This was day 1 with Tommo (Holiday Part 2 dash Day 1) & Tommo had a plan of action. A bus, two trains and some foot power left us at Looe, a rather appealing little town (perhaps not in name) which boast a river, many hilly back streets, an ocean view, good food, a small ferry service (for those lazy individuals who can't manage the short walk to the bridge across the river) and a fantastic classic sweet shop....in which I found the chocolate sticks wrapped in paper of which the packaging closely resemble ciggies (and which I assumed had long since banned since my childhood).
A somewhat slow and murky start to the day. Tom and I opting for a local walk down to Low Bar via the Penrose Walk. It's a jaunty stroll through woodland next to a lake, which used to be a river until odd tides created the Low Bar, some 800 years ago, in the estuary.
I looked utterly stylish with my brown corded trousers tucked it my pink and purple skunk socks, as I squelched and slid my way along the sodden and mud slicked paths...I fear I brought much Cornish mud home with me.
Down at the bar Tommo and I went pebble hunting for an epic skimming competition on the lake....a little out of practice I soon came into my stride, beating the pants off Tommo with a highly respectable 8.
It's a sandbar with culture by the way, the abundance of rocks, pebbles and slate enabling the creative passerby to indulge in a bit of basic architectial design. Tommo decided upon a miniature Stonehenge and an 'impossible' tower (a precarious stack of large stones atop smaller ones).....a childhood of lego and stickle bricks well spent.We detoured to Porthleven, after far to long 'designing' rock structures like the adults we are, in which some kind of strange village ritual was occurring....involving locals (dressed as pirates) on homemade rafts taking place in the harbour.
Not to be rude, Tom and I joined the crowds on the harbour wall whilst various crafts rowed, splashed and sank in something which I can only assume was some kind of race. One particular hapless crew, consisting of students in drag, had a raft which had many design flaws ( mainly a large barrel in front out of balance with the three at the back) spent several exhausting minutes merely trying to reach the starting line against the incoming tide....two of the 'crew' bailed out and abandoned the craft, disappearing into the nearest pub for 'assistance'. Another craft, a couple of barrels joined together with a crew of just two and entitled 'HMS Seman Staines', barely made it a few yards after launching before it capsized....the captain undiginfyingly flopping into the water and losing his cap. When the motley crafts did eventually gather in a starting line formation a sea battle Hornblower would have been proud of ensued, involving flour and water bombs and some unseafaring conduct of sabotage on an already waterlogged craft.
Misty and murky were strong themes of the day and, since Tommo had lent me the use of his house key, I was on the clock in terms of exploring (the poor boy in need of a nice hot shower when he finishes lumbering around the Lizard playing tractors on the farm where he works) Since the weather was less than pleasant I opted for Gweek Seal Sanctuary...a simple 5 mile, half an hour, bus ride from Helston.
I arrived in time for the first feedings and happily observed the cute and active balls of flubber for the next several hours. There are various types of Seal as well as Sea-lions and otters, all have been rescued and although most are returned to the wild there are a few long term residents. As it was considered early in the season there were no young pups or newly rescued seals on the site, which although was unfortunate for me is probably a good thing in the long run.
A favourite of mine was Sahara, an Arctic seal who had developed an aversion toward ice and had twice been rescued off the coast of Africa, less the majority of his fur. Sahara is quite the show off and seems to be taking all the recent media attention in his stride. Other favourites the grumpy old lady who won't share her pool, the cross-eyed gal who incurred some kind of brain damage at an early age and the blind sea-lion who was retired as a performer but can still respond on a dime to the keepers whistle.
Sahara, trying to learn that he should like ice
'And the replacement bus?' I enquired
'We haven't be able to find one' the lady answered.
'Well how can I get back to Helston from here' I asked (knowing that there was but one bus which passed through Gweek.
'There's plenty of buses from Truro to Helston' that hapless women informed me.
I pointed out that this nugget of information, although interesting, was useless twice fold 1. Truro is at least 15 miles from Gweek and 2. the only bus which passes through and goes to Truro was in the shed being fixed....both facts I passed on to the woman on the other end of the phone.
'So, how can I get back to Helston, I'm a tourist and don't know the area and have to be back by 5pm'
'Um, the next bus will leave Truro for Helston at 5.10pm.....but if you could get to Truro, there's load of buses from Truro'
Oh dear....so, with the Truro bus service gaining a big fat fail with their 'computer says no' attitude and thankful for my Philip's Street Atlas of Cornwall I found a route of my own and put best foot forward....for the next 5 1/2 miles....mostly uphill....I made it back to base with 20 minutes spare.