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Published: April 11th 2012
Polperro is a tiny fishing village located along the south Cornwall coast, arguably the best of all the coasts in the UK. Little detached houses, each unique in size and shape dot the rising hilly landscape encapsulating the harbor below, which feeds in to the Atlantic Ocean. It is far too pretty to be believable, too cute and perfect with its quaint narrow streets too small for cars to squeeze through complete with a multitude of tearooms to fill up on traditional scones with homemade jam and Cornish clotted cream.
For myself and my family Polperro has a deeper meaning that just ‘pretty little Cornish town’. It is a place we holidayed in our childhoods. Our days were spent on a tiny sandy beach building sandcastles before smashing them. When we tired of destroying other little children’s sandy structures and ours we would clamber over precarious rock faces to reach rock pools to jump in to the deathly dark pools below. On one such incident I unwittingly sat on a jellyfish, needless to say I couldn’t sit down properly for days. Those summers were spent with my cousins and my aunties in different houses dotted around the harbor
and they were the happiest. We would sleep with our immediate families but congregated for breakfast and dinner together, all seventeen or so of us. Whilst we shared happy times here, we also shared a commonly sad experience, which has meant we haven’t been back to Polperro for some time. After my tenth summer my Auntie was sadly taken ill and tragically died in the early September of 1994 leaving behind Anna and Gareth, her two children, at the time ten and thirteen. They moved in and joined the family, and have been with us as brother and sister ever since. I guess we avoided Polperro for a number of subsequent years, understandably revisiting would bear hard on my mothers heart as well as Anna and Gareth’s; that summer of 1994 in Polperro was a time of happiness and joy, whilst we lived our lives unaware of the sadness about to strike and alter all of us in different ways forever. It is unimaginably impossible to face those memories. They say time heals, and it is true; it takes time to revisit those sites, which hold such beautiful but sad memories.
It has been eighteen years since
I have really been back and I remember it like it was yesterday. The tiny streets looping obscurely, but I know where they go, I have run around them hundreds of times chasing my brothers and sisters. I see the old sweet shop where I bought an ‘I love you’ lollipop which I sent to the owners son, Christian, because I was convinced I loved him and Anna thought it would be a good idea. I spent the rest of our weeks there avoiding that area of the harbor. I see the fish and chips shop we would often go to before trundling home loaded with bags full of chips for us all to eat. When I get to the harbor the tide is out and I remember the moment I climbed in to the rubber boat Gareth and Anna had. We paddled across the harbor but I hated it; I hate being so close to the sea and the fish and Anna and Gareth spent the few moments on the boat tormenting me by rocking it to and fro. When we made it back to the slope I demanded them to take the boat as close to the waters
edge as possible so I wouldn’t get wet. Unfortunately the boat scrapped along the bottom of the concrete slope and burst thus leaving them without a boat. Whilst being told off for this, inside I was laughing – that will teach ‘em for scaring me!
I walk along the harbor wall and remember the day we saw the film crew. Excitedly we ran towards the wall and started to stroll about hoping they might choose us as extras. Eventually they chose Alice and Guy because they were cute. The rest of us looked on green with envy and I am pretty sure Alice and Guy paid the price for being chosen over us. I look down over the crystal blue waters shimmering like a blanket of diamonds in the sun and remember the time Anna swam from the beach to the other side of the harbor. My fear of the water prevented me from completing the task but I admired her fearlessness.
As I walk along the narrow streets lined with tearooms, restaurants, Cornish pasties and ice cream, I watch tourists go in and out of little trinket shops buying their memento’s to hang
up on their wall; a way to remind themselves of the happy time they spent in this beautiful little sea side spot hidden away from view.
Polperro is still beautiful regardless of its touristy nature. Every other house I see is empty of inhabitants in the hope it will make a good holiday let and I wonder just how many people there are who live in Polperro consistently. I imagine it is desolate in the winter but come summer it is a thriving hub, an atmosphere full of excitement with lots to do. It is sad that this beautiful little town has given way to extreme tourism, the effects of this seasonal dependency is not necessarily a healthy way to survive in the current financial climate. However, Polperro is just one of those places which will blow you away with the its delicacy and beauty; no wonder it is so popular.
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