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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Misty Mountain Hop And The Mousehole Dog

Maybe it was a mistake to read 'Into Thin Air', Jon Krakauer's terrifying account of the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest, whilst down in Devon on the weekend the clocks went back and plummeted the country into winter.  In my febrile imagination, the biscuit tin by the sea immediately became a bivouac at 26,000 ft.  Keep my head under the duvet and I would be gasping for oxygen; stick my nose outside and it would turn black with frostbite and drop off.  Except that it was really very mild for the time of year.  It was just so very gloomy.
This is Marazion mid-morning ...

... and frankly, if Krakauer had had to deal with this much cloud at sea-level, his might have been a different story.  

The Cornish name for St Michael's Mount is Karrek Loos yn Koos - the hoar rock in the wood - which could hark back to a folk memory of a time when the coastline lay beyond it.  Now it lies 400  yards from the front and is accessible via a raised causeway at mid to low tide.   The legend of Lyonesse persists.  

Some of the granite setts of the causeway were washed away in the storms earlier this year, but were retrieved.  

Here's a digger fixing the damage before the next lot of storms come along.  

The Mount, as run by the National Trust, is not a particularly dog-friendly place - we weren't allowed to walk Ted up through the wood even on a lead - so we decided not to visit the Church in single file but stuck instead to promenading on the stone jetties, which reminded me very much of the Cobb at Lyme Regis

Then we retired to the beach so Ted could have a good run.  There didn't seem to be any colour in the day at all.   
Well, maybe just a little in the detail.  

Then it was off around the bay to Mousehole, somewhere I'd wanted to visit for years, ever since seeing Nicola Bayley's  stunning illustrations for Antonia Barber's 'The Mousehole Cat' when my kids were small.  Well, wouldn't you?

And even on a dreeky day, it has its moments.  

We went to the pub for lunch but unfortunately it wasn't much of a place to be a vegetarian.  'I could do you a ham salad without the ham,' 0ffered the barman, for all the world as if Margaret Thatcher were still best known for depriving school children of their daily milk and Mark Chapman had yet to squeeze that trigger.

It's no place for cyclists, skateboarders or roller-bladers either.

I can't help thinking that the Mousehole Cat had a paw in these ubiquitous signs.  Even the grotty little neighbouring beach had a big notice to the effect that DOGS ARE BANNED.  

So we had a wander on the mighty harbour wall instead.  

Then we saw this.  

And this.

And just in case you were left in the slightest doubt, this.

I gazed at the deserted beach, fingering the wodge of dog poo bags in my pocket.  What a shame, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, to pitch up at the village where the glorious Dylan Thomas honeymooned with Caitlin only to find it haunted by the ghost of Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard.  

'Mousehole? More like Arsehole!' muttered my own companion in poetry. 

Finally we found a shop that wasn't called a pantry or a dairy - the positively working-class Hole Foods Deli - and bought some homity pie to eat in the welcoming fug of the car.  And very tasty it was too ...  

... though I don't think we'll be back anytime soon.  

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