Monday, 13 April 2015

Cornish fantasies

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark in the BBC series
Just on my way, Ross...
© Mammoth Screen / BBC
Last week I saddled up my horse and galloped off to find Poldark. Well, in a manner of speaking. It was more a case of cramming the boot of our Volvo with buckets, spades, suitcases, wellies, wine and coats, whilst leaving a slither of space for the dog. Meanwhile in the back seat, the kids were wedged in with a box of board games and various bags of food (including a rogue red pepper that had escaped its casing) as I rested my feet on another three bags in the front. Only my husband enjoyed the luxury of a footwell, but then someone needed to drive. This was us, off on our hols to the West Country.

Our destination was a Landmark Trust cottage, tucked inside the border of Cornwall, with no television, wifi or mobile signal to pollute its venerable rafters. Quite an undertaking for my family with our various addictions to Instagram, Facebook and Amazon instant video. In their stead, we had Cluedo, a 1000-piece jigsaw, chess and Bananagrams to while away the time. 

View of Daymer Bay, Cornwall
Poldark country
How were we going to cope? Oddly enough we felt excited about our wifi-less wilderness - not exactly 18th century Poldark, but a return to more simple pleasures. Regretfully not much bare-chested scything came to pass, but there was a fair bit of trekking along coastal paths while gazing over the clifftops at the turquoise sea and spumes of white spray below (where, oh where, were those pilchards?).

Eat your heart out, Demelza

By day two, the sun came out and the dramatic views became
idyllic as powder blue skies were added to the canvas. Sadly, still no Ross Poldark in evidence - his eyes cast moodily towards the horizon - though we did encounter a wheelbarrow of secondhand books with Poldark books nine and ten for sale. Undeterred, I managed to channel Demelza for a few days as the offshore winds blew my hair into a tangled mess: "Aw, sir, it'll be pie for yer supper," I growled at my husband (read: jacket potatoes and tuna mayo).

Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza on the BBC series, Poldark
Demelza: in a bit of a tangle
© Mammoth Screen / BBC

Our withdrawal from the internet was moderately successful - my husband did manage to discover a minuscule patch of 3G down the garden, from which we occasionally tethered up two iPads - but on the whole we enjoyed a welcome break from digital distractions. My son learnt to play chess and my daughter developed a more wholesome addiction to jigsaws. 

As for the elusive Poldark, I have discovered a new passion in his notable absence: the craggy beauty of Cornwall's northern coastline. And if you squint slightly, you might be able to make me out, galloping across the moor in my black Volvo, the wind in my hair and my husband manfully handling the wheel in his tricorne hat. Hmm... now that's a fantasy.

Actors Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner in BBC series, Poldark
Looks like Demelza got there first
Mammoth Screen / BBC


Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall by Winston Graham
Ross Poldark returns from the American War of Independence to a disappointing homecoming in Cornwall. First book in the series.

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