St George Upstaged

St Georges Day dawned to BBC Radio Cornwall blathering on about nationality and what it means to be English, as opposed to Cornish or British. The Cornish undoubtedly have a very strong sense of identity and may now, apparently, enter Cornish as their nationality on official forms. (Wait a moment …) Somebody actually mentioned something about an English government which, last time I checked, did not exist. The Scots have their parliament, the Welsh have their assembly, and the nearest thing the English have is a British Parliament run, for the last 10 years or so, largely by Scots. My inescapable conclusion, therefore, is that "what it means to be English" is to be unrepresented for the most part, save at the local level by a bunch of self-serving councillors.

Political mumbo-jumbo aside, St Georges Day was advertised as being largely dry and pleasant.  So, rather than slaying any passing dragons in the name of valour, we decided to take our steed a little way west to investigate the coastal path near the Minack theatre near Porthcurno. As it turned out, the best deal for us was to use the Minack’s free car park, fork out the £3.50 each to go in, play tourist and have a look around. As it also turned out, the day, down in that part of the coast at least, turned out far better than advertised and we were treated to views of sparkling blue-green sea under brilliant cerulean skies. This was the kind of weather I live for.

Minack_web The Minack must be the most stunningly situated, most uncomfortable theatre in the world. The auditorium is essentially the cliff face with rows of cast concrete seats and stairs added in and around the natural rock. This all overlooks a stage perched seemingly precariously over the western reaches of the English Channel as a backdrop (note: English Channel, not Cornish Channel nor British Channel); a truly spectacular location. How the wandering thespians project their voices sufficiently to be heard above the noise of the waves crashing rhythmically against the rocks beneath, I can only imagine. Cut to Verona, where two families both alike in stature, etc … :

(Enter rock left.)

Juliet: "Romeo –crash-, Romeo -boom-, wherefore art thou –roar– Romeo?"
Romeo: "Eh? -crash- What? –thunder– Speak up Jules –crash-; there’s a dreadful roaring –roar– in my ears!"

(Exit rock right.)

Great stuff which I can only imagine because nothing on this planet could persuade me to sit through an entire dramatic production on those backside-crucifying concrete seats. Besides, I’d far rather devote my concentration to the spectacular coastline surrounding the location, which is simply breathtaking.

Gorse_webWith an uncharacteristic cultural interlude behind us, we eventually elected to take the coastal path west towards Land’s End. (Land’s End is now disgustingly commercial and eminently missable – it’s just the direction we took with no intention of actually getting that far.) With the colourful spring plants along the coastline enhanced further by the clear air and sun – brilliant yellow gorse and pure white wild garlic (three-cornered leek/garlic, apparently) mixed with occasional vivid bluebells and pink campions – we’ll be thinking long and hard before spending spring elsewhere, I suspect.

We went as far as the Coastguard lookout at Gwennap Head before turning back for the return trek fuelled by an enormous but excellent Cornish Pasty for lunch. With some spectacular rock formations and the unexpectedly good weather, this was one of the most visually appealing stretches of coastal path we have walked.

What a fabulous day. 🙂

Posted in Cornwall, 2008

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