I am in St Ives.
Every holiday as a child, we trailed to St Ives. 9 hours in the back of the Maxi, past Stonehenge and through endless small villages, my sister vomiting away next to me. Indian Queens was the first sight of the sea (and still is, although it has a snazzy dual-carriageway bypass now). My mother lived here until she was 18, when she like so many others had to leave (no college, no jobs, no opportunities. Few men who were not blood relatives.) and my grandparents had a house with a spectacular view across St Ives Bay. I imagine it is worth A Lot of money these days and is probably owned by the Boden-clad who have moved in in the intervening years.
I felt a little cheated, as school friends went to Spain on Aeroplanes.
I lived here for the summer when I was 19. I stayed with granny (we moved that summer, she sold the family seat and bought something entirely more suitable) and had a little job running a spectacularly unsuccessful teashop for a lady with lots of pink lipstick and a prolapse she liked to describe. I didn’t know anybody (apart from eventually the boy who worked in the deli next door: he took me to the pictures in Penzance), but was quite happy sitting customer-less, reading tomes (clan of the cave bear, a brief history of time) and listening to pirate fm. Sometimes I was called upon to make a sundae or a cream tea, or bacon sandwiches for the taxi drivers. Once, a woman came and sat in the window and shaved her head.
I still like to come often. It is the best place in the world when the weather is kind. (When it is wet and vile and you have small children, there is absolutely nothing to do.) We haven’t been since I was pregnant with my youngest (now 4) but this week, my children have had a ball: rock pools and paddling and – well, you know what we do at the seaside.
Best place ever.
I am in St Ives.