KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We could hear the wind howling and the rain lashing at the windows of our apartment during our third night in St. Ives, so we weren’t at all surprised to find ourselves housebound while the storm passed over the coast. At times the view from our windows high above the town was complete obliterated, and for brief moments now and then, I could see waves crashing on those very same rocks we’d admired off the windward side of St. Ives Head. I even managed to snap a photo of one particularly huge wave rising high above Porthmeor Beach.
According to the weather reports, we were only experiencing the very southern edge of the storm named Callum. Ireland and Wales were bearing the brunt of the storm, so we felt pretty lucky to be as in the southwest as we were. The only part of the UK that escaped the storm’s wrath was the eastern and southeastern counties of England. Click Here To See Callum On A Weather Map
The storm raged on all day, but we were snug and warm in our spacious apartment and I made a nest for myself on the huge swiveling armchair and worked on editing my photos and posting them to my journal. We had enough food on hand to see us through, and Anil kindly prepared our ‘go-to’ Indian comfort food kichidi, basmati rice and whole brown lentils cooked together. We always eat it with plain yoghurt and caramelized onions.
Things had improved somewhat the next morning, but there was nothing very inviting to draw us out of our cocoon. At times the horizon was visible across the coast, and at other times we could see nothing at all. The rain lightened up substantially, but the wind was still very strong.
As noon approached I began to think about the possibility of going outside once again. I checked the temperature and was surprised that it wasn’t all that cold. It certainly looked damp and dizzily, but it was about 16C, certainly manageable. I suggested to Anil that we take the car and drive down to Porthmeor Beach to see what it was like now that the brunt of the storm had passed.
Neither of us wanted to walk into town again in case we’d get caught in another blast of rain, but we were pretty sure that the traffic would be light and that we’d be able to find a place to park. We set off using the GPS on my phone because we’d only navigated St. Ives on foot to this point.
I was trying to get to the parking lot near St. Ives Head, but the GPS would only take me on a route that forced me to try to navigate a vey tight turn down a steep narrow road, between imposing stone walls. There was no way I was going to attempt that turn, because if I failed part way, it meant I would have to back up on the steep hill, and I still had memories of my difficulties in Mousehole to warn me off trying.
We drove around in circles, getting to a dead end in front of the Tate Art Gallery and then I spotted some cars parked on a residential street where the houses faced the sea at the opposite end of the Porthmeor Beach from St. Ives Head. I would see the yellow lines on the road indicating no parking allowed, but there were several cars there already. It seemed the locals were ignoring the signs, perhaps we could too.
I found a spot and pulled into it, and just then, I noticed a woman and her son getting out of their car in the driveway of the house opposite. I rolled down my window and asked them if it was okay to park on the street. The woman explained that it was a restricted zone and that I ran the chance of getting a ticket. I thanked her and we decided not to take the risk and I drove down to the end of the street to turn around.
As I passed by the house, the woman was unloading groceries from her car, and she signaled to me to stop. I wasn’t sure why, but then she asked me how long we planned to stay, and when I told her just a short time, time enough to have a quick walk on the beach, she offered to let me use the second parking space on her property, as long as we were gone by the time her guests arrived at 2:30pm.
I was amazed at her kindness and assured her we would be gone by 2:00. When I asked her why she had made us the offer, she said it was because I was considerate enough to ask about the street parking, she said everyone else just parks there anyway. I could see that it makes it very difficult for the residents to get into and out of their parking spaces. We thanked her and told her she had really made our day!
We were now parked in a very convenient spot that made it easy to take a walk on the headland that rises to the left of the Porthmeor Beach. The tide was out, but we didn’t have waterproof footwear so decided against walking on the beach itself. We could see dozens of surfers out enjoying the waves formed by the remnants of the storm and the remaining winds.
We’d have a late breakfast so we weren’t really ready for lunch, but the seating at the far end of the beach restaurant was enclosed and even had heaters operating so we took the opportunity to sit and watch the surfers while we shared a Cream Tea – two fresh scones with jam and Cornish clotted cream. It comes with a pot of steaming hot tea, and the kindly waiter provided us with a second cup. When the waiter presented us with the bill, I laughed when I saw he used a clothespin to keep the receipt from blowing away.
After fortifying ourselves, we set off to explore the opposite side of the beach from St. Ives head. The wind was really strong, but not cold. As we walked in front of the Tate Gallery I noticed an officer writing out traffic tickets to those who had parked illegally. I stopped to ask him about the size of the fine and he explained that it was 70 pounds, but it would be reduced to 35 pounds if paid within two weeks. Phew!
It was lovely to walk after those delicious scones, and despite the stiff wind. I put up the hood on my coat as I’ve never liked wind in my ears, but Anil wasn’t bothered at all. We walked along the headland until we were in line with the surfers and the breaking waves. We thought we were alone at first, but then we spotted a couple sitting on the rocks admiring the view as well.
We made a little spin around to the highest point on the headland, and noticed a strange little platform with the remains of a little wall around it. There wasn’t anything nearby to explain its former purpose so we were left to wonder. The footing wasn’t very stable, and I didn’t want to risk falling, so we decided it was time to leave and returned to retrieve our car.
I had hoped to catch the kind woman’s eye in her living-room window, but she was most probably in the kitchen preparing for her guests. I thought of ringing the bell, but we had thanked her already and she probably had lots to do. As we backed out of her driveway, we noticed that most of the cars on the street were gone, but that there were two with tickets on their windscreens.
We had certainly made the right decision not to park on the street, and by asking a stranger for advice, we’d ended up avoiding a hefty ticket and spoiling what had turned out to be a rather delightful last day in a delightful seaside town.
An hour later, the weather closed in once again and we spent the balance of the afternoon back in our apartment. We were so glad that we’d taken advantage of the three-hour break in the weather so see St. Ives in yet another light.