Wednesday 4 December 2013

Travel to St Ives, England

A little old man stands at the edge of the harbour. He always stands when he works. In his left hand is a photograph, a commission to keep him busy for the next few days.

He holds his brush in his right hand, masterfully transforming the canvas in front of him into someone's dream painting, an image to take pride of place on their lounge wall.

Every other stab of the brush he stops and takes a step back, checking his judgement. Behind him lie several pieces of previous work, portraits of many a happy customer.

His face is weathered, years of exposure to the sea and wind. His greying hair straddles halfway down his back, bound in a ponytail. What a wonderful life he enjoys.

Across the harbour the fishermen of St Ives prepare for a day at sea. Hopes of a good catch make for jolly banter aboard the boats as the crews prepare the nets and rigging.

The stench of fish from previous catches continues to linger and drifts around the dock. Seaweed clings to the nets and adds to the aroma.

The clattering of gear on deck adds to the general din as I make my way past the old Sloop Inn and head towards the main shopping high street.

The narrow cobbled street starts with a slow incline. To the left lies an enticing little gift shop full of ocean souvenirs. The entrance leads you down a short but steep flight of steps, past a glut of hanging novelties.

Once at the bottom the shop opens out into an underground cavern of curiosities. Delicate little ornaments fill every nook and cranny.

The shelves ahead house a series of maps depicting geographical changes over the centuries throughout the regions of England.

The streets above are now bustling with life as locals and tourists work their way through the myriad of tight narrow streets like an army of busy ants.

Every few minutes the inconvenience of a passing motorist disturbs the balance of the high street.

The cobbled streets are so narrow you literally have to stand with your back to the wall to allow the passing vehicle. God help you if you have pushchairs and children.

But this minor gripe aside, St Ives is a town of rich character, a place to shop, soak up the sun and experience life in one of the quintessential fishing towns of Cornwall.

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