Frid 20th October….by car to Padstow and John Betjeman country

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Today we took Malcolm and Ann to another of our favourite eating places – Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips in Padstow. When we arrived in Padstow fairly early we thought we would enjoy a nice cup of tea at The Metropole Hotel which we had not visited before. Perched right above the town you get an amazing view. Our cup of tea and home-made biscuits was lovely and set us up for our lunch which as usual everyone enjoyed.

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After a quick tour of Padstow itself, we went in search of John Betjeman on the opposite side of the estuary. We were actually looking for St Enodoc’s church where he is buried, and it is not easy to find, hunkered low down amidst the bunkers of the golf course. Unfortunately we couldn’t get near enough to allow Malcolm access. Nevertheless we enjoyed our drive through Betjeman country, and having told Malcolm of his connection with this area and its golf course it was very good afterwards to find a lovely piece about him on the golf club’s website. Do read Betjeman’s poem about the 13th hole and Robin Butler’s highly amusing take.

 

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Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman had a lifelong love of Cornwall and wrote many poems about the area and with his usual eye for detail those people who like himself came to North Cornwall for their holidays. He had a house close to the 12th hole and he was buried in the St Enodoc churchyard in 1984, he himself would have had a good chuckle as his coffin was carried the length of the 10th hole in driving rain followed by a cortège of the London literary press corps inapproriately dressed for the “Poldark” conditions.

Never one of the World’s great golfers he was an enthusiastic St Enodoc Member and eventually had the distinction of being made an Honorary Member in 1977 and is renowned for his poem “Seaside Golf” which relates to the 13th hole at St.Enodoc and is printed below by permission of John Murray (Publishers) along side the later parody by fellow Member Sir Robin Butler (now Lord Butler) at the time of the Club’s Centenary celebrations in 1990.

 

Seaside Golf

How straight it flew, how long it flew,
It clear’d the rutty track
And soaring, disappeared from view
Beyond the bunker’s back –
A glorious, sailing, bounding drive
That made me glad I was alive.And down the fairway, far along
It glowed a lonely white;
I played an iron sure and strong
And clipp’d it out of sight,
And spite of grassy banks between
I knew I’d find it on the green.

 

And so I did. It lay content
Two paces from the pin;
A steady putt and then it went
Oh, most securely in.
The very turf rejoiced to see
That quite unprecedented three.

 

Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves
And thyme and mist in whiffs,
In-coming tide, Atlantic waves
Slapping the sunny cliffs,
Lark song and sea sounds in the air
And splendour, splendour everywhere.

 

John Betjeman

How low it flew, how left it flew,
It hit the dry-stone wall
And plunging, disappeared from view
A shining brand new ball –
I’d hit the damned thing on the head
It made me wish that I were dead.And up the fairway, steep and long,
I mourned my gloomy plight;
I played an iron sure and strong,
A fraction to the right
I knew that when I reached my ball
I’d find it underneath the wall.

 

And so I did. I chipped it low
And thinned it past the pin
And to and fro, and to and fro
I tried to get it in;
Until, intoning oaths obscene
I holed it out in seventeen.

 

Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves
They really get me down;
In-coming tides, Atlantic waves
I wish that I could drown
And Sloane Street voices in the air
And black retrievers everywhere.

 

Sir Robin Butler

 

On the way home we just had time to drive (with difficulty) round Port Isaac, of which more later…

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