Autumn has always been my favourite season. Landscapes blaze with rich, vibrant colours as leaves turn, then fall. Thick socks and favourite jumpers are once again necessities. The early dusk invites evenings of rest: a merry fire ablaze, a glass of red wine, a favourite book. Such evenings can be particularly delightful in a Landmark property. There is something wonderfully welcoming about an old building on cold, crisp days - staying within ancient walls which have withstood monumental events and provided safety in many storms.
It was in one such storm that I arrived at The Captain’s House. As Storm Callum battered the south-west coast, I braved the M5 southbound with words of sensible warning ringing in my ears. I drove first to the delightful St Ives, a town rich with artistic heritage, and then turned south, winding my way along the narrowing coast road towards Zennor and beyond.
I reached the Captain’s House as the evening began closing in. With the light fading, a steady pitter-patter of rain turned into gushes. Guided by the glow of hessian-shaded lamps, I unpacked and settled in for the night.
There is something magical about waking to a world shrouded in mist; it invites calmness. After a slow Saturday breakfast at a big, square farmhouse table I strolled across the fields towards Porthmeor Cove. Meandering through the mizzle I admired the texture of radiant burnt-umber gorse, the gun-metal grey colour of the sea and the familiar sight of low-lying trees contorted by the wind. During the summer of 1910 Virginia Woolf spent time in Lower Porthmeor, lodging with then-owners the Berryman family. Aged 28 she was recuperating from recent illness, spending her days striding out across the moors.
I spent my time reading. Michael Bird’s The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Place and Time guided a Saturday afternoon exploration of nearby Tate St Ives and the Leach Pottery. My Sunday was filled with fireside inspiration from an edited collection of Barbara Hepworth’s conversations and writing plus Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room. Hepworth moved to Carbis Bay in 1939 and into St Ives ten years later, while Woolf spent a lifetime drawing on memories of her childhood summer holidays overlooking Porthminster Beach. From the comfort of a linen-covered Landmark armchair and clutching an Old Chelsea mug of tea, I reflected on the creativity some of our greatest 20th-century cultural figures found in the Cornish landscape.
On Monday I lingered as long as I could, driving slowly back across Cornwall. As autumn storms dissipate, gentle near-winter sunlight throws a landscape into a new range of colours. Across the morning my favoured muted tones transformed and took on a sparkle of new life: blues glittered and danced, murky mustard yellows turned to vibrant buttercups, stoney greys deepened into elegant charcoal. I soaked up the rocky hills, the silent ruins of former tin mines and the ethereal seascapes, storing up memories of an atmospheric autumn landscape to take back to the city with me.
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