Boscastle Entrusted

Oliver Briscoe

A gang of Cornish bikers were meeting at St Kew Highway when we stopped for fuel. A girl jumped back in to the Ford in front with a bag of tangfastics, a vape cartridge and a can of Monster energy–that’s Easter weekend sorted.
    Watching them from our car, off for an Easter walk, Grandma remembered how her mother used to make pasties when they lived on the devonian bank of the Tamar. Even in the Far East, with a Chinese cook, she still made her pasties on a Sunday. ‘People made their own back then’ so Grandma said.

As a girl Grandma used to get to Boscastle by rail, when there was a rail at Camelford, when fishing coves sent the pilchard they caught and cured up the line. The long, low curing cellars are still there, a National Trust shop now.
  Boscastle has long stopped fishing. When the flood, a biblical bursting of the river Jordan, swept away the village, it took little else with it. The valley was always flooded by punters like few other Cornish coves. Built back by the Trust and alms from the EU, with a car park not quite big enough for a mini-bus but enough for flocking droves; large families, people with their grandmothers, have always come for Easter walks and Saturday afternoons. The shallow mouth only gurgles now with a taunting trickle. They would not have built the car park without the flood defences further up.

Boscastle has one of the world’s largest witchcraft museums–of course. It had to be filled with ‘things-to-do’ ‘attractions’ because you can see the sea from anywhere, so the museum sits on a couple poky floors.
    It is a cream tea kind of place, but you cannot get cream tea. There is a shop that just about manages pasties, chalking the fact up proudly on a couple boards. The pub has a fruit machine.
   There is also a store called ‘Things’ which from its gloomy shop window did indeed have things, knickknacks, but that counts as shopping.

‘Where’s the castle?’ as most people think and most children ask. It is not the Wellington Inn, as the place would trick you with its old crenelations.  
    Nor is it the lump of rotting stone that sits like a basket of pilchard by the mouth. Some old fishing building, a Trust kept lump tucked behind a couple Trust cottages and a youth hostel.
    No, it sits with the real village, further above the river–they were not going to get caught out. The mound is all that’s left; the motte-and-bailey of some sodden barony.

The pasty shop was the only one open, selling steak and gravy–never heard of those or seen them elsewhere–gravy, so less steak, cheaper but enough for the day-trippers. You can even get a wheelchair up just short of the first sea wall. You cannot see Cornwall for less effort, so this is the Cornwall you get.

If you make it to the sea wall, past the rough uneven rock where Boscastle becomes Cornwall, you can see the coast; a crack in the country and the sea flowing evanescent through the fissure; the rough Cornwall, the truly beautiful Cornwall. The Trust keeps this too, from here to the Plymouth sound. They keep sheep by the cliffs at Pentireglaze, hedges along Lundy and put up little signs about the birds and the trees. Along the coast they giveth life, no easy access for old emmets though.
    Perhaps not, but they seem happy just to walk a couple hundred yards along the harbour, sit in the sun and have an ice cream; let their grandchildren run off to glimpse the sea. Nothing wrong with that.
    Helping Grandma with an offered arm over the stones, we sat just behind the sea wall and stared back at the quaint village, oddly grotesque without those hundred punters packed.
    In the sand below, a brindled collie bounced around, looking up at his master who was chatting, helping out with one of two boats moored, pleasure boats.
    In the sun we enjoyed our steak and gravy quietly. It cannot have looked much different from what she remembers as girl. The Trust is good for that.

Chargé D'affaires - Depuis 2020