Thursday, 17 December 2015

Sea Foam and the Wild, Winter Winds

Wind Sailors | Velella : A carnivorous, free-floating, hydrozoan of the cnidarian, ocean surface community. Often blown in from open sea in certain wind conditions, velella use their rigid spines as sails to catch the wind and often find themselves at the mercy of the wild, prevailing winds to move about the sea. They have tiny tentacles with which they use to catch their prey (often plankton) and their toxins are not generally harmful to humans. Having said that, you oughtn't touch your eyes or mouth after handling one. 

When we slipped and stumbled down the treacherous coast path to our favourite cove, we were greeted by a beach decorated with glistening sea foam and tiny, night-sky-blue wind sailors. The winds were up, the waves were churning and the mist was rolling across the cove, carrying the foam with it. 

The impact of Cornwall first hit me last night. I stole some time away from Bath, because my body needed the salt air and the well-weathered cliffs and it was with haste and abandon that I bundled myself into my yellow car and drove alone, home to Cornwall. So much haste in fact, that I left my purse in Bath and it wasn't until I reached Bodmin and rifled in my bag for some money to buy a sandwich, that I realised I had nothing and it was incredibly lucky my car had a tank full of petrol when I left. I was without any means to buy anything at all and drove the rest of the some fifty miles with my stomach in my mouth and eye on the petrol light. When I arrived at Dads place, I was filled with an immense sense of place and content. I waited for him to get back from work, and wandered the empty flat, enjoying the serenity of its void and gazing at the Christmas tree that in my childhood, had been the most wonderful imaginary forest for my toys to play in. There was few bits scattered, left of my childhood; a sign that I had once lived there. Dad had let them be, let them exist as they always had done around a home that changed slowly over time. 
When he got home from work, we jumped in his car (which smelled a lot better than mine as a colony of rather ambitious mould is currently exercising its squatters rights in my upholstery) and headed down to the fishing port of Newlyn on the West Peninsula. As a child, Newlyn was a place I always went at Christmas time to see the villages beautiful lights. We'd stop for fish and chips at the shop on the corner and walk along the harbour eating them and marvelling at the nautical themed christmas lights. Dad and I did this together last night and I felt like I had slipped back into my world of normality; I had fulfilled part of my years routine. We bought delicious, fresh fish, curry sauce and delicious salty chips which we munched on walking about the port. The colourful string bulbs and mermaid lights littered the sea walls and quays and the smell of salt, ocean water hit me in the face like a rushing wave. All was well again; I was home. 
We pottered over to the next village Mousehole, which is always a spectacle to behold at Christmas time. The entire sheltered harbour is filled to the brim with the most unique christmas lights and decorations; little bucket lanterns strung up overhead, along the sea walls, whales and boats and even my personal favourite; the emerald, green sea serpent. I really  can't get into the Christmas spirit until I've seen the jolly christmas sea serpent. My brain was like: "Woah, Okay, Nessie is still there; its all good, we can Christmas now". 

The cove was wild with the rocks that wash up in the winter storms. By summer, this is one of the most popular beaches in the county. It's also my favourite, despite the mounds upon mounds of tourists that stack up on the sands - there's a reason why they brave the mutinous paths and treacherous steps. By summer, the cove is positively a lagoon. With idyllic turquoise waters, half a dozen sea caves and a water on both sides of the beach - it's truly a dream. I avoid the beach on those busy days and instead choose to come down in the quiet evenings of autumn or those rare days when the tide is out only in the early summer evening and all of the emmets have given up on getting to the good part of the beach that's only accessible by low tide. This beach is also dangerously tricky, for if you don't watch the tides, you could find yourself marooned on the island beach only accessible via a little causeway at low tide with no way to get back and a rising sea, threatening to swallow you up. 
By winter, Kynance is utterly transformed. The majestic and unusual rock formations look stark and unyielding against the fierce storms that throw up all sorts of detritus and in certain winds, a great and ferocious blow hole is made in the cliff caves. 

When the tide lowered itself just enough, we ran like the clappers across the causeway to the island beach where we were greeted by the most ungodly noise; the blow hole was going! Powerful waves and crushing winds forced their way up the vertical cave, forcing the sea spray out of the hole creating the effect of a whale blowing. The noise was terrifying and yet simultaneously awesome, and I felt blessed to witness such a phenomenon. The steely waves were enormous and reach the heights of the cliffs all around us and sea foam blew all about us in the wind. In the tidal pools, we found zillions of little Velella, more commonly known as 'by-the-wind sailors' which are tiny disc-like creatures with little sails and a part of the jellyfish family. They were beautiful and I couldn't stop myself photographing them and so I do apologise a little for my over enthusiastic sharing of all the sailors. I ran about the beach like a mad thing, snapping at all the things I love about the coves - the jagged rocks, the barnacles, the aquiline tidal pools of ocean water and cavernous holes in the cliffs. 

Headband: Anthropologie   |   Scarf: FatFace   |    Coat: Nan's 
Nordic Jumper: FatFace |  Windsailors: The Ocean 

After playing about in the sea caves for not nearly enough time and letting the salty spray caress my face and plaster my fringe to my forehead in that way it always does, the tide quickly turned on us and for fear of being marooned, we ran back to the coast path to head for warmer pastures. We drove to the local pub near Georges house for a hot drink and catch our breath and even bumped into Georges Dad in the village! Sadly, George didn't come with me on this trip but it was wonderful to see his family just the same. We also nipped via a certain village nearby to investigate a potential wedding venue's size but all I just wanted to photograph the beautiful, old, life boat cottage. I really wish I lived here, but like most of our traditional cottages down in Cornwall, it's utterly out of reach from locals like us. 2nd homes and holiday lets that stand empty most of the year destroy our economy and leave perfectly lovely housing unused and wasted and push the prices up so much that the locals are pushed inland to poorer, housing developments while they gaze sadly at the empty cottages that their parents and grandparents were born and raised in. It really is heart breaking - I could write an essay on how holiday homes in Cornwall break my heart, but that's not for here or now. 

 By the time this post is published, it'll be my last morning in Cornwall again until Easter most likely. 
I'm counting down the days till the summer when I know I can come back and don't have to leave again if I don't want to. Not forever anyway. 
I've needed this - the ocean, the wind, the blustery therapy of a salty wind that just blows all your problems out of your ears and into the open sky. This is the life I grew up in, this is the life I love and the life I intend to continue living. I am not a creature of the city, of tall buildings and busy streets. I love those things when I know I can creep back to my cubby again, but living there for university over the last four years has been very difficult for me. I just don't know how to live that way, I suppose I'm too sheltered and used to an extremely snail-like pace of living. My family just say it was because I wasn't born to live on land. Maybe I'm a Selkie. 



  1. Glad you managed to escape and get back to the sea for a few days! Looks like it was truly worth it :)
    Also, how have I never heard of Velella before? They're amazing!

    Anna x

  2. You're making me miss home so much!

  3. I just look at your photos and feel utterly awash with amazement and awe. Cornwall really is a magical place. I LONG to go and explore Cornwall. Especially when you mentioned Mousehole. I have wanted to visit there since I was 11. I don't know if I told you this ever, but a film was made for Channel 4 of Antonia Barber's children's book version of the story of Tom Bowcock and I sang in it- the song at the end about Tom Bowcock's eve. I bought a copy of the book and we gave the world premiere performance of it with the concert performance of the piece at the Barbican in London and got Antonia Barber to sign it. I've wanted to visit there since that time. Maybe I'll find a way this summer?
    Those blue sailors are amazing- I've never seen them! Nor have I seen a real blow hole or found a real beach cave- all these things I long for!
    Beautiful place, beautiful you. Thank you for sharing and Nadelik Lowen ha Blydhen Nowydh Da.

  4. Oh my word I can't cope with the amazingness (definitely not a word) of your photography! These are beautiful and mystical and magical and just amazing. I love the magical folkiness of all your photos they just make my heart sing and my imagination run wild! xx

  5. I always fall back into a dreamy haze whenever I see your photos, Sarah - so magical and wonderful! I've imagined living in a place like Cornwall, and I can see why you would drop everything and drive home even just for a little while :) and what you said about holiday homes (and on insta) really made me think too, it totally wasn't something I would think about but definitely food for thought, especially when house prices are skyrocketing all over the country...

    I hope you brought a little piece of home with you to Bath, at least ^_^

    Cherie x
    find me at sinonym

  6. Lovely photos & I love seeing it all! xx,

  7. Such lovely photos! My family is just across the border in North Devon, which has a very similar coastline. I live in Oxford now, which is nice in itself but it's so far from the sea...

    Oh, and I would happily read that post about second-home owners! It's the same in Devon and it's terrible >:(

  8. This was a wonderful read, you have such a talent - totally mesmerised with your words! I can definitely understand why you would drop everything and drive back home, what a lovely adventure x

  9. your photos are always sooo pretty and this sounds like a lovely place!! have a lovely christmassss x


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