In many ways I’m very glad that my father never got the sons he would perhaps have hoped for initially. The absence of boys meant my sister and I were expected, supported and encouraged to get involved in all the activities he loves; hunting, fishing, diving, walking and generally being ‘out there doing it’. At 12 years old we both had a coming of age trip with Dad, together we sea kayaked Abel Tasman and he and my sister walked the Milford Track. During the intervening years we’ve been on countless other adventures, walking the Heaphy Track, tramping the length of the Tararua Ranges, diving in Vanuatu, spearfishing off Kapiti Island, scalloping in the Sounds and myriad others.
For 26 years he has trailed me around on adventures, making me a salt bath when I bruised my feet jumping all the way into Totara Flats, or helping me down the Broken Axe Pinnacles or becoming a diving instructor and signing off my Open Water certification. So as his 60th birthday came creeping up it was time to repay the favour, take the wheel and show him England, my adopted country. We would be attempting to drive from Cornwall to the Black Isles in Scotland to discover the village our family had emigrated from 200 years before.
So off we trot as McClymonts on Safari, in our jellybean of a blue car, to the top of the country to find our coastal, Scottish fishermen roots. Join us on our journey and hopefully I won’t do anything stupid like lose my purse this time (eye roll)…
Day 1 – 25th March 2017 or my 26th Birthday.
For the first time in three years I finally had a family member on the same continent as me for my birthday. I had finished my STCW yacht training the day before and Dad had arrived in Cornwall so we could set off on our adventuring. With the imminent threat of jet lag we decided to stay local and head to Padstow, a pretty little fishing village which is home to Rick Stein’s seafood empire. Being that it was my birthday, and Dad hadn’t managed to organise a card, he took me for a guilt induced 3 course meal at the jewel in Rick’s seafood crown, The Seafood Restaurant.
We had the most beautiful lunch and they were kind enough to write me a Happy Birthday message on my Crema Catalana which was just perfection. It also included a glass of wine that was the friendliest pour I’ve ever seen, second only to the Harvest Festival where there was no such thing as saying ‘when’.
There was a food market on in the village hall so naturally I stopped to eat all the samples, buy cheese and get into the specifics of the canning process with some very passionate rillet makers. We wandered around the harbour wall and got a bit of salty wind in our whiskers, a favoured pastime for a Porcleus (the taxonomic rank for the species of humans named McClymont, which is of course entirely made up).
And how should you finish any good night in the UK? With a visit to the pub of course! The drive was via some very narrow country lanes that require weighty cojones to tackle at speed but when the rewards are great the bold and the brave soldier on. Pints were sunk before a final surprise came in the form of a birthday cake and Bailey’s on ice. We have started as we mean to go on, pubs, food and the coast may become recurring themes on this trip.
I’m always striving to better myself through setting goals that challenge me. On this trip I’m going to push myself further than I ever have before. I will undertake the immense task of never drinking the same beer twice…epic but hopefully achievable and all y’all can be treated to my five word tasting notes. Currently off the list are:
- Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer – Tasty with an orange slice
- Erdinger Hefe Weissbier – Evokes Oktoberfest level hangover memories
Day 2 & 3 – 26th – 27th March 2017 or the Cornish Coastal Path Walk
The South West Coastal Path, originally created to police smuggling activities, runs around the entire coast of Southern England. We were intending to walk just a tiny fraction of it while the weather forecast was good. We were dropped just outside Looe to begin our quest which saw us amble the few miles around to the fishing village of Polperro for the night. Being the low season everything was looking closed up and we were beginning to question if our confidence that we could wing it with accommodation was misplaced. We trundled around various pubs looking for a room eventually finding what must have been the last two beds in Polperro. Knowing we had somewhere to rest our heads we could then head out for a roast dinner and a pint in a pub that was so small it had padded ceiling beams for those of average stature. I’m beginning to understand how normal sized people feel in normal sized rooms.
The next day we had the most stunning weather as we mosied around to Fowey. As seasoned trampers this was a totally different style of walking and we weren’t particularly interested in pushing ourselves too hard. It seemed more appealing to ramble along in the sun for a few miles and then spend the afternoon sitting on the waterfront with a pint eating fish and chips. Again we had to hunt down some accommodation and I wasn’t filled with confidence when the place we found boasted ‘colour television’ on their signage. As it turned out my fears were unfounded and we had a stunning room with a view right out over the harbour.
As Dad was literally falling asleep in his chair at dinner we turned in early, ready for another hard won lie in.
- Tribute Pale Ale – Excellent with fish and chips
- Doombar – So good we had two
- Swift Pole – Don’t even waste your time
Day 4, 5 & 6 – 28th – 30th March or pub lunches with Gran
By the following day the weather had turned for the worse and our legs were a bit sore so we bailed on walking any further and started our first section of driving to Alton. My Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle and Cousin all reside in this wee town so we were going for some quality family time.
Quality time mainly involved sitting in pub gardens all afternoon, eating some delicious grub and having a white wine spritzer with my 94 year old Granny. By the Thursday it was time for me to ditch sleepy English villaging for the bright lights of London, and work drinks with a bunch of nutcases from my old company. As the train pulled into Waterloo I had a sort of fuzzy happy feeling, like when you’ve had two drinks and you’re in good company. It was damn good to be back in London.
Follow on to read about whisky festivals, shows and the rest of our journey up the country…