With all the uncertainty, I thought it would be nice to share some calm moments I recently found in a new place. This was, of course, before we were all asked to limit unnecessary travel and practice social distancing.
My partner had work in St Austell, Cornwall, for a couple of days and I stuck with the plan to come along for a change of scene. I will admit I brought floor wipes with me to wipe down handles, surfaces, etc…. But it proved to be the last opportunity (for a while) to freely travel away from home.
We had a lovely room in a B&B, looking down on the town, snug in the valley, towards the rolling hills beyond. From my writing spot by the window, I could watch the retired chickens waddling around in their pen at the bottom of the garden (they were adopted by the B&B owners to stop them being put down). When I went out for explore, I wandered off the beaten track and found Menacuddle Well and Gardens.
The well house dates from the late 14th century, when the waters were thought to have healing powers (according to Historic England, it was used for treating weak children, ulcers and other illnesses!). Skipping along its history a bit, it was owned by the Sawle family from the 19th century until after the First World War. The family chose to donate Menacuddle to the Parish of St Austell in memory of Richard Sawle, who died at the battle of Ypres. The site has been claimed back from weeds and overgrowth in recent years by the hard work of volunteers. Nowadays it is (even on a wet and hailing March day) a peaceful spot to wander alone.
The water is known as the White River; it is pale because of the clay particles from the surrounding hills. There is a strong history of china clay mining in this area (the well-known Eden Project nearby is sited in a former china clay pit).
Another peaceful spot can be found ten minutes down the road. Charlestown, a picturesque working harbour, has appeared on screen in many guises – including Poldark (which I’ve never actually seen!), Dr Who, Taboo, and the recent The Personal History of David Copperfield (which is fantastic).
We went down there on a weekday evening for an explore – taking a slow wander along the harbour, drinking mugs of hot chocolate in an old pub, and rounding off with lovely fresh seafood for dinner as the sun set. I was even more grateful than usual for a few moments of calm and some beautiful scenery.
I know I will be carrying these peaceful places with me for the next few weeks.