Back in England last September, I dragged myself away from Cornwall’s lovely Port Isaac and headed down to Penzance, thinking it would be a good spot from which to explore various places on my list: St. Michael’s Mount, Poldark’s mines, the Minack Theatre and St. Ives.
It started raining as I stood on the hill above the town waiting for the bus. The rain increased as the day went on, and by the time I arrived in Penzance, it was so heavy and the wind was so strong, I couldn’t see where to go.
I flopped into one of the taxis, sitting in a queue at the bus depot and he dropped me at the door of my B&B. I rapped the knocker, footsteps thumped down a hall and the door was flung open.
‘You’re too early!’ said the woman.
‘Oh,’ I said, unable to think of anything else.
‘I’ve been trying to contact you.’
‘Yes. Didn’t you get my emails? Booking in time is not till four o’clock.’ I’d forgotten about that, what with having spent the day in three different buses and arriving in a typhoon.
‘Um, I don’t have one of those gadgets, yet – um, that has emails.’ She stared at me as if I was from another planet.
‘Oh well, you’re here now. You might as well come in.’ Thank heavens for that. I would have had to stand for the next three-quarters-of-an-hour, flooding her door step. Not a good start to Penzance.
‘Lucky I was home,’ she said, as I dragged my case and bag up five flights of steps, wondering why I always get given the top floor. ‘I almost went out.’ But then she didn’t, so I didn’t understand the fuss.
It was a very nice little room, though the shower right next to the dressing table was unusual.
Still, it did the job. All I wanted was to get dry and warm. I had missed lunch, though, and was starving, so I had to head out again into the typhoon to find something to eat. Coming back, I decided to walk along the promenade. Not a good idea. It was all I could do to keep myself erect.
The house was halfway up a steep hill, as everything seems to be in Cornwall.
I let myself in, filled out my breakfast menu for the morning and adjourned to my room to recover. Some days are more like hard work than others when you’re on the road. But it’s all part of the adventure.
By the next afternoon, the rain had stopped and I had a chance for a wander around. I didn’t know what to make of the place. It seemed a bit run down to me, some parts of it, anyway. The promenade itself needed a bit of a spruce up, I thought; empty buildings, graffiti.
On the outskirts of the township, I discovered a main road, edged by large homes, a lot of them rentals by the run-down look of them. Then there were others that were just beautiful.
I ventured down Love Lane, hoping I wouldn’t end up lost, and found an oasis of green. Houses were hidden along both sides with their back gates opening onto it, and I thought what a lovely place it would be to live.
It led all the way back to the promenade via a lake, where I sat for awhile in the sunshine, watching the ducks.
From there, I crossed the road for my first view of an English pebble beach, a strange thing when you’re used to beaches with – well – sand. How do you sun bake on pebbles?
I pretty much forgave Penzance for my bad start. I’ll leave my difficulties with the bus services (or lack of) for another day, along with that age-old question. Why does every bit of food have to be positively swimming in mayonnaise?