Out Now!

Friday, 19 August 2011


We emerged from the mist like melancholy sheep, wraiths in anoraks. This was more like it. Morose but content. The Keytons on holiday. Overlooking the sea indistinguishable from the wetness around us, we picnicked at Tintagel and ruminated on Arthur. If this was his Camelot no wonder the Knights of the Round Table came to their dismal end. Arthur must have been terminally depressed; probably threw himself on Mordred’s sword just to get away. There would be sunshine in Avalon, and he had chain mail to protect himself from midges. I understood then why Isolde had fled her husband in favour of Tristan. Mark never stood a chance. “It’s not you, dear.” And she probably meant it. Tintagel.

We chewed our cheese sandwiches and contemplated the rock, grey in mist but rearing high in the clouds. The climb looked formidable and I thought back to Canillas de Aceituno, and the expats we had met. There was a guy that could make you drunk on his breath. Flies died from alcohol poisoning. This was his solution to sunshine and loneliness; another who had imbedded himself in the Spanish community. He was opening a convalescence home for seriously ill children, and his own child attended a Spanish school. He seemed the exception.

They reminded me of Crusading knights each in their villa - tiny castles on alien hills - each with their pool, their glorious sunsets, their satellite dish, and most important of all, a fast internet connection to home. They were immensely hospitable, some cheerful and at peace with the world, others lost like ghosts in a landscape that didn’t belong to them. It reminded me of the importance of roots and that relationship with others that even plants, with their very different senses share. I chewed on my sandwich.

“What are you thinking of?” my daughter asked.

“Richard of Cornwall,” I said. “His brother Henry III gave him Cornwall as a birthday present. He built the castle – what you can see of it - in 1233.”

“Not Arthur then.”

“Not Arthur, though the site itself was important to the ancient Cornish kings.

“So he may have been here.”

“Have a cheese sandwich.”


Maria Zannini said...

Ref: His brother Henry III gave him Cornwall as a birthday present.

And all I ever got was a birthday card. I need a better family.

Misha Gerrick said...

That is almost creepy. My WiP has Arthurian connections and I actually have a castle built on cliffs just like these.

Down to the color of the sea...

Mike Keyton said...

Maria - Ref 'better family' bear in mind Richard's father was King John. :)

Misha, despite all I said, Tintagel is incredibly atmospheric. I hope you get to go there someday. Good luck with the wip

Renee Miller said...

I love that picture. I stared at it for a long time. I think it's the fog. I love fog. And I agree with Maria, need a better family. I don't even get the cards anymore on my birthday. I let them know a month in advance that the day is coming, plenty of time to buy a card. Or make one. I'm not picky.

Mike Keyton said...

No cards on your birthday? Renee, that's dreadful. Here - let me give you Cornwall, or perhaps you'd like a small property in Wales.

Renee Miller said...

Thanks, Mike. Cornwall is just what I've always wanted. I'll have to find someplace safe to keep it though, in case someone tries to steal it.

Author Susan Griscom said...

Mike, if I ever get a chance to visit the UK, I would love to visit with you and your family. You have some outstanding adventures. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Keyton said...

And you'd be very welcome. But adventure not guaranteed :)

Claudia Del Balso said...

These are beautiful pics, Mike.
I wrote a short story inspired by Isolde and Tristan. Maybe not so dramatic as theirs but with a modern twist (WWII) in the south of US. ;) I even named my character Isolda (in Spanish). I am still tweaking that sucker :)) It'll never be finished, I think.

Shirley Wells said...

Tintagel, whatever the weather, is one of my favourite places. So atmospheric.

I love those pictures. Thanks for sharing!

Mike Keyton said...

Claudia, I'm sure you'll finish it. I'd love to read about a vengeful Mark spitting tobacco and twanging his braces :)

Shirley, Tintagel is atmospheric, much nicer than the more tacky Lands End. What I really liked about it was the parish church. Did you go to that?