Most kids I went to school with went on holidays to America, Disneyland, Spain or other far away and exotic places but due to various circumstances (parents divorcing, finances etc) we weren’t in a position to do the same so many of my holidays from my early teens until I left home were in the UK, more specifically in Cornwall or Gower (in Wales). At the time maybe I felt this was unfair, my stories at the start of each term never had quite the same glory as those who had pictures with Mickey Mouse, at surfing lessons or came in with amazing suntans, however what I now know I gained was an appreciation for the places worth exploring in my own country and that a holiday is more than just going somewhere, it’s about what you do when you are there.
With only a few exceptions this annual family summer holiday would alternate between Oxwich Bay in Gower and Porthleven in Cornwall. If you are not familiar with these places then you have missed out I promise you. As I grow older there is a very strange desire to return to these places and although I have visited them both in the last 10 years (and subsequently accepted I was unlikely to return for some time) it’s amazing how strong the pull is to go back.
Porthleven, a charming little seaside harbour town at the tip of Cornwall, close to Penzance, Helston and the Lizard Peninsular I most associate with my years sitting on the wall of the harbour, licking an ice cream from the amazing ice cream parlour “Nauti but Ice” which boasted at one time over 50 flavours (the blackcurrant ice cream was my favourite) whilst watching the surfers and smelling the salty spray as it crashes against the walls of the harbour. (Baring in mind I was going through my teenage angst years) I remember imagining I was like a 19th century Bronte novel character or some moody figure in a music video wistfully looking out to sea (unfortunately Cheryl Cole beat me to it with her video for The Flood!!) My dad, sister(s) and I would explore Cornwall by day, going to place like Lands End, Penzance, St Michael’s Mount and the Lizard, then walk around the harbour in the evening soaking in the atmosphere of sea air, fishing boats bobbing up and down on the waves, fairy lights hanging on buildings and laughter coming from the pubs on the harbourside. We would occasionally sit in the Harbour Inn or Ship Inn pubs and enjoy a diet coke and some crisps…proper family bonding time 🙂 I won’t talk about the time by Dad tried to bet us how far into the harbour he could throw a pint glass…oops 😉
The Gower peninsula equally has some of the most breathtaking views (coastal and countryside) of anywhere I have ever visited. Many a summer was spent staying at the holiday park there, cooped up in a small chalet with my Dad and sister, playing Yahtzee on rainy days, walking along the beach recanting our summer reading to each other on dry days and visiting local villages and places of interest. I remember only a couple of small tourist shops on the country lane leading from the park to the beach, both of which were full of Welsh dragon ornaments, buckets and spades and other nik naks for the visitors. I have a very vivid memory of going for a long walk on the beach with my sister one day (Oxwich is a very long beach and when there is a low tide it stretches for several miles through to Three Cliffs Bay) and becoming so disoriented on our return that we couldn’t find my Dad in the crowd. By the time we eventually found him several hours had passed and he certainly wasn’t very impressed with us! Rhossili Bay is the more famous location on the Gower, home to The Worms Head (a rock formation sticking out of the sea like a magnificent reminder of how surprisingly nature can be! Of course no trip is complete without the best lasagne, chips and peas I have ever tasted (excluding my husband’s cooking of course) courtesy of The Worms Head Hotel in Rhossili!
I guess my point is this, I could have grown up in circumstances where I was able to travel internationally and experience things I still yearn to try, however I still have amazing memories, I still HAD a holiday, and I learnt how to appreciate landscapes, crafts, simplicity and quality family time, things which have held me in good stead for many years now. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to visit Disneyland as a kid or go to a sunny villa in Italy but the memories I have now I wouldn’t trade for anything 🙂
Porthleven, Oxwich and Gower