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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, June 12, 2004
    Cornwall Forever!
     
    A pile-up on the A30 scuppered my plans to make an early start at The Eden Project yesterday; so as traffic simmered in the rising heat I did a u-turn and headed out west, bracing myself for The Land's End experience.

    They'd warned me it cost a tenner to get in to Land's End … to get in to an area of surely national 'ownership'. But as it happens you only have to pay that if you want to explore the wonder of their interactive facilities - seaside atrtractions translated to a clifftop at the end of England. Three quid for the car park and you're free to wander the extensive land at your leisure. Though not at your peril - peril is disallowed; signs everywhere tell you the cliffs are dangerous, ropes all over the rocks discourage you from exploring near the edges.

    If you are one who needs to get right to the edge to feel that you've had the authentic experience, this dampens the enthusiasm and might lead you away, in search of authenticity, as it did me … away up the coast to Cape Cornwall, a glorious spot only marginally less westerly than Land's End, with the same view across to the Scilly Isles and a living historic landscape - ancient settlements and a tin mine chimney on its sweeping sides. Better than this - they let you do your own thing at Cape Cornwall. So, my need to explore edges diminished because the challenge wasn't there, I happily got out my new fold-down chair and sat reading a fascinating book which I'd just bought from the Just Cornish shop in St Just.

    The book is CORNWALL FOREVER! KERNOW BYS VYKEN, a glossy 250 pages of full colour, telling the story of Cornwall and its people over the last 1,000 years. It was a Millennium book for Cornwall, every school child in Cornwall received a copy, some 83,000. A good read for me, for its broad, serious but accessible view of Cornish history lore, politics etc. And it's good because it indicates this is a community which takes its children seriously. The final chapter dwells on the thoughts of the children of today, with their words and drawings and their idea of what the coming millennium has for them.

    You might know I'd end up drawn to a shop celebrating local (celtic) culture; I'll probably be back to the tidy little town of St Just for another look before this holiday ends; and it'll be a temptation once I'm back home to plan another visit - this August - for the community's almost unique production of The Ordinalia, the Cornish Miracle Cycle, in the ancient theatre of Pleyn-an-Gwary in St Just. "A cast of 100 with full band and choir work together with some of Cornwall's top professional theatre-makers [will] bring you this unique and unforgettable experience.", the blurb says. Should be good. They seem to know - or perhaps it's that in these times they're relearning vith vigour - how to celebrate themselves down here.