Monday, October 29, 2007

St Ives

Drawing towards the end of a busy month, Emma and I paid a visit to Cornwall, to see Cornish Ian, and his wife, Foxy Chloe (she being of a family of fox-hunting Countryside Alliance supporters). Upon reaching Cornwall, it was especially pleasing to find Ian in good form, despite his having lost his mother just over a month earlier (heart failure, in her mid-50s). I would have discreetly enquired as to how supportive Chloe had been, had it not been patently obvious that in her every move and comment, she was a tower of strength, support and practicality.

During our stay, we spent evenings with our hosts, and entertained ourselves during the day.

Leaving for a day in St Ives, I noticed the house name-plate that I’d missed on arriving, the previous evening.

On reaching the coast, the first major sighting of the sea is always pleasing. On this occasion, it translated into a shiver as I anticipated the bracing sea air.

We walked into town.
In a hairdresser’s, an old lady had her hair done. Perhaps she had been seduced by the images in the window.

In a confectioner’s, there was a dominant theme.

Our walk took us out onto the seafront, and along the short pier.

It was windy.

Returning to the seafront, I was chilled in a 'should have worn a thicker sweater' sort of way.
Emma agreed that we should take temporary refuge in a nearby café. It proved to be a hidden gem. Despite being part of a rather dated members-only club, we were able to stay due to Emma charming the bar staff.

Cosy, was the word.

As I’d imagined, looking out over the harbour was relaxing. The setting was one of those that is good for switching off, for fully unwinding, for idling.

The seagulls were putting on a good show.

We took a walk to the harbour’s west wall, whereupon Emma pointed out a seal that moved more quickly than my camera-phone-grabbing self did. Still, the azure couldn’t be taken for granted.

With morning disappeared, we wended our way back through the streets to the Sea Food Café, for lunch.

It was very popular – hat duly off to Emma for earlier suggesting that we book a table.

Sated and warmed, we felt it necessary to take a walk, lest we be guilty of sloth.
Walking towards the west headland, we passed a fine knocker.

A butterfly, caught my eye.

Grey, blue and green, then forged a scene.

Back to the east, a windswept feast.

And with sunshine replete, we were cast at our feet.

We made a smooth return to town.

Emma spotted a necklace that she liked.

At which point, I remembered that we had committed to providing dessert.

Heading back to the car park, Emma recalled an unusual sign.

Emma: Did you see what that sign said – the one on the door of the bakers?
Shane: Nope. I was very much crumble-focused.
Emma: It said ‘Frozen rabbits – three pounds each’. In a cakes and sweets shop!
Shane: Really?
Emma: Yeah.
Shane: When in Cornwall...
Emma: Maybe.
Shane: Probably best not mention the store of frozen rabbits when we unveil the crumble.
Emma: Best not.
Shane: Mm. Now, if we hurry, we might be able to get up to Truro in time for me to show you that paper owl.
Emma: Paper owl?
Shane: Didn’t I mention it?

Back at our hosts’ home, we enjoyed a butternut squash risotto, followed by rhubarb crumble and custard – a beckoning winter beckons winter food.
At around 9pm, we were sat around talking. Emma paused mid-sentence.

Emma: …I can hear hooting.
All: (silence)
Shane: I can’t hear anything.
Emma: Shhhh.
(A barely audible tone)
Chloe: (whispering) Oh, brilliant! (rising) The owl box!
Shane: Eh?
Ian: (whispering, rising) She made me put up an owl box – in the tree just outside of your bedroom window – part of my unofficial bereavement therapy. Come on, let’s have a look – leave the upstairs lights off.

Up the stairs, onto the landing, a left turn, quietly – slowly - through the bedroom door, an immediate right turn, and we all crept towards the window.

Chloe looked first, then drew Emma closer to her. Emma waved Ian and I over.

Perched on a branch just outside of the owl box, looking away from us, sat a tawny owl.

Impressed, we whispered.

Shane: Good work.
Ian: Thanks.
Chloe: Good, isn’t it.
Emma: It’s amazing.
Despite very little light filtering into the room, I noticed Ian put an arm around Chloe. He smiled an owl-related half smile, but not without a wateriness to his eyes.


PI said...

I'm first! Now if you look at that first photo there appears to be an enormous sweet jar in the middle of the photo. Can you see it?
You two sound like the ideal holiday companions. Plenty of food and drink and fore thought with regard to same, gentle strolling and new jewellry. Perfect!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I'm second! Pat, I looked, I think the sweet jar is in the second photo. Shane, glad you and Emma had such a good time. Butternut squash risotto, mmmmm, was that the Prue Leith one with fried sage leaf/toasted walnut garnish?

Shane said...

Pi - They call it the Spectre of St Ives... the ghostly transfigured presence of a local 1930s confectioner. Spooky stuff.
Z - No, it was the Foxy Chloe variety - the walnut garnish doesn't sound familiar. There were fairly heavy cardamom tones.

PI said...

What would I do without you Zinnia?

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You are a wonderful writer, Mr. Shanester. You take good pictures of your shadow, too.

Is that Emma's hair? Looks very pretty from here.

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