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Talking Location With author Phyllida Shrimpton – CORNWALL

18th August 2022

#TalkingLocationWith… Phyllida Shrimpton, author of Every Shade of Happy

“What does Cornwall mean to me?”

“He inhaled deeply, allowing the Cornish air back into his lungs and wondered how he’d ever been able to breathe all this time without it.”

Everyone will naturally view a certain lovely place from their own perspective but, when it comes to Cornwall, I find myself viewing it not just through my own eyes but through the eyes of my late father.

So, what does Cornwall mean to me? It means beauty and family, but for my father it was the place where he was happy. It was the place he grew up, free to ride his horse in the lush green countryside, or to sail his little boat down the river Fal or swim in the teal waters of St Mawes. Cornwall is the home of piskies and pasties, cream teas, smugglers coves and the mythical treacle mines but, most of all, it was my father’s home. The place that resided in his heart and soul for all his life.

Phyllida Shrimpton

Tregothan House (Explore Cornwall)

He lived on the beautiful Tregothnan estate near Truro where my grandfather was lord Falmouth’s steward for 27 years. As a young boy, my father was sent to a strict Catholic boarding school in Devon where he was terribly homesick and yearned to return home. When WW2 broke out, he joined the RAF, became a pilot and fulfilled his dream to fly. He met my mother and fell in love, making plans for them to marry and live together in Cornwall. Fate had other ideas – a near fatal accident in Egypt in 1947 changed his life forever. He did marry my mother but they never lived in his beloved Cornwall.

Whilst growing up, I learnt to love this awesomely beautiful place through his unceasing passion for it. I remember when he would take me and my siblings there to visit our grandparents it felt so magical. My father, with his strict Victorian ways, found parenting rather difficult, but the moment we got to Cornwall his grey eyes would twinkle with the blue of the Cornish sea and it seemed to me that, back in his home land, the Cornish air allowed him to breathe again, as if suddenly he could remember what it felt like to be young and carefree. In time, I recognised this as happiness.

On one rare occasion, when it was just the two of us, he took me for a drive down a pretty country lane where the trees formed a sun dappled canopy leading to a gorgeous little tearoom somewhere on the outskirts of Truro. He wanted to show me the delights of a real cream tea and how important it was to put the jam on before the cream! Now, whenever I see scones I always think of the sun dappled lanes of Cornwall and how my father, who found conversation rather difficult, showed me his love, not with words but with a plate of scones, some strawberry jam and a bowl of Cornish clotted cream.

Phyllida Shrimpton

A perfect cream tea (via VisitCornwall)

While I was writing Every Shade of Happy, it felt as if I was finding my father’s heart and soul and taking them back to Cornwall, to be forever in the place he loved the most in all the world – the leafy forest of Lamorran Wood, near the ancient stone of Sett Bridge where the green waters of the river Fal flow down to the teal waters of the bay of St Mawes.

Phyllida Shrimpton

Every Shade of Happy by Phyllida Shrimpton is published by Aria. Out now

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Catch the author on Twitter @shrimpyshrimpy1

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Comments

  1. Phyllida,

    What a lovely post and such personal memories shared.

    I have added ‘Every Shade Of Happy’ to my wish list and whilst it is a work of fiction, I wonder just how many of those amazing times have been included within its pages, to one degree or another!

    Cornwall is one of my most favourite places and relatively easy to get to from my Somerset home. I like that we can drive around its entire coastline and all points in between, during a weeks holiday.

    And whilst nothing beats fish and chips on the beach, getting burnt fingers from tucking into a Cornish pasty, or sitting down to one of those refined cream tea moments; I still can’t wait to smell the kelp on the beach when the tide goes out, or to find a nice secluded cove where I can sit in silence and listen to the waves crashing against the rocks, or the shuush sound as they travel gently across the shingle beach.

    Thank you so much for my lunchtime dreaming session! 🙂

    Comment

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