Mousehole in the Fog

The seaside town of Mousehole was a detour that almost never happened, but it ended up being a defining point in the weekend and completely solidifying the overall sense of quaintness, cosiness and happy self-containment I now associate with the trip. It had been on our original itinerary, along with Penzance, but after the day's earlier stops we were tired, slightly damp and ready to get to our hotel in Land's End, so we decided to clear the schedule and just drive straight there. The fog that had started creeping towards the shore while we were in St. Ives was now absolutely everywhere and, despite the fact we were driving along a route that was completely inland, the roads and the thick greenery bordering them were still absolutely blanketed. I think it was the fog that put us back in the mood for exploration, because somewhere in the middle of what I can only assume was a small forest, we saw an appropriately quaint wooden sign marking the turn off for Mousehole, chucked a very sharp u-turn at the last minute and headed there after all. Fantastic decision.

If you've been around here for more than five minutes you should be well aware that I am obsessed with precipitation. Thunderstorms are the source of all my power, snow makes me so excited that my heart threatens to leap from my body in order to make tiny bloody snow angels and half the reason I liked Twilight was because it rained the entire time. Other half was because I was fifteen and Edward sounded hot, but even that was only improved upon by the idea of constant storms. #Hygge. According to my recent googling, fog is not precipitation but rather part of a category called 'suspensions', but turns out I like those too because after this trip fog has become my third favourite kind of weather. 

Driving along the tiny, winding road towards Mousehole, the fog we'd seen starting to form in St. Ives was now out in full force. We could see the fishing huts and street signs and the occasional other car within a few metres of ours, but on the side where the ocean was supposed to be there was nothing. A white void, with no distinguishing features, imperfections or breaks. Just white. Eventually the road veered towards the whiteness, we emerged into the village itself and I was captivated. First of all, rarely does on encounter a setting so overwhelmingly quaint, and secondly, the fog was so thick we could barely see the edge of the spot we'd parked in. Where there should have been water, there was white. Up every street, there was white. Above and around us in every direction there was white, and the edges of the village faded out. There was something vaguely apocalyptic about it all, but after the tourist rush of St. Ives, the contrasting stillness was comforting. It was mid-afternoon, despite the lack of sun it wasn't too cold, and there were just enough people around to stop us from feeling too conspicuous.

As a last minute addition, there was nothing on our itinerary for Mousehole and no sense of urgency or obligation. The fact we'd made it at all felt like enough of an accomplishment, so we took our time and just walked around. We walked along the main street, staring out at the boats and seaweed disappearing into nothing. The occasional car would pass, and we'd overhear the odd snippet of conversation when we got close enough to any of the few other people still wanting to be out by the invisible seaside, but fog has a way of creating a silence and a stillness. Whether it's some sort of natural soundproofing or if the etherealness of it all just makes people want to shut up a bit, everybody seemed calm and quiet, and once we were out of sight it was easy to imagine we were the only ones there.

We spent 40 minutes or so walking up and down the little streets, saying hello to cats and commenting repeatedly on the fog, as one does with any sort of slightly abnormal weather. Still there. Still wet. Still white. The stillness and silence meant that once we were off the main road and couldn't see anyone, it felt a bit like a ghost town. I couldn't process that there might be anyone inside any of the houses, or that it was a functional day-to-day place where people lived and carried on with their lives because the only frame of reference I had was this eerily subdued day when half the town was invisible. If I were to go back on a sunny day and see boats on the water and groups of people hanging around I think I would be shaken to the core. In my mind Mousehole is an almost mythical place where everything stands still and you can't see the end of the street. Where no one exists if you don't want them to and the whole town is there just for you to explore. I think I'd like it to stay that way.

Satisfied with our exploring, we decided to call it a day and head back to the barely visible carpark, but not before Will had procured himself an authentic Cornish pasty. "Cornish Pixies?!" I believe I would have said, several times under my breath in a spot on Seamus Finnigan accent. But yes, a Cornish pasty had been on the agenda all day and as this was likely to be the last bakery we'd see, the time had arrived. Pasty in hand, absolutely exhausted and slightly damp from walking through a literal cloud, we plopped back into the car and did a big ol' exhale. Will, upon biting eagerly into the aforementioned pasty, had discovered it was not in fact 'vegetable and cheese' like the woman had said, but something more along the lines of 'onion and onion', but that did not deter him. It should have, but he is almost half as stubborn as I am, which is saying a LOT, so he persevered. I stole a nice chunk of onionless crust, which I will say was delish, and loaded the map to Land's End.

Gearing up for the slow drive out of Mousehole, neither of us had the energy to resume our #1 roadtrip pastime of Arguing Over Music, so I put on what we'd discovered was the only safe compromise - BBC Classic FM. Immediately, this decision paid off as the announcer introduced a movement from Holst's 'The Planets' and the atmosphere intensified by 1000. The first few notes rang out as we drove up a little hill out of the town, the beach cottages giving way to vine-covered houses as the level of greenery intensified along with the music. As it finally started to rain, The Planets ended and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack kicked in; let me tell you, nothing quite compares to sitting exhausted in a warm car and driving down a foggy road completely engulfed by trees, with an elven battle theme blasting at full volume. What a life.

It was still only afternoon and our day was far from over, but there was a half hour drive in front of us before we reached Land's End, so we settled in and enjoyed the storm. I say this as the person who was not driving and could just sit in a comfortable ball, staring out the window, but I know for a fact that William also found this portion of the journey equally magical. He likes Lord of the Rings a lot more than I do, so that probably helped. Land's End is a tale for another day, so this is where I'll leave you for now, but my final note (aside from the fact I'm looking at non-fog Mousehole right now on google and it is UNRECOGNISABLE) is that I took the last photo of this post out the window of a moving vehicle, and it ended up being one of my favourite pictures of the trip. When I look at it I can hear The Planets blaring out, and it brings back the exact feeling I had after our detour to Mousehole. We almost didn't go, but the weekend wouldn't have been the same without it.