Amidst the Madding Crowd

Fistral Beach near Newquay in Cornwall is mainly known for one thing: Surfing.

The beach isn’t long, around a half a mile. But it is generally full.

On a recent visit, we watched a constant stream of surfboard-lidded cars arrive at the end of the beachfront road where our friend there lives, turn, and look for a parking spot. Surfers changed into wetsuits on the street. IMG_2776

A surfer website says: “Very consistent, beachbreak peak, that occasionally gets epic.” Indeed.

Even on a calm day of glassy water there are surfers out in the sea, there are beginner’s classes being held on the beach, dozens of people madly paddling and learning to stand on a board, right there on the sand.

On this day, the surf looked pretty decent, at least to this non-surfer. Boards filled the waves, boards filled the beach.

I didn’t take photos of all that.IMG_2777

I was more interested in the water at incoming tide, casting reflections in small pools, or rippling against the sand.


I went on an early Sunday walk, not early enough to beat the crowds of surfers and families and dogs and kids, but early enough that some of the walk was peaceful and meditative.

It’s the sand beneath the feet and between the toes. It’s the flow and retreat of water.IMG_2770

It’s the sun and subtle reflections.

It’s the hint of past human activity merged into the rocks. IMG_2793The rush of waves that drowns out the sound of bullhorned lifeguards calling out warnings and corralling wayward young.

Two small fish swim in a temporary pond of shadows and light, avoiding notice of nearby children with nets and waiting for the tide to return and carry them back out to the big pond.

Calm among frenzy. It was occasionally epic.IMG_2797


Cornish Bouquet

Cornish bouquet Photo: PK Read

Cornish bouquet
Photo: PK Read

Here are a few shots of a walk we took yesterday in Newquay, Cornwall. I have never, I think, seen a hillside so spectacularly, thoroughly, ridiculously carpeted in flowers as this hillside on Pentire Headland. The photo doesn’t do it anywhere near justice. It looked like a computer graphics intern had been practicing and hadn’t known when enough was enough. Pink, yellow, white, lavender, beige, all no higher than my ankle. Silly, silly amounts of coastal flowers.

Headland view  Photo: PK Read

Headland view
Photo: PK Read

What you don’t see here, of course, are the gale-force winds that made it dangerous to approach any interesting cliff-side views. The world was awash in wind. Then, abruptly, the flower meadow ended and a miniature forest, thigh-high, commenced. Prickly, twisty, battering our legs. It was alive with birdsong warning of our presence – but we never saw a single feather.

Tiny forest Photo: PK Read

Tiny forest
Photo: PK Read