26th May to 2nd June 2001, 3rd to 10th August 2002
While I was living in Milton Keynes I became good friends with a lady called Sarah and her three daughters, giving each other a lot of mutual support through some quite challenging times. In late May 2001 I was invited to join them on a trip on the train down to Newquay in Cornwall to visit Sarah's dad and step-mum and simply to soak up some healthy sea air. In August 2002, reeling from the rather sudden end of what had been a far-too-fairytale engagement they insisted that it would do me good to go down again. Both times I stayed with Sarah's parents (who had a separate apartment in their house, so I could be fairly self-sufficient) while Sarah and the girls had the use of another cottage. This worked quite well, giving plenty of space for us to spend as much or as little time together as we liked.
The weeks certainly had their challenges, and weren't always quite the break intended, but they definitely had their many good points and on reflection I have no regrets about having gone. I suppose the single biggest positive thing was getting to know my friends better, as sometimes can only really happen when dropped in at the deep end - and I would say that our friendship grew significantly stronger as a result. Yes, I made sure I kept a good part of each day to myself, doing a little cliff-top and beach walking, visiting the town aquarium and so on, but inevitably I spent a lot of time with my friends, whether on the beach, eating, travelling on the train, playing games or whatever.
As for Newquay itself, it's a seaside town, with what one would expect of a seaside town - though perhaps not done to death quite as much as if it had been closer to major population centres. The 2001 trip down coincided with the infamous annual Run to the sun event, attracting a motley brigade of motor enthusiasts of varying degrees of consideration, and generally causing chaos regardless. Towan Beach, nearest the centre of Newquay, is actually rather nice - sandy and sheltered with the harbour and quite impressive cliffs around, and a few rock pools and so on for small people to enjoy exploring. Fistral Beach is probably Newquay's most famous beach, but rather out of the way and definitely the domain primarily of surfers and body-boarders rather than families and hangers-on...
So that was that, really. On with a selection of photographs for your enjoyment!