Monday, 15 September 2014

Cornwall - my latest obsession! by Miriam Halahmy

Mylor Bridge and creek

I have just spent a week in Cornwall with a friend and fellow writer, Jane Moss. I have only been to Cornwall once before, when the kids were young. I'd just lost my Dad and we were all very bereaved and all I remember is wall to wall mist and sunken lanes and no views. We stayed in St Just. The day we went to St Ives it rained. The journey was horrendous and I haven't been back since.

But I have fallen deeply, totally, completely utterly in love with Cornwall and now everything about Cornwall has to be read, watched on TV, flagged up on Facebook, etc, etc. Every book I have read this summer has been set in Cornwall - including the first four volumes of the Poldark saga and I think I'm just running out of steam. I read all twelve when I was a teenager and they are wonderful. But the absolutely best thing was I recognised all the places.

Jane Moss

My friend Jane lives in Mylor Bridge, on the damp, warm, sub-tropical south coast half and hour from Truro. My goodness - down at the creek is exactly like something out of a Daphne Du Maurier novel. We walked and walked and ate fish and chips and I swear the fish was still jumping on the plate it was so fresh. We went to Tressilick gardens which reminded me of the atmosphere of Singapore - my only experience of the sub-tropics. But then Jane made a wonderful discovery!

I very much wanted to go to Zennor where D.H. Lawrence had tried to set up some sort of writers' commune. Also to go back to the mining landscape I remembered from our last visit. We went down Geevor mine on the last day of mining ever in Cornwall. Zennor is on the craggy, heath covered, blustery north coast and we had proper overcast weather. I loved it. It was pouring by the time we reached the Tinners' Arms where Lawrence and co. used to drink. But in the tiny museum we saw a reference to poor, sick, consumptive Katherine Mansfield who came down with Murry, and only lasted a matter of weeks - what one earth was Murry thinking of, taking her to such a climate!! - and then they fled to Mylor Bridge!! Which of course makes perfect sense because its so much warmer!

Of course I fell in love with the north coast too but now Jane is on a mission to find where Mansfield stayed - probably round the corner from her lovely home.
And of course - I've added Mansfield to my post Cornwall reading list.

Travelling and reading have always gone hand in hand for most people. I took the train to Truro and it felt like I was going to the ends of the earth. I am working on a poem about that amazing journey.

When you find yourself in a landscape which is almost entirely new and which offers in a relatively small area such a wonderful range of experiences AND there is literature to almost drown yourself in - is it a wonder I have become an obsessive consumer of everything Cornwall??


Savita Kalhan said...

I've only been to Cornwall once, and that was a long time ago. I think a revist is due when I can find some time - it is such a long way! And I agree - travelling and reading go hand in hand for me too. I look forward to your poem, Miriam.

Sue Purkiss said...

Sounds just lovely. I've not seen much of Cornwall either - another place to visit!

Jenny Alexander said...

Sorry I missed you, Miriam. I love Cornwall too - it gets under your skin. I came for a few years three decades ago, and I'm still here!

Ann Turnbull said...

I go to Cornwall on the train for a flying visit approximately every two months - about 7 hours each way. I do much of my novel-reading on those trips. It is indeed a lovely place, but such a long way from almost everywhere else! You get to Plymouth and think you're nearly there - but you're not...
I'd like to read your poem too, Miriam.

Juliet said...

You may like Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore.

Miriam Halahmy said...

Yes - Zennor is on my Kindle Juliet - I did like the train journey Ann and hoping to go again sometime.Still working on the poem.