Meeting Alastair in Polruan

I am a glutton, yes, as all of you know by now, and unashamedly so. But the lead photo is naught to do with my glutton genes. The point of the photo is that apart from emphasising our love for fish and chips on holidays (let’s get fat fast), in the background is Alastair.

After our walk in the Cornish Woods we fell upon our plates with ravenous appetites, eyes goggling at the sight of food. Hours of walking through the woods and sudden steep stretches can do that to you. A middle-aged man with a shock of white hair entered the pub through its dwarfish door and asked for a half-pint of ale. Thereafter his natter did not cease. The barmaid lent her ears till she naturally had to serve other customers. At this point he turned around, spoke a few words to a girl in a pram, then turned our way and asked, “Have you guys come down from London?” That was the beginning.

These are the encounters that make a trip worth its salt. Do you know what I mean? Of course, you do. We are all social beings. Somewhere deep inside, even the most introverted individual likes to meet people. This yearning is engraved into the human genome, irrespective of caste, creed, age, gender. That apart, meeting new individuals is our window into a different kind of life; it may often be the life we aspire to.

Alastair gave me hope, that dreams do come true. But you cannot sit back, lie on your couch, and have visions of this glory that should have been yours. You work towards it. Listen to his story?

Alastair spent a fair part of his childhood visiting Cornwall with his parents. He roamed the world, said he never found anything like Cornwall.

A London worker, he came to Polruan one day, three years ago, and started looking for bed & breakfast accommodations. Found none, slept on a bench overnight with his rucksack and liked the look of the village so that he met an estate agent to scout for a cottage to buy. He found one at the top of the pub we were sitting in, that is the Russell Inn, and he staked his claim on it. But that is never enough, as we all know. We have got to go through the miserable practicalities of life such as waiting, negotiating, and the works. The estate agent would give him a call if it worked out.

He returned to daily routine in London and thought nothing would come of it. Two weeks had passed when he got a call from the estate agent, asking him to pop down to Polruan, sign some papers and take the cottage off his hands. That is how Alastair found himself back in the village with two bags and a rucksack. He lay down his sleeping bag on the floor of his new home because he had nothing apart from those few bags and slept. He woke up to a new life of a small pension, but it was also the life he had yearned for during his growing-up years.

Then Alastair muttered a few dozen ‘sorry’s’ for interrupting our meal (what would the Englishman be without them) and asked us to return for a pint with him at the pub. “I live up this hill,” he added. I do not know if we will end up sharing more conversations over a pint, yet for those few moments Alastair gave us a window into a future which seems achievable.

When you walk into Polruan, you see why Alastair fell for it. We did as easily.

Cornish fishing villages are a cut above anything you’ve seen. This particular one is stationed by the river Fowey with one road leading in and out of the village, names like ‘The Singing Kettle’, ‘Lugger Inn’ and ‘The Winkle Picker’ winking back at you. There are two pubs in the village – the 19th century Russell Inn (where we sat) and the old Lugger Inn. The Winkle Picker is a convenience store-cum-post-office that gets its name from its previous owners. The two misses were called Joan Winkle and Joanne Pickering, so you have that cute outpost on the quay.

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Curled-up ferns in Lanteglos-by-Fowey. The final leg of the walk, before we reached Polruan.
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A 14th-century church that loomed up above us at the end of the walk
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Lanteglos Church with many Victorian graves, those of soldiers who died during WWI and of some who died of sweating sickness in the 15th century.
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Solemn sheep-y stares
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Other variety of solemn stares
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Patched network of Cornish country. The grey clouds dispersed and gave way to blue skies as we entered Polruan.
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The one village street that leads in and out of Polruan.
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Russell Inn, one of the two pubs in the village.
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The other pub in the village
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Polruan harbour

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Boat repairs in motion

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How to Get There: Get to Fowey and take a 5-minute ferry to Polruan.

Where to Stay: At the top of the village, is a Polruan Holidays campsite (www.polruanholidays.co.uk) with 40 pitching spots. The view from the campsite: Stunning.

If not that, go for Hormond House (www.hormondhouse.com) where they have just three rooms, so book ahead?

What to Do:

St. Saviours Chapel, an 8th century church.

Brazen Island, an isolated rock.

Ferryside (Daphne du Maurier’s home) and Bodinnick.

The Hall Walk in the heart of Daphne du Maurier country takes you through Bodinnick, Lanteglos-by-Fowey and Polruan.

Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

51 thoughts on “Meeting Alastair in Polruan

  1. I am definitely a glutton for fish and chips ?
    I also agree that meeting others on your trip is a lot of fun. Whether they be locals or fellow travellers, making that connection and chatting with someone new in somewhere new is always fun ?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Meeting other people on a trip is one of my favorite things about traveling. We always seem to meet the most interesting people, that give us such great insights on life in other places, or what their experiences are traveling. I find that many people I meet while traveling are so like-minded with us, and it is wonderful to share time and stories with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You said it 🙂 You do not expect it usually and when it does take place, it leaves such a wonderful feeling behind. Even though you might not keep in touch, those moments of shared conversations are invaluable.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So you made a new friend. Should I be jealous??! Anyway, lovely place, lovely photos, lovely food. You look gorgeous, I love your tee and you have amazing cheekbones!! Love ya!! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Encounters like these stay with you your whole life, isn’t it? 🙂 Memories of a place might fade over the decades but you always remember that one kind and chatty stranger whom you met on your trip there! Loved the post and relate to it so much. Also, I am awed that you still find time and will to write long posts everyday WHILE on a holiday. Wow! True dedication, I say! 😀 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe me, after all the sun and walking, I feel like a squeezed out cloth by the end of the evening. So, I am going easy on myself. Those encounters are what make any trip even better. Sudden stories popping into your life and you do not even expect them 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha ha. I am pretending this is real for now. My advise to my husband is to make us a home even in a cave somewhere on the Cornish coast. I will live with bats and whatever dark creatures live in those dark, slimy caverns for the love of the Cornish country *if there is a god, let him listen

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha ha! We will pray that your wish magically comes true very soon and you live not in a slimy cave but in a cute, little cottage by the water, where you can sit for hours in solitude, listening to the waves and penning down your thoughts ❤ I have visited Cornwall three years ago, back when we lived in the UK and indeed it is out of the world (literally feels like that!) Enjoy hun and glad that you have had such a wonderful time!

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  5. The first part of your post really makes me want fish and chips. I haven’t found the right kind in Japan, so I can only get it when I go back to Canada. The rest of your post makes me want to visit England and all these cute countryside towns that you seem to keep discovering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would love it Jen. Some of them are so quiet and remote and then to balance it out in the middle of it all are these bustling little villages that I shall post about too. And of course then to get away from the Brit’s great love for fish & chips is impossible. I am living in a dream for the next few days and I am sending you fishy hugs 😉 x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We stayed in St. Ives. I know we did lots of day trips but I was less than 10 years old so I don’t remember too much about the villages except that they were pretty. My main concern was wanting to get back to the beach and play in the sand!

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      2. You lived in such a pretty beach town then! St. Ives is where the smart set go from London 🙂 The galleries, the beach, the vibe of it is wonderful. It is heaven incarnate for a child xx

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I officially LOVE Alistair. For Alistair epitomises what life should be … not waiting for the treadmill to end but just getting on and doing what your heart craves (so long as it is legal and harmless, that is) xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish we could meet him again for that pint and I would convey your noble feelings to him. As I doubt he is the kind who would stumble upon this on the great virtual world and feel chuffed 🙂 Legal and harmless are key words here 😉 How is the Sunday coming along? xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, and so we discover the origins of your blog’s lovely header photo! 🙂 A wonderful story and that place really does look inviting… in a familiar way, like it stepped out of a book I read as a child. Love the stares of the sheep and cow, too!!!

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    1. You are canny. 🙂 Thank you for dropping in. The sheep and the cow remain my favourite creatures from the countryside in England. xx

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    1. Hi Alison, how have you been? Thank you for stopping by this link. It is difficult not to fall under Cornwall’s charm. You must have great memories from your time there.

      Alastair remains one of my favourite memories. The people you meet can add such meat to your travels. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂 xx

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    1. Hello there, thank you for dropping by and reading my rambles about the Cornish countryside. It is interesting to read about the fact that your husband can trace his ancestry to this beautiful part of England. I think you would love it what with history to call upon there. Which part of Cornwall does his family belong to?

      I think the piskies and the pasties shall make it good if you do visit. 🙂

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      1. I have not been to Lanyon and indeed this is the first I have heard of it. Just goes to tell you that it takes a lifetime to know a place like Cornwall inside out. I have been to Penzance several times and always thought of the Pirates of the Penzance (it is so easy to think in cliches)…I wonder what the story would have been that led your husband’s family to migrate as early as the 17th century. History is enticing.

        Amen to the last thought.

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  8. Very fun post about a beautiful place and an entertaining encounter. Lots of little chuckles to be had while reading, and it reminds me of the fun of traveling and meeting “strangers” who become friends for a short while.

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    1. Why thank you! 🙂 You know what I was banging on about. But I have not met a romantic like Alastair yet.

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