It was dark. They don’t do bright lights in our village. I caught someone sneaking their recycling into our neighbour’s bin. I’d been about to do the same. And so an exchange ensued. Turns out he’s the grandson of one of the matriarchs of the village. His grandmother socialised with Pete’s late Grandpa Billy. With late night conversations over rubbish collections underway, our goal of becoming part of Perranuthoe village is complete. I’m already dreading our departure.
We’ve had four weeks in Perranuthnoe. A small village on the southwest coast of Cornwall. Our village lies just a few miles from St Michael’s Mount, one of Britain’s better known landmarks, and 6 miles from the end of the train line at Penzance. It’s the lessor known side of the Cornish Peninsula, and so much further on from the bright lights of Falmouth that you wouldn’t normally pass through this area unless you were on route to Land’s End.
For us it’s perfect. My morning run is a treat in all directions. I usually favour the cliff path to Cudden Point; a headland managed by the National Trust, which is covered in farmland, walking tracks, and overrun with wildflowers in spring. I can be 5 minutes from the door and I’m gazing out over rocky coastline with a view of a castle on an island surrounded by water, lit up by the waking dawn.
Our days have been spent following the wind, waves and the tides, exploring as much of this coastline as we can. Pete’s windsurfed with some of the most technical wave sailors he’s ever seen on the water. Our 7-year-old daughter has surfed the infamous breaks at Gwythian and Sennon.
We’ve embraced the history of the area too. We’ve marvelled at the discovery of Chysauster, one of the best preserved iron age villages in the world. We’ve been underground in candlelight at the Geevor tin mine. We’ve walked over the tracks carved into rocks by wagon wheels at Prussia Cove and contemplated the history of smuggling in this area.
We’ve eaten. A lot. We’ve cooked fish fresh from boats docking in the harbour, and tried species that we’d never seen in New Zealand waters. We love the crab. A lot. We’ve eaten pasties and cream teas, and more ice cream that what is decent at this autumnal time of the year. We’ve even been to a degustation night at village pub, showcasing what can be provided in our fields and cooked locally can compete with the excellence of Michelin starred restaurants in London.
We love the Cornish people. Many don’t like to venture beyond the Tamar, the river representing the border between Cornwall and Devon. We feel like we could become a firm part of this community even though we’re visitors. It probably helps that Pete’s Dad was born and raised here. We’ve taken the girls to Brownie and Pippin meetings, enjoying a Girl Guiding experience in the UK that’s not too different to what goes on at home. We even recognised a new acquaintance at a magnificent bonfire night display, and wondered how long it would take to make firm friendships and integrate with this community.
We have just one more week to farewell our Cornish relatives and play host to a final guest at our cottage. We’ll give our wetsuits a final run before packing them up for home. We’ll explore the remaining sections of coastline on our bucket-list and we’re rounding off our trip with a taste of Rick Steins flagship restaurant in Padstow. One of my personal quests while on this sabbatical. We’ve seen the famous hotspots of Fistral and Porthmear Beaches, but satisfied ourselves that our remote little coves, less sandy with rugged edges and fishermen pulling up pots, are just as special. My mornings on Cudden Point will remain imprinted on my memory for years to come.
Farewell Cornwall. It’s been a blast.