We went on holiday to the other end of Cornwall! To the village of Helford.
Here is Gambara the ancient Volvo, carrying the canoe, when we arrived (she proves to be an excellent canoe-steed).
And Pp, having a wardrobe malfunction. That's our holiday cottage behind him on the other side of the road. Helford turned out to be a very thatched village, which is kind of odd, because generally, Cornwall is not notable for thatch. It's usually all slate roofs. It's very much a restored picture-postcard sort of village though, and we wondered if the thatch was actually original or if someone had come up with it more recently as a means to make places look more quaint.
Here's the inside, also looking quaint, apart from my laptop which is not quaint at all really.
It is a good thing that neither of us is particularly tall. The steps were OK, as long as you remembered to sway backwards as you came down them.
It was a bit grey when we wandered down to explore, and found the ferry. The note on the ferry-summoning sign says 'open sign to call ferry. We will be with you as soon as possible'. We did not, since we did not want to summon a ferry from the other side of the river where it lives, but we later saw some people calling the ferry, and discovered that the ferry-summoning sign is a rather acid house yellow smiley face.
It was a bit grey that weekend, but since we had brought the canoe, we were damn well going to use it. It was a bit windy so we didn't stay out long, but we did meet some cormorants.
And we found a rather pretty little boat whose name, to Pp's great delight, was 'Nadger'. He sang 'Green Grow My Nadgers Oh' to it.
The next day the weather had cheered up considerably.
Rosie was pleased and demanded her dog bed be positioned so she could enjoy the rays.
Eventually, I managed to convince her to get up and come for a walk. We found a lot of windfall apples, and Frenchman's Creek.
Frenchman's Creek is the creek in the Daphne du Maurier novel, which I have still failed to read. The creek looks a lot more imposing and piratical when the tide is in. Also, it is fenced about with land now marked up with signs saying 'PRIVATE' which is rather sad for a creek in a novel about pirates, though probably what you expect when you go to stay in a village trying so hard to be picture-postcard nowadays.
The National Trust, bless their 100% organic cotton socks, own some of the land along the creek itself, so you can walk along there and explore, and we did. I was grateful that Rosie emphatically Does Not Do Mud when we met a golden retriever puppy, who had Done Mud.
It was time to dive out onto the river again, once the tide had come up enough to save us having to wade in mud to reach it. Here's the route out onto the Carrick Roads, and the sea. The water was very clear and green. We had hoped to see a seal or maybe even a dolphin, since the sea was so close, but no joy. (The cottage came with a children's book about the local Seamonster, Morgowr, though.)
There was enough wind that people were out sailing, though the Helford river is narrower than the lower Tamar, it's a lot less daunting in that you don't ever have to share water with actual warships. Or submarines. (eek). Only these, and the odd powerboat or fishing boat:
This is about as far as we got towards the sea: Durgan, which is also National Trust owned, I now learn, though we didn't go ashore.
You could look over the side and look down through very clear water into forests of kelp and clear to the bottom. You can sort of see how clear it was in this photo of a cave we found. There was no Morgowr in the cave :-(
Eventually, we went home and went to the pub. The pub has a slipway, and kindly let us use it so we could trundle the canoe from the parking space directly down to the water, which made a nice change from having to lift the thing back onto the car roof every time, particularly as my arm and shoulder is still not quite right.
After The Pub.
Where did we go after that? Oh yes, we did a long walk along the other side of the river, which was a bit annoying because there was no way off the coast path for about 3 miles, I think, due to all the signs saying PRIVATE. Normally, I would not mind a three-mile walk out andthree back, but I find that after a certain amount of walking my shoulder and arm become very painful indeed (I have no idea why, it's not like I'm walking on my arm!) and by the time we got back it was Definitely Too Far and hurt a lot. So we had an easy few days and ate icecream and wandered over to the cafe for crab soup and so on.
Then I felt better and decided we should take the car a little way to St Anthony in Meneage and do a walk there. The tide was low, so we thought about crossing Gillan Creek and walking to Flushing. Then we looked closely at the stepping stones and the enormous amount of weed on them, considered the impact on my arm if I fell off one, and thought better of it.
We went up Dennis Head instead, where there's a good view down the creek.
In St Anthony, we found an Austin Seven. It's so CUTE! There were three of them there, actually, but this one was parked outside in a casual manner that somehow suggested someone was actually still using it day to day rather than just polishing it and taking it to shows on a trailer.
And I cannot resist adding yet more canoeing photos from our last trip on the river. We went upstream of Helford this time, so the water was a little less sea-like and a little more river-y. (I must admit though, still far less muddy than the upper Tamar.)
I can't remember if this is the mouth of Frenchman's Creek, or some other creek a little further in, but it definitely looks much more romantic and piratical and less muddy at high tide in the sunshine!
A random pretty boat. I can remember all too clearly from childhood the sheer hassle involved with wooden boats, sanding them down, repainting, sorting out the varnish, replacing rotten bits, to ever want to own one, but just look at that. Isn't that pretty?
We stopped at Tremayne Quay, which is a National Trust quay (bless their cotton socks again) just because we were welcome to do so. There's only grass and woods here, no buildings and I'm not sure there's even road access. It's lovely.
We had a really good sighting of a kingfisher in this creek, it flew almost across the canoe. I didn't get a chance to photograph it, I was too busy admiring its stunning blueness.
These creeks are all rocky around the edges, so unlike the Tamar creeks, you don't get mud and rushes obscuring the edges so much, you just canoe on up the tidal water, until suddenly you come to the end of it and there is a tiny stream which seems absurdly small for the size of the creek it runs into.
Time to turn around and start wandering back.
Our canoe has no anchor and a clearance of only a few inches, so we were no risk to the oyster beds.
The last day we had to leave by 10am, so we decided to to the Gweek Seal Sanctuary on our way home. This is a place that was set up to rehabilitate sick and orphaned baby seals found along the coast, though they now also have some permanent resident seals that can't be reintroduced to the wild for various reasons, and (slightly more unexplained, but I think zoo animals surplus to requirements, or possibly just to offer something to show visitors out of seal season) some Californian sealions and asian short-clawed otters.
Here's one of the common seals in the rehabilitation pools, if I remember rightly. Common seals are little and adorable, and these were a little shy, you could see they were wild animals.
And I think this is one of the rehabilitating grey seals. Grey seals are not shy. Wild grey seals consider humans to be a spectator sport, I reckon. This one looked like it was considering throwing us a fish to reward our performance. Rosie found the grey seals Too Big and rather daunting.
The sealion pool was being cleaned out. The sealions clearly thought the process fascinating and were watching with great interest. (you can see the reflection of Rosie looking dubiously at sealions in the glass at the bottom)
They were also flolloping about and the big one was occasionally being told to go and sit on his pallet, which he did very smugly.
I think this is one of the permanent resident grey seals, with something up with its eyes. Rosie thought this one was The Worst.
The otters, however were FASCINATING. They were entirely unbothered by her, clearly percieving that she is at heart a great coward.
And here are Pp and Rosie posing. She will stand on her hind legs on her own, but Pp finds it amusing to show off her bald tummy.