Boscastle, North Cornwall
Last weekend, a painting crisis.
We’d thought it such a good idea to paint the match pots (paint samples) onto a spare bit of board. What better way to move the colours around the room and assess them in different lights? The board even got held up against the ceiling to look at there. The thing that makes the bedroom feel so spacious at the moment is the continuity of colour, over both ceiling and the walls, creating almost an infinity effect in the vaulted room. This I am keen to maintain.
After all of the faffing about with match pots we’d plumped for a nice soft grey. Light and super reflective. Perfect. So how is it then that a colour can change so dramatically once 20 litres of the wretched stuff have been purchased and it is offered up to the walls? How does it metamorphose from being barely discernible from white on the sample board to a dark grey bordering on blue? The job screeches to a halt before it’s barely begun.
If not painting then, what’s a weekend for?
When I first woke on Sunday the weather forecast was looking good. Full sun all morning, sunny spells in the afternoon. After much debate we decided to go to Boscastle on the North Cornwall coast. It’s a part of the world we’ve visited before, close by atmospheric Tintagel Castle and the idyllic village of Port Isaac.
We’d find lunch on the way. Maybe try somewhere new? As it turned out, not one of my better choices. And to cap it all off the moment we left the restaurant the rain came hammering down. Not a passing shower either. A storm cloud of a proportion surely no weatherman worth his salt was ever going to miss. A retreat homewards and a book by the fire too tempting by far. But no, we’d driven all the way up here now, Boscastle it would be.
It’s another pretty village, quaint cottages with immaculate gardens ranged along the banks of a tidal river. Golf umbrella at the ready we set off towards the harbour at the far end. Only one unscheduled stop at the National Trust gift shop as the rain returned with a vengeance, hurling itself at us from all sides. Mike succumbed to an ice cream. Lunch was still laying heavily on me.
Spectacular autumn colour on the hillside.
The row of cottages above enjoys views along the river..
.. each with its own small garden on the edge of the slope
Approaching the harbour the sound of waves crashing against the rocks became ever louder. Punctuated by a strange dull thud.
Underneath this headland, Penally Point, there’s a passage through the rocks, straight through to the sea on the other side.
Apparently timing has to be just right. Rough sea outside the harbour. An hour or so either side of low tide. By sheer luck and good fortune, exactly these conditions prevailed as we clambered over rain drenched rocks alongside the harbour wall to reach the seaward side..
With each new wave sea water flows into a cavern deep within the rock. After a few seconds it’s forced to rebound, the dull thud, falling onto water still flowing through the system. This is then propelled explosively back out through the hole.
The Boscastle Blowhole, or the Devil’s Bellows as it is otherwise known.
At high tide the cavern and passageways are overwhelmed and the phenomenon disappears.
Impossible to convey the drama through a series of pictures alone. The jet of water is propelled halfway across the inlet. The thuds and roar of the water emerging just has to be experienced first hand.
A shot from the headland almost directly above the blowhole, looking back. It was on top of those rocks bottom right that we stood to view it. By now, however, the weather had once again taken a turn for the worse. I’m amazed this shot came out at all, given how much the wind was buffeting me around.
Boscastle may seem peaceful now but the blowhole is not its only claim to fame. There is a more unfortunate one.
On 16 August 2004, at the height of the tourist season, a flash flood devastated the village sparked by a freak rainstorm on higher ground. Fifty eight properties were flooded with four completely destroyed. 100 people had to be airlifted to safety. A total of 150 vehicles were swept right through the village, most from the car park at the upper end, the very same place where we’d just left ours.. Eighty-four cars were later recovered from Boscastle harbour, but more than 30 were swept right out to sea. You can read more in a BBC news article here and there are videos of the flood on YouTube. Much has been spent on flood defences in the intervening years and it can only be hoped such devastation never happens again.
Hard to tell when this damage occurred but what interested me was the small green sign on the right side of the cottage’s front wall. It marks the water level at the height of the flood.
Autumn colour from Virginia creeper, enhanced by the rain
A somewhat blustery drive along the coast road before turning back for home.
Linking this post to Jo’s Monday Walk at restless jo