Saturday, 9 May 2015
© Cornwall. The picturesque southwest of England!
Springtime takes us on a 'writers retreat reunion' being held over 200 miles from where we are located. A group of seven to meet again after being together on an Arvon Writers Course a year earlier. A beautiful five hour drive from East Sussex along the southern shores of England to the town of Looe in county Cornwall. The stunning contours of the coast where the Gulf Stream ocean current that passes The Bahamas and south Florida has traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to taper out along Cornwall's shores. The waters are familiarly blue and so much clearer than anywhere in England. The town of Looe being a classic small Cornish fishing town which caters to thousands during the summer tourist season.
The harbour entrance faces south east and just around the corner more westward lies Looe Island less than a mile managed by friends Mary & Patrick working with The National Trust.
The narrow harbour offers great protection to the fishing vessels and private yachts moored within. Tides are quite extensive here and boats lie hard aground at dead low water leaving an expanse of beautiful beach on the outside.
Vessels of all makes can be found within Looe Harbour. Classic clinker built wooden hulls to modern sailing yachts. A landmark bridge joins East Looe where the main road enters the town over to West Looe.
The old town offers fun narrow streets to explore with all the shops catering to every need along with some fine seafood dining. Threaded in between one can find many different accommodations in small hotels and B & B's.
One of the highlights of our visit was a boat trip over to Looe Island as guests of Mary & Patrick with their Golden Lab 'Skip' as guide! We are to meet Captain Ernie down at the harbour quayside where he loads his guests for the first of two visits.
A friendly seagull that always stops by on Ernie's transom to say hello and be treated to a morsal of sandwiches stored aboard.
We set off for the 20 minute journey across the channel to Looe Island with Ernie and Mary pointing out the sights as we make way.
Arrival at the island we are greeted with a floating platform and then a walk through the woods to the managers housing and future guest accommodation cottages. Their stately stone home perches on the hill overlooking the ocean and Mallard ducks as companions on the lawns.
Island guests arrive here regularly after springtime has arrived. They are given a map of the island with explanations of the natural phenomena that they will encounter along the way, even the occasional mermaid!
The walk can take up to an hour depending on the frequent stops one needs to make to admire the scenery and bird life that uses this coastline as their nesting grounds.
The pathways travels around the circumference of the island through woodland, grasslands and cliff edges.
One knows when back at the beginning of the trail when seeing the blossoms of fruiting trees and the vegetable gardens that the managers use to grow their own produce. Machinery that succumbs to the tough environment tends to stay exactly where it stops sometimes adding to the ambience of island living.
The view from Looe Island back toward the mainland of Cornwall is gorgeous showing the clarity of the ocean and colours of the fields behind with the south shore of Looe in sight.
The second visit that week with Ernie is an invitation to go Mackerel fishing for a few hours. While some of the group stay at the house on writing projects or exploring the town, three of us venture back down to the quay to meet our boat. Capt. Ernie & I get chance to catch up on some 'yarns' about life on the ocean as he was a merchant seaman and I a dive-charter captain all those years ago!
With enough fish for a meal that night we headed back into the harbour. Thanks to our Captain, hosts and the 'writing crew' for a week to remember. One last treat coming back in would be to take the tiller for the first time in three years and dock the boat perfectly first attempt. Ernie kindly added to me, 'the old salt still has the touch!'
A last evening get together the group read pieces that were accomplished by each writer that week and one from our guest author Miranda France from here newly published novel 'The Day Before the Fire' which she signed and gifted to our deserved lovely host Mary.
The drive home the following morning was easy going with a stop in county Dorset to shop at a local butcher and again along the way to capture the magnificence of a rapeseed field in full bloom.