Sunday, 13 November 2011



My father began his journey in Dar es Salaam, East Africa, escaping political unrest and hungry for new horizons. My mother, orphaned not once but twice during the chaos of war, grew up a quiet rebel and eventually linked her dreams with the 21 year old immigrant, so exotic in the staid HA5 suburbs of North London in the 60s.

Young love coupled with a desire to escape prejudice and boredom set their sights south and westward, away from the dirty city aiming for the open spaces and simpler ways.

By the time they got as far as Plympton, a small working class suburb just a few miles from the Devon/Cornwall border, my mother was heavily pregnant and with the promise of employment nearby, they halted their exodus and made a nest in a small flat by the railway just off the A38. This was my birthplace. I remember a sandpit and a tumble down the stairs, the rest are but kodachrome memories in black and white. Me on my father's Triumph, my mother looking impossibly young next to a mini-panelvan. Two years was enough time to save for a deposit on a house and they upped sticks again to follow the setting sun.

First port of call was a caravan in a field overlooking an estuary. A sweet summer drifted by of weekend drives viewing cottages for sale in villages with unfamiliar yet friendly names; Playing Place, Lamorna, Laity Moor. Finally they found what they were searching for in Ponsanooth, £2000 for a neat bungalow in a cul-de-sac on a corner plot with fruit trees in the garden. This became home and almost immediately a sister arrived, followed by two cats and a dog.

As I was growing up we spent nearly every weekend exploring from Lands End to the Lizard, coast to coast. Long days on empty beaches, walks out across the moors, picnics amongst the minestacks. These are my childhood memories and I often wonder now just what it was that made my parents choose Cornwall. They had no family in this part of the world, no ties to draw them, why not Wales or Scotland or even New Zealand?

Like many from that generation my parents did little more than paddle in the whitewater or brave a quick dip in the sea. I have a photo taken in 1967 of them walking on the beach at Godrevy. They must have taken notice of the waves that day, could there have been surfers out I wonder? Was my father never tempted to join the men and women riding the waves? Maybe he was just happy to have journeyed this far, to be at the edge, feeling the salt spray on his face.

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