|I've just been for a lovely peaceful week at the Landmark Trust property No.1 Hawkers Cottages in Coombe Valley. I'd taken my sister back down to Camborne and stayed overnight at her place, so I didn't have too long a drive up to North Cornwall. I arrived late afternoon and found the surprisingly modern landscape of a windmill farm, and a satellite ground station. But the landscape was completely different when you drive down into the village of Coombe. (As usual with any of the pictures, click on them to get bigger images.)|
|Coombe is a village near Bude on the borders of Cornwall and Devon. All the houses in the village have been taken over by the Landmark Trust, keeping the whole valley a step back in time. It's picture postcard material everywhere, even in the winter, and must be lovely at other times of the year with the orchards, and the stream running down the valley. There is no TV, or Internet, or phone connection in the cottages so you get a very quiet holiday. Except ... on the first morning I walked down to the local beach which was the nearest place to get mobile phone reception, I was inundated with text messages. Unfortunately during the night there had been major flooding in Cornwall, and everyone was checking I was Okay. There was no problem in the valley, although I found by reading back through the logbook that the stream has overflowed its banks a couple of times but the water doesn't get as far as the cottage I was staying at. (Which is the one furthest away in this photo.)|
|The village is near Morwenstow where the Reverend Robert Hawker was the vicar. He was credited with starting harvest festivals in churches, and is more well known nowadays for having written "The Song of the Western Men" famous for the lines
"And shall Trelawney die?
Here's twenty thousand Cornishmen
will know the reason why!"
The Reverend actually stayed for a few months in the same cottage I rented, and supposedly had the window installed in the form of a cross. I'm glad I arrived in the daylight, which turned out to be an even better idea than usual in a strange place, since there was a very narrow parking space next to the cottage. You can probably see that the lane in front is only single track, so there was little turning space to get the car in. With about three inches clearance either side at the narrowest point, there was a definite sense of achievement when I'd parked, and a decision to not make too many excursions.
|The cottage was surprisingly very cosy, I say surprisingly since night storage heaters were used which tend to peter out in the evenings, but because the walls of the cottage were so thick they kept the heat in well. There was a stove in the lounge and since I always enjoy the chance of playing with a fire, I had to turn the heater right down in there, so I could light it. It's a very sheltered valley so not much draught for the fire, and the early logbooks had many suggestions for how to keep a flame going - this was when it was still an open fire, the stove behaved very well for me. So I enjoyed several evenings sitting by the fire reading. By chance, one of the books I'd taken with me to read was "The King's General" by Daphne du Maurier, one of the few set texts we had at school that I remembered enjoying, so I'd bought a second-hand copy to re-read. What I'd forgotten was some of the main characters were the Grenvilles, and their home was in Stowe Barton which is on top of the hill leading out of the valley. That added a lot of atmosphere to the story.|
|The weather stayed mostly mild with quite a lot of sunshine, but also showers and strong winds on the coast. One of the things I did on the rainy days was sort out the books in my capacity as Treasurer for our Quaker Meeting. Of course, nowadays the "books" are a spreadsheet, so I sat at the kitchen table with my computer and piles of bills and bank statements around me. (One of the reasons I'd picked out this cottage was that big table for working at.) I have been entering everything throughout the year, but this was a chance to double check everything, tailor the spreadsheet more to our meeting, and get everything to balance with only six weeks to go to the end of the year. I did end up being distracted quite a lot since I'd bought some bird seed and placed it on the garden table. There was a never-ending stream of visitors with rush hour in the morning and late afternoon. Chaffinches, sparrows, a robin, a woodpecker, a wren, assorted tits - both blue and great, and a bird I'd never seen before - a Marsh Tit. I'd show you a picture of one, but they all ended up blurred. So it was a very entertaining time, and although it might seem boring to be sitting pouring over a lot of numbers I can tell you it was Very Rewarding when everything balanced :-)|
|I slept in the middle bedroom with the cross window, which made for some lovely plays of light.|
|I was lucky enough to go upstairs in the morning and catch this particular fall of the pattern on the jug and bowl opposite.|
|Since it was November the leaves were mostly off the trees, but there was still a little autumn colour around, and I think a return trip a couple of weeks earlier in the year would catch the leaves. It also seemed to be very mild weather with quite a lot of sunshine amidst more seasonal rain. Most of the time when I went to Duckpool beach it was high tide, but I did manage to make it there once when the tide was out and a sandy beach was at last revealed. Since this was one of the sunny periods, I threw caution to the wind and went for a paddle. The water was cold, but I have walked in colder, including in the Isles of Scilly in late spring, and my feet felt quite revived afterwards and soon warmed up. Of course, immediately after doing this I read in the logbook about calamities with Weaver Fish which lurk in the shallows and give you a nasty sting if you step on them. They seem to prefer warmer waters, and November is perhaps not the main season for them, but something to avoid another time. This was the longest stay I've had in a Landmark. I tend to stay Monday to Friday since that's their cheapest rates, but that never seems long enough. Unfortunately Monday to Monday isn't long enough either, I could have stayed another week easily!|