I wanted to bid farewell to some friends on my way out of Cornwall. With that in mind, I headed straight for the Truro area. Partway between Falmouth and Truro, I turned off the main road, under a viaduct, then turned up a little lane crossing a ford. After passing under an arched bridge, I came alongside an ex campsite.
The tiny little community there is called Quenchwell, after a spring. It is in the Carnon Valley, an area that was once rich in gold. Mining of gold, along with pretty much all mining in Cornwall, has long since ceased. Gold can still be found in the river, though far too dangerous to extract.
Dave Baxter lives in his caravan there. He has done for some years. It was I who towed his caravan to that spot. The site is beautiful, peaceful and secluded. One wouldn’t know it is there. There is a little orchard to one side and the hedge is also full of fruit.
I gave Dave a toot. As the gate sits at an angle to the road, given the length of my combined vehicle, it was far easier to carry on up the road to turn round at the crossroads, then come back down in order to drive straight into the field.
Dave was waiting with the gate open as I returned back down the hill. The look on Dave’s face was a picture when he saw the tiger stripes. He said, “No wonder the drivers of the cars (that had followed me down) were straining their necks. It’s brilliant!” We laughed. Dave then went up to the house to speak to his landlord. I had offered to pay a pitch fee. I put myself against a dividing hedge and let the cats out. They loved the hedges there!
Dave was soon back. His landlord had said that I was welcome to stay overnight. No pitch fee was wanted. We soon settled down for the usual hours of chatting, a wee tipple and a few tokes. We also had pasties. It was a lovely evening. Of course, the best thing about it all was that it was also Dave’s 50th. birthday!
The next morning, after the usual cups of tea, I was keen to get going again. We said our fond farewells, the cats were loaded, Dave got the gate and I was gone, back up the lane. Next stop, Hairy Rich.
When Rich was compelled to leave Crasken Farm, he moved to a site on Cligga Head, above the town of Perranporth; a short journey that crosses the main A30 road to London. I didn’t see much of Rich. Unfortunately, he was drunk, again. I stayed overnight and the next morning, as soon as I was ready, I wandered over to say goodbye. Just as I was about to pull away, a lovely young lass called Robyn who I knew from her visits to Crasken Farm, appeared with a small gift; a little painted stone with a hole through the centre. On opposite sides, Robyn had painted an image of the Sun and Moon. Through the hole is threaded a length of cotton. A very thoughtful gift. I thanked her with a parting hug, then headed back out.
*photograph courtesy of David M. Baxter