Rained out

It helps greatly to keep one’s feet to oneself.

Sticking a limb out too far in the wrong places can have dire consequences: it can send someone flying, as I found when I rested my feet in the aisle of a plane and sent a manicured air hostess plummeting to the floor.

Similarly, when I was ice skating, I flung out my arms in a gesture of happy abandon, thus felling a speed skater,sending him careering across the ice on all fours.

You obstruct something on its way somewhere, you should expect fallout.

It is something the gods of landmass should have considered when moving their huge continental plates into final positions.

Because even when continental chess was being played there were some pretty unstoppable forces making their way around this globe. And they’re still trying today.

I speak of the weather systems that seethe constantly up and down the sphere causing one, sometimes, to wonder if there are not three celestial hags out there somewhere using this globe as their cauldron.

Bubble, bubble.

The Cornish peninsula sticks out exactly like a foot. It is made up of plateaus of high ground which end abruptly at the sea in sheer cliffs.

The foot is surrounded on three sides by warm sea generating warm air, and as it sticks out into the sea the air must need rise and cool to meet the land.

Thus, it rains.

A lot.

We woke today to rain as only Cornwall can do it. Torrential stairrods, hour after hour, relentless and unending.

That’s it then, Phil declared: Tintagel’s off.The Cornish cliff top castle would have to wait.

No one bothered to contradict him. Even when you opened a window the rain exploded in as if we were on a boat in the midst of a storm, propelled by winds off the moor.

All eyes, however, were on the dog. The dog needed walking.

He sat stolidly with a grave moutsachio’d countenance, waiting for his dues.

My sister in law has a wealth of rainwear in her wardrobe, for she lives here on this plateau of a moor, on this boot sticking out into ocean, where 2000mm of rainwater can plummet to earth in any one year.

Amongst her armour is a raincoat worthy of Captain Ahab. A hooded oilskin which reaches your ankles. I eyed it speculatively. Surely nothing can get through that, I mused.

A few minutes later a grizzled sea captain in green wellies was tethering a stolid animal and preparing to face the storm.

We stepped out into the wind-whipped village, nodding to the streams and runnels as they gushed past us on the way to the sea.

I have something of the Bronte in me: I had a wild urge to throw off a hood and feel the wind and rain on my face, possibly laughing gothically.

I took down the hood with elated rebelliousless.

And then I replaced it hurriedly: this was not the time or the place. The only garment which could replace Ahab’s cloak was a wetsuit.

Onwards, sequelching now, with jeans already waterlogged, past a gate to a great green field, where a herd of cows stood erect in a comedy freeze–frame, staring levelly at us.

We have a tradition here that if you see the cows lying down in a field, it’s about to rain.

Cows lying down, indeed, I thought. These ladies looked as though they could stand through a Methodist assembly.

I hurried on. It is customary to cross a field on Ricky’s walk; and when I saw the entrance my heart sank.

Mud: trodden and stirred by bovine tenants, smattered with their own individual contributions. It was pungent, a veritable slough of despond.

Gingerly, I tried to steer a course, followed by an incredulous dog. Seriously? His demeanour emanated. I squelched and cursed until the mud threatened to top my boots.

So I turned and resquelched my steps to back to the road.

We headed for home. I come from the British Nanny school of weather management. A few drops of rain won’t hurt you, its wisdom goes.

But because the foot sticks out into every weather system going, rain here is spectacular. It is as if the gods have been swilling out the celestial pigsty and are emptying their buckets directly on us.

I can almost hear some Greek-godly matron lecturing:If you insist on sticking your foot out to interrupt an Atlantic depression, you must square up and accept the consequences.

I met someone who knew the dog on the way home. Hello, little boy, she crooned, your mistress was right about the rain. Oh, well, she added: nothing for it, but to get inside and wait.It’s what we do, here in Cornwall.

So we did.



42 thoughts on “Rained out

  1. If it’s any consolation, someone just unzipped the sky here too…

    Recognise this: ‘I come from the British Nanny school of weather management. A few drops of rain won’t hurt you…’ She was right of course but then so many other things don’t hurt one either (cod liver oil, brussels sprouts…) but it doesn’t mean any of them are enjoyable either!

  2. You have just described perfectly some of our Cornish holidays – Felt I was right back there. Good writing x

  3. My dogs refuse to walk in heavy rain. Actually, Molly refuses to walk in anything except neutral temperatured dead calm, but that’s another story. I am impressed by Macauley.

    Love the way you so casually fell the approaching world. BTW, your open invitation to visit me has been mysteriously rescinded πŸ˜‰

    Here’s something I’ve discovered: I’ve been following your blog for ages now but been confused about where you are. Read your tweets yesterday and realised you live in Cornwall. Read this today and realised you don’t live in Cornwall and that you are, in fact, on holiday/visiting relatives. I’ve discovered I must pay closer attention to your posts.

    1. Sorry, Tilly: confused everyone by going on hols for a few days. I used to pride myself on every post being a stand- alone: I’m slacking. Cindy, too, was baffled, and I managed to compound matters by deleting her comment….shall endeavour to do better in future….

  4. Oh Kate. I know that rain. I have walked with pushchairs in it. I have sheltered behind stacks of deckchairs in it. It is the wettest, hardest rain in the world! I refuse to do it ever again. Cornwall is now only reserved for quick teaching visits – and not many of those.

    Hope you get a glimmer of something other than rain soon. (The rain is softer in Pembrokeshire πŸ˜† )

    1. I am in the car driving to Tintagel on a diamond-clear morning with no wind- even the wind-farms are standing idle! Thanks Nuvofelt- your well wishes fell on fertile ground πŸ™‚

  5. Aha! I knew I was right. For years and years I’ve said that when the cows lie down it means it is going to rain. I am laughed at, ridiculed, tee heed, and this is just what my own family does. Strangers are not so kind to me. Now I have it straight from Cornwall that this is, indeed, a phenom. Unless, of course, it is the torrent you just walked through.

    1. Indeed it is a saying here, Penny: but I fear yesterday’s cows did not know it as they stood through the entire downpour. Phil said, well, maybe they came into the field and it was wet and so they decided not to lie down. And I said, meh….

  6. Wonderful (series of) post(s), and chalk up another geographical area on my ‘must explore before I die’ list… but, 2000mm of rain in one year??? I shall not complain of our rains anymore (yeah, right! πŸ˜‰ ) Had to laugh out loud at this image (referring to cows in the field):

    These ladies looked as though they could stand through a Methodist assembly

    and giggled as well at the British Nanny school of weather management.

  7. McCauley doesn’t know what he’s missing, Kate – but if he did know, he would be in Bwahahaha mood. Hope the weather picked up a little and see you soon.
    Love Dad

  8. He’s looking back at the camera as though trying to say, “No! No! Really! I don’t have to go!”

    Rain exploding through the windows………marvelous post. I think I will go dry off now. πŸ™‚

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced rain like this! I could feel the cold, but also a sense of the adventure. I admire your fortitude. It may match your writing talent, which is considerable! Debra

  10. All the dogs I’ve had love to go out in the (gentle/mild/soft) rain. They all hate walking in it when it pelts down! Your McCauley relative is just the same from his expression, lol! I can read about dogs until the cows come home, as you’ve probably noticed!

  11. I didn’t know England could rain with African enthusiasm, but even Hampshire managed it at one stage of our stay. That dog seems to be looking back and saying, ‘She’s bonkers; you know that?’ What you mistook for expectation of a walk was dread that one might happen.

    I imagine many an air hostess has a trip to spoil her trip. The long-limbed have to put their feet SOMEWHERE.

    Your Cornish Rhapsody continues highly entertaining.

  12. Poor little dog, having to go out in rain like that without his own raincoat. No wonder he looks so unhappy. Based on your description, I’m afraid I wouldn’t particularly care for Cornwall. I can only stand gray skies a few days at a time.

  13. Fabulous writing, Kate. You took me with you to such an extent that if you hadn’t decided to “get inside and wait”, I would have had to jump in the shower to warm up!

  14. We sit here is sunny Johannesburg with the temperatures in the mid thirties, dreaming of a bit of rain to cool it down and provide relief for plants and animals, and you offer me a Cornish deluge complete with squishy mud to the top of the wellies? How cruel πŸ˜‰

    Of course when it rains here we all rush outside starkers to dance and get clean

    Hope the day at Tintagel goes wonderfully, I can’t wait to hear your view.

  15. I love rain, but I needed a hot cup of tea after this post! I love being in the spring garden when it rains hard like this, getting all prune-y and sopping, breath hanging on the air, then coming in to a hot bath, tea, and a good book. The bliss of extremes!

  16. ‘I have something of the Bronte in me: I had a wild urge to throw off a hood and feel the wind and rain on my face, possibly laughing gothically.’ – hahahahaha (I would like to do that to πŸ˜‰ ). Great story – love the way you weave the ‘sticking the foot out’ theme through the whole thing.

  17. I’ve been in a rather somber mood this eve, Kate, so your opening was very much enjoyed…esp. the speed skater, a scene from a movie, that one! Oh, and the rain, boo…this would make me most soggy, indeed, one cannot even jog in that stuff ~

  18. I recall renting a chalet in Cornwall – and paying extra for a sea view. In the week I was there I never saw the sea once – not even whe I stood on the cliff top and looked directly down. And driving was sometimes impossible. More than once every car on the road was forced to switch on their hazard lights and pull over. And the sound: Deafening. Principal clothing EVERY DAY was wellies, raincoat, and umbrella. But did the family enjoy it? Too right they did. Even today – fifteen years later – we still look at a rain-lashed skyline and say, “It’s Cornwall holiday weather: Isn’t it great?”.

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