Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hellooe, Looe

Before we arrived, I didn't know what it would look like.  I didn't know where we were going, so it wasn't exactly as if I could sit at work for hours beforehand (not that I would do that ... err ...) searching Google images for views and squirming with anticipation of what to expect.

No, when we arrived in Looe, after nearly seven hours (I believe it was something like three accidents and four road works on the way down) of driving into deep David Cameron and UKIP country (no joke, those were the only signs pitched up in the green, rolling fields - in fact, I witnessed a group of sheep nibbling away at more than one VOTE CONSERVATIVE sign) and a near collapse of mental strength from John (who had been up at work since 5:30 a.m. that day), when we arrived in Looe after all this, it actually glittered.  I rubbed my eyes, thinking they were affected by tiredness.  Surely we weren't staying here?  This jewel of a place?  It resembled the calderas of Santorini rather than an English seaside resort.

But indeed we were.  And above were the views from our B&B, The Watermark Hotel, where we were greeted by a kind woman who took pity on our bedraggled selves at 9 p.m. at night and kept saying, "Bless you, poor things" when we relayed our traffic woes (sympathy makes one feel better more than anything else can).  Our room itself had a gorgeous view of the Banjo Pier (pictured above) and before my eyelids gave in to sleep, I murmured, "Isn't it nice ... to hear the waves crashing ..."  John sat up.  "That's someone's TV."  "No ..." I said into my pillow.  "It's definitely the waves."  He laid back down and marveled, "Yes, it is!"  And thus, we were lulled to sleep on our first night there by waves that were not produced by a store-bought sound machine (or downloaded from iTunes.  What?  Sometimes I can't sleep!  And it helps!).

The next day involved exploring East and West Looe itself (and picking off mussels from rocks when the tide went in, apparently:  "Look!  Look!  We can cook this!  I want to!  I want to put it in our kettle or something!"  "No, John.  Put it down."  "But, but, but - we can!  Just to watch it open!  And, and - eat it!").  Coincidentally, we were there just in time for the May Day celebrations, which included a May Pole dance put on by brightly leotard-ed pre-pubescent girls from the nearby dance school, and a May Day parade (which consisted of about four people, including a "Green Man" ... not sure about the history behind that and I'm too lazy to Google or Wikipedia it).  There were local groups (i.e. the senior citizens of Looe who have nothing better to do with their time) selling adorable bits of bric-a-brac for 20p a piece and an outdoor barbecue featuring meat from the town's famous butcher.   It was wonderful.  It was wonderful to be transported from cold, unsmiling London to cold, and smiling Looe, where fishermen in green Wellington boots up to the knee went out of their way to shout, "Morning!" to you as they passed while you looked down first, at your feet, then, behind your shoulder, to make sure they weren't greeting someone else.

We then hopped on to the "ferry" from East to West Looe before the tide went out (I say "ferry" because this was actually a little motorboat that we took solely due to the novelty of paying 40p for a 30-second journey and being in any boat of sorts) and explored some of the shops in East Looe, stopping to buy some famous Cornish toffee and fudge for friends and glance longingly into the windows of property agents (for less than the price of a squished flat in St John's Wood, you too, can own a beachfront house - I kid you not).

The only mistake I made on this day was suggested we "go for a run" (note to self: do not ever suggest this to John again), as it was shaping up to be a lovely day and I'm training for a 10k (yes, some of us actually have to train for this paltry distance).  What I did not bargain for was 1) running in sand and not getting anywhere 2) rock climbing (yes, because remember, the tide was out and since John thought the beach would be a nice place to run along, the jagged coastline forced us me to clumsily pick my way across and consequently dip my foot several times in ankle-deep puddles.  Sigh) and 3) (and this is the killer) hills so steep, you literally feel like you're climbing.  Of course, John ran circles around me as I panted my up these hills with my hands on my hips, swearing and thinking I was about to keel over.  "It's ok," he said, easily, jogging in place, as I struggled.  "Keep going,  I'll just run some loops back down and around until you get to the top."  I resisted the urge to slap him and feigned a smile instead (who am I kidding?  I think I probably swore again and then kicked a rock, resulting in a stubbed toe and more swearing).  At the end, what I thought would be a 30-45 minute run on a semi-flat surface turned out to be an hour-long hike into the hills of East Looe.

Which was perfect really, because by the time we made it back into town, it was officially ice-cream time (results can be viewed here).

In short, I loved - love - Looe.

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