It was bound to happen at some point. Cornwall has been a favourite holiday retreat for writers, artists, and miscellaneous intellectuals for nearly a century, and I have personally imbibed a sizeable amount of Cornwall-set literature over the course of my life (including the classics, of course, but not exclusively – I am thinking in particular of two fairly popular Italian children’s series which really helped cement the Cornish landscape in my imagination). Hence the inevitable summer trip! Call me an old soul but walking for hours along the coast, looking at art, eating seafood and being in bed by 10.30pm sounds like my ideal birthday gift (shout out to Alex, the real MVP). The weather was miraculously excellent as well; feast your eyes on these VERY postcard-y photos.
The latest episode in the Clelia-is-an-idiot saga: on the first full day I decided that I really wanted to visit the Minack Theatre, an open-air amphitheatre just outside Portchurno which was apparently the brainchild of a local madwoman who worked on it for of several decades (legend). I also had a great appetite for walking, and Google Maps estimated a four-hour walk from Penzance, where our AirB&B was, to Portchurno. Sounds feasible, right? Unfortunately, a combination of the Coastal Path being a) much longer than the itinerary recommended by Google Maps and b) REALLY FUCKING TRICKY meant that we had to cut our walk short before getting to the theatre itself and still almost missed the last bus back. We still managed to get a good seven hours of walking under our belt though, so I’m not complaining (too much)! (Alex might disagree.) This does, however, mean that I have no pictures of the Minack Theatre itself; but I have plenty of the Cornish coast between Penzance and Porchurno:
Also: after nearly a lifetime of diffidence and sometimes outright disgust, I am now officially a fan of seafood. Cornwall has converted me. Shout out to Mackerel Sky and the Old Lifeboat House in Penzance in particular.
Day 2 was Art Day: after Britain, Modern, and Liverpool, I finally completed my Tate collection by visiting their St Ives gallery. It of course featured an impressive collection of 20th-century British art, but imho the real highlights of our visit were the fantastic setting and a temporary exhibition dedicated to Lebanese artist Huguette Caland. And also a bunch of people hurling a gigantic silver ball through the street of St Ives, because why the hell not.
But St Ives was also the home of legendary sculptor Barbara Hepworth, who worked in the seaside town for most of her life and was one of the most prominent members of the local artistic community. After the fire that killed her 1975, her studio was converted into a museum that is still managed by Tate. The story behind it may be tragic, but any possible sense of morbidity is dispelled by the quiet, contemplative atmosphere of the museum itself.
tl;dr: would totally recommend running away to Cornwall for a few days to take melancholy walks on the beach, breathe in the sea air, and think about the meaning of life OR fantasise about living on an old house on top of a cliff. Optional reading list below.