We arrived more than two hours later than planned, but the west of England summer light had not even faded even to dusk. A soft golden glow was just growing throughout the sunset, which had just tinged a flat-calm sea beyond this tumbling village. We were tourists here, strangers in this small, tightly-knit place. For people it had been just section of a tour, a lengthy weekend snatched in accordance from the clutches of our combined, ever demanding careers. I felt utterly liberated, that beautiful evening, as we walked the quarter mile roughly down the steep dry cobbles from the obligatory car park into the car-less village, the deadlines and demands of advertising for once confined away from limits of this small place. And I could tell from the spring in Jenny's step that her battles with bottom sets in Lewisham were now further distant than our three days on the

There was a small gift shop, a tourist-trap trinket place, only a hundred yards across the lane. I bought the newspaper our early departure from St. Ives had denied me, my daily fix of political gossip now long established being an essential feature of my adoption into London life. I explained that people were strangers here, had driven down the medial side road in the hope of finding something interesting and had nothing booked.

The shopkeeper said we had just three options - the Old Hotel just down the lane, a bed and breakfast at the end by the harbour or the farm nearby the junction with the key road, back where we had turned off. "It was different years ago," he explained, "when a lot of people used to stay over, nevertheless now it's all day long trippers and holiday homes. A decade ago we had half a dozen guest houses, but they've all closed down."

The Old Hotel was just two hundred yards from the shop, at the pinnacle of the steep cove that housed the tangled triangle of the village. It was a little beyond the cost we usually paid and had AA stars framed over its reception desk, but we fell for the area and checked in, just for one night. It was the sort of mock Jacobean black and white inn, whose insufficient a straight line just might have suggested it had been original. But the beams were hollow and the plaque above the entrance said, "Refurbished 1958."

"Are you experiencing any luggage to create from the car park?" the receptionist asked. The name tag pinned to her blouse said,'Hilary, Manageress '. "We have a man with a donkey and sledge who will bring it down for you." She wasn't joking. I lifted our two hold-alls and said it had been all we had. She smiled, offering politeness but communicating knowledge tinged with judgment. It was in an era when it had been still unusual for a couple to sign in without obviously trying to appear married.

We took the key for room number six. There have been only eight and the other seven keys were still hanging on their hooks when we took the lift - yes, the lift! - to the upper floor. Number six was at the trunk, obviously, right above your kitchen extractor fan and overlooked an enclosed yard with a yellowed corrugated plastic roof. It hid numerous lidless dustbins, that a hint of an aroma sweetened the still air when we opened the windows to encourage the prior occupant's cigarette smoke to leave. We dropped the bags and walked right down to the ocean to absorb the last of the late springtime sun at its setting.

The beach was shingle and small, hard-packed against a harbour wall that extended an excellent fifty yards into the shallow sea. A few clapperboard buildings, largely rotten, clung to its prominence, their profit long past, but their structures all but remaining. There have been doors missing and one structure had no interior, the uncovered entrance revealing merely sky beyond. At one time, clearly, the locals had something of a full time income using this place, fishing perhaps, maybe small trade, smuggling in poor times, salvage by design, who knows. And then came the tourists, the stranger trade of nineteenth century invention that evaporated when the trunk road widened and rendered the area no more than a excursion from anywhere this side of Birmingham or London.