Cornwall

From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

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Google map

I wrote this piece for my MA in Writing, Nature and Place. It was originally published in Peninsula Magazine.

The journey from Plymouth to Penryn begins at my kitchen table. I set up my laptop, make myself a cup of tea and type Plymouth into the search bar of Google maps. I’m dropped down into the middle of the Royal Parade. I do a 360° turn, it looks to be a thoroughfare with shops on one side and a church on the other. Google Street View works by showing a yellow line along the road you are on. Arrows pointing backward and forward allow you to select the previous or next image, enabling you to “travel” along the road. I click on the arrow pointing east and set off under a grey and overcast sky. I reach a roundabout and try to navigate my way round it. It’s disorientating and I have to stop and check I haven’t missed my exit. I’m beginning to realise this journey is going to be a long and arduous process.Read More »From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

The first and last: Land’s End

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Misty view of Longship Lighthouse from Land's End

Misty view of Longship Lighthouse from Land’s End

I had been told not to bother visiting Land’s End, that I would just be disappointed, but it was on my list of things to see in Cornwall and I was determined to go. Something about the name drew me in, the end of the land sounded like the sort of place a writer should go to.Read More »The first and last: Land’s End

Budock Creek

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View of the creek and Penryn Bridge

View of the creek and Penryn Bridge

Here’s one from the archives. I submitted this piece as part of my MA course and its probably the piece I was happiest with and still enjoy reading. It also makes me feel incredibly homesick for Penryn. I’ve added some pictures for visual interest.

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8:20  It’s my first morning in Penryn and I’m awoken by the seagulls squawking and squabbling with one another on some important seagull matter. Eventually I will grow accustomed to the sound and my sleeping brain will learn to filter them out, but for now I roll up the blinds and look out at the creek.Read More »Budock Creek

A Sense of Place: Gyllyngvase

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I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that I spent some time in Cornwall in January. During my visit I stayed with a friend in Falmouth and everyday that I was there I went down to the beach – Gylly Beach. It was quite literally a matter of going down because my friend lives on a hill above the beach. Everyday, without fail, that first glimpse of salt-water filled me with joy and that word would be going over in my head again – home. On one particularly still, sunny morning as I walked down the road to the beach, I could see the sillhouette figures of surfers stood on their boards, not moving on the gentle waves. I could also see a swimmer, her head bobbing on the water. The sea hides nothing.Read More »A Sense of Place: Gyllyngvase

A Sense of Place: Penryn

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Penryn harbour

Penryn harbour

In January I visted Penryn, the small town on the south coast of Cornwall that I lived in for six months whilst studying my MA. It is situated on the Penryn River and rises up from the harbour. The older parts of Penryn – those little white cottages and winding, narrow lanes we associate with Cornwall – are mainly focused around the lower parts of the town and the town centre. The exception being a few newer apartments built along Budock Creek, which feeds in to the Penryn River. Read More »A Sense of Place: Penryn

A Sense of Place

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“…a culture’s most cherished places are not necessarily visible to the eye – spots on the land one can point to. They are made visible in drama – in narrative, song, and performances. It is precisely what is invisible in the land, however, that makes what is merely empty space to one person a place to another. The feeling that a particular place is suffused with memories, the specific focus of sacred and profane stories, and that the whole landscape is a congeries of such places, is what is meant by a local sense of the land.”

— Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams.

My MA was called Writing, Nature and Place. The ‘writing’ and ‘nature’ parts are always fairly easy to explain to people, but they are generally a little more unclear about the ‘place’ part. Usually, for convenience, I just say that it was a nature and travel writing course. However, travel writing doesn’t really cover what is meant by writing about place. Isn’t place just location? someone asked me. I agreed that it probably is, but on reading the above quote from Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams I began to  realise that I had been wrong. Location is just space, place is something that belongs to that space and yet is much more subjective.Read More »A Sense of Place

Goodbye 2011

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Me pointing from the highest point on the Gothenburg archipelago

Me pointing from the highest point on the Gothenburg archipelago

I’ve been reading Caught by the River a lot at the moment and I was quite taken with their Shadows & Reflections posts – brief reviews of the past year by various people – and decided it would be a good idea to do a similar thing on my own blog.

All in all I’d say 2011 was a good year. It was a year of travels and new places. On 1st January I was in a quiet corner of Maine and enjoyed more snow than I have probably ever seen before. I had the chance to go sledging with real sledges (as opposed to tea trays), but didn’t build any snow men. As if one trip to the US wasn’t enough I also had the chance to go over again later on in the year. On my second trip I saw Baltimore and Washington D.C. The White House was smaller than I expected, but the Lincoln Memorial was bigger.Read More »Goodbye 2011