There’s more to than just a rippling torso
There are many things that can make me a happy man on a Sunday: being surrounded by grandchildren; pottering in the garden to the sound of church bells; sharing a roast with good friends; and a period drama to watch in the evening. Ah, Poldark! Where have you been for the past 40 years? Yes; that’s how long it is since Robin Ellis clasped Angharad Rees to his manly chest. ’Twas back in 1975 that Cornwall was discovered by the masses, and judging by the good fortune the current producers had with the weather, ’twill be another good summer for Kernow. My apologies for lapsing into 18th-century lingo. You see, I am not one of those who watch the likes of Downton Abbey with pencil and pad in hand, ready to jot down the moment that a television aerial comes into view, and neither am I a stickler for dialect. The Cornish accent used by the cast of the 2015 Poldark will do me nicely, thank you very much. They don’t mumble, they speak clearly, and I am quite sure that many of the Causing a stir: Aidan Turner as the dashing Ross Poldark in the new BBC series inhabitants of our farthest peninsula did indeed say “Oh, aaar” quite a lot back then. Come to think of it, some of them do now. I suppose if I do take issue with anything then it is Aidan Turner’s physique. Having been a manual labourer (well, manual apprentice and student) for the first eight years of my working life, I never developed abs and quads and pecs quite like his. Actually, I am still not sure where they are or what they are meant to do, except make the ladies gasp. My youthful body was not so much sculpted as gangling, unlike Aidan’s – sorry, Ross Poldark’s. But I doubt that 18th-century Cornish landowners had access to running and rowing machines and weights. Yet I must not cavil. If Mr Turner’s torso gives Mrs T and others a frisson, then who am I to mutter darkly into my Cornish pasty? I manage to visit Cornwall every couple of years, travelling to Penwith (the northern arm of the peninsula, as opposed to The Lizard, which is the southernmost point). Next to my native Yorkshire and my adopted county of Hampshire it remains a favourite part of Britain. Why? Mainly for its coastline. Parts of inland Cornwall are dull and bleak. I say that as an observation, not a criticism. The Yorkshire Moors, too, are bleak, and so I would not denigrate those who find such bleakness compelling. But the coastline of Cornwall is a thing of unsurpassed rugged beauty, especially in May, when I most frequently visit. Then the clifftops are awash with the pink drumsticks of thrift and a rug of bright yellow vetches. There are gulleys peppered with foxglove spires, and clear streams tumbling into the turquoise sea below. Seals pop up their heads in welcoming bays, and there are sandy beaches: small, quiet ones as well as the larger and more populous Newquays of this world. I can walk the South West Coastal Path and lose myself for hours in my imagination, and now that it has been refreshed by Sunday night viewing, this year’s visit will be all the more welcome. I don’t have many ambitions left in life, but I would quite like to ride a horse along that strip of coastline and take a look at the Warleggan mansion. Who lives there now, I wonder? And did they really put a new roof on that hitherto ruined tin mine or was it (as I suspect) made of timber and plastic and removed when the film crew left? All questions that are really of little consequence in the great scheme of things, and yet they come as a result of Sunday evenings spent in fine company – that of Cornwall and a cast of characters I am delighted to encounter once more.