Cornish pasty

I’ve known I was a Cornish Pasty ever since I can remember. It’s a family thing, a bit silly, but consider that my parents’ audience (many years ago) was a delighted group of three small kids.

We loved that my biggest brother was a Cockney Sparrer, and that my other brother and I were great handfuls of food.

Truro-born and Bodmin-bred (until eight weeks old), I remember nothing of my Cornish start. Memories of holidays remain, but none that are recent.

This time we arrive by train, surfing Brunel’s sea wall line around Dawlish and Teignmouth, and admiring the red sandstone I recall from childhood (we lived in Devon too). We cross the River Tamar and leave Devon behind. I begin to feel a wonderful holiday excitement.

My daughter tells me to calm down.

So I do. We all do. Easily done with the Cornish sea air and magical light.

We walk and talk along the Coastal Path in both deep mists and warm sunshine. The locals’ sense of humour sends us all the way up Cardiac Hill, at the top of which an old man chuckles us a warning not to fall into the sea.

We do fall for pretty Polperro with its tangle of lanes and fishing ropes, curiosities and friendly ways. Once it was a community of fishermen and knitters. Today the knitting needles are quieter and the fishermen are fewer, but it’s still a lovely place to get a taste of life in a Cornish pub.

Padstow is fun, although we don’t see Rick Stein. And Rock Beach is a blast from the past (so say my parents).

The Eden Project is as informative and diverse as you’d expect and deserves a separate post. Huge and thought-provoking, it plays on the senses.

It’s good to be back in the Mediterranean, but it’s the Rain Forest that moves me most – I’ve never been anywhere like it. We strip off layers and slow our pace, yet still we drip with sweat. I love it and am reluctant to return to Cornwall.

But the boys want Eden’s quick thrills.

Our last day at the Lost Gardens of Heligan is a gentle step back in time, engineered with innovation and passion after Tim Smit and John Willis rediscovered the site 29 years ago.

We learn about the decline of the native Black Honey Bee, pay a visit to the pigs, and find out how ridiculously difficult it is to grow pineapples the Heligan way.

While I have no pictures of Cornish pasties (which now cater for every kind of diet – including flexitarian), I know from our taxi driver’s knowing nod of recognition (on hearing of my roots on the way back from the Polperro pub) that once a Cornish pasty, always a Cornish pasty.

Well, I think that’s what he meant.

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