Awoke at, yes, you guessed it, same time as always, 7:30. But alone this time? you ask? Au contraire, mein freund. For, with Tim's departure, the critters have come out in their legions to cheer my morning. Most immediately obvious was the fly buzzing incessantly around the tent's interior. There was also the daddy long-legs ambling around on the floor. And not to mention, quite visible from inside, the snail patiently scaling the outside surface of the tent. Good morning, critters.
I showered, grabbed my bag, and loped down the hill in the morning mist. There was a private party on in the Yellow Canary, but they invited me in anyway. I'm pretty much family now. After coffee, I met Paul and Nicole at their B&B, then sat waiting by the World Wars Memorial while the two of them humped it up the hill behind town to move their car, or feed the meter, or get something out of their car, I don't quite recall. In any case, they had to go by their car.
Our plan for the day? A day walk! Naturally, having come all this way, P&N are keen to see some of the trail, and some of that vaunted rugged Cornwall coastline. I was briefly tempted to take us east, back in the direction of Gwithian just because I hadn't walked that stretch, and I'd already walked the stretch in the other direction, toward Zennor, and I was going to walk it again tomorrow. But of course we should do the nicest walking available to them. So we hoofed it out of town toward Zennor.
The weather was mixed sunshine interspersed with threatening rain. But that notwithstanding, A) I got a picture of a kissing gate properly utilised; and B) when I clambered up on a large rock, my companions actually followed me up! Tim & Charles & Son were never so daft!
We made it, I don't know, 2 or 2.5 miles down the trail before turning around and heading back in. Somewhere just outside of town, the sun came out, and this patch of grass beckoned, and Paul and I fell down and had probably one of the pleasantest, laziest experiences of either of our lives. We wanted never to get up again. We probably lay there for 40 minutes. We made Nicole record our bottomless bliss. Somehow, presumably, we made it up again and back into St Ives.
Back in town, we moved smartly to the serious business of getting a beer, to crown our day's walk. We then dropped briefly by the Yellow Canary, ostensibly to get directions to the stellar burger place (the name of which I couldn't remember, which complicated the problem of finding it); but with the secondary project of saying goodbye and giving a card to the bookish girl whom I fancied fancied me (but who of course did not she still hasn't written).
We did find the burger joint, but we found it closed. Only mildly disappointed, we ambled back to the water and had pizzas instead on the old reliable patio cafe overlooking the beach, and overlooked by the Tate Gallery. There we sipped and munched and chatted beneath "lovely, wheeling, hovering, scanning gulls". And then I walked with Paul and Nicole up the long hill to their car, and bid them a very fond but melancholy goodbye. And then: fini. I was alone.
I treated myself to one last banana and chocolate pasty on the way back through the old town, before heading up the hill to the camp site. For laundry day.
"Now I sit in the camp site laundry room, wearing only my Gore-Tex trousers, rolled up to the knees [because it was freaking hot]. I am sniffling incessantly as it seems to have become pollen season in St. Ives. Paul and Nicole, the 3rd Shift Crew, have gone off shift. And I am on my own.
It is Sunday. After this, 12 more walking days, and a last travel day home: Penznace, Land's End, St. Michael's Mount, the Isles of Scilly, Lizard Point, Falmouth all of it solo. (Unless, as Tim put it, I make a friend. But somehow I don't feel like going on the prowl tonight. Perhaps I am sneezing too much.)
Off now to find more tissues."
After I'd washed every garment I had, proper clothes back on, the last light fading, I quit the camp site and wandered back into town getting used to the feel of aloneness. I walked by the Yellow Canary, through the back passages of the Old Town, around the other side of the Harbour. I snapped a few photos of the night-time lights of the waterfront. I swung into one or two of the pubs; but didn't see anyone I recognised nor, really, anything I cared to drink.
So I repaired to Blas Burgerworks, where I held my melancholy at bay with two or three more Skinner's Cornish lagers, another sunflower burger, a salad, and issue number 10 of some entirely decent local arts/poetry/fiction/photography magazine.