About forty years ago
It was that long ago! I went on my first holiday
without my parents with my sister. We came down from London by train and stayed
at St. Austell. One day we took a trip to Penzance and for no reason that I
recall, other than that it happened to be waiting outside Tregenza's fruit
shop, we thought the destination sounded funny and boarded the little blue
bus to Mousehole. It rattled along the prom, through the fishing port of Newlyn,
with stunning views across the bay to St.Michael's Mount. The bus descended
into a narrow lane, turned right and the approach to the village opened into
the arc of the harbour.
The impact of the image before me took my
breath away. My ethos of suburban-safe stability, with roads of cloned houses
and shuffling commuters, was shunted sideways: I had read "Loving Spirit'
by Daphne Du Maurier, but that was just a novel: could this fantasy place be
real? A conglomeration of cottages crowded each other for the best view, lobster
pots and fishing nets piled in the shadows of narrow passageways and
fishermen wearing salt-bleached smocks, gathered along the harbour wall waiting
for the tide.
We went into the pub, The Ship. It was bustling
with people, laughing and chatting and we were greeted by the customers as
if they knew us. Believe me, we didn't talk to strangers, our mother would
have killed us...well, I didn't, I don't know what my sister did ! But on reflection
it probably had more to do with my sister's gorgeous blonde hair or my indecently
short mini-skirt rather than the locals interest in "they up-country maids".
Viv, my sister, was soon in deep conversation with Cyril, a crinkled, conker-brown
local (whose son was lost on the 'Solomon Browne') and we were invited to walk
out along the cliff path to his violet fields. Cornish violets were sent to
Covent garden on the train at that time. Over my crab sandwich, I struck up
a conversation with a woman called Chris, who to this day has remained a dear
friend. We left Mousehole with bunches of the sweetest smelling violets, a
book Chris had given me and my head spinning.
Once back to work, I couldn't settle. I had
no reason to be dissatisfied as my life was good; my mind wandered with such
an out -of- character yearning. I read Chris's book of stories and bits and
pieces about Cornwall, one of which is the following (For anyone of a sceptical
nature, this is an unavoidable piece of copy and I suggest you look away!) "There's
magic afoot in Cornwall, as those who have been there know, she'll hold your
heart in her fingers and never let you go"...her spell is still
working, she never has let go ... I left home and arrived on Chris's doorstep
on the day Neil Armstrong landed on the moon... he wasn't the only one to take
a ' small step' on that day in July 1969.
To precis the years; I met my husband, John,
whose reasons for living in Cornwall were not dissimilar to my own, John is
a musician and designer and as we couldn't just mess around, we had to make
a living and started our own graphic design studio. John is a terrific designer
and it still amazed me that he has the ability to be so creative, while I had
to learn my skills of marketing and copywriting. And it's worked; our clients'
requirements range from web design, brochures and print to exhibitions and
we provide, quite literally, everything in-house, including photography and
media campaigns. It's been tough at times but we've always done it our way,
working from a studio at home with the sea outside my window.
I was talking to one of my sons about gap years and he said "I
don't know why you would want a gap year, you've had a gap life"; it's not been quite
that easy, but I do know that you don't have to take the expected route in
life's journey to know where you're going.