Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Padstow 2 - Seats for dreamers

If you take the path that rises northward from the harbour at Padstow, you emerge onto a wide greensward. This triangular expanse of grass is bounded by a low cliff on your right hand, and, converging from your left, is a high path running by a wall, with seats set in a long line against it.


Ahead, at the crest of the rise, is the tall cross of Padstow's War Memorial.


Everyone seems to make for that, stopping to rest and let the wide view sink in. In fact it's a spectacular panorama of the entire Camel Estuary, both inland and out to sea, never finer than on a sunny afternoon. And it is totally reliable, never changing with the years. These 2003 shots of mine could have been taken in any summer:


From here you can see the community called Rock, across the River Camel. Rock is linked to Padstow by a frequent ferry service, and it's pleasant to watch the ferry boat ply its way between the quay wall at Padstow and the landing stage at Rock, sometimes (especially at low tide) taking a very indirect passage - because the curse of Padstow, the sands that reveal themselves when the water is low, make a direct line impossible. You might say, of course, that at such times you get full value for money, the fare taking you double the distance! Here is Rock in 2015, as seen from the greensward:


If you thought Padstow had become a touch upmarket, then you'll be made to feel very plebian by Rock - or at least that bit of it by the shoreline. It's a place where grown men with huge incomes mess about in boats. Posh accents abound, and everyone looks well-off and quite unconcerned by the realities of ordinary life. There's a Yacht Club. There are a couple of expensive and exclusive shops and eating places that even I would feel awkward to enter. There are many stylish new builds that no ordinary mortal could possibly afford. Rock is Cornwall's answer to Sandbanks. (I allude to the spit of land at the mouth of Poole Harbour in Dorset where millionaires are two a penny) In the past, Rock has gained a reputation for out-of-control teenage drinking and noisiness at holiday times. Not the football lout kind. The rich kid kind.

And yet not far off is Trebetherick, and, in the dunes close by, peaceful St Enodoc's Church, within whose sacred half-acre, protected by walls and high hedges against the wind, is buried the famous poet John Betjeman. Some shots from 2003 and 2008:


But back to my March 2015 holiday. Having admired the Camel Estuary view, and chatted with some ramblers who were following the Coastal Path southwards towards Newquay, I made my way slowly along the upper path by the wall, wanting to look yet again at the seats there. Or, more particularly, the plaques on each one. I was especially looking for the only plaque that had a photo of the deceased person engraved on it. Here he is, George Thomas:


REMEMBER ME
T.I.T.V.
GEORGE THOMAS
Aberdare, Cardiff, Malvern,
Parkstone and Padstow
1913-1989

He looks a cheerful sort, doesn't he? If I'm not mistaken, he's wearing a bowling club tie. I wonder what T.I.T.V. stands for? He moved around a bit: South Wales, West Midlands, a suburb of Bournemouth on the South Coast, and then finally Padstow in Cornwall. Born just before the First World War started. Bound to have been a serviceman during the Second World War. Died when aged 73, twenty six years ago.

And yet, because of the picture, he seemed still around, still a Padstow resident, still admiring the view every day. I was understandably curious about him.

But at first I couldn't find his plaque. Three people were sitting where I thought his seat might be. An older man, a person who could be his forty-something son, and a woman who might be that son's wife. Plus a dog. I went up to them, explained that I was here for the day only, was eager to find George Thomas's seat, and were they perhaps sitting on it? I didn't say 'Please get up for me' but they all got to their feet. And it wasn't the right seat after all. I felt rather apologetic, but persevered. Did they know which was his seat? Yes, they did - it was further along than I'd thought. Ah! I asked the older man if he'd known George. Well, he'd seen him around, but no, he hadn't been a friend of his, and had no specific information. But the son said he'd known George rather better, and told me that, when resident in Padstow, George had lived alone - presumably a widower by then. He'd been well-regarded by the town. He'd often seen him walking to his favourite seat and back. No, he didn't own a dog. His house had been opposite the end of St Saviour's Lane, the cottage with a red letterbox set into the wall.

Well, this was more information than I had any right to expect! I thanked them very sincerely, and began to stroll from seat to seat, because all the plaques were worth a look. They followed me, and overtook me. Here they are, by the greensward, and then in St Saviour's Lane itself:


And (jumping ahead) this was George Thomas's house, now a holiday let:


I caught up with them at Prideaux Place - but that's for another post. Back to the seats, and those fascinating plaques. I won't show all of them, just the ones that caught my eye most, in the order you come to them.


In Memory Of
COURTNEY PUCKEY
1914-1991

You couldn't invent a name like that, could you?


In Memory of HERB and HETTY
Memories are the loveliest things,
They last from day to day,
They can't get lost, they don't wear out,
And can't get given away.
Arthur Herbert Baker 1911-2002
Hetty Baker 1913-2014

This was quite a recent addition, then!

George Thomas's seat next. I sat on it, as if keeping him company. I admired the view he enjoyed so much. REMEMBER ME, he asked. I would. Yes, I would do so always. I promised.


There were many seats yet. I took my time. I do hope you can see and understand what I found so interesting about them - and so moving too.


In memory of
Alfred and Vere Rothery
of London and Newquay
Died 18 May 1992
- Our lovely view -
Please share it with us

It was of course a general theme, the celebration of love for a parent or partner; but also the celebration of this wonderful place, so yearned for by the loved one; and more than that, a generous wish to share its beauty with all that might pass by. In the end, perhaps, life comes down to a narrow focus on one or two beloved things that can still be enjoyed, like a view. But here it was not possessively 'My view' - it was 'My view and yours too' - so that even strangers from distant posterity, like myself, were included in this love for something that had been so dear, so important in the final years before darkness claimed dominion. I was being let into the dream too.


In memory of
my dear husband
Arthur Delf
who walked here with 
his beloved dogs


TREVOR MANNING 1932-2011
FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS
ALL OUR LOVE
FROM SHEILA AND THE FAMILY
ALSO JACK WHO SPENT MANY
MANY HAPPY HOURS WITH US
IN THIS BEAUTIFUL SPOT


In loving memory of Daddy
John Edward Clark
who loved Padstow dearly
Happy memories
You will always be missed
1943-1999


GERALD RICHARDS
''PADSTOW BOY''
FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS

Presumably he was once a well-known local character. Just a memory now. But not forgotten.


With fond memories of 
MARTIN COOK
His guitar is silent
His fingers no longer work
Those days have slipped away
All the hours that he played
Just a man who played his guitar

WITH HAPPY MEMORIES OF
JOYCE AND GERALD (GUS) STEELE
OF LOUGHTON, ESSEX
WHO LOVED PADSTOW AND
REGARDED IT AS THEIR SECOND HOME


!! BOOKIE !!
YOU DREAMED TO BE HERE
WE DREAM OF YOU

This brief epitaph with no dates is actually my favourite. Who was Bookie? It seems that, for a while at least, his or her dream came true. And the family still dream. I'm thinking that he or she was a very special person indeed. 


KENNETH WILLIAM WHILLOCK
In ever loving memory of my darling husband
He loved Padstow and its views, serving as
a police officer in this area in the 1950's
Born in Lincoln in 1925. Died 24.12.93 aged 68

Our thoughts and love are always with you
Your loving wife Maraki and family

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
MARAKI WHILLOCK
(formerly GRIMSHAW nee DIAMANTAKI)
BORN IN SYROS, GREECE 1926 DIED 01/03/2012
AGED 86
OUR THOUGHTS AND LOVE ARE ALWAYS WITH YOU
YOUR LOVING FAMILY


MICHAEL JOHN COULING
1942-2000
SITTING HERE I SEE OUR MEMORIES FLOW IN ON THE TIDE
HEAR YOUR VOICE IN THE GULLS CRY
FEEL YOUR TOUCH ON THE BREEZE

SUSAN SMALLWOOD
WHO LOVED YOU

What can I say? These heartfelt messages to the dead give me both hope and desolation. Am I right - no matter what the advantages are for running what is left of my life successfully - am I really right and prudent to forswear all possibility of finding love again, for better or worse? Who will be moved, when I die, to buy a seat and place a plaque like one of these on it? What reason will they have? I'm seriously thinking of adding a clause to my next Will, requiring my executrix to do just that. Perhaps a seat with a plaque among this very row of seats in Padstow. Or somewhere nearby that means as much to me as Padstow does. Even if it costs a thousand pounds.

If it can be done, then something of myself will linger on for a couple of decades - my name Lucy Melford and a date, and perhaps a line that says 'She loved this place, and found happiness here'. My little memorial, my little conversation with the generations to come. An engraved photo as well, perhaps. I will be in very good company. 

Remember me...remember me...remember me...

One day I will be very old, perhaps very ill, with only dreams for company. Let me dream in a sunny spot with Bookie and the rest!


Sequel
And there's something lovely to add. I'm now writing on 11th May 2016. There was a seat with two plaques side by side, commemorating the lives of Kenneth Whillock and his wife Maraki, whose name had been Maraki Grimshaw before. Her son Nick got in touch to supply further information - and a picture, which I feel might have been taken around 1990. Here is that picture:


And this is what Nick has said about the seat:

My late parents who loved Padstow, the views and seats that you so eloquently describe in your blog wanted to contribute to the area on their demise. Thankfully Padstow Council allowed my family to have their bench install and many family and friends have travel from all over the UK to sit on it since their parting.

I have selected an image that I think best shows them enjoying the Padstow's views and we do hope that you find it suitable for your blog.

I think the picture has been very well-chosen indeed, and reveals much about the couple and their shared love of Padstow.

It isn't often that a total stranger contributes so much to a post of mine. My warm thanks to him and his family. 

3 comments:

  1. Hi Lucy, Discovered your blog today and was amazed to see our parents bench listed at Padstow. Is it possible to add a photo of them too so that there is a face behind the names? Best regards, Nick Grimshaw.
    PS: think the blog is brilliant by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoops missed off the Name:- Whillock Ken & Maraki

      Delete
  2. I'd be delighted to add a sequel to this post, Nick, with actual photographs of your parents! But not via Google+ - i'm trying to stay well away from all social media. But you can email me on lucymelford@gmail.com

    Lucy

    ReplyDelete

You must be registered with a proper blogging platform if you wish to make a comment. I have had to deny access to completely anonymous commentators.

This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford