Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Storybook Village

I’ve been in Polperro, on England’s Cornish Coast, for about a day and a half.  It has all the ingredients (beauty, history, and charm) that would make a great children’s storybook.  

The streets are crooked, narrow, and lined with stones.  Buildings are centuries old, but whitewashed clean, and have colorful window frames.  Shopkeepers sell Cornish pasties and fudge made with clotted cream.  Friendly pubs dot each corner.
Polperro is a fishing village.  You can enjoy fresh mussels, cockles, scallops, crabs, and winkles sold by street purveyors, or in dishes served in inns.  In past centuries, if you weren’t a fisherman, you were probably a smuggler.  Both vocations were filled by locals, and the local museum documents the lives of many a Polperran who made their living side-by-side; legally and illegally.  The women stayed home and knitted thick sweaters for their wayfaring men, or processed pilchards (sardines).  The collection of historic photographs and letters on display is impressive.
Even some of the alcohol in the pubs seems fit for a children’s story.  A favorite in this region is Scrumpy, an unfiltered strong apple cider.  Me – I prefer the pear cider. It seems the variety of locally-brewed ales is endless.  Pubs themselves are friendly gathering places, where the barkeeps know their clients and will gratefully accept the offer of a pint for themselves.
The surrounding landscape is stunning, with the River Pol rushing to the Atlantic Ocean through the center of town.  Slate cliffs surround us.  Peak Rock guards the entry to the harbor.  Footpaths wind around the cliffs by the ocean and provide for bracing morning rambles by the sea.  English wildflowers are tangled around the paths and send their fragrances into the ocean air.
A woman we met in the Blue Peter Inn night before last asked us not to spread the word about their idyllic little village, because they don’t want to have it overrun by tourists.  I didn’t take offense.
I may never get a chance to return to Polperro, but I will remember it as a storybook village.

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