Carenza and I are exploring Cornwall together.
We’re focusing on bits that I don’t know so well, but of course, Cornwall is also where I grew up and have returned to countless times.
At this point, we’re staying with my parents.
Yesterday, we spent the morning with them, the afternoon with my brother, but today, I wanted to revisit the beach which I remember calling “perfect” – the one where I took my small children whenever I could.
Carenza couldn’t remember Porthcurnick Beach, near Portscatho. My friend Fiona had warned me that it had now been ‘discovered’ - the tiny shack which used to sell paper cups of tea had become a gourmet café. It would be hard to grab a space in the car park.
It was true: as Carenza and I approached along the cliff, the beach was tessellated with colourful windbreaks, and a slew of people lounged at the café.
But there were fertile rock pools at the West of the beach, and drifts of tiny shells at the East. Carenza and I each found a pink cowry and solemnly made a gift of it to one another.
But we didn’t linger – as the incoming tide herded holiday-makers up the beach, it congealed into people jam.
Then in the evening, Jennie, who has been one of my best friends for over forty years, had invited us to a barbecue. As vegetarians, Carenza and I are used to being about as welcome at a barbecue as an unexpected item in the bagging area. So we took along halloumi and cherry tomatoes, to make kebabs. But it turned out that it wasn’t that kind of barbecue – Jennie had purchased an astonishing rack from Argentina and was roasting huge sections of beast. It wasn’t a problem though – her salads were to-die-for. And her friends were charming.
Call it anecdotal, but it seems that going back to old haunts can be disappointing, going back to old friends, never.