Not even the drizzle of an English winter could dampen the excitement I felt at returning to Harlyn Bay in Cornwall just after Christmas. It's my favourite place in the UK and has featured in my first novel, Lies and Linguine. Nothing beats a long walk along the waters' edge and then heading back home to start sizzling some bacon! The photograph below reveals the huge expanse of golden sand surrounded by storm-grey cliffs. It's the kind of place where you can turn your back on the land, look out to sea and feel like all your worries are literally behind you!
I thought I'd add a little from my novel Lies and Linguine, to describe Padstow.
The smell of fish and chips wafted around Padstow’s harbour as Tess and her parents made their way to view the tea shop. Brightly coloured boats bobbed up and down on the water like plastic ducks at the fair waiting to be hooked for a prize. Four children ran past, their ice-cream-smeared mouths looking like clowns’ make-up. In the distance Tess could see the ferry which travelled backwards and forwards to Rock, transporting visitors across the estuary. She watched the hustle and bustle of the holiday makers coming and going in and out of the small gift shops. The reds, blues and yellows of the painted hulls reflected in the water as bunting flickered in the breeze. Tess’ mind buzzed at the opportunity this shop could give her, in a place she loved.
They stopped outside the tea shop and looked up at the white-washed building. It was a small two-storey cafe directly facing the beautiful harbour. There was no doubt that its position was perfect. It had black paint work and a sign hanging over the door which read, Crimptons Tea Shop. Below the name was a picture of a tea-pot, cup and saucer.
Celia linked arms with Tess. “Isn’t it perfect darling?”
“It’s very pretty mum.”
“A manageable size, not too big to start off with.”
Tess grinned, unable to hide her excitement. “Let’s have a look inside then.”
They followed each other up two steps and pushed open the glazed door. The room buzzed with conversation and smelt of marzipan and coffee. They wound their way past several tables and push chairs and stood in the queue patiently. Tess looked into the cabinet which displayed insipid and unappetizing cakes. The colourless coffee cake looked dry, the shortbread was broken and some blueberry muffins looked stodgy. She could definitely improve on that meagre display, she thought.
My lovely dogs, Harlyn and Brook have walk-on parts in Lies and Linguine!! Below are photographs of them digging for treasure and recovering with me after a long walk on the beach.
I'm not sure how this doorway in the cliffs was made. Perhaps it was a point of access for smugglers when the tide was coming in. It certainly doesn't look like a natural doorway as the sides are too straight. I imagine it was used by the smugglers after they'd hidden in caves waiting for tea, brandy and tobacco to arrive in the dead of night. Remember that in those days there weren't roads or tourists, so many communities were difficult to reach. Many families participated in the secrecy in order to benefit in some way. The involvement of the gentry would range from turning a blind eye, to full scale involvement. Harlyn Bay was perfect for smuggling in that it had a long expanse of sandy beach to pull the boats ashore and a rocky uninhabited coastline meant that few revenue men patrolled it.
Below is a picture taken on a walk we took on New Year's Day along part of the River Camel's estuary. It stretches from Wadebridge downstream to the open sea at Padstow Bay. It's an idyllic place of meandering pathways, bays and breath-taking scenery. John Betjamen obviously appreciated the views because he wrote,
"The next five and a half miles beside the broadening Camel to Padstow is the most beautiful train journey I know."