Peaceful Plateau: 2013 365 Challenge #309

Not quite a mountain

Not quite a mountain

In response to a comment on the blog a few days ago, I wrote about the contentment of sitting on a mountain top and letting yourself just ‘be’, because the journey to get there was enough.

At the end of a difficult climb, when you’ve challenged your fears and pushed your body, it’s enough to stand, hands on hips, sun on face, and take in the view. It’s a time to congratulate yourself on effort and determination, to say, “I did that and I’m proud and this is my reward”. A moment of tranquility.

As I survived my art presentation this morning and drove home in the sunshine I had a similar feeling. I treated myself to some stilton and cranberry bread, I read my book, I dozed on the sofa, (that bit was a mistake – I woke with my vision blurred in one eye that took an hour to shift. I don’t do daytime naps even after a night of no sleep).

I’m now walking the dog, breathing in the invigorating air and watching a kestrel fly by. I’m not flooded with quite the same euphoria I used to get climbing mountains, before parenthood and dodgy knees put paid to the activity. It’s hard to see how far you’ve come when the ground is flat and rocky.

But I know I survived a long week and I’m taking a moment to breathe in and say the journey was enough. Only a moment, mind, because there’s a post to be written, stew to prep and shirts to iron, before collecting the children from school: The climb back down the mountain is always harder work than the climb up!

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire’s mind whirled as she drove west. Conor’s message tugged at her thoughts like a puppy on a leash. She felt as if she’d received a bad report from her favourite teacher. Maybe not even a bad one, just a “Could do better”.

Determined to make sure it didn’t happen again, she spent the miles behind the wheel searching for some way to impress. She tried to think what Conor’s idea of tourism might be. It was clear that skulking around Dartmoor National Park hadn’t found favour.

What did you do in the West Country if you didn’t like to be alone? Bands, theatre, the Eden project, they all needed exploring. Claire wracked her brain for anything else she knew about the area. A book she’d picked up in a hostel came to mind. She remembered it because it was by that famous gardener her mother loved so much.

It was a novel about a lighthouse keeper, but one of the characters was a woman who loved painting in Cornwall, and moved there to set up an art gallery. She had talked about the special quality of the light. That sounded promising.

Of course I know as much about painting as I do pub bands. Namely bugger all. That artsy stuff is more Kim’s domain. Which reminds me, I must give her a call.

Claire told her phone to remind her to call her friend and investigate art courses, then went back to cudgelling her brain for inspiration.

What about writers’ retreats? Bound to be some of them; that could be fun. I might even learn something useful for the blog. Give it a touch of class.

Her thoughts drifted on to how much she’d neglected it since selling her iPad and she made another note to give it some attention.

If things don’t work out with Conor – as a boss that is – I might have to go crawling back to Carl. What a joyous prospect that is. Best to at least have something to offer.

Claire gave a sigh of relief as the SatNav directed her into town, along a narrow lane crowded with hills. The route to the hostel bypassed the town centre, coming in directly towards the shore where the hostel was located. She drove in past low slate-roofed buildings adorned with spectacular hanging baskets; the splashes of red and yellow lying vibrant against the grey stone.

As she approached her destination she began to see more people outside the window. It didn’t feel like a tourist destination, despite the large car park and throngs of visitors milling around. Claire turned her eyes towards the buildings, which grew in stature as she drove. The stone that had appeared merely grey now revealed a myriad of colours where the sun lit the surface. Browns and yellows mixed in with silver and gold.

As the road ran out, Claire remembered that she was meant to park in the large car pack she’d just passed. Suppressing a sigh, she turned the car and headed back, wincing as she saw the parking fees. With effort she pushed aside her irritation and pulled her bag from the boot.

Claire followed the path back down towards the harbour and her smile grew as she got nearer to the low stone buildings lurking at the water’s edge.

Around her rocky hills – partially covered in patches of luminous green grass and red gorse – climbed away from the water as if afraid to get their feet wet. White-washed buildings threw back the bright sunlight, dazzling her momentarily. She blinked away the spots in her vision and looked around. With a lungful of the salty air she felt her shoulders go back and her chin lift.

To her left a bridge crossed the small inlet that ran alongside the path, and up ahead she could see a slip sloping down into the water. The tide was out, showing the rocky bed, but she could imagine fishing boats being pushed into the water at high tide.

Then she caught her first glimpse of the hostel. The front shone white, interspersed with bright flowers, and people sat outside on metal chairs and tables. The roof looked as if a huge and heavy bottom had rested there once, leaving two deep dips in the slate. Claire pictured a giant taking a rest awhile, and grinned. As she got closer she realised the building was a café, tagged on the front of the hostel.

Handy for coffee in the morning.

Claire took some photos, determined to write a blog post that evening, and went round to check in.

I hate to admit Conor was right, but I’m glad he prompted me to get a wriggle on into Cornwall. I think I’m going to like this place. 

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