Cornish Adventures


Shutterstock © Fishing boats in Cornwall Illustration: Shutterstock

WRITTEN BY GILLIAN HARVEY

The best kind of holiday is in a place that’s different every year… and often, different every hour

Sally closed her eyes and breathed in. The stinging, salt air hit the back of her throat like a slap. It was always cold, the air; even when summer was on its breath. The sea chilled it and sent it racing across the front bringing its own particular brand of freshness.

That’s why people went on holiday abroad, she supposed. The heat. She’d used to like it too – twenty-five years ago in her bikini with her headphones and a book. Now she found it oppressive; preferred to spend time exploring, walking – even swimming when she felt brave enough.

The kids had used to complain – there was nothing to do in Cornwall, at the little old farmhouse where they habitually stayed. Now, in their early twenties, they still came along occasionally, grateful for the break from the pace of their new lives as adults – even grateful, sometimes, for the patchy signal. A proper, immersive detachment from the inexorable pull of their mobile phones.

This time, it was just her and Bill, making the journey of six and a half hours – two stops, one picnic and a breather when they first hit the seafront. They’d got it down to a tee. Fish and chips, sitting on the windswept pavilion overlooking Polzeath, meandering back along the narrow, sea-view roads and into the cottage in time to get the kettle on and watch the news.

“Do you think we’re set in our ways?” she’d asked this time when they were rinsing the teacups.

“Never,” he’d smiled. “Or at least, not in the ways that matter.”

This morning, she’d woken early and taken the two-mile walk down to the front on her own. The air was always cool in the morning, often misty – you could be forgiven sometimes for thinking that it was the middle of winter.

Then around ten, the sunlight would finally penetrate even the worst of it and you could be on the beach in a bikini and having to slap on sun cream.

The sea in Cornwall was changeable, too. Its waves at times crashing, mighty towers of water that took out even the hardiest surfer. Then calm, stretching for miles to the horizon. They could change at a moment’s notice. Yet somehow, the sea remained timeless.

“Don’t you get tired of going to the same place every year?” Georgie, one of her closest friends, had asked her once.

“No,” she’d said sincerely. “Because it is never the same.”

She thought back to the first time she’d stood at this spot, her belly swelling gently beneath her summer dress…

“It’s beautiful,” she’d whispered to Bill. They were newly married; his parents had booked the cottage for them as a treat. She’d scoffed at the idea of it – to her, holidays had meant passports and planes and sunshine.

“Go and relax,” his mum had said. “It’ll be good for all three of you.”

They’d laughed when they’d turned up at the tumbledown cottage with its worse-for-wear kitchen and tangled garden.

“Not that relaxing,” Bill had laughed as they’d struggled to open the front door.

But once they’d settled in and enjoyed the cream tea the owner had left as a welcome gift, they’d begun to see its charm. The following year they’d returned – Grace just a few months old.


Now the house was steeped in memories and even though it belonged to someone else they felt that it was theirs – their holiday home. It was comforting, sitting in the evening and recounting things they’d done in years gone by – and talking, too, about the things to come.

She’d been shaken earlier this year when Grace had rung to tell her she was pregnant. Delighted, of course, but shaken too. ‘Grandmother’ – she tested the word on her tongue and it seemed to have nothing to do with her. Grandmothers were old, weren’t they?

Now she imagined holding the baby in her arms; loving him. How she and Bill had embraced each change in their lives together – and how, essentially, she’d be fifty-five years old this year whether she was a grandmother or not.

She thought about the beach – how it was constantly changing. How there were dangers and rainclouds and enormous waves; but these would yield to sunshine and blue skies and calm seas. How, despite it all, every aspect had its own beauty. And the storms only made the moments of calm more precious.

She watched the clouds scuttle across the sky and felt the temperature dip. Tiny drops began to hit her bare shoulders quite pleasantly before becoming heavier.

By the time she arrived back at the cottage, she was drenched. Then, of course, the sun came out brilliant and strong, making it look as if she’d taken a dip in a ditch.

“What happened to you?” Bill asked, as she walked into the kitchen.

“Oh, nothing.” She smiled. “Just another adventure.”


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Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team ten years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!