My last full day in Cornwall. Less clement weather as you can see, but all the same, I’d rather have had this than the heavy snow which has hit further north: I’m quite happy to be away from that, thank you very much. A definite ‘sea/beach’ theme has developed, with this being the fifth in a row to feature one or both, but down here, where the island ends, it’s hard to be unaware of the ocean.
A trip out to the furthest south-western extremity of the British Isles (assuming we treat Ireland as separate) — namely the Isles of Scilly, a hundred or so lumps of granite stuck thirty miles off Land’s End, of which five are inhabited. The ‘capital’, Hugh Town, is located on St Mary’s island, and built on a narrow isthmus, which is apparent here thanks to the houses having blue sea behind them as well as in front, which is why I chose this picture — that, and the profusion of coloured things (buoys?) in the sea.
That’s one of the harder-to-reach County Tops bagged as well. There were lots of photos from the day I could have chosen to give an impression of this distant part of my country, but see the other blog for more.
I said yesterday that Penzance, or more generally this part of the world, has not always been peripheral. On this beach at the tip of Britain, the main trans-Atlantic and international telegraph and, later, telephone cables came on shore, from 1870 onwards. That fact explains why I am here — thanks to the Cable & Wireless training centre (for telegraph operators) being built around this vital connection in the country’s communications network, buildings that nowadays house the archive that I have come down to Cornwall to consult.
Either way, Porthcurno has a damn fine beach, one that you would never know was such a strategically important spot. This is the southernmost shot I’ve yet taken in England, and as there is only a tiny portion of the country further south than here (just the Lizard peninsula), this sets a record that I may never beat.
My son might have chosen to live out his university years in a place (Dundee) that is about as far as he could have got from us in West Yorkshire, while staying in the UK. But, there are compensations. Over in the distance, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh. Closer to the camera, the Firth of Forth, all taken just before passing through Burntisland station.
Spectacular landscape #2 of 2. The Black Isle — which is a peninsula rather than an island — has never been seen by me before but turns out to be spectacularly beautiful, a smorgasbord of photo opportunities. I did my best to pick one that summed up all this.
Brighton is still in the top ten of this blog’s most-depicted locations, but hasn’t been seen since February 2018, until yesterday anyway. There are reasons why I should regain the habit of coming here. How much longer the old West Pier will last before collapsing entirely into the sea, no one knows for sure, but the ruins will doubtless feature on many people’s photos before they do.
I started this blog on 26th August 2011, ten full years ago. Since then I have become ten years older, greyer, stouter. I do not pass judgment on whether I am wiser by a decade; only that the last 18 months have made me more cynical. This morning, our last in Hastings, I sat on the shingle beneath Hastings Pier and, like this couple, contemplated the sea on a warm and pleasant morning.
And the next ten years? If you’re still interested, follow along.
Clare and (for the third time in four days) Joe amble along the rim of the country. To the left, nothing until Dieppe in France. To the right, the town of Hastings, home for the next few nights. The evenings draw in, but summer remains with us.
Ainsdale Beach is a voluminous expanse of golden sand: so voluminous, in fact, that like many other places on the same coast, north of Liverpool (see our trip to Crosby last November), the nearby land is gradually being taken over. The buildings you see here are derelict, not (this time) because of the Great Fear, but because of the encroachment of these dunes. This is an attractive place, but a melancholy one.