Tag Archives: Perranporth

Shoe Fail

So. My Merrell walking shoes are not waterproof. In fact, my one year old Merrell walking shoes (I’m going to keep mentioning the brand in the hope of shaming them) today did a good impression of a pair of sponges, relaying every ounce of nearby water directly to my socks.

I woke this morning to rain, and a weather forecast of solid rain all day. But I was not detered, and set off on the second leg of my walk. The path to St Agnes is only four miles, and including all the ups and downs and ins and outs I did it in about three hours. It’s a very pretty walk, with many abandoned mines and various crumbling buildings en route along the cliff tops.

Unfortunately after the first half hour I noticed that my feet seemed damp. Half an hour after that and they were absolutely soaked through, and every step came with a squelching noise. Fortunately the walk kept them warm enough, but that meant I couldn’t rest for any length of time as they would have frozen. So I eventualy arrived in St Agnes absolutely exhausted and very uncomfortable, as the rain had also soaked my trousers and penetrated through my light waterproof coat.

St Agnes seemed very nice, but also very shut, almost abandoned. After lunch in a pub and a change of clothes I took a look around and hunted around for the beech, but it is actually a few miles from the town itself so decided against it.

I decided then to hop the bus back to Perranporth (which put my walk into perspective as it took all of 5 minutes!) thinking I could take another walk along the beech but am wishing I had not now, simply because I feel I’ve lost momentum on my walk. Perranporth is very nice but I’m sure St Agnes would have been as well given more of a chance. So I’m a bit disappointed with myself for not sticking to the plan…bah!

If the whether is good tmrw I might take the bus half way to St Ives and then walk the final half. I can then stay a night of two there then do a final night in St Agnes or Perranporth before flying back.

Despite the rain I did enjoy the walk today. Progressing along the cliff path is very satisfying and at times it seems amazingly remote and isolated. Every turn reveals a completely new and unexpected sight. I hope I get to discover some more of the path tommorow.

Castles Made of Sand

Today I built a sand castle. Having a beach full of sand to play with proved to be quite a distraction from writing and from the book I was reading. (Lanark, which I am really enjoying again after getting distracted from it by general work related business.) I was idly digging one hand in the sand whilst reading, the next thing I knew I had made a small tower. Two hours later I had a whole complex of towers, moats, defensive walls and pebble battlements. Yes, I know.

Sand castle construction has some basic principles. You dig a hole, you get a mound. The material from the hole has to go somewhere after all. Holes and mounds, the two basic building blocks of the sand castle. Extend the whole and you get a trench and a wall. Dig the trench in a circle and you have a moat. Pile a mound higher and you get a tower. Walls and trenches, moats and towers. Intermediate sand castling. Start combining these elements together and you are in advanced castling territory.

The thing about sand castles is that you can start building them without any training or study. A six year old can learn most of what there is to know about sand castles in a single afternoon of play. Sand castles are the outcome of unlimited sand, imagination and a playful spirit.

Much like stories. You do not need lots of learning and study to tell a good story. We tell ourselves and each others stories all the time. And as soon as you start telling a story, you start inventing characters and situations, which quickly become relationships and narratives. The basic building blocks that all stories are made from are as simple to discover as holes and mounds in the sand.

But they are also easy to loose sight of. Imagine if I had gone down to the beach today with the image of Windsor Castle in mind and tried to build it. Or spent seven years studying architecture then tried to apply those principles on the spot. Or worse yet, tried to build a castle that represented the existential nature of the human condition. Argh!! Failue and frustration!!

But that is exactly what we do as writers all the time. Stories can achieve all kinds of sophisticated and abstract outcomes (as too can sand castles). But however sophisticated, all stories are still made from the same basic building blocks, characters and situations, holes and mounds. It’s so easy to lose sight of those basics, and with them lose the imagination and playful spirit that make storytelling possible at all.

The other thing that sand castles and stories have in common is impermanance. Stories last as long as the telling, although the memory of them may linger. Sand castles are gone with the tide, as I am sure mine has by now.

A Long Walk – Newquay to Perranporth

I am on holiday. I might might not have mentioned this yet. So there…now you know.

I set off from Newquay on my journey southward around the Cornish coastline. Newquay is not my kind of town. Picture the clubbing district of a grim industrial city, complete with classily named clubs like Silk, Envy and Charisma. Take that picture and drop it in isolation beside the sea. Populate it with a few thousand drunk and pilled up stage and hen parties. That is Newquay. Here and there are the signs of a genuinely interesting and alternative surfing town that might have existed a few years ago, but it’s been overwritten by mindless club culture.

So I got up early this morning and started along the coastal path with Parrenporth as my goal. And boy am I glad I started early because as I write now I’ve just arrived at my goal after walking ALL DAY. I’m utterly knackered and recovering with a drink as the sun sets over Perran Beach.

The coastal path is a walk of many dimensions. First is the up and down. My friend Dennis said he did not remember there being a single flat bit the whole way around. And from what I’ve seen he is right. And I’m not talking gentle gradients here, I seem to have spent at least a quarter of the day climbing up sheer cliff faces (only a slight exageration) or stumbling down paths modelled on very long playground slides.

And then there is the in and out. There is nothing more demoralising than turning a corner to see that the last hour of walking has done nothing more than take you in a giant loop around a bay. But there is also a real satisfaction to actually arriving at a destination on foot. In this age of motorised transportation all destinations are easily reached. It’s only when you walk that you realise how far apart places really are.

I have never done a walk of this kind before, and did literally no research so am learning on the job. So far I have Learned that:

I bought the right bag, and packed the right things. It isn’t too heavy but I have basically what I need. We’ll see how I fell about it by the end of the week.

My walking shoes, while the right thing, are already taking a beating. This pair are over a year old but seemed in good working order. However I’ve worn through an area of padding just today and it was starting to rub by the end of the hike. So, gaffa tape and Vaseline tmrw!

Avoid nettle traps! A very narrow path left me with stings over my shins and forearms. Fortunately not too painful but not what you want when you’re miles from anywhere.

I am taking a rest day tommrow. Perranporth is MUCH nicer than Newquay, with one of the most magnificent beaches I’ve ever seen, even rivaling Blacks Beach in San Diego, so I’m going to spend the day walking it tommorow and writing. (Photo below) After that a short hop to St Agnes, then maybe a LONG hop to St Ives.

Oh…I also have no idea how I get back from wherever the walk ends to Newquay and the airport. Ideas gratefuly received.