It was quite easy in the end to get into the car with a boot full of various forms of sustenance (books, notepads, pens and food) and drive away from Bristol. In my more adventurous moments I’ve imagined being in my automobile’s protective confines, venturing further into the continent of Europe and perhaps reaching Turkey before contemplating the concept of safer modes of travel to India…
The town of Camelford in North Cornwall, however, is a mere two and a half hours away – during which time I could hear a couple of radio programmes and listen to a CD of Lagaan, realising with belated horror that it was now nearly twelve years since it came out. Turning into the unmade road on the road that eventually leads to Bodmin Moor, I managed to park my compact car in an even more compact garage praying that I would leave without scratching it. Sadly, that wasn’t to be the case.
The fields around the rented cottage were working farms – four black sheep with white stripes on their forehead turned to pose for a photo as I walked to stretch my legs after the drive. The River Camel flows along here but legend has it that this was Camelot from King Arthur’s times.
There was no choice but to explore a bit more of this much loved part of my childhood reading and discover Tintagel Castle in the brilliant sunshine. Climbing the steep steps with a view of a clear aquamarine sea flowing deep below over smooth pebbles beside me, I reached the top of a cliff with a stiff breeze blowing. The dramatic drop into the Atlantic is a thrilling sight with the sight of Merlin’s cave in the distance. If I was Guinevere, this was a pretty stunning spot for her man, Arthur, to choose. But apparently, King Arthur was merely conceived here according to the wise people over at Wikipedia.
Another day, I decided to visit Jamaica Inn, made famous by the dark novel of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier. She moved to Cornwall from London and stayed there for the rest of her life, setting most of her novels in this atmospheric part of the world. Along with her family memorabilia, there is also a small exhibition on the history of smuggling at the inn. After the casks of liquor brought in from the deliberately wrecked ships, it was drugs. Later on, anything from camel saddles, musician’s rattles and women’s stylish turbans were used to conceal drugs and bring into the country. Some were most ingenious and rather enlightening.
By day three I was intoxicated by the fresh Cornish air, the brilliant light and the delicate changes in colour of the water. It is no surprise that artists still head there for their ideal place of work. An art gallery by the river was bursting with canvasses for sale. I walked through and reached the room at the back where I was absolutely held riveted by a giant oil painting of lush trees by water with the sun seeping through. I looked out of the door and saw to my shock that it was that very scene that had been captured in such vibrant glory. The coastal path up the pretty harbour village of Port Isaac was another vast expanse of rolling green cliffs over water far below.
I waited till I had some company to attempt walking on Bodmin Moor. Rough Tor (pronounced Ro-aw Tor) appears deceptively close but we passed some abandoned horses and incurious sheep to reach the summit where stones of all types seem to be arranged like a game of Jenga. These are natural rock formations from Neolithic times.
Before we set off on our journey back to Bristol, we first heard the good news that Scotland had voted No in the referendum but there was sad news from home – the sudden passing of Mandolin Shrinivas seems so irreconcilable. His music has always been part of my life – it has taking me to realms I’ve never experienced and inspired me so deeply that I still cannot fully understand that he’s no more. There’s always a CD with his music in the car and I heard an old album with some rare songs. He will never be forgotten.