4th Sept 2020
Before leaving Falmouth we treat ourselves to a breakfast at a restaurant that looks out over the Bay.
“Do you fancy having breakfast there,” he mumbled, tentatively, pointing to a restaurant with outdoor seating hanging over the water. It looked extremely posh. Not the sort of place we would usually frequent. My dear hubby nearly fell over when I said, “Yes, let’s go for it.” I had been looking at it myself and deciding that if he asked I would say yes and to hell with the budget. After all we deserve something special now and then. Not like me at all, eh…?
Megavissey holds happy memories for me, ever since childhood when my parents took us on a number of holidays there, in the days before we started going abroad to Spain and France. Dad always liked to fish off the harbour and I loved to join him, learning how to cast a line and how to gut the mackerel that we would catch. Cutting down the belly of the fish, in no way put me off enjoying it fried for supper in the evenings. My sister’s, being younger, didn’t seem keen.
An attractive harbour-side village on the more sheltered South Coast of Cornwall, it’s a hive of industry with the harbour itself, full of dozens of small fishing boats, the owners of which make their living from the sea. In the narrow streets of the village you’ll find many restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as galleries, gift shops and craft workshops. Some of the fish restaurants and fish shops are in old buildings which used to be the haunts of Cornish smugglers.
Back in the 1770’s smuggling was popular around the Cornish Coast and Megavissey itself had numerous secret passages, trap doors and creative ways of getting through the village unseen, to support it’s underground industry. French cognac, dutch gin, tea, tobacco, silks and lace could all be picked up and brought back to be sold at high prices. A single trip could make a whopping £170,000 in profit in today’s money. No wonder it was rife at that time.
We arrive on the morning of the 23rd July and because I’m concerned about finding parking and negotiating the narrow streets, we stop in a layby a few miles away to rest, collect our thoughts and have a coffee.
However, it turned out we didn’t need to worry. There was a huge carpark right on the edge of the village, with a sign that showed it welcomed camper vans and that it might be possible to camp for the night.
We were pleased to learn that for £8 we could park for the night and sleep in the camper. No facilities, but safe and legal, nevertheless. All the other carparks we’d seen in Cornwall so far had overnight parking alright but none allowed sleeping in your vehicle. We happily handed over the £ 8 and felt comfortable knowing we didn’t have to leave till the next morning at ten. That would do us.We couldn’t believe our luck, especially as the campsites were all full and we didn’t want to have to do wild camping. We’d now have time to have a good look round without any worries about the night time.
We put the top up. I stand up, making the most of the extra space, and put together a quick lunch before we go for a walk to find the harbour. The centre of the village is only 200 metres from us – easy.
It took me a while me a while, but as we came to the harbour wall warm recollections of dad fishing there came flooding back. I stopped still and wiped hot tears from my eyes. Peter’s arm found it’s way softly across my shoulder. I leant into him and for a few moments lived in another time. I dried my eyes again and we continued to walk to the end of the wall where we could see people fishing. I won’t call them fishermen, although some might of been. But the majority were holiday makers trying their luck. I saw a little girl of about nine helping her dad. She brought him a hammer for the mackerel he’d just caught. What did me and dad do, I tried to remember. We didn’t bash them over the head, anyway, I thought. No, dad did something quite gentle. I couldn’t say what.