From Carlyon Bay to Trenarren….and surely some of the steepest bits of the SW Coast Path….27/9/18

20180926_122041.jpgOn another glorious September day off we went and parked up by the excellent Carlyon Bay Hotel. What a joy it is to do what we want (well within reason, and as long as it doesn’t cost too much) whenever we want. After using the hotel’s facilities (very nice), we admired the view of the bay from the grounds…….20180926_122058.jpg and then set off passing some very nice new flats (starting at half a million), and being dazzled by the reflections on the sea……..20180926_122434.jpgWe then came across a watch tower which was evidently manned. On closer inspection there was a notice saying ‘Visitors Welcome’ which I was very surprised to see, and  so up the steps we went to a very warm welcome.20180926_123153.jpgThe watchtower – Charlestown Station – is indeed an old coastguard station. Many will know of  the concerns when in an economy drive they were nearly all shut. In fact in 1974 there were still 127 stations (permanently manned) and 245 auxiliary stations. Now there are just 10 Coastguard Operations Centers (CGOCs) and one National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC). Local concern all around the country about the loss of local visual watch and local knowledge led to the setting up of volunteer-run watch stations and the establishing of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI). This watchtower is an NCI station. Built in the early twentieth century as an auxiliary Coastguard lookout, it became redundant in the cuts and was abandoned . Rediscovered and resurrected from its derelict state in 2001 it was re-opened after extensive work in 2003.20180926_125257.jpgRegarding its purpose, as our hosts noted…….”Whilst high technology and sophisticated systems are aids to improved safety, a computer can’t spot a distress flare, an overturned boat or a yachtsman or fisherman in trouble. Other vulnerable activities like diving, wind surfing and canoeing are made safer with visual surveillance.”   It operates 365 days a year and provides visual watch over all users of St Austell Bay.                               The leaflet we got informs us that ‘NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies, offering a variety of skills and experience and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met. Over 246,000 hours of organised coastal surveillance were completed in 2016 alone, all at no cost to the public. Funding is managed by a Board of Trustees.’ The Charlestown Station itself is sponsored by the Carlyon Bay Hotel amongst others, and relies like all the others totally on contributions. We donated £5, a small amount indeed but very gratefully received.                                                           The UK has a world-wide reputation for its charity work and volunteer giving. A total amount of £9.7 billion was donated by generous Brits in 2016. However it is salutary to note that whilst the UK is Europe’s most generous country it still lags behind the developing world, especially Africa. Indeed only six of the G20 largest economies in the world feature in this year’s top 20. Interesting.                                                                              Just after this worthwhile diversion we saw these two seats placed so that you could look forwards or back! They perhaps represent what walking on the SW Coast Path is all about, and I never fail to look where I have been as well as where I am going……20180926_125603.jpgProceeding, we soon had our first glimpse of Charlestown Harbour (where Poldark is filmed of course)…..20180926_125613.jpgand we dropped down towards it…..20180926_125909.jpg20180926_130831.jpgpassing some beautiful cottages (a lot let out to rent, of course, as everywhere in Cornwall)….20180926_131013.jpgand we then hit the first objective (you’ve always got to have objectives)…the Pier House Hotel and Pub….20180926_134007.jpg20180926_133147.jpgThirst slaked, we parted…..F. to return the way we had come and me to push on to be met by her later. There was a steep climb out of the village….. 20180926_134237.jpgand an old kissing gate…..20180926_134231.jpg……before coming to another point of interest on this walk….20180926_134609.jpgNext a view along Porthpean beach…….20180926_134838.jpgI then came across a derelict tower (perhaps a Second World War watchtower?) to which I gained access…20180926_135906.jpgand the views – both ways of course – were worth it….20180926_135959.jpg20180926_140006.jpgApproaching the beach itself all was peace and solitude……with about three couples enjoying the sun20180926_140318.jpg20180926_140918.jpgI do love coming across weather-beaten wood of all kinds…they’d pay a fortune for this ‘Porthpean look’ in some expensive houses…20180926_140945.jpgand I loved this little antique jug which was tied to a post…perhaps water for dogs left by some kind soul, who knows? If it had been Rose wine…….20180926_141119.jpgPorthpean seems a good sort of place with a tiny village on the hill and an energetic boat club…20180926_141236.jpgThe hedge adjacent to the clubhouse was all wild fuschias…of which I see many on my walks on the Path…..20180926_141328.jpgAfter admiring the scene before me for a while longer…..20180926_143957.jpg….I met up with F. but decided to push on a little further…..20180926_145858.jpgloving the colours on the sea….20180926_150142.jpgI then came across what I call a see-saw stile. …..never seen anything like it…I’m sure it’s not meant to be like this – but it was quite good fun. I don’t know whether I have mentioned before but I am fascinated by all the varieties of stile and kissing gate and fencing and walling and so on there are around the country, some regional types, some NT Head Office inspired, some quirky builds of seemingly quirky minds. I am astonished that there is not a book in the amazing Shire Books series which covers just about everything else you can think of!20180926_150619.jpgAscending the next hill past a few animal friends…..20180926_151041.jpg20180926_150929.jpgI passed, in a little clearing, the remains possibly of an old Celtic cross…..20180926_151752.jpgand looked down on the most beautiful little beach – to which there didn’t seem any access.20180926_151853.jpgMy SW Coast Path guide refers next to ‘steps’. Well what can I say? I have never ever experienced such a steep descent followed by an almost vertical ascent, both long. Not on the SW Path nor climbing Bowfell or Scafell Pike or anywhere else. This pic gives a little idea…..but only a little.031456_91f4eb74.jpgI was very glad to meet up with F. again at the remote little hamlet of Trenarren, and relax watching some gentle farming activity……20180926_153123.jpg

The Little Stranger…a great film

083118littlestranger7.1.jpgWe hadn’t been to the cinema for a while, so having read the excellent book by Sarah Waters, set in Warwickshire where we lived for some time, a trip to Vue in Plymouth was looked forward to by us both. We went by bus and with time to spare had time to visit Waterstones in order to but the latest Cormoran Strike novel Lethal White which I am already enjoying. Then we walked the mile or so to the cinema and saw parts of Plymouth which were new to us, especially interesting being Sutton harbour. This is one of the regenerated parts of the waterfront in Plymouth, all of them very good. And there were some excellent flats, some in historic quayside buildings and some totally new. I looked to see what was for sale and was amazed that we could afford (just about) one or two of the 2-bed ones. A marina view almost as good as a sea view?20180924_125940.jpg20180924_125946.jpg20180924_161455.jpg20180924_161955.jpgAnd the harbour is still home to several big trawlers which is encouraging. Anyway the film…….. both F. and I enjoyed it very much. Whilst it does make a lot of the class system in late 40’s Britain, it is at heart a ghost story.  Which makes it strange that the Times’ film critic Kevin Maher should comment…..dIt’s a profoundly perverse movie about two people who are essentially going mad (is the ghost real? Is it not?) because the political reality around them is changing so radically.’ I don’t think ghosts take account of the current political situation whether in this film or any other. And as for his crass comment ‘The director has made a movie that’s a Brexit Britain parable about the intoxicating, if futile, allure of national identity.’……what an idiot!! And how typical of a London Metro Remoaner to be unable to see anything away from their loss of the vote on Brexit. How pathetic. The actors involved – Charlotte Rampling obviously well-known, the others not so much – were brilliant. The setting was magnificent – a run-down country house (filmed in Ireland?). And the plot was tautly dealed with by the Director. I think there were perhaps nine other people watching apart from us. The cinema is so obviously so much superior to watching Netflix at home on a screen no matter what size it is. What then have cinemas to do? Just keep plugging away (like High-Street retailers) until the realisation dawns, as it will, that cinema and physical shopping are much better. Start living, get out more!

Family Adventures…in Devon and Cornwall…….the next day, and the next

20180916_122019.jpgDartmouth was our destination for lunch on Sunday at the first floor of the Dartmouth Yacht Club…good food, very reasonable and great service, much enjoyed all round. The first floor restaurant is actually run by Bushell’s Restaurant next door which we learned was due to re-open after flooding. It has a very good reputation – 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor. We’d give it 5 stars (well we will – I must write a review….).20180916_124146.jpg20180916_124152.jpg20180916_124956.jpgNext stop was Woodlands Family Theme Park a second visit for Katherine and Aiisha and a first for us. Excellent fun for children and adults……Another great day.Woodlands-Park-Map-Guide-July-2017.jpg

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DIUNnSRWAAA7PTT.jpgNon-stop good times as the very next day we had even more adventures…first stop today was The House of Marbles where not only did we enjoy the marble machines and the outside chess…..20180917_114117.jpg20180917_114123.jpg  20180917_120837.jpgbut we were fascinated by the experience of seeing two glass-blowers in action at the next door Teign Valley Glass a treat we hadn’t bargained for…20180917_114343.jpg20180917_114525.jpg20180917_114723.jpg20180917_114957.jpgEven Aiisha was entranced by the way in which molten glass was quickly transformed into a cat or an elephant under the expert hands of the blowers…20180917_115720.jpgand although I don’t usually like glass products, I did enjoy looking round the shop and found some things amazing…I particularly fell in love with the idea of 4 glass lampshades strung over a kitchen table…too dear for now, but….amberbowl_1024x1024.jpglargeclearvase_1024x1024.jpgBut this was also a mini Industrial site, and had a lovely feel all round…20180917_123719 2.jpg20180917_123743.jpgWe proceeded then through some beautiful countryside (I had forgotten how pretty Dartmoor is) to The Cleave Restaurant and Bar at the charming little village of Lustleigh an above-average pub lunch at a characterful location…20180917_125231.jpg20180917_125558.jpg20180917_142538.jpg 20180917_142640 2.jpgWe still had time for the nearby Miniature Pony Centre which we all enjoyed, particularly the pony ride…..suitably kitted out of course…..20180917_150056.jpg20180917_150241.jpg20180917_150247.jpgand the ability to get up good and close to some of the residents…. 20180917_150634.jpg20180917_151653.jpg20180917_151702.jpg20180917_151518.jpgnot all of whom were miniature!20180917_150539.jpg20180917_150744.jpg

Family Adventures…in Devon and Cornwall..

20180913_143750.jpgOur daughter and granddaughter were here for a long weekend, all the way from Scotland. We met them at our local station which, as I have said before, has trains running to almost everywhere in the country – amazing for such a remote spot. Aiisha was quick to show us the fruits of her labours on the last part of their journey.20180913_143827.jpgAfter a nice cup of tea (you very rarely say a nice cup of coffee), it was a quick game of football in the garden and hide and seek in the acer.20180913_155031.jpg20180913_154953.jpg….before a drive to Black Rock, which turned into a drive to somewhere else entirely -Seaton due to the satnav! Katherine had been left behind for a recovery sleep, so we had a lovely time building sandcastles, paddling and having ice cream….well what else are you supposed to do at the seaside?20180913_172136.jpg20180913_173328.jpg20180913_174112.jpg20180913_181210.jpgAfter a lazy lunch off we went on the bus to Looe where the sun came out and a good time was had by all, especially on the slot machines in the Amusement Arcade where we won a Unicorn.20180914_162117.jpg20180914_163156.jpgNext day we took the train to Hayle on the North Coast where we visited Paradise Park a wildlife sanctuary and Play Park and  very, very good in both aspects. The adults really enjoyed the amazing animal life, especially the hundreds of different birds all in excellent aviaries with plenty of space…20180915_114230.jpg20180915_115729.jpg20180915_125146.jpgand you can get very close to some of your favourites including flamingoes…20180915_125339.jpgand the very first Chough we had ever seen (we have looked out for them on the Lizard but to no avail)……20180915_132317_001.jpgWe really enjoyed the flying display with an extremely knowledgeable and personable guide….20180915_121206_002.jpg20180915_121229.jpgand the opportunity to get up really close was terrific…20180915_123651.jpg20180915_123711.jpg20180915_123712.jpg20180915_123817.jpgHaving said all that, it has to be said that the younger element did prefer the other side to Paradise Park! And why not?20180915_120037.jpg20180915_124233.jpg20180915_120235.jpg20180915_114716.jpgthere was time for a late lunch, but first we had to get to St Ives on the lovely little railway round the bay….where the views from the train window were as breathtaking as usual….what beaches, what skies.20180915_145537_001.jpg20180915_145540.jpg20180915_145619.jpg20180915_145624_001.jpg20180915_145728.jpgFor a change and to avoid walking all through town we decided to lunch at the Porthminster Kitchen 20180915_153408.jpgGood choice..20180915_153403.jpgand straight out onto the beach afterwards…20180915_161625.jpg

Dartmouth on a Rainy Day……12th September

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F. had a jacket which we bought last time we were in Dartmouth and was faulty, so we decided another trip there would be good. We went a different way than normal, cutting across country from Avonwick and alongside the beautiful River Avon. We were lucky to find the only free parking space in Dartmouth although it did mean a bit of a trek into town. The business with the jacket was soon done…a replacement offered, no questions, terrific service, just as it should be if shops are to survive. Three cheers for The Crew Clothing Company.Although the day was overcast and mizzly it still didn’t detract from the loveliness of the town. Shown is the Lower Ferry busy as ever……20180912_125322.jpgAnd, over the road, the Dartmouth Yacht Club where we were hoping to have lunch…a brilliant place – but unfortunately the restaurant above was closed today. After looking at many possibilities we opted for sit-down fish ‘n chips which was fine. 20180912_125333.jpgWe then did our usual walkabout…Fosse Street looking one way…20180912_141246.jpgand then the other with Simon Drew’s latest edition of a giraffe poking out into the street…20180912_141446.jpgWe decided to return via yet another route. We drove as far as we could towards Slapton Ley where Storm Emma in March had destroyed the road which sits precariously between the sea and the lake. Interesting video clip on Devon Live! And we could get as far as the private beach which we had visited a few times when living down here – Blackpool Sands. Lovely to go when no-one around….whatever the weather.20180912_152811.jpg20180912_152941.jpg20180912_152752.jpg20180912_152948.jpgCutting inland from there we first of all passed a pretty group of cottages where I just had to stop and take a photo….20180912_154004.jpgand then went via very devious roads where sometimes the signposts were missing, or perhaps pointing the wrong way. Quite an adventurous little trip.

Age 69….Is this the best book I have ever read?

I love History, studied it at Manchester Grammar School and University, and have been 91XjOCuJA9L.jpgreading History books of all kinds ever since. It is high on my list of most intense personal pleasures. Now here is a book which has taken me two or three months to read with lots of concentrated effort, but which has been a joy from start to finish. Not only was it sheer pleasure, but I learned something new on virtually every page. It is deeply researched, masterful in its breadth, written with a loving hand, entertaining, full of surprises, and comprehensively covers English history from around 600 AD up to the Cameron government. All the time it is drawing conclusions and comparisons and linkages across the ages which show we are in the hands of a master. And, really, really important for me as a historian, it is not politically correct. How wonderful and surprising is that in this age of ours where we are not allowed to celebrate, for instance, the pluses of Empire as well as the minuses, where we are not allowed to judge actions in their own context instead of imposing our own standards. I can do no better than quote an equally enthusiastic reviewer in that left-wing rag The Observer……

“The English and Their History, by the Professor of French History at Cambridge, Robert Tombs, is a work of supreme intelligence. Intelligence cuts its way through orthodoxy, dogmas, traditions and shibboleths rather as engineers hack their way through forests and mountains, slice open outcrops of nature and forge exciting new routes to old destinations. In this vigorous, subtle and penetrating book, Tombs defies the proprieties of our politically motivated national history curriculum to rethink and revise notions of national identity.”

You can read from Tombs himself the positive way in which he approached this masterwork….“By the standards of humanity as a whole, England over the centuries has been among the richest, safest and best governed places on earth, as periodical influxes of people testify,” he writes. “Its living standards in the 14th century were higher than much of the world in the 20th… We who have lived in England since 1945 have been among the luckiest people in the existence of Homo sapiens, rich, peaceful and healthy.” He holds no truck with declinism as espoused by nearly all historians when discussing our post-war history, but he does draw many conclusions about our current position and where we go from here which should make us stand back and analyse how to proceed very much based on the lessons of history…which of course is what history is for.

I have absolutely no idea how Robert Tombs has managed to read around his subject so comprehensively and critically. Of course it is a lifetime’s work. The footnotes, references and further reading alone take up nearly 100 pages and believe it or not they are great reading. I take my hat off to this historian. This is a truly magnificent piece of work and yes I would say the best book I have ever read.

Unknown-1.jpeg‘Absolutely filthy’ was how screenwriter Andrew Davies, (well-known to Frances as a customer of hers at Kenilworth Books) described his adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Victorian lesbian romp ‘Tipping The Velvet’. “What’s it about?” …..’people sometimes asked me’, says Sarah Waters herself ‘when they had heard I’d written a novel – and I always had to brace myself, slightly, to answer. There was the awkwardness of explaining the rather risque title. There was the fact that I outed myself the moment I began to reveal the plot. And then there was the plot itself – because, oh dear, how lurid it sounded, how improbable, above all how niche, the tale of a Victorian oyster girl who loses her heart to a male impersonator, becomes her partner in bed and on the music hall stage, and then, cruelly abandoned, has a spell as a cross-dressed Piccadilly prostitute and the sexual plaything of a rich older woman before finding true love and redemption with an East End socialist.’

If you can put up with the antique lesbian lingo, using, or cheerfully misusing, some of the words and phrases – “toms”, “mashers”, “tipping the velvet” itself, you can have an enjoyable time reading this novel. And Sarah Waters isn’t a half-bad story teller. Good, light bed-time reading.

a9dc6a034278e24584ca3a173b908bd8.jpgHaving recently walked past Menabilly, the house where Daphne Du Maurier was a tenant and which she restored, I thought it was about time I read ‘Rebecca’. The front cover of my copy quoted Sarah Waters ‘One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century….A stunning book’ – sentiments  which I can understand, but don’t entirely agree with. Despite my 69 years of reading, amazingly I didn’t even know the plot line. I have to say I really enjoyed it. Du Maurier is a romantic novelist in the best sense of that term, not at all soppy, and she knows how to build and maintain a story. But this story is not a romance …it has rather darker themes. “It’s a bit on the gloomy side,” she told her publisher, Victor Gollancz. The idea for the book had emerged out of her own jealousy about the woman to whom her husband, Tommy “Boy” Browning, had briefly been engaged. She had looked at their love letters, and the big elegant “R” with which Jan Ricardo signed her name had made her painfully aware of her own shortcomings as a woman and a wife. On such foundations the tale is told. Well worth the read, I do enjoy Du Maurier as a writer.

SW Coast Path – Polkerris to Carlyon Bay…. 31st August 2018

20180831_125322.jpgAnother short section for me, just over 4 miles. Not exactly the most scenic bit of the path but beautiful in parts and interesting….F. dropped me off at Polkerris where I walked down hill virtually onto the beach which was busyish even halfway through the morning. Last chance before schools go back for a lot of people. I then climbed away from the beach with its shouts and laughter to look ahead to the Western arm of Carlyon Bay. When the sun was out (most of the time) quite reminiscent of the Med.20180831_125513.jpgSteps helped climb the hill….the volunteers who do these things are amazing.20180831_125627.jpgAnd, after about a mile with good views ahead….. 20180831_130105.jpgI spied what looked like a deserted beach to which I descended for the sheer pleasure of being on a beach on my own in August. Amazing!20180831_130539.jpg20180831_130644.jpgI then walked along above Par beach where there were a moderate number of people….20180831_131244.jpgand which is actually very nice with high quality fine white sand if you don’t mind the houses directly overlooking the beach and the China Clay Works at the far end.20180831_131416.jpgAt this point there is quite a diversion through Par itself to get round the Works. The first bit however is along a river, the Par or Luxulyan, starting at the beach car park where I learned that the river actually contains sea trout, flounder and, from fairly recent times after historic pollution, salmon.20180831_131915.jpg20180831_133740.jpgThere were several accesses onto the beach as well as from the car park and with dunes at the back it is all quite pleasant.20180831_133117.jpg20180831_132117.jpg20180831_132233.jpg20180831_132544.jpgThe Works itself is still operational and of course China clay is still used in many industries. 20180831_135514.jpg20180831_140131.jpgAnyway you are soon past all Industry and back to what the Path is all about…sand, sea, views…here the approach to Carlyon Bay…20180831_140728.jpgand flowers…20180831_133146.jpgThe next little bit of the walk – it seems quite lengthy when doing it- is alongside the renowned Carlyon Bay Golf Club where ex European Tour golfer Mark Rowe is the professional. This really did make me want to pick up my golf clubs again! 20180831_140808.jpgSome pretty views of the beach…20180831_141031.jpg20180831_142258.jpgand loads of sloes (we weren’t quite sure) and had no bag to collect. At this point F. had walked out from the golf club house to meet me….20180831_143847.jpgF. had already had a nice half-hour enjoying a cup of tea on the beach here which is extensive and fairly quiet. It is composed of three different stretches and all is made up with a waste product from the china clay Industry called stent. It looks fantastic.20180831_144256.jpgMy need though was a pint in the club house overlooking the magnificent first and eighteenth tees. Great!20180831_145641.jpg

A Saturday trip to Polperro…..Aug 2018

20180818_165257.jpgJennifer and David not having been to Polperro, off we went on the bus. First stop salted caramel ice creams (seems to be the in-flavour). Reminded me of when we sold ice creams in York with Top Gold the very best. It was always enjoyable selling ice creams as you knew you were giving pleasure.20180818_171059.jpgThen up to the cliffs where the fishermen’s net drying hut is…views over the harbour…20180818_171143.jpg20180818_171235.jpgand a bit of rock climbing for some…20180818_172055.jpg20180818_172118.jpg20180818_172118 2.jpgD + J didn’t quite get to the very top as this little lad did….20180818_171855.jpgWe popped over to the other side of the little town to see the shell house, 8452718585_d669cd6e97_b.jpg

20180818_174022.jpgand then caught a 72 double-decker, brand-new, to Looe where we were booked into the Old Sardine Factory for dinner….cropped-sf-new-cover-1.jpgand really good it was too. I can safely say that the hake main course was one of the very best fish dishes I had ever had…..The Old Sardine Factory with its cafe and resource centre and restaurant must be one of the best additions to Looe in a long while….and finally I was able to test my mobile phone camera in low light and the results were terrific…it was dark, but the resulting photos came out nicely exposed.20180818_211007.jpg20180818_211029.jpg

Jack The Ripper, amongst other things….

30848554._UY967_SS967_.jpgHaving seen some of Walter Sickert’s paintings at the Tate recently and convinced myself that the rumour of him being Jack The Ripper was not as far-fetched as it sounded, I was very keen indeed to read ‘Ripper’ by Patricia Cornwell the forensic scientist whose usual genre is Crime novels. I read the up-dated version which came out in 2017 (only available in hardback, luckily F. was away on holiday), Cornwell having spent somewhere between seven and eight million dollars trying to prove her theory. In essence it all came down to the writing paper. Not only did Sickert use the same brand as Jack The Ripper in his infamous letters, it turns out, but an expert has now demonstrated that their paper came from the very same pad.

“The Tate gallery suggested I use this paper expert, Peter Bower,’ Cornwell says. ‘I think they thought Peter would come in and show what nonsense this all was and they didn’t realise it was going to do the opposite. The paper stuff is just incredible. Peter examined three Sickert letters and two of the watermarked Ripper letters, The obsessive jealousy of a rich youn. Bit i.g American Adonis drives his Parisian wife to the extreme of retaliation. those five sheets of paper came from a batch run of only 24 that could have ever been made.” With persistent detailed forensic investigation Cornwell also ‘proved’ that Sickert’s movements  could quite well tie in with the murders. Now a lot of people pour scorn on Cornwell’s obsession and pick up on various parts of her arguments, but as far as I am concerned case proved. I have to say you need a very strong stomach indeed for this book both for its descriptions and photos.

Really, before anything else, an artist who can come up with these paintings must have a twisted mind…..incidentally, as you would expect from a Crime writer, this is a book you don’t want to put down.595_10.jpg669_10.jpg

Francoise-Sagan+Wonderful-Clouds.jpgWanting some bed-time reading that was different I dug out our 1961 edition of ‘Wonderful Clouds’ by Francoise Sagan. Now French writers really are an order-of-magnitude different from English language writers, and it is very interesting to consider why or how. But this is certainly not the place where any attempt at explanation will be attempted. She presents a disturbingly real picture of a neurotic marriage between Alan, a young American millionaire, and Jose, his sensitive French wife. His obsessive jealousy of her drives his  wife to extremes of retaliation. The two are characters who can’t live with each other and can’t live apart…think Richard Burton and Liz Taylor. Sagan’s son portrays his mother as the literary Brigitte Bardot, an author who introduced a generation of women to eroticism and empowered them to take control of their bodies without fearing punishment from God or man. But he also described to The Times how she died  amid debts and poverty that threatened to erase her oeuvre. a sad fate for a truly memorable novelist. A melancholy book with a strange ending…61STCZZ2HCL.jpg

Another book lifted from my shelves and not read since the Eighties is Godfrey Smith’s ‘The English Companion : An Idiosyncratic A – Z of England and Englishness’ I  know why my mother gave it to me as I am a Godfrey Smith, and love anything to do with England and Englishness. Inscribed in the front too, a custom which I think has declined almost to nothing now. What did surprise me was how interesting it still is. It is the book you would expect from one of their own whom The Times described in a recent obituary as ‘the last of the great gentleman journalists, certainly one of the most amiable, talented and charming……’ The sort of thing you get varies from how English writers have a passion for flowers to a brief history of fish ‘n chips, through the attraction of Rupert Bear, Traitors, Lawns, Blackberries and many more idiosyncratic choices…amusing in small quantities.9780571346226.jpg

 

I was really looking forward to this, ‘A Certain Justice’ by P D James after my last and satisfying read of hers. And for the first third of the book it was all I expected and more…… terrific stuff written in a language that her characters would certainly have used – in this case lawyers in one particular practice. Then the second third of the book drifted somewhat. But unforgivingly in the last part we were presented with sheer drivel, totally unbelievable, and seemingly ill thought through. How disappointing. So she is not the literary genius of Crime Fiction that I had thought her to be. And what is more, no more P D James for me, not for a while at any rate.

I have read other books in the last month or two which I can’t remember but as I haven’t 1608457.JPGput it away yet I know I have read Volume 1 of the 3 volume Folio edition of Vasari’s ‘Lives of The Artists’  Whilst it was moderately interesting to me who, only on retirement, have taken a great interest in Art, it wasn’t really what I was expecting. I had thought that it would be a remarkable historic document…..an account of the people behind the paintings by someone who in Renaissance Italy was quite a good artist himself. However, other than the odd throw-away line concerning their lives, this was more a detailed record of what each artist had created….such a painting in such and such a chapel commissioned by such and such Pope or Prince. It didn’t begin to tell us what the artists were like of themselves. And Vasari had rigid views, he didn’t like what he saw as the recent trends of the past centuries, in particular German Art and Architecture. He only thought that Roman and Greek work was of the highest quality and he loved those artists who contributed to the renaissance or re-birth of classical forms. I’m afraid he was a bit of a bore, and I shall only dip into the other two volumes if I wish to know about the works of artists covered there. Disappointing.

 

 

Walking the South-West coast path….6th August

20180806_101001.jpgWell a tiny bit of it actually. When we retired down here one of my objectives was to walk the parts of the path not already covered on earlier holidays. But for one reason and another – I don’t like walking on my own particularly (and F. isn’t into the ups and downs of the path any more), and the fact there are so many other things to do – I haven’t made any concerted efforts. Today was my first planned walk. We drove to the pretty little cove of Polkerris and, arriving by about 10am there weren’t many folk around and parking was no problem. There was a nice atmosphere. Leaving the beach we walked fairly steeply up the hill……20180806_101127.jpgthrough some pleasant woods…..20180806_101758.jpg20180806_102030.jpgand emerged onto a path with brilliant views of St Austell Bay….we noted the china clay works at Par (ok not pretty but interesting), Par beach, Carlyon bay, the headland hiding Charlestown, Mevagissey, and other enticing inlets…20180806_102749.jpg20180806_102442.jpgand the sea was beautiful, almost tropical……….anyway after a short while, as planned, F. turned on her heels and went back to enjoy a coffee on the beach and I proceeded on my walk to be met by her at the other end in Fowey.20180806_110353.jpgSoon the marker on top of Gribbin Head came into view, and after a number of the ups and downs for which the Path is infamous…..20180806_111339.jpg20180806_111559.jpgI reached the tower itself…Erected by Trinity House ‘for the safety of commerce and the preservation of mariners’ the tower pinpoints the approach to Fowey’s narrow and rocky harbour entrance.  This meant that sailors did not mistake the treacherous shallows of St Austell Bay for the deep waters of Falmouth harbour. William Rashleigh of Menabilly who granted the land for the tower expressed his hope that they would ‘make the Beacon an ornament to my grounds’; thus the tenders issued by Trinity House were for the erection of a ‘very handsome Greco Gothic Square Tower’. Must return on a Sunday in August when you can climb to the top for a stupendous panorama …20180806_112641.jpgMoving steeply down from the tower I caught a glimpse of a rather nice looking bay and then saw what appeared to be chalk cliffs (probably slate as is nearly all the coastline in Cornwall)…20180806_113030-1-1.jpg20180806_113528.jpg20180806_113859.jpg20180806_114031.jpg ……….one great thing about walking the coastal path is that you often find great views ahead of you (above) and behind (below)…..20180806_115817.jpgA very small cove with just two busy rock-poolers on it…20180806_121310.jpgwas followed by the beach at Polridmouth pronounced locally as “pridmuth”.20180806_125348.jpgThe cottage behind the beach is thought to be the inspiration for the boathouse in Daphne Du Maurier’s novel “Rebecca”, and indeed just inland from here is Menabilly which since the 16th Century, has been the ancestral home of the Rashleigh family, who originated as powerful merchants. The gardens were landscaped and the surrounding woodland was planted in the 18th Century. The house was rebuilt after a fire in 1822 and was greatly extended in size.                                                                                                      During the early 20th century, John Rashleigh III resided mainly near Okehampton and the house fell into decay. It was leased to Daphne du Maurier in 1943, who restored it and lived there until 1969 when it was returned to the Rashleigh family, who occupy it once again. Manderley, in Du Marier’s novel Rebecca, is thought to be based on Menabilly.                                                                                                                                               The ornamental lakes by the cottage were created in the 1920s by the building of a dam. It was used as the basis of a decoy airfield in the Second World War to emulate Fowey harbour. Dams additional to the one remaining were built to create a fake harbour and lights were then placed around the lake orchestrated to emulate those in Fowey. At least one bomb is known to have been drawn away from Fowey, and on average, it has been estimated that around 5% of German bombs were diverted by decoys, saving thousands of lives across the whole of Britain.20180806_125330 2.jpg  Another steepish climb out of the bay, more views back……20180806_125047.jpgand then a descent to a stream bed which had dried up in the extreme hot weather we are having which, curious, I followed for a few yards down to a totally deserted little beach where I enjoyed (another) well-deserved rest….20180806_131857.jpgand then a first sight of Polruan which lies opposite to Fowey…20180806_120949.jpg20180806_121519.jpg20180806_121001.jpg20180806_124803.jpgbefore descending to Readymoney Cove by this time of the day quite busy….20180806_123436.jpg20180806_124054.jpgFrom there a short stroll into Fowey to meet F. and a most welcome pint and a half at The Fowey Hotel20180806_125055.jpgwith its amazing view……in front…..20180806_130955.jpgand behind….20180806_131130.jpgChatting to the friendly barman we found out that the hotel had changed hands only the previous week, and expansion plans were afoot. I do hope they preserve this original and very ornate lift…..what a great survival from the age of elegance!20180806_134327.jpg To finish off we had a contemplative but uplifting ten minutes sit in the Grammar School gardens which are lovely and which apparently not many people know about…..20180806_135041.jpgas they walk oblivious pass the entrance…..20180806_134854.jpgA very good day. My phone tells me that I walked 15771 steps today, somewhat over my daily target of 6000(!), being a total distance of 7.36 miles. What I learned is that this will be my maximum on the Path at any one time. I felt that, what with all the ups and downs, I had done enough. It might take me a long while to fill in the gaps, but hey what’s the hurry?