Guest column: Mamma-Mia!

Guest column: Mamma-Mia!

In our family, my Dad is the writer and my Mum is the talker (you can make up your own minds on me), but having reflected on her recent trans-Atlantic adventure (read more here), my beautiful Mama has taken to prose and submitted her own, unsolicited guest column for the blog, which I was delighted to receive. What makes me more happy is that the first four words are hers, and a direct quote, and even appear in a subsequent paragraph in a different iteration. I share them with you now and for posterity…

Anna is quite right – I am not a traveller. Somehow the travel gene missed a generation. However, in mitigation, having waited 40 years, I am now living in the place I have always wanted to be – Cornwall – and not just Cornwall, but that magical part, West Penwith. I still cannot get used to being able to walk to Mousehole, get a bus to St. Ives or take the car to Lizard Village, before walking down to Lizard Point and having lunch at the little cafe looking out over the sea and the cliffs. On a fine day, that is!

Beautiful Mousehole - right on my doorstep
Beautiful Mousehole – right on my doorstep

So yes, I see little point in leaving the place where I want to be in order to travel to an unknown part of the world, which I may not like as much. That said, not having seen my gorgeous girl for 7 months played a large part in my decision to take a taxi, a train, another train, a bus, another bus and a plane 6000 miles to see my daughter, who has the travel bug in spades. Cornwall, as you will now realise, is not the best place to live if you want to travel. It just doesn’t make sense.

Worth the journey
Worth the journey

However we did stay in some lovely properties in California. A very spacious apartment in San Francisco was my introduction to the west coast and I must admit I thought the city was beautiful, particularly from the water. We took the boat to Sausalito, where we had a lovely lunch at Scoma’s overlooking the bay. I reacquainted myself with an American dry martini, which was every bit as good as I remembered, followed by clam chowder in a bread bowl. Delicious.

San Fran from the Bay
San Fran from the Bay

Anna is absolutely correct – Monterey was the ace in her pack. I loved it. We walked along the beach on the edge of the Pacific, having left our million dollar beach rental. We did blow the budget, but it was worth it and I soon got used to luxury! The seafood was wonderful – eating a whole crab overlooking the beach did it for me, cooking fresh fish from the Monterey Fish Company in the impressively equipped kitchen, and noise and laughter at the Monterey Fish House (a stone’s throw from the house). We walked, in America I might add, which doesn’t always encourage the Brit’s love of just strolling around.

Perhaps I shouldn't let Anna take me on walks...
Perhaps I shouldn’t let Anna take me on walks…

Having said that, it was one of the things I liked about the Monterey experience. Because of where our beach house was situated – just behind the sand dunes on the edge of the ocean, with a sea glimpse from the roof terrace – we could walk into the town and on the weekends a dear little electric tram speeds from one end to the other, beautifully restored, gleaming wood. Try it, if you ever happen to be near Fisherman’s Wharf and want to visit the Aquarium. Anna has told you how wonderful an experience that was. Just want to reiterate – don’t miss the jellyfish, they are beautiful and mesmerising and strange.

The Monterey tram with my girl
The Monterey tram with my girl

Whale watching. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would see a live whale in the Pacific. Unbelievable! Not just one, but a grey, a minke and numerous humpbacks, followed by a blue shark and a school of dolphins. It was an amazing experience and one that is unforgettable thanks to my gorgeous daughter and lovely son-in-law, John, who also did a masterly job of driving us around the coast of California, with me, the worst passenger in the world, sitting in the back of the Yuke, as we drove down the switchback that is Big Sur. I didn’t really notice the horror of the road as the scenery was so spectacular. And what a bridge! A mini-masterpiece of civil engineering.

The Bixby Bridge on Big Sur - wow!
The Bixby Bridge on Big Sur – wow!

How did it compare with Cornwall? Similar, but on a vast scale. I hadn’t expected the coast to be so wild. For some reason I had imagined the Pacific to be flat and peaceful with long, white, sandy beaches, but it wasn’t. It was windy and wild and beautiful. The weather was perfect for me, low to mid 70’s with sunshine. Like a May day in Cornwall. Can’t ask for more than that. Has the experience made me want to travel again? Possibly, but only if I can fly from Exeter!

By Cathryn Nicholas, World Traveller, Home Lover

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