Once upon a time, when I first came to the UK, I shared an apartment with couple of friends; English friends this is. One Saturday they suggested that working is not on and we are going for a picnic. Now, I come from Southern Europe and for me a picnic is something you do sitting on a blanket on green grass, the sun is shining and children are playing around in their swim suits.
I looked out of the window and it was a dark and wet day.
‘What picnic?’ – I said – ‘Have you looked outside?’
At this point my friends looked at each other and burst out laughing; yes, I was again the ‘continental wimp’ who didn’t know that picnic can be had in any weather – you just have to be prepared to drive somewhere, find a nice prospect and eat your sandwiches in the car.
This is a very English picnic; a very English holiday by the seaside is similar, I am discovering. John and I have been spending that last three days in Cornwall (Newquay) , by the sea. We came over to drive our son who is camping for a week with his friend’s family. We are not camping – couple of years ago I tried this one and discovered that I don’t enjoy it; also by the time I have paid for therapy and osteopath it works out far too expensive as well.
Generally our holiday has been wet and expensive. This is what I figured out:
There are many different kinds of rain but there is also a place specific patter. In Manchester it rains like in ‘Hundred Years of Solitude’ – it starts raining and it gently rains for hundred years. In Newquay you don’t get rain, it is a deluge that soaks you in seconds and then if you can’t swim there is trouble.
- It doesn’t matter whether it is raining or not – the English are out on the beach having great time.
- They swim wearing wet-suits and the beaches don’t have sun-shades – they have wind-breakers and tents to shelter from the rain and cold.
- There are places where rain is glorious or at least I don’t mind it so much but the beach is not one of these. In the rain the beach is just sad. Oh, and the place where rain doesn’t matter is Scotland.
I kept to my continental conviction that beaches should be bathed in sunshine and warmth so sitting on the beach in a tent, under sleeping bags was not an option. Instead we had a wonderful day visiting interesting places in the area.
First we went to St Ives – a lovely little town on the sea and well known artists’ Mecca. Charming architecture, beautiful sea and light! This is why, this little town has a Tate gallery; a small but interesting one. Looking at modern art on a wet afternoon is an enjoyable way to pass time.
Remember some time ago I was telling you about Cape Point – the place where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet? Well, today we went to Land’s End – the most Western point of England.
We also discovered that our SatNav has great sense of humour. When we arrived at Land’s End it told us we have got into a ‘dead end’ and we should make a U-turn. Of course we were in a ‘dead end’; after all there is nothing between Land’s End and America except couple of islands.
Apart from keeping off the beach and playing tourists we have been over-eating, under-sleeping and generally…well, having a mini-holiday. How much this costs us I’ll tell you when we are back home.