When I was at school my uncle lived in a Cornish village on the Rame peninsula. School holidays were often spent with my aunt and uncle.
My cousin John was a couple of years older than me and took me under his wing. He teased me because I didn’t like swimming through seaweed. He was allowed the use of uncle’s dinghy and one day decided to row me across the Tamar to see the naval ships in Devonport dockyard. I was very impressed both by the ships and John’s skill in handling the dinghy. Time to go back. It started to rain and the tide had turned. John handed me an oar and told me to row. ‘I can’t’ I yelled. ‘Well you’d better learn quick’ he replied. The two children struggled manfully and eventually made it back to the beach on the other side where the dinghy was kept. Wet, bedraggled and blistered we got to the house. I expect poor John was severely scolded but, as a guest, I escaped punishment.
John also showed me how to catch shrimps. He had an old bicycle wheel with the spokes replaced with a sacking bag. Half a brick and some smashed up small crabs went in the sack. Which was then lowered down the side of the quay to be pulled up shortly after full of shrimps. Great!
As I grew older I still spent my holidays with uncle. In those days fashion didn’t transport itself across the country as it does today. I came from near London and caused a sensation walking down a Cornish village street wearing a strapless sundress!
John took me to the village dance in the hall. The glitter ball was an old leather football with bits of broken mirror stuck to it. The same Hall showed films and the villagers would come bringing their own dining chairs to sit on.
The ferry used to ply from the village into Plymouth. That was great. The skipper took a fancy to me and would invite me into the wheelhouse to steer the boat. I learned many years later that he used this as a way of fondling the girls – never me though. Perhaps with my East coast accent, he found me intimidating.
Many years passed. I moved to Cornwall and bought a cottage on the Rame peninsula. Out for a walk one day along the river I came to a near deserted quay. Looking down into the water I realised it was the very same place where I had been shrimping!
So after 23 years later I moved back to the East coast but Cornwall still tugs my heart. The photo above shows me, in my favourite spot, looking down on the village where I lived and the place where my uncle lived too. Happy memories indeed.