Sneezeworts Cornish cornucopia – or ‘what I did on my holidays’

The path is closely cropped grass and mosses pinpricked with pink thrift

‘Jackdaw pairs glide indolently by comparison a few feet above the fields, and atop every telegraph pole for the next 50 metres bright white gulls blink lazily with no particular care it seems – at least until the chippy is open’. 

It is early… not by working standards, but still early enough. I lay peering at the cloudless, blue sky through the bedroom window, and am lulled by the low moaning sea- breeze making its way up the lane. Pleasingly there is as yet no human sound.

Our annual spring break to the West Country is always a highlight and welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of daily life, at least before the hordes hit the beaches in a few weeks time. Hastening on the minimal clothing necessary, I slip out of the cottage door and am immediately fully awakened by natures splendour. 

My seaward view

The sun is still to fully rise above the easterly horizon of Bodmin moor behind me, yet my seaward view is an uninterrupted azure canvas.

Time for my daily walk…

It’s a short winding lane that invites me into my day, initially inland. Its high earthed slate walled hedgerows luring me on up and around the next bend.

Either side of me within outstretched arm’s length, I finger- tip brush swathes of valerian in red, pink and white, early blooming tree mallow, fronds of umbellifer alexanders, young cow parsley, red campion, ragwort, and tender exploratory stems of wild honeysuckle.

Swathes of valerian in red, pink and white

They seem to be seeking out the industrious skylarks just visible to the eye in the ether above. Their distinctive and sustained rich vibrato voice on the wing is clearer now above the weakening breeze. 

Red admirals, brimstones and wall brown butterflies alight at these floral feeding stations along the way. Jackdaw pairs glide indolently by comparison a few feet above the fields, and atop every telegraph pole for the next 50 metres a bright white gulls blink lazily with no particular care it seems – at least until the chippy is open. 

Readers of a certain age will recall how we used to have pencil toppers at school (I think to stop us poking our eyes out if we drifted from the task at hand and fell into a slumber). Well, these were they.

At last, the left-hand downward turn towards the beach, but not before passing under the Rookery in the Cedar trees, so astonishingly noisy at not yet 5.30am. Yet more birdsong – wrens churring, chattering, scolding from bank to bank warn of my approach no doubt… unless there is another unwanted visitor nearby.

Towards the beach

The million-pound floor to ceiling glass fronted houses being built opposite so garish and misplaced are satisfyingly strafed with their shite even before completion… an unending source of amusement to me as the local window cleaner will be able to afford one soon.

The asphalt lane turns to white sand now as I reach the first dune, Marram grass doing what Marram does scratching at my bare legs. The wind has increased on shore and the heavy swell is a sight to behold on a bright day – deep greens and blues punctuated by electric white horses rolling over the reef and across the wide sandy bay.

The wonderful slow worm

Looking down briefly, I’m flummoxed to see a slow worm at my feet – unharmed – but seemingly confused of its Saharan surroundings. I wait until it drags its little legless self to safety among the vegetation. Rounding the rocky headland now I spot the first local surfers who are already an hour into their session (on this a school day?), a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ as they cut across the shoulder high  waves.

Later this evening I’ll return and hope to seek out a Bass, though its perhaps a little optimistic. Searching the nooks and crannies with a lure amidst the kelp strewn rock bed always keeps me in high spirits, especially as the oystercatchers will be with me ‘pee-peeing’ their squeaky-toy song as they cavort and run on the tides edge. The route takes me across the top of the next beach and homeward. I move more slowly now, deliberately delaying my departure.

The path is closely cropped grass and mosses pinpricked with pink thrift. Nothing grows very tall here on this wild exposed outcrop. As I dip down into a hollow the gorse, already punctuated in yellow, shelters the local rabbits. Their white scuts bob into the distance as I startle them at their breakfast. A “tak – tak” distracts me and it takes few moments to locate the source perched on the longest bramble bough – a stonechat, in fact a lovelorn pair, darting from highpoint to highpoint.

The sea is now once again behind me and I’m nearly back to the cottage. I can taste the salt on my lips as I wait for the chocolate croissant now warming in the oven – its been a glorious and eventful day, and its still only breakfast time.

Sneezewort June 2022