Monday, 20 September 2010

Of awesome drives and runaway cows - Chronicles of a Cornwall Holiday - Day 2

After an astounding night's sleep, we awoke early with the smell of toast in the air. It's funny how toast can make you feel instantly hungry. I am very happy to say that it wasn't just the smell of the breakfast that was fantastic. Food, glorious food! A full English of the vegetarian variety, toast, coffee, fruit juices, fresh fruit and cereals were amongst the choices on offer. Food of such good quality and service with a smile and a chat from our hosts is what makes bed and breakfast so much better than the equivalent hotels!

We left the bed and breakfast, and started heading north. It hadn't really been our intention to head north, but after taking a quick look at the map, I couldn't help myself. I was instantly consumed with excitement when I saw the name "Westward Ho!" shining like a beacon from the page. It is my opinion that anywhere in the world that has an exclamation mark in the name must be truly awesome. I've not seen a place name with an exclamation mark in it before, which I have begun to feel is a bit of a shame! I would love to see more punctuation in place names. As some of you will know, I am very fond of exclamation marks wherever they are used. I think somebody should take the initiative and put more punctuation in place names. Maybe the odd question mark wouldn't go amiss. Picture the situation. Some bright-eyed soul adds a question mark to London, and all of a sudden, nobody seems to know where it is, and when people say they are going there, they would always sound like they can't quite believe it (I'm going to London?). The world would be so much a better place.

We started heading along the main A road and after a few minutes we hit traffic. Ever the optimist, I was once again not expecting to hit traffic, especially this far into Cornwall. As it turned out, one of the roads had been closed due to an overturned caravan. A quick check of the map, and our route had been replanned, taking us inland a little, going horizontal and vertical, rather than the expected diagonal route. The road this way was much clearer, and I have to say that I was thoroughly enjoying it. I have enjoyed driving ever since I started taking lessons oh so many years ago, but there is something about driving in Cornwall which makes it all the better, not only because it was a holiday drive, but the roads are exceptional. The road we were travelling on was twisting and turning through the countryside, a long left hander immediately followed by a hard right, and steep hill and then a drop that brings you back only about ten feet away from where you started, as the crow flies. This is what driving was invented for! In my head, I was a rally driver! In my head, there was nobody else on the roads, and although I was driving safely, I was driving to the best of my ability and absolutely loving every second of it. To all of you, I beg you, if you ever get the chance to drive in Cornwall, take it. Spread your wings and fly through the Cornish countryside in the best way your car lets you. To those of you that do not have a driving license, I implore you to pass your test as soon as possible, get a few years driving experience behind you, and then head to Cornwall. Don't ask. Don't procrastinate. Do!!

We arrived at Westward Ho! (<< still makes me giggle!) and were greeted by an exceptional surfers beach, people enjoying the sport amongst the waves a little offshore. Westward Ho! is not a particularly big place, but to be honest, I think it would be spoilt if it was. The beach seemed to stretch on for miles, bordered by cliffs and breakwater's either side. The tide was a fair way out at the time, which meant that it was a fair walk to the waters edge, but that only meant that there was more room to play for those who'd taken their dogs onto the beach. Incidentally, there is a practice here in the UK that I have to admit that I am not overly fond of, that being the restriction of dogs on beaches during the summer months. Having once owned a Collie, I know how fond dogs can be of running freely in the sand, just as we all were as children. I understand that because a few messy people let their dogs poop freely on the beaches and don't clear up after them, and some people are scared of dogs, that some considerations must be made, but it seems these days that dogs aren't allowed anywhere unless they are on the lead and muzzled. It just seems a little unfair to me!
After a brief walk along the beach, we headed back onto the road, and heading south to Bude and beyond. By now, the road I had intended on taking that morning had been cleared of the caravan and reopened. And what a road it is! I know, I have already mentioned how good driving in Cornwall is, but it is made even more spectacular when the view encompasses great hills on one side, and cliffs and ocean views on the other. Because of a lot of the corners, it was impossible to do more than forty on the sixty mile an hour road, but it wasn't about the speed. But something a little strange happened along the way. We were going through the winding cliff roads, left, right, up down, round again and then...

Traffic. AGAIN! What is going on. What could possibly be causing us to slow down this time? I looked ahead of me. This traffic jam was a little odd, as it seemed to consist of just three cars, and a man in the middle of the road shouting. Then I realised what was behind him. About fifty cows had joined their owner in an afternoon stroll along the main road, taking in the sights of Northern Cornwall. Is this normal? Is this supposed to happen on a Saturday afternoon in these parts? Is the farmer that conscientious of the welfare of his cows that he gives them a run-out at the weekends. No wonder Cornish clotted cream is said to be the best in the world if this is the environment the cows are living in! Had the cows been stampeding, or even running, I might have thought that this was a case of a broken fence and a few cows getting loose, but they seemed to be perfectly happily moving in their mass down the road, past the cars and towards whatever their destination was. And what seemed even more odd was that the rest of the traffic didn't seem to even notice. Just sit and wait, no horns, no angry shouts, no words with the farmer. Nothing. As if everything was perfectly normal.

Having got past the cows, we persevered and carried on towards Tintagel, stopping at Widemouth Bay for some lunch and some surfer spotting along the way. Eventually we hit Tintagel, a lovely little town who's claim to fame is that King Arthur once held court there. Well, that is as the story goes, anyway. There is a lot of proof to the contrary, but that will never stop the tourist machine. The result is that absolutely every shop, pub and road sign bares the name of King Arthur and many of them complete the picture with a suit of armour guarding its entrance.

We found our hotel and checked in. I have to admit that I was exhausted by this time. The long drives over the past 48 hours had really begun to take their toll on me, and although it was only late afternoon, a short lie down on the very comfortable bed turned disastrous as sleep overcame me. There's something about sleeping in the afternoon that I have always been a fan of, no matter where I am, and it did me the world of good.

After my few hours sleep, we left the hotel in search of a few lazy pints at one of the local pubs. I can't remember the exact name of said public house, but given where we were, I am sure it must have been something along the lines of King Arthurs Arms, or something equally Arthurian. A very relaxing evening was to be had in the company of locals and tourists alike, but it wasn't long before the affects of my afternoon sleep had worn off, and I felt the bed calling once more.


  1. What a great travel piece. Cornwall sounds wonderful. I live in Kelowna? BC, Canada! We hope you come visit sometime.

  2. No wonder you were off the Twitter! What with all this fun. I love the little cows.

    Hmmmm now I want toast. YUM.

    And the beach looks fantastic, too.


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