Is there any other county in the country that has such a healthy respect for the letter Z than Cornwall? It's littered around the place names - Zelah, Zennor, Penzance, Marazion. Polzeath. It might even be the defining sound of the accent. So it's with some pleasure that this alphabet comes to an end just down the road from Zennor.
We travelled down by train (deals for the ageing be praised, and thanks to the 205 bus to Paddington on tube-strike day) and caught the bus from St Ives to our B&B at Gurnard's Head. The death bus. Or at least that's what the bar staff called it. I simply sat back and enjoyed the adventure - whizzing down serpentine lanes, climbing up into the mist on the moors with the sun disappearing and a smattering of rain on the windscreen, feeling like I was in some black and white horror film from the fifties. It was a real delight for me not to have to drive anywhere and a great discipline to stick to the bus timetable knowing that we had to shift ourselves to pack everything in before the last bus at tea-time. And there was no mobile phone signal either. Very Wuthering Heights.
The next day, sun threatening to break through the grey, we walked to Zennor along the well-kept public footpaths, over the granite stepping stones and stiles, counting the flowers still in bloom - tiny blue flowers that looked like scabious, campions, brambles and gorse. In the church, we checked out the medieval mermaid's chair, the needlepoint hassocks with their dedications on the back, and the angel sundial on the wall. We flipped a mental coin and took a chance on continuing towards the coast path and into St Ives rather than the bus, knowing that you can add at least another 50% to the estimated distance once you have taken twists, turns and contours into account. The sun came out, my coat came off and we climbed up and down the (not very well signposted) cliff path until we turned the corner at Porthmeor Beach; surfers in the waves, Tate St Ives, a bottle of delicious tarte tatin tasting Cornish Orchards blush cider and we were ready for Peter Lanyon, so apt after a morning walking through the Penwith landscape.
Before we came home, and thanks to some kind friends, we fitted in a visit Penzance in the showers, acquainted ourselves here with unfamiliar painters and Alec Walker's Cresede textiles (fabulous blog!). We sat and ate a pasty on the sea front at Newlyn watching the swans, thought about reading Metamorphoses, then walked through the mist, back thousands of years, to Lanyon Quoit and Men-an-Tol.
When we got home we cracked some zeds in the perfect bed, our own; and reconciled ourselves to winter coming.