Every time I've been to Cornwall I've spent some time in St Ives. Each time I go back thinking, "I'm going to like it this time." And each time I come away depressed.
Our travel bible, the Reader's Digest Touring Guide To Britain, says about St Ives, "Stone cottages tumble over each other in a maze of narrow streets. Old-world charm lured artists to the town and famous names include painter Ben Nicholson, sculptress Dame Barbara Hepworth, and potter Bernard Leach."
Famous? Not really. Van Gogh is famous.
It's the maze of narrow streets that probably get me. I like space, I hate walking in a procession of people. I don't like Brighton's lanes for the same reason.
The beaches at St Ives are pretty and the setting is lovely, but the people are on top of you.
This time we went to St Ives because it was raining on The Lizard and the Tate St Ives seemed a good place to get out of the rain. Of course it was warm and sunny in St Ives, but I'd driven there to experience the Tate for the very first time.
It was filled with several Brian Wilson themed exhibits. Excerpts from his songs were written on the walls by the paintings. There were a couple of reasonable Bridget Rileys and an ordinary Peter Blake. Nothing to write home about, just a down feeling. They weren't even playing any Beach Boys songs. Nothing for the ears, little for the eyes.
So that was my final visit to St Ives. Topped off nicely by a vicious seagull taking a chunk out of Betty's panini and an ageing hippy artist wearing a t-shirt with the words, "If it's the tourist season, why can't we shoot them?" So you were born and bred in St Ives were you, you twat?
I brought my mum home some clotted cream. The only place we could find it was Tesco's. She reminisced about her youth in Cornwall. Did I go to her old home village? No, we drove through it as we did last time as there's nothing there but a pub and some houses on a main road.
Apparently my grandparents left Cornwall for the kids' sake. Post-WW2, there just weren't the opportunities there. My mum's future would have been marrying a farmer. And she wouldn't have coped with all that farm muck.
As we left Cornwall, we drove over two chalked words on the road.
Rushing around like a blue-arsed fly all week, failing to catch up on two weeks' worth of work that piled up during my holiday, phone call after phone call, hanging on and hanging on, I have one final call to make this morning.
The phone's not answered straight away, they'll be with me as soon as possible. As is the modern way, they put some music on while I wait. It's Louis Armstrong...
Betty said wait, you'll look like a sad middle-aged man.
But I wanted a bit of a break from the mundanity so I've just been to HMV to buy the new Editors album and the debut by the Klaxons. I waited three days after Glastonbury - I'm not one of those sad middle-aged men who are totally influenced by what the youngsters are listening to. Oh no, not me. We were into the Editors at the beginning, don't you know? And the Klaxons - well, actually they were pretty good at Glasto, weren't they? "Hello, we're the Klaxons and we're from London." About time someone decent came from the capital. Not since the Kinks...
"What about the photos?" I hear you cry. Well, here's a small selection. Starting with a view of the beautiful Kynance Cove, as recommended by Murph. Dogs aren't allowed on the beach here, so I hope Murph didn't go all the way down (unlike several naughty canines we saw on our second visit here).
This is our second visit to the cove, on the last dry day of the holiday. That's lonely old me in the surf, contemplating doing a Reggie Perrin. Wouldn't it be wonderful to invent a new life for myself? Trouble is, I don't think I could convincingly wear those teeth.
This is a picture postcard view of Coverack. Aren't the flowers pretty? Coverack is a pretty good starting place for a lovely coastal walk, though not with the dramatic views of Lizard Point itself.
Finally, so you won't get too bored, here's a little barber shop in Penzance in which I didn't fancy getting a close shave. I didn't want to end up in a Geoff Pasty.
We come back a day early and find out that very few of you have been blog-idle for the past two weeks. In fact you've probably written more than you usually would in 14 days. How could you do this to me?
Today is day-zero in my blogging world. So here we go starting again from scratch.
The holiday was very relaxing, thank you very much. We only left The Lizard on rainy Tuesday to visit a very busy Eden Project which is like a cross between Kew Gardens, Bluewater Shopping Centre, Watford Gap Services and the WOMAD Festival. Guess who was playing there the day after we visited? Peter chuffing Gabriel!
I will show you our holiday snaps in due course - so that gives me time to get the drinks and snacks in. Is anybody averse to taramasalata? I know I am.
Intellectually, it has been a very intellectual fortnight. We watched the whole first series of The Wire. Although we didn't understand about a third of it, even with subtitles, it is seriously addictive stuff. We also watched the whole of the Bilko box set for light relief. We now refer to our holiday as an "extended furlough" which is a phrase so good it should not be exclusive to the American armed services.
I actually had the opportunity to read, too. I read the following:-
1. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I read the first 63 pages before I gave it up as a lost cause.
2. Timbuktu by Paul Auster. 23 pages. I'm a lightweight, aren't I?
3. Collected Ghost Stories by MR James. 20 pages: lightweight!
4. The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster. 22 pages: lightweight!
5. ALL 187 pages of South Of The Border, West Of The Sun by Haruki Murakami. I'm an immediate fan.
6. ALL 180 pages of In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami. This was an entertaining serial killer story which I only read because I picked up two Murakamis from the library, not noticing they were by two separate authors.
7. 306 pages and counting of Writing Home by Alan Bennett. This is brilliant, of course, and a perfect accompaniment to Untold Stories which I read last year. I don't always read things in the wrong order, honest.
So intellectually I was stimulated. But was I at one with nature?
On our last holiday, in Ghent, I had problems shaving. For some reason my travel adapter didn't fit the strange Belgian socket. I was powerless.
I bought some cheap disposable razors in a kind of department store (you won't find them in Belgian chemists). The shave I got from these was piss poor.
I've just bought a new electric shaver. The shave I get from it is passable. But I envy those men who get a really close shave. And using proper razors just seems to me so much more manly.
I like the idea of filling the bathroom sink with water, giving my cheek a good scrape, shaking the razor in the water, pulling my face into all sorts of contortions, repeating on the other cheek, and so on until I'd rinse my face with clean water, dab with a towel and splash on some Brut, or whatever the ladies go for nowadays.
The idea's nice, but whenever I try it I end up with several patches of bristle and blood. Sore and unsightly.
Is there a special technique? If so, are there courses on how to shave? A night class in, say, "Manly Shaving"? There's got to be a demand for it. I'm surely not the only one who feels less of a man for going electric.
It's only 1.35 p.m. and I've read all my recently updated blogroll. Where are you all? I can't be bothered to read my book so I'll bore you instead.
We're off on holiday this coming Saturday. To Cornwall for two whole weeks. I have never in my life had two consecutive weeks away from home. We are taking some DVDs, several books and my MP3 player to keep us entertained. I think they have Corrie in Cornwall, too. So we won't do our usual trick of recording a week's worth then catching up when we get home.
There is no internet access where we're going. Well, there are probably loads of internet cafes serving cream teas, but we're not going to any of those. It will be good to get a break from blogging. I don't know whether we'll feel refreshed when we get back but I think it'll do us the world of good to get away from it for a while.
Just so we don't miss anything, can I ask you all not to post anything on your blogs from this Friday to, say, Sunday 24th June. There's nothing worse than a massive backlog. I don't think my nerves could take it.
I'm letting you know in advance so you can plan those two weeks. Why not take those two weeks off yourselves? Don't turn on your computers! You don't have to go away. You don't have to stare into space. Read a book, watch the television, like you did in the old days. That's what we'll be doing. Let's make these two weeks an international bloggers' holiday.
If you're stuck at work and your meany boss won't let you have the time off, dedicate those hours you normally spend blogging to interacting with your workmates. Chat about that book you're reading, what you watched on television last night. You'll be surprised just how much in common you'll have with them.
Oh, Jools. I actually felt sorry for you when I saw this.
You suddenly looked old and frail, unable to hold your own. A tinkle here, a tinkle there. Those incontinence pants can't be far away, can they?
I suppose you were asking for it, asking to join in with a band who have a bit of life in them. You're ok though, Jack's a bit of a nutter and I think he enjoyed the opportunity to mess around with a bass guitar for a change. I don't think he was overly worried about how it sounded or looked. I don't think he was trying to humiliate you, Jools.
Earlier in the show Jack said that Tom Jones could make a good fist of this song. You agreed. Jack's a nutter, Jools, he doesn't really mean it. Remember that album you made with Tom? Tom doesn't. He's in a home now, sweating and shaking like an old man, just like his stage show. Still, I'm sure Tom will be back out for your Hootenanny and you two can find your own level, find something more suitable for your age.