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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Crackington Haven

Oh dear... if I had thought that the Cotswolds was charming, I now think that Cornwall is even better. For one thing, this place seems to be a lot less populated than the Cotswolds. Houses are spaced far apart. Villages are smaller. The terrain has somewhat more highs and lows, such that from a high, one is treated to a spectacular view of green slopes that make one's breath catch in the throat.

The thing about Cornwall is that one can turn to the left of the crested hill and see green slopes, but when turned to the right, one beholds the majesty of a blue ocean overhung by a luminous grey mist. If you look hard enough, you might just see a ship heave into view with Arthur's courageous knights on board - for this is the land where King Arthur (you know, the Knights of the Round Table one?) was conceived in a night of cunning subterfuge and of dark magic. In a deceitful disguise, Uther Pendragon stole into the Castle of Tintagel, the stronghold of his enemy, Gorlois. There, he used powerful magic to trick the Lady Ygraine, wife of his enemy Gorlois. The good Lady slept with the sworn enemy of her husband. Arthur was conceived from this night of adultery.  The rest is history (or myth) for Arthur Pendragon became a King like no other before, and none after.

Now, for the life of me, I cannot understand HOW the Lady Ygraine can mistake another man for her husband at ummm... such close quarters. The magic used was what... marijuana? And what kind of moral foundation does this legend lay down, when a child born out of wedlock and in deceit rises to the heights of kinghood so magnificent that Camelot, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are part of modern day folklore? Indeed, John F. Kennedy's administration is often referred to as the Years of Camelot, in reference to the mystique, the dynamism and the charisma that JFK and Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy. 

Nonetheless, it is a gripping story full of fair maidens and gallant knights, with dark undercurrents of adultery and betrayal in every corner. Hollywood scriptwriters can't do better, I don't think.

It is also Cornwall that gives shape to the legend of the white dragon and red dragon who writhe in mortal combat over the enchanting land that is Cornwall. Their battle takes place underground and shakes the ground such that King Vortigern's castle kept falling over. There really was a King named Vortigern ok? The King dug both naughty dragons out of the soil. Intractable to the end, they continued to fight, clashing in mid-air with cataclysmic roars that shook the earth and fire that scorched it. Eventually, the Red Dragon killed the White Dragon in a victory that is thought to represent the Welsh victory over the Saxons in the 5th century.

Looking at how hills turn into vales and then back into hills again, one can almost see the sinuous shapes of these mighty creatures as they fight over a land so beautiful that God seems to have placed a glowing green-grey luminous halo upon it.

The Husband and I definitely prefer Cornwall to the Cotswolds. It is a land of stark contrasts, as you can see from the pictures below of Crackington Haven (a 10 minute walk down the slope from Lamb's Barton Cottage). 

Contrasts: Green slopes lead onto the pebbled beaches of Crackington Haven.

Contrasts: At Crackington Haven, pasture lands turn suddenly into cliffs that drop hundreds of metres vertically into the sea.

Contrasts: At the Crackington Haven beach, hard rock formations rear suddenly out of a bed of sand.

Contrasts: Right beside pebbled shores, a tuft of daisies smile at the sky nodding their heads singing their joy at being born and bred at Crackington Haven.

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