Dawn Over The Dunes
Along The Sands Hand In Hand
It was early. The desolate Cornish beach was still bathed in the afterglow of a colourful summer sunrise as Marcia strolled along the sands, taking her dog for his daily exercise.
They came here every morning at this hour, avoiding the hordes of tourists who would fill the beach to capacity later in the day. Marcia knew she would find the solitude she was seeking, so unobtainable at all other times in the busy seaside resort where she lived.
As the frisky collie splashed in and out of the waves, Marcia was able to reflect on matters of importance and plan for the day ahead before the onslaught of the holidaymakers. She didn't object to the tourist season; it brought welcome trade and prosperity to the area but everyone needed some peace and quiet occasionally and the early morning was when Marcia chose to find hers.
With the gentle sea breeze tugging at her long, golden hair, she casually made her way along the seashore, kicking pebbles in a carefree manner.
Then she saw him. Sitting at the very tip of the headland was a man with a collie, just like hers. He appeared to be sketching, his dog seated obediently beside him.
Marcia was curious; perhaps he was an artist, trying to capture the dawn landscape before the light became too harsh. From a distance, he seemed to be going about the task in an industrious manner.
As she drew nearer it became clear that he was not an artist after all; he was rapidly scribbling something down on a pad of A4 paper. Observing him intently, she kept her distance, not wishing to appear too intrusive. A person who valued her own privacy, Marcia appreciated the wishes of another who felt likewise. Smiling to herself as she watched him, she became intrigued by his appearance. He had well-defined features and a ruggedness about him which seemed to blend appropriately with the wildness of the headland.
With a sudden yelp, Marcia's dog caught the scent of the other collie and bounded off towards it. "Scamp! Come back! Come on boy!" she shouted after him, but the wayward hound had other ideas. Detecting that the other dog was a female, he started to act like a frisky puppy, frolicking playfully to attract her attention. But she remained aloof, firmly seated beside her master, her ears pricking up slightly - the only sign that she'd noticed him.
"Oh, I am sorry," Marcia apologised to the stranger. "I hope he hasn't disturbed your concentration - he's a big softy with other dogs."
The man put down his pen and paper and stood up to greet her with a friendly smile. "It's all right, don't worry; I have to be heading back shortly anyway."
Marcia couldn't help noticing the intense blue of his eyes, as intense and as deep as the ocean which stretched out before them. She felt immediately attracted to him. "I haven't seen you here before," she said softly, as if she had found some rare treasure whilst beach-combing along the sands. "Are you a tourist?"
"Not quite, but I am here for the duration of the season. I'm a writer and I'm doing some research for my next book."
"Oh... how interesting. From a distance, I thought you were an artist. There are so many of them in and around St. Ives these days."
The man looked pensive, reminding Marcia of Rodin's thinker, as he sat down on the rocks in the classic pose, his chin resting on the back of his right hand, elbow on one knee. Then he gazed up at her, those piercing blue eyes startling her again with their intensity.
"Well, I suppose I am an artist in some ways because a writer has to paint a picture with words in the mind of the reader. I'm Marc by the way... Marc Harris. What's your name?"
Marc laughed. "Well, looks like we share the same name and we own the same breed of dog. That's quite a coincidence don't you think?"
"Two to be exact," Marcia smiled back at him.
Marc decided he liked the beautiful stranger who had come into his life quite by accident; he admired her fresh-faced appearance and the way she tossed her cascading burnished hair over her shoulders. It reminded him of the sun-kissed expanse of sand that bordered the shoreline. She was younger than he was but not much. She still had that certain vivacity and spring in her step that could only be associated with youth.
"Shall we walk back to the town together? I was going to get some breakfast at the little cafe on the sea front - would you care to join me?" Marc suggested.
"I'd love to," Marcia replied, without a moment's hesitation. "Looks like they've made friends too," she observed, pointing to the two dogs that were now chasing each other along the cliff-top with boundless energy as their owners talked. "My collie's called Scamp... don't tell me your dog has the same name too!"
"No, her name's Flossie," Marc laughed, "two co-incidences are enough for one day."
Marcia looked momentarily taken aback as if she was about to reveal something and had decided not to at the last moment. She turned and whistled to Scamp so she could re-fasten his lead and they all headed off along the cliff path towards the still sleepy seaside town.
The cliff-tops in summer were as pretty as a cottage garden, vibrant with the colours of wild flowers. There were field roses and poppies in abundance and the sweet scent of honeysuckle drifted on the calm, sea breeze. Marcia was familiar with all their names and delighted in pointing them out to her new acquaintance whenever they came upon an interesting specimen. "That's golden saxifrage," she said gently, showing Mark the delicate creamy blossoms and again he was reminded of the colour of her hair. And she too was reminded of the vivid blue of Marc's eyes as they passed a clump of milk wort. "Come and look, Scamp and Flossie!" she called enthusiastically. "There are some dog roses here too!"
"Tell me about your writing," Marcia asked later as they tucked into a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs at the welcoming cafe.
"Well, I'm from the Midlands originally but I've always wanted to write about the sea, So I come to Cornwall every Summer in search of inspiration. I normally write short stories and articles, but this year I wanted to write a real Cornish saga complete with smugglers, tin mines and shipwrecks - a book that's absolutely steeped in Cornish history."
Marcia was enthralled. "My father runs a shop here in the town. He has a good supply of Cornish books so come along and have a browse if it's inspiration you're after."
"Yes, I'd love to, but I find that most of my inspiration is gained from my own experiences," Marc explained as the exhausted collies basked contentedly outside in the sun. "I've got the notes which I jotted down as I was watching the waves crashing onto the rocks. Would you like to hear them?"
"Please," Marcia replied with genuine interest. She liked the sound of his voice, rich and resonant and she liked the way he was willing to talk about his writing. He moved the breakfast things to one side, delved deep into his rucksack for his A4 pad and began to read: "The icy, white breakers roared relentlessly, smashing the stricken vessel against the jagged granite rocks and tearing out her very heart. Precious cargo spilt from the hold and brave seafarers met their untimely end in treacherous Cornish waters."
"That's excellent - I'm impressed. You've certainly managed to evoke the right atmosphere and I'm sure you'll do well with your intended book."
And Marcia really was impressed; she admired Marc immensely. He had a warmth about him that made her feel at ease. She felt happy too, happier than she'd felt for some time. Last year her fiancé had gone up to Plymouth to find work; he'd met someone else and hadn't returned. She'd spent a long, lonely winter brooding for what might have been, but perhaps now was the time to put all that behind her. It was strangely uplifting in the presence of this man she had only just met and she hoped she'd see him again.
"Will I see you again?" Mark inquired as if he'd read her very thoughts.
"Oh, I'm sure you will if you're here for the season," Marcia said as they left the cafe and walked towards the harbour. The sun had now climbed higher into the sky and the sea-gulls were screeching as they soared above the picturesque seaside town. "My father's shop is just over there by the boat-yard, we can go there now if you like. It's called "Harbour Lights." He sells just about everything he can cram into his tiny storeroom so if you run out of anything you know where to come."
"It sounds wonderful," Marc beamed.
The shop was indeed a rare delight. There was row upon row of souvenirs of every description but mainly quality items, of local origin. Glazed ceramic tea sets from Foster's pottery and hand-painted models of engine houses and thatched cottages adorned the shelves. Lucky Cornish "Piskies" and other creatures from local folklore were depicted on a range of sparkling jewellery and it was obvious that Marcia's father would not allow any cheap, tacky goods to disgrace his shelves. The quaint little shop was an Aladdin's cave of beautiful things. Racks of postcards, books and beach toys cascaded onto the pavement outside and every inch of space was utilised to the full. The brightly painted sign above the door boasted of the delights inside:
JOHN TREMAYNE - PURVEYOR OF FINE THINGS.
"Come and meet my Dad," said Marcia, "and maybe you might like to take a look at one or two books after all, but first we can take the dogs round to the back of the shop - I'm sure they could do with a refreshing bowl of water."
Marc nodded as she led him through a narrow, cobbled alleyway and into a neatly, whitewashed courtyard, complete with a range of patio furniture. Marcia had removed a book from the stand at the front of the shop, but Marc hadn't noticed. It was a local interest publication with a picture of a ruined engine house on the front cover, still majestic in its appearance although long stripped of its former glory. The title was "Treasures of a Cornish Heritage" and the author, M. Tremayne.
Once they had seated themselves comfortably, and the dogs watered, Marcia opened the book and wrote something inside, before handing it to Marc. He turned to the first page and began reading the words she'd written beneath the title:
TO MARC, ENJOY YOUR STAY IN CORNWALL. PERHAPS THIS BOOK WILL PROVE USEFUL FOR YOUR RESEARCH. KIND REGARDS - MARCIA TREMAYNE.
"So you're a writer too! Why didn't you say?"
"Well, you said two co-incidences were enough for one day and I thought this would be a much nicer way of telling you."
Marc leant over and kissed her gently on the cheek and she knew then that the summer ahead would be a memorable one.
Coastal Walks Are A Feature Of The Cornish Landscape
About Cornwall - Where The Above Story Is Set.
Cornwall is the most westerly English county and boasts England's longest stretch of coastline. As Cornwall is a peninsula (see map below) nowhere in the county is more than thirteen miles from the coast. There are a wealth of beaches to discover, some of which have an Atlantic seaboard while others face the English channel. Cornwall also has extensive moorland and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
The Cornish landscape has been the inspiration for many writers. The Cornish born Rosamund Pilcher used the county as the setting for several of her novels.
Writers such as Daphne du Maurier and Virginaia Woolf have found the rugged landscape and the endearing tales of seafaring folk and smugglers to be material for some of their finest works.
Artists too, are drawn to Cornwall due to the excellent light and the marvelous seascapes that greet them around almost every headland. Newlyn and St.Ives in particular, are favourite places for artists to set up their studios.
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A Cornish Engine House
After reading the above story would you like to visit Cornwall?
© 2015 Stella Kaye