Island View

A weekend visit to Wales. Time to take it easy in favourite places across the Llyn peninsula after so many months of lockdown.

Acquired from an Inverness charity shop many years ago, this much loved picnic rug in the clip below has since enjoyed adventures day and night, far and wide! Today it served to line a a deep sheltered dune hollow where the summer sun warmed soft sea air.

The view was magnificent across a vast bay littered with shipwrecks, known as Hell’s Mouth, or Porth Neigwl. Here the Atlantic Ocean bellows on tempestuous days, the roar is spine tingling. Skilled surfers ride risky waves and coastal path walkers battle hard to remain upright.

Yet today the great deep was serene, perhaps wearied by stormy winter or maybe its calm was a generous gift to soothe souls who have been much locked away during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The opportunity to daydream in a dune nest to the accompaniment of whispering waves was heavenly!

Stirring ourselves, we tracked through country lanes, thick with wildflowers, to Tafarn Yr Haul or The Sun Inn, a popular hostelry in a snug of cottages around a country church.

The historic place of worship is dedicated to Saint Engan, a sixth century soul who gave his name to the village – LLanengan. The church has long been a staging post on the pilgrim route to sacred Bardsey Island.

By night, the beam of the holy island’s light house flashes warning across Hell’s Mouth, telling of the treacherous currents that swirl around the isle. The beam is broadcast by solar power from the tallest square tower lighthouse in the UK. The stocky beacon sports stripes of red and white and reminds me of socks on a footballer’s chunky calves!

I saw this lovely doorway in the village and appreciated the smart simplicity of paint, bare wood and an open heart.

One of my favourite Welsh verses is a romantic and anonymous promise:

Mi gerddaf gyda thi dros lwybrau maith
A blodau can a breuddwyd ar ein taith,
I'th lygaid syllaf a dal dy law,
Mi gerddaf gyda thi beth bynnag ddaw.

I will walk with you across distant paths,
Flowers and dreams will bless our journey,
Into your eyes I will gaze and hold your hand,
I will walk with you whatever may come.

Postcard from: Constantine Bay, North Cornwall

The saints, the surf, the sand dunes. Des Moore, Greg Noll and Jimi Hendrix!

Winter at Constantine Bay

Winter at Constantine Bay

 

There’s a curious mix of souls on the ravaged coast of north Cornwall. While the wild Atlantic Ocean hurls itself at sandy beaches and cowering coves, prime ministers and millionaires luxuriate in dreamy beach houses, and hardcore all-season surfers prowl narrow country lanes in rust bucket motors to assess the swell from beach to beach.

The parish of St Merryn is a surf magnet, boasting ‘Seven bays for seven days’:

  • Treyarnon
  • Trevone
  • Mother Ivys (yes really)
  • Harlyn
  • Boobys ( yes really)
  • Porthcothan
  • and Constantine, named after the Cornish King and Saint and home of the rare White Sandhill Snail Theba Pisana.

The ruins of a chapel and well dedicated to Saint Constantine can be tracked down on a footpath across the links of Trevose Golf Course.  A more contemporary place of pilgrimage is Des Mooore’s Constantine Bay Surf Store .

Among the suits: local hero Des Moore

Among the suits: local hero Des Moore

What Des doesn’t know about surfing this coast isn’t worth knowing.

Just about everyday he files a surf report from Constantine Bay, renowned for a classic beach break, hollow, fast and powerful with dangerous rips; this is no place for the uninitiated. Any beginner who longs to surf here is advised to sign up with Constantine Bay Surf School.

Des opened his bijou store in 1990 and can still be found behind the counter, though occasionally he takes flight in winter to surf bigger, warmer waves around the world. Look up and a clock on the wall reveals a favourite destination; Waimea Bay, Hawaii.

And the time in Waimea is...

And the time in Waimea is…

Look down and there’s an ocean of great surfing imagery at your feet. I love the collage floor of Des’ store; each image carefully selected and pasted down by Des. Even the patchy spots have artistic flair! I should add that these photos, all snapped on my phone camera, were taken the week before Des was about to revamp the floor.

A sea of iconic surfing imagery

A sea of iconic surfing imagery

Hard worn, still stylish!

Hard worn, still stylish!

Even Jimi Hendrix and Castles in the Sand

Lyrics too!

Check out Jimi’s Castles Made of Sand on Vimeo.

Iconic Greg Noll with his iconic long board

Iconic Greg Noll with his iconic long board

Spy big wave surfer Greg Noll, who grew up in Manhattan Beach in the 1940s and was among the first to stake a claim on the immense 25-30ft waves of Waimea Bay. Often photographed in his famous ‘jailhouse’ black and white stripe board shorts, Noll is a surfing legend who became a longboard shaper, crafting them lovingly with his son, Jed, in the family business: Noll Surfboards.

If funds don’t stretch to one of their collectors’ boards, save up, dream on and perhaps consider a ‘Big Drop’ poster meanwhile!

 

Dream on!

Dream on!

For more inspirational places in Cornwall and throughout Britain, see my beautiful award winning books from Amazon and bookstores

52 Weekends by the Sea

52 Weekends in the Country

And check out more great British adventures on my website at www.52hq.co.uk