I have 3 boys of my own...and can be quite loud and "active" at times...however when lights are out...usually so are they form being just plain worn out!!!

    Your pictures are loverly...and the lady?? she is a beauty ;)

  2. Shame about the weather, but at least you got plenty of running in, and the photos are fantastic.