The MadGang Go To Looe

Like revisiting old flames, going back to where you holidayed as a child is, usually, not a good idea.

I only had three proper holidays when I was kid. My father was in the merchant navy and, for reasons I will not go into, he never had much money to spend on his family. The most exotic of the three holidays was a trip to Looe in Cornwall. So, far away and mysterious was this mythical western land that we had to change trains in London to get there. Throughout our stay I was mostly left, for reasons I will not go into (the same reasons as I didn't go into before) to entertain myself for the two weeks we were there and I look back on it as being a magical time of smugglers, sharks caught off the coast of England, prehistoric creatures of the sea preserved in stone and health and safety ignoring rock climbs up and down the cliffs. What I don't remember is not being able to move because of the crowds and all the rules such as the ubiquitous (in the south) "No Dogs Allowed On Beach."

Sadly, either my memories are false or Looe has changed considerably over the last half century. I expect it is a mixture of both although, probably, more of the latter than the former. The boating pond is still there, as is the sign advertising the availability of of pedalos for hire, but gone are the boats themselves. The crazy golf course, which was next to the boating lake, is not there now and the land on which it was built has become part of an enormous car park for the use of the many thousands of visitors that arrive every day during "the season." As it is written, "They pave paradise."

I wanted to show my wife, Jane, somewhere special. What she got to see was a crowded, commercialised, tat selling tourist trap. Even the pasties were underwhelming although the ice cream was most excellent.

We did not hang around long in Looe. We brushed the dust off our feet and we left to meander east along the coast. We eventually stopped the car when we arrived at the twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand (a wise move because if we had gone any further we would have been swimming with the fishes in Plymouth Sound). I had never even heard of this place let alone visited it, but what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. Our fortuitous coming across this small, unadvertised coastal settlement really saved the day.

The streets are narrow and uncrowded almost to the point of being deserted. The houses are crushed up against the sea wall to the point that their front windows would have to remain closed in even the slightest of storms to avoid the spray from crashing waves. Dogs were most certainly allowed on the beach and, best of all, there was a pub, with outside seating, on the quayside selling very well kept ale and fine food.

I could have stayed there all night but my wife, who is about a million times less romantic than me, needed to get back to our campsite to feed the dogs or for some other mundane chore. However, the memory lingers and, as long as I never go back, it will remain a beautiful one.


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