“…’Steve’ versus the Gypsy Pirate…”

Minding my own business I was. Just a bloke sitting in a tent on a beach listening to an audiobook. Sitting in a tent due to a sun burnt leg. Just enjoying meself when..

‘BANG!’

..it happens…

A fly shoots up the nose…. right up the bugle, buzzing in panic actually in my head.

For a moment I don’t know whether to blow out or suck back sending the beast to the back of my throat.. an horrendous thought but I guessed it might be quicker than a prolonged snort and I feared the fucker was heading for my eyes on an internal road and then onwards ultimately to my brain.

I panic and fly out the tent in an almost involuntary reaction similar to a moment 20 years ago when, whilst biting on a Finger of Fudge at my desk, my insisor slipped off the chocolatey treat and pierced though the tip of my tongue. My reaction on that occasion was to stand bolt upright and remove my tie at lightning speed while my bleeding tongue flapped out my mouth thus shitting the life out of my colleagues who assume I’ve gone full nutjob from excessive data input.

I burst free of the tent into the light snorting (the right choice) until I expel the insect though my nose at speed.

It flops out on to the sand and to be fair it must be in a right mess mentally as it can’t be nice up there. But what a story for the little fella eh? King of the shitpile…

I clear my hooter and look about after being reborn into public view from the safety of my cocoon.

Poldhu Cove. Sandy with a tributary. Windy. Packed. Everything I hate in one place. But it’s what they wanted… them…’the others’.

It’s the fourth beach I’ve been on this trip and while perfectly acceptable to most easy going people I ain’t having it. The other beaches were outstanding.

This place is a flesh palace. Large quantities of white dimpled flesh can be seen. Us English are a bad visual experience on an English beach particularly in good weather… we just ain’t used to it and so look awkward on it. I’m including myself here. I’m lumpy, not great on the eye and pale and wobbly. It ain’t my bag as I look like ‘Pootle’ from the 70’s classic ‘The Flumps’. Messy.

To be fair I’m not sure what the beach answer is for me. I done them all and find it a dull experience. You have to almost take everything with you as there can be no reliance on facilities especially in the company of Jen as generally we have to find somewhere miles from any other human for the ‘solace’. Once planted up I’m usually trapped for a good 5 hours. I’m a pool man in reality.

The Cornwall beaches have been spectacular though so at least fantastic on my eyeballs with Kynance Cove being particularly brilliant if a bit frantic.

Before Podhu we went to Coverack which was the best beach or cove as it was not overcrowded and was covered in pebbles rather than camera and phone destroying sand. It’s more of a bay really with clear shallow water.

In a moment of unusual interest for this holiday the boy had researched Coverack and discovered that Kayaking is available…..meaning I will be going Kayaking. Reluctantly I head off find my canoe.

My reluctance is only because of my fear of the sea and not like my Dad who was simply reluctant to spend time with kids as somewhere a pub might be open .

I have no place being on the sea. There are things in the sea…. things I don’t like. But as a Dad you have to do shit you don’t want to like this and watching kids football without killing the other parents who know fuck about the game but expect their average kid to be the new Beckham or sitting through appalling music and ballet recitals… it’s your job, it’s what you sign up for.

We find the ‘Kayak and wind surfng centre’ which is a shed run by a salty sea dog with sense of humour all his own.

It’s £25 for the pair of us and I hand over two 20’s receiving £12.50 in change which is par for the course on this trip. We have a smart fucker here so I leave it a minute and engage in some low level communication with said ‘Captain Birdseye’ before I casually highlight his deliberate error by opening my palm and saying ‘you done me here mate’. He knew. He hands over the balance and we move on.

He takes our names and enters them into his book under the time we take out the Kayaks. I’m very clear about my name as I’ve known it for a good 48 and a half years. I even watched him write it down in clear slowly written capitals in the book with his nautical crayon. He did well given his heavy brow and pungency indicating a Cro-Magnon ability with rudimentary tools or marking instruments.

I see my plank of plastic floating nearby and as I’m tentatively entering it I hear Birdseye talking to someone called ‘Steve’ which is a bit odd as he’s looking directly at me but I assume he’s multi tasking or just has wayward inbred eyes.

Birdseye continues with the ‘Steve’ shit. I can’t see anyone vaguely Steve-like in my kayaking area so he must be talking to me. The boy is in hysterics…. he’s cottoned on.

I am now Steve.

I go with it. He’s either taking the piss or thick as a plank. I have no idea what his name is but I thank him for the kayaking advice and call him ‘Doug’. The boy and I paddle off and ‘Doug’ shouts a final tip from the harbour bookended with ‘Steve’…. ‘Cheers Brian’ says I and we head off into the bay.

We have a lovely hour on the water floating about with a ludicrous amount of jellyfish. The water is crystal clear and the boy enjoys himself which is essentially the point.

The big issue hits me six hours later when I realise my exposed legs, whilst cool from the splashes of sea water, are in fact red raw with sun burn hence my tent experience later in the week. After an hour of Dad/Son bonding we head back to port and to Birdseye’s shack.

As I near the harbour wall I (Steve) am bombarded with information from the Jub (Birdseye) seemingly to stop me sinking even though I’ve been happily afloat for an hour. “Cheers Pete” I shout and I give him the thumbs up, the international sign of ‘shut the fuck up… I understand’.

I dock the Kayak and head toward Birdseye to thank him. He calls me ‘Steve’, I call him ‘Duncan’ it was a thing we had….. “see you soon Alan” and we make our way back to the pub for a post Kayak pint…

Coverack is truly lovely and if we come to Cornwall again I’ll definitely stay here. Proper Cornwall…

Of course like all places Cornwall has its faults. There’s the usual greed from shop owners, publicans and restaurateurs which is normal in areas reliant on tourists as like multi millionaire footballers it’s a short career but in Cornwall the big ticket items like The Eden Project tend to disappoint.

The best thing about the Eden Project is the view of the Eden Project. The bubbles or ‘Bio-domes’ look inpressive from the entrance as you look down into the quarry. If you knew in advance you’d take a picture and retirn to the car as after that you’d struggle to entertain anyone there unless you like wandering around B&Q on a Sunday afternoon. Put it this way if B&Q or Homebase had a zip wire they could charge £30 for and they sold Beef Burritos you probably wouldn’t need to go to the Eden Project at all. That being said I reckon it delivers the goods if you were to see a gig there.

I love a good garden centre but I’m generally there to buy something practical like a drill or a BBQ and no matter how many Eden Project staff I asked none of them would or could direct me to ironmongery or the place they kept the fencing.

The main attraction at Eden is the sky platform in the main Bio-dome. Of course when I reach it I’m met by some oxygen thief jobsworth who tells me it is closed as it’s too hot and they will reassess it in three hours.

Nice.

The chances of me being here in three hours are solely reliant on the outbreak of a third World War or perhaps some kind of Zombie apocalypse breaking out.

“Tungsten tipped screws?” I ask “What aisle are they in?”

Nothing. Not a sausage. All I get is the public sector worker mouth breathing stare down the nose of over the glasses.

Kew Gardens it ain’t but it was a great burrito and I had a bottle of Tribute

Another massive disappointment even though I knew it would be was St Ives which was worse than I remember from my previous two visits, once as a bored child and once in bored adulthood.

St Ives is best a seen at night, optimally at two in the morning when there are no people in it because during the day it is like Oxford Street on 23rd December.

It is fucking mobbed. Not only is it banged out with tourists (like me) who randomly stop (unlike me) in the narrow streets to look at stuff they don’t want or need but every one of them seems to own a dog…..a dog you can’t see but can only trip over. It’s like an obstacle course.

The only place I can find to eat is a slightly more upmarket Wetherspoons type boozer but no matter, we are all starving and keen to get out of the river of people flowing around the central harbour.

The tribe grab a table and I head to the bar where I am served by ‘Shauna’ a pleasant overly nourished young girl who’s the most effective barmaid I’ve met. She’s dishes out the drinks and I take the massive A2 menus back to the family so they can choose some deep fried shite.

After not much deliberation the choices are made and I settle on the simplistic Fish Finger Sandwich as it would appear to be impossible to mess that up.

I don’t know a lot about cooking but I know something. A piece of battered cod in a brioche bun ain’t a fish finger sandwich unless you are wearing a waxed beard, tight trousers that don’t fit and are supping on an overpriced unpalatable craft beer.

And here is the problem. Nothing is normal anymore. Everything is twisted and tweaked to give it a contemporary edge. What happened to a sesame seed bun? Why is every burger delivered in a waxed paper wrapper and a sweet brioche bun. It’s like eating a steak in a doughnut. A fish Finger sandwich must be one of the simplist dishes known man let alone the grubby hands of any Pub franchise cook with half a brain.

I blame cow tongued Pillsbury doughboy mockney Jamie Oliver who seems incapable of opening a tin of beans and toasting some bread without calling it a ‘guerrilla artisan pulse and sourdough fusion’. Prick.

After chopping off 4 inches of fish so my dinner fits in the doughnut I chow down, wipe my mush and we leave to fight our way back through the hordes towards the place you pick up what appears to be a mobility bus returning us to a parked car 20 minutes away. ‘Park and ride’ the trigger sentence meaning ‘don’t stop here, it’s banged out’. Jen piles on the bus like a good Londoner. She’s worked out the seating / person ratio and it looks tight give the wheelchairs and crutches from the assembled mob. She’s wheeling people out the way, slashing tyres and generally chucking kids over her shoulder to get on…. top girl. We chug up the hill at below walking pace but make it before any of the lame die in transit.

St Ives is a like a pretty Penzance for the wealthy. Like the Tate Gallery it so well publicises it looks good but it is filled with nothing of note.

Cornwall is really all about the land not the trinkets of capitalism.

The Lizard Peninsula and Lands End are so naturally beautiful that they only need teashops and benches for the punters to use. You could sit there for hours and soak up the scenery and the history and I’m glad the kids did and enjoyed it.

Most impressive on the sightseeing tour of the Wild West was the Minack, an outdoor theatre carved out of the side of a cliff. The stage is tiny and is positioned at the bottom of the the cliff itself backing on to a wide expanse of ocean. The seating is literally carved into the sheer rock. It must be quite the spectical to see a play there particularly at night but as this is England that would be impossible unless you had booked it two years in advance and want a restricted view so I’ll either have to return of just dream of it. Seriously though it’s truly magnificent and I would thoroughly recommend a visit.

Anyway I’m not Judith Chalmbers so it’s best I quit the tourism blog and get back the reason I started this stuff. The character assassination of the public….the piss taking and what better place to finish than at ‘The Poncing Pony’.

I went to this local pub on five occasions over our two week stay. On every occasion ‘Jerry’, the wide mouthed Tory, was in attendance with his Chardonnay and ice.

My penultimate visit was on a Tuesday in the early evening and I only went because the kids had become fascinated with this local punter lite pub.

I go there before the kids because if it’s busy I’ll stand them down. I’m not a great believer of kids in pubs as they are adult environments but if, as I suspect, it’s near empty I’ll let them know so they can come over.

I walk in and wait at the bar to be served. I take a look about and in the prime window seat sits Jerry and the local Tory association. The table is littered with fruit juice and half pints of bitter and of course the iced white wine. Jerry sits in the middle of the throng like a white haired, loud mouthed messiah spewing forth stories of inflated harbour costs and failed bin collections. Around him the mob, reminiscent of the cast of ‘Are you being served?’ nod seriously and tap the table. This is local village stuff and me, a mere Londoner, would have no concept of the importance of self watering hanging baskets or the state of the pavement by the war memorial. One thing I’m certain of is that Jezza is the boss, when he talks window boxes get replanted or people die it’s that simple.

I turn back to the bar and see the Spinster in waiting barmaid walking in my direction with a pint. Good grief, I’ve made such an impression that this blond angel has identified my liking for Stella Artois ‘4’ a weakened version of the classic punching juice. I extend my hand, crack a cocky smile and wait for her to deliver the goods to my tiny pixie paw however she walks past me and plonks the drink down at a vacant space at the bar.

Bit rude. Could be her boss eyes….

The space is then filled by the David Essex spinster creating Boatman from the week before. He leans on the bar at his bespoke disturbing angle and is a little bit too close to me for my liking. Us Londoners like a bit of personal space and this fucker is now in my fighting / drinking arc which due to him being in it is now renamed the ‘stroker zone’.

I remain looking ahead at the bar but can feel the bloke staring at the side of my head. I turn sideways and look at him and after an uncomfortable silence I give him the traditional Cockney greeting of ‘Alright?’ which can mean ‘how are you?’ or ‘what the fuck are you looking at?’

He’s confident, I mean look at the vest, and the guns and the size of him. Look at the stubble and the David Essex barnet. He’s got it all going on for a Gypsy Pirate in a Cornish Tory Brexiteer village. I am merely a bloke with a ‘Dad bod’ looking for a swift pint before me dinner.

‘You need serving’ he says.

For a fraction of a second I prepare for a punch up. ‘Getting served’ is an old expression for receiving a good hiding but I take stock and realise that he literally means it as he gestures towards the barmaid who trots over like a good puppy to her master.

‘Please serve this man, he’s tense and needs a drink’

‘Tense?’ says I, ‘why’s that?’ and I turn to face the smirking knobber.

‘You’re drumming your fingers on the bar’

‘And mate?….I’m tapping my foot but I’m not singing a song’

We stare at each other for an awkwardly uncomfortable time before the barmaid intervenes and asks me what I would like. I turn to her and politely ask for a Stella ‘4’ and she obliges. I root for the necessary coinage and hand it over. The Gypsy Pirate ain’t done though.

‘Is that it? Bit boring..’ he says looking at the side of my head again. I take a sip and turn to face him. I smile and start to play with my phone. He’s clearly looking for a problem but as I’m just a tourist staying 20 steps from this pub I let him have his ‘big fish in a small pond moment’ and ignore him.

Jerry and the table of the dead have gone silent watching this interaction. I’d imagine when you are head of a Hamlet reliant on trade from us London mugs and the locals are keen to embarrass them you might need to take some action…. perhaps a keel hauling is in order or 100 lashes in a barn delivered by ‘Limpy Joe’ the local Oaf.

With perfect timing the kids walk in and we take a seat and play cards for a bit.

The Gypsy Pirate sits alone looking like a bit of a plum as I go to the bar to book a table for our last night in a couple of days.

The spinster in waiting barmaid does the honours for me and when she asks for my name for the booking she say ‘Jon?…wow!!! Amazing!!’.. I’m still trying to work that out…Maybe they heard I was ‘Steve’…

The last night looms and the tribe and I attend the Pony for the last time. It’s packed out and the bar is busy. There is no hint of the Gypsy Pirate but Jerry is in attendance and he smiles at me when I go to the bar. Fair enough…

We have a great meal, it’s actually better than any food I had during a two week period the previous year in Portugal and I will TripAdvisor review it appropriately.

I can rip the piss out of people as much as I like but I tip my hat to a community pub in a tiny village who delivered the goods and more for our final night.

It was a great holiday and it would bring me back to this part of Cornwall in an instant. The bad parts were the bigger places where you could almost be anywhere. I got to see me Bruv in his festive house for a few hours which was lovely and we all relaxed completely before the franticness of Autumn which is usually a busy work period.

There was the disappointment of Flambards (a sort of Margate type amusement park) but the majesty of St Michael’s Mount which the difficulty in imagining how it was built was only forgotten when I spotted a bloke with no neck married to a woman with no chin. The scenery was breathtaking and the beaches were clean with the weather mostly playing its part.

We were sad to leave but after 1300 miles, 800 photos, relentless pisstaking out of me by the kids and a 10 hour drive back I returned to the groove in my sofa happy and refreshed and prepared for the winter and ultimately Christmas.

I’m still seething from the Bacon and egg McMuffin debacle though…I’ll have that bloke in this world or the next…

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