What I Did On My Holidays

What I Did On My Holidays

Originally published in The Cornishman 5/9/02

Saw my first kingfisher, for one. Shortly after dawn on Newlyn Fish Day I was wandering around watching people set up stalls when a fast movement caught my eye, an iridescent colour which reminded me unromantically of a bluebottle, not diving but buzzing around the harbour on its way back to the river at Tolcarne. A stubby little bird I have waited a lifetime to see.

Watched another batch of swallows come into the world, line up with sweet huge beaks on the edge of the roof-truss, take their first stuttering short flights, form a ‘school’ on the washing-line, learn to swoop and slip into doorways, windows and even between one plant and another, chase each other as if pursued by their own shadows, line up to chuckle on the wires every evening, and now feed themselves to prepare for departure.

Saw old favourites return in the shape of sparrows, buzzards, a few pheasants, and goldfinches galore, and welcomed new regulars, linnets and sparrow-hawks. Saw the usual family of foxes, bolder than ever, no longer afraid of the gun. Badgers also defying those who would harm them.

Felt the long wet spells of early summer finally bring their dividend as late August turned hot and clear, while the stored moisture kept the air sweet, the nights cool and the breeze scented, while the lush growth never dried up.

Spent evenings in the open at Minack and Penlee Park enjoying drama set on cliffs or amongst trees, watching the light gradually change behind the action, occasionally distracted by boats, planes, birds or human sounds, but never wishing myself indoors.

Walked to the high points and the seaside, followed the Pilgrims’ Way, wandered through woods in Lamorna and St Loy. Took a cruise to Scilly on a golden morning when the lines of our wake were the biggest waves we saw all day. Swam on Tresco.

Ate out in the garden and outside various pubs, watching the world go by. Took the dogs for walks, or rolled around with them on the lawn.

Stood in the garden last night unable to sleep, barefoot on the wet grass, looking at a moon from a childrens’ story-book and an explosion of pin-bright stars, soundless, dark, with just a hint of autumn in the air, listening to the whirr of bats flying within inches of my ears.

No, I didn’t go away this year. I went to Cornwall, and had a lovely time.

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