Also For Butterflies (and For Snails)
Upon checkout, the nice innkeeper man, Terry (*) , gave me a replacement pen, gratis. Hard to argue with that. The least I can offer in return is some free, and much-deserved, publicity: http://porthcurnohotel.co.uk/.
Walking down the
main drag, toward the ravaged coast, I managed to perform a minor bit of pen surgery cutting the new ink-filled nib down so it would fit into my old contoured, clickable housing. Score.
I passed above a beach, upon which someone had already had his or her morning jog. Nice spot for it but a pretty stultifying route! Shortly after that, a fox or a damned big and rangey cat darted out in front of me on the trail. (My notes actually say: "homba".)
I remorselessly quizzed them about the circumstances of their wussifying of me. They said they had camped in Treen where they were not the only ones in the camping field. Apparently, a head-height hedge had blocked a lot of the force of the storm but, nonetheless, before long people with taller tents were packing it in. Trying to raise my voice above a shamed whisper, I took the above photo, and bid the MDD-HT adieu, until next time.
Post-hurricane, the weather had actually turned really lovely: bright, breezy (as opposed to galey), fresh, perfect temperature beach weather, really. I passed a big white pyramid of stone with a plaque marking the endpoint of the underwater telegraph cable which first "linked England with the American Continent." The same company who did this was also responsible for the undersea cable from Bombay to Suez, and then via Malta back to England. That one had been laid by Brunel's steamship the Great Eastern the world's first ocean-going steamship.
We think we live in an amazing technological era. And we do. But imagine what the Victorians experienced: the first instant (versus months-taking) global communications; Darwin's explanation of where we actually came from, and how; Edison lighting the darkness, and recording and replaying the human voice; railroad track spanning continents, and ocean-going steamships bridging them, making long-distance travel unimaginably safe and fast; Louis Daguerre capturing the human face; Freud plumbing the vast hidden depths of the human mind; Maxwell and Faraday creating the science of electromagnetism (on which is based little things like TV, radio, all wireless communication, anything that uses an electric engine or generator, etc.); Babbage's analytic engine, the first notion of a computer; the industrial revolution, urbanization, canals and bridges, anaesthetic and antibiotics (without which few of us would be here), the periodic table, the telephone, the skyscraper, the motion picture, the airship.
Hey, but now we can publish our travel journals, and holiday snaps, for two billion web surfers. Woot.
Speaking of which, while mindlessly eating up path, I had the kind of grandiose idea of trying to collect some of the better dispatches into a volume of travel writing. I did come up with what I thought was a rather good title: That Had Better Not Be A Spider Crawling On My Nuts - The Selected Travels of MSF. The problem, of course, is that the material is already in the exact perfect format to convey what I want to convey. Shoehorning it into book form would degrade it, not to mention constitute a base money/fame grab, and never mind that it would never get published anyway. Heigh ho.
I passed what appeared uncannily like shrink-wrapped crops. They were under some kind of taut, sheer netting, which spanned the entire field. Useful for keeping your cabbages from blowing away in the gale, I suppose. Then I passed what looked for all the world like a pumpkin patch; as I got closer, it turned out it WAS a pumpkin patch. Halowe'en was coming up, I remembered.
The first thing I refrained from shooting was a herd of enormous, lovely snails all migrating right across the trail. All glistening and healthy-looking after the rain, their little antannae (eyestalks?) were just so cute! While admiring them, I grew concerned for their safety: crossing this boot-trodden thoroughfare was going to take them hours. But perhaps I was just feeling an especial affinity for guys who go around with their lodging on their backs.
"I really am afraid I'm turning into a wuss. 6 mile days are starting to seem long, 11 mile days endless; steep hills, of only moderate duration, are causing me to huff and grunt, rather than pant happily w/my tongue wagging out.
"Sun continues to shimmer on the Atlantic very winningly. Like a lustrous, silver-shot fabric rippling over a sleeping girl's gently beating heart. It looks positively liquid.
"Over stile into damp-leaf-strewn path through forest of ivy-bedraped, gracefully thin hardwoods. Supermodel-like hardwoods, thin and graceful and curvy, leaning at elegant angles, with perfect clear luminous skin-bark."
I'm sure you'll agree I must have been doing this too long, if I was now producing prose that cringe-inducingly purple. In fact, I can't even quite believe I included it here. It's a sad, lonely, scary man who gets turned on by trees.
I'd be saying "Wow" in a different context, shortly after, when I tried to make my escape from Lamorna Cove. I exited the glade easily enough (it seemed), crossing over a stream into an area of subtropical-esque vegetation. There were curving fronds, bamboo, and slick mossy rock the last of which caused me to fall into an iron fence post, bruising my bicep and scraping my forearm both moderately badly. Ouchers.
Moreover, it soon became apparent that I'd taken a big wrong turn somewhere so much so that I soon got my compass out, and left it out. It was very much a "which way is the bloody ocean?" kind of situation. I ended up backtracking all the way to my original assailant, the iron spike. On this second pass, I saw I might easily have fallen all the way into the rusty barbed wire attached to it. Moreover, I still had no idea which way I should be going.
"Totally freaking stumped."
Resigned and desperate, I headed down the last possible path of any sort from this vicinity which rapidly became so overgrown that I ended up in a vicious street-fight (trail-fight?) with a large thorn bush.
The bush and I were about evenly matched in size, if not weight. Though I'm pretty sure he had at least 12 inches of reach on me.
Like many street fights, it was fast and ugly and over in seconds. (*) The thorn bush scored first blood with a deep slash on the outside of my wrist. I moved in for two quick stomps of its head into the dirt. My move was successful, but my opponent got in a lightning rake of the back of my left calf as I performed it.
I'd have to say it ended in a draw; though, before I broke free, I was certainly bleeding more then ever previously on this trip. That's just the price you pay when you lose your way in the jungle.
Obviously, I wasn't going any further down that path. I eventually decided that, on leaving the tea garden, I had actually headed right back the way I'd originally come in and one of those wacky every-which-way-but-loose arrow signs had convinced me I was going forward. Still, I had no recollection of the steep, slick stairs I had to descend to get back to the tea garden. Perhaps I'd been delerious for tea.
While dragging myself, from sea level, back up onto the cliffs, I encountered more of these surprisingly coherent-looking blackberry craps. I'm not sure they were agreeing with whomever had been eating them. Nonetheless, I seemed to have gotten a bit of my mojo back for that next big climb. Maybe I just needed some adversity to get my juices up . . . Hey lighthouse!
And butterflies! This one and his mate led me flitting down the path. Together, we disappeared into a bit of forest path which, at a certain point, had been almost totally collapsed to impassibility by the storm. (I wondered if that had been my problem when lost earlier absence of path on the path.)
This led into a tiny stretch of nature preserve, a sign upon which rather airily declared itself "A Place for Solitude". Aside from being naff and pretentious, this proclamation seemed redundant. So this place was for solitude as opposed to where? I hadn't seen a single soul since the tea garden. Moreover if they were successful in promoting this scheme, wouldn't it destroy itself? How many people, actually, can a place for solitude support?
Exiting the PfS, the terrain continued all up and down and rocky as heck. I checked the map. Crikey! It was 6 miles from Lamorna to Penzance. And I wasn't exactly on top of Lamorna. Also, the terrain was continuing murderous; and the sun wasn't exactly any longer at the top of the sky . . .
At long last, I rolled into Lamorna. Time: 15:08. I scored a banana and an apple, and ate both over my Betjeman. (*) On my way out of Lamorna, I pretty much decided to get the bus from Mousehole (pronounced Mowz'l may as well get that right now) to Penzance. According to the book, between the two was a starkly crap stretch 4 miles of tarmac; it was late, and getting more so; and I was bone-tired. Also, with 35 buses a day running between the two towns, it seemed a fait accompli. The realistic alternative was probably a B&B in Mousehole if they had anything available and that would be, frankly, just a more expensive form of wussing out.Ah! rain coming in now. Fab. Just fab. I hesitated before gearing up for it, then gave in then, just as I finished, it looked like blowing over. Feckers. But, switching up again, the rain then came pelting down huge slanting drops of it. (Luckily, slanting toward my back.) Another stretch of forest offered some, but not a ton of, reprieve. The terrain under the trees was decent but finally segued into a ludicrously steep, treacherous, stone and now soaked descent. Good God. Re: adversity be careful what you wish for.
What I got next was a long, steep uphill stretch. I decided this was the single toughest day of the whole walk. I might have wished the book had mentioned that. Really, I was totally mentally unprepared for this. I thought: What I wouldn't give for a bit of civilisation right now.It was some compensation that I shortly met the world's sweetest butterfly and a perfect model. She just posed, and posed her and her friend, I swear, were sunning themselves. (The sun had finally come back.) Who's got a fuzzy wuzzy tummy?! YOU do! Yes, YOU do!
Earlier resolutions aside, I took a turn around the narrow and higgledy-piggledy streets, gunning for a room. Results:
- First place I passed: booked up.
- Second place, picked out of book, and searched for: no longer in existence.
- Third place: booked.
- Fourth place, picked out of book, and phoned: no longer existed as lodging.
These flailings left me situated down by the waterfront, right beside the bus stop. There was a bus at it. There was a sign on the bus for Penzance. There was a driver of the bus who, when questioned, informed me that the bus left in 4 minutes, and that the trip to Penzance cost £1.50. As I paid and boarded, I thought: Well, six minutes in Mowz'l will just have to do me . . .
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