Spring is in the air, Easter is late this year and the weather is playing ball with holiday season. In fact wherever you go, everyone is playing ball! The county is awash with visiting scratch teams of five-a-side footballers, enthusiastic cricketers and organised and serious rugby squads. No, we haven’t suddenly magic-ed up the stadium that’s been on the cards for years. I mean on our beaches and camp sites families live and breathe the sports they love. Across Cornwall you can hear the knock of leather on willow with some impressive and serious games of cricket being organised by Dads and Mums who love the game, and realise that this holiday is their opportunity to hone the skills of their ‘team’ before packing them back off to boarding school for the summer term and cricket season. There are thankfully the less serious games that are played just for fun too. Not every parent is an umpire or ref, some are there purely for the joy of it! You can spot the difference. The latter often preferring French Cricket and making sure everyone has a turn. But, for many, there is only one type of game and that’s serious! Second place being first of the losers and all that …and why shouldn’t a grown man bowl 80 mph body-line to an unsuspecting 7-year-old offspring. Isn’t that how we build character in this country?!
I started thinking about the dynamics of these beach games when we went to Porthcurnick the other day. There can’t be many people left on the planet who haven’t found The ‘Hidden’ Hut. They don’t hide it that well to be honest. They keep accidentally blurting out their secret and splashing information about their location and feasts all over the web. Very clumsy really when you are trying to keep your cafe under wraps! Here’s the sort of thing I mean – pesky Telegraph write up spoiling the secret…
Down at Porthcurnick the kids have a stream to divert and the beach is large and flat at low tide. There’s rarely surf higher than a toddler’s wet ankle sock, which keeps a tame family environment without the need for lifeguards to police the fun. We sat and fried in the spring sunshine (which is fierce already at this time of year being only a couple of months off mid-summer). And from our sheltered command post I was able to watch and learn from several different sports captain parents barking out orders with positions and moves. “Mark your man Harry!” “Turn Emily, Turn” “Well Played Will, great dummy pass!” “Four” “Come on, concentrate Toby, straight bat!” etc. Guildford’s cricket pitch merging with Wimbledon’s Rugger rectangle both intertwined with Tunbridge’s five-a-side field (which had three against two?).
“Mark your man Harry!” “Turn Emily, Turn” “Well Played Will, great dummy pass!” “Four” “Come on, concentrate Toby, straight bat!”
All this going on with a mini GBR sailing team launching a laser dinghy emblazoned with British squad logos and numbers through the middle (what 4×4 Volvo’s were born to do). Once afloat, the little yacht was expertly piloted by a wetsuited coxswain of approximately eight years old while the shore team/ parents called useful instructions, correctly naming the boat parts with an authority that would have made Nelson proud “Lift your centreboard on a broad reach Jack!” “Tighten the kicker” “You’re luffing” and on and on …But that’s not all I saw, I noticed plenty more. There are uniforms and common traits, stereo types live, but regardless of these outward signs, everyone appeared to be loving the experience and really enjoying their own way of doing beach stuff. Great diversity of backgrounds but with everyone fitting in and playing nicely together which is how it should be, surely?
Throughout the various sports fields, enthusiastic dogs (mostly black labradors and spaniels) weaved and played and occasionally interfered with play, legging it to the outfield with the ball clamped in slimy jaws. And the uniform? Popped collars on faux rugby kit from Johnny Boden and Tom Jules as you’d expect. Tight jeans and shorts with turn-ups. Kids gear with elegantly designed creatures sewn-on, screaming quality, not your supermarket trash darling! All coordinated with expensive sunglasses and baseball caps with elite sports brands like Mercedes F1 and Titleist.
It’s holiday time so we welcome everyone here to Cornwall from all walks of life, tourists are our lifeblood in these parts and I never forget that I came here from middle England, brought by parents who arrived to run a hotel for just these people who I now watch with interest.
If you can get a ticket you should put a Hidden Hut feast night on your bucket list.
Porthcurnick is a lovely beach on the Roseland Peninsula and is one of Cornwall’s undiscovered gems (all of which I think have been discovered), the Hidden Hut has a charm that has built up partly around the secrecy but mainly around the fantastic management and warm welcome with excellent food and drinks thrown into the mix. It’s a delightful and inspiring, beautiful place which attracts inspiring and beautiful people. If you can get a ticket you should put a Hidden Hut feast night on your bucket list. The food is outrageously good and there’s a camaraderie among feasters which is sheer pleasure on a plate. Mouthwatering meat and superb shellfish merged with darn good cheffing ideas all served to you outdoors on your own picnic plates. Good old fashioned fun for the new age what, what! The Roseland is one of my favourite parts of Cornwall and has an other-worldiness that hits you as soon as you arrive from the short trip on The King Harry Ferry (which is the most fun way to get there). You can go by road too and if it’s picnic stuff you are after, you could do worse than calling in to the Da Bara Bakery Cafe on the St Mawes road just after the Veryan turning, good coffee, bread, cakes, sausage rolls and Scotch eggs etc.
…what do I really love about the place apart from the sheer beauty? …plenty of good people watching opportunities! Not forgetting that there’s undoubtedly someone watching the balding blogger on the blanket – Our Man In Cornwall.