I am a glutton, yes, as all of you know by now, and unashamedly so. But the lead photo is not to do with my glutton genes. The point of the photo is that apart from emphasising our love for fish and chips when on holiday (let’s get fat fast), in the background is Alastair.
After our walk in the Cornish Woods we were hungry and fell upon our plates not unlike two crazed maniacs with eyes goggling at the sight of food. Hours of walking through the woods and sudden steep stretches can do that to you, as you well know. A middle-aged man with a shock of white hair entered the pub through its small door, asked for a half-pint of ale and thereafter never stopped chattering. The barmaid was lending her ears to him but then she naturally went off to serve other customers. He turned around, sent a few words to a girl in a pram. Then he turned our way. And he said, “Have you guys come down from London?” That was the beginning.
Now these are the encounters that make any trip worth its salt. Do you know what I mean? Of course, you do. We all are social beings. Somewhere deep inside even the most introverted individual likes to meet people. This yearning is engraved into the human genome, irrespective of caste, creed, age, gender. That apart, meeting new individuals is our window into a different kind of life, sometimes often the life we aspire to.
Alastair gave me hope. That dreams do come true. But you cannot sit back, lie on your couch and just have visions of glory that should have been yours. You work towards it. Listen to his story?
Alastair spent a fair bit of childhood visiting Cornwall with his parents. He roamed the world and never found anything like Cornwall (I think he is Adi and mine soulmate). A London worker, he came to Polruan one day, three years ago, and started looking for bed & breakfast accommodations. Found none, slept on a bench overnight with his rucksack, and liked the look of the village so that he met an estate agent to scout for cottages. To buy. He found a cottage at the top of the pub we were sitting in, that is the Russell Inn, and he staked claim on it. But that is never enough as we all know. We have got to go through the miserable practicalities of life such as wait, negotiate, and the works. The estate agent would give him a call if it worked out.
He returned to daily routine in London and thought nothing would come of it. Two weeks had passed when he got a call from the estate agent, asking him to pop down to Polruan, sign some papers and take the cottage off his hands. That is how he found himself back in the charming little village with two bags and a rucksack. He lay down his sleeping bag on the floor of his new home, because he had nothing apart from those few bags, and slept. He woke up to a new life of a small pension but just what he had wanted most of his growing up years.
Then Alastair said a few dozen ‘sorry’s’ for interrupting our meal (what would the Englishman be without them) and asked us to return for a pint with him at the pub. “I live just up this hill,” he added. I do not know if we will end up sharing more conversations over a pint but for those few moments Alastair gave us a window into a future which seems achievable.
When you walk into Polruan, you see why Alastair fell for it. We did as easily. I mean that Cornish fishing villages are a cut above anything you have seen. This particular one is on stationed by the river Fowey with one road leading in and out of the village, names like ‘The Singing Kettle’, ‘Lugger Inn’ and ‘The Winkle Picker’ winking back at you. There are just two pubs in the village – the 19th century Russell Inn where we sat and the old Lugger Inn, then the Winkle Picker that is a convenience store-cum-post-office that gets its name from its previous owners. The two misses were called Joan Winkle and a Joanne Pickering, so you have this cute outpost on the quay.
How to Get There: Get to Fowey and take a 5-minute ferry to Polruan.
Where to Stay: At the top of the village, is a Polruan Holidays campsite (www.polruanholidays.co.uk) with 40 pitching spots. The view from this campsite is stunning.
If not that, go for Hormond House (www.hormondhouse.com) where they have just three rooms, so book ahead?
What to Do:
St. Saviours Chapel, an 8th century church.
Brazen Island, an isolated rock.
Ferryside (Daphne du Maurier’s home) and Bodinnick.
The Hall Walk in the heart of Daphne du Maurier country takes you through Bodinnick, Lanteglos-by-Fowey and Polruan.