Looking back on that afternoon, there are a couple of things that I hold responsible for what happened.
The crisp and salty sea air, for one. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the beach. The sound of the ocean waves breaking, crashing against the shore; the fine spray that permeates the air; stepping lightly through rock-pools as they glint in the sunlight; hearing the steady lap and savouring the sensation of sand and sea water sucking at my toes as the water recedes, and returns, then recedes again. Or sitting at the top of a cliff and watching, hearing and feeling the thunderous power of the waves smashing violently against the rock-face. There is something so awe-inspiring about the ocean; the pure power of nature, the influence of the moon on the changing tides, the way the air just smells right. Even the cacophonous cries of the seagulls as they hover in mid-air, riding the ocean breeze, is like a symphonic masterpiece to my ears.
Secondly, I was on holiday. Many miles from home. A strange thing happens to me whenever I’m away from home, by myself and in an environment where no one knows me. I become a different person. I don’t just mean that in a poetic sense, either. It’s as though I channel another part of myself when I’m out of my usual setting. I eat foods that I would never normally touch when I’m at home, I shed my inhibitions and wear the kind of clothes that I’d never normally wear (shorts! me, with my pale Scottish legs!?). I’ve even been known to use an alias and/ or create an entire alter-ego for myself while on holiday; for a ten day period in 2009, the restaurateurs and bar-staff of Provence knew me as ‘Alessia’, an exotic dancer from Rome. (Unfortunately, I got caught out eventually when a sexy waiter started hitting on me in my “native tongue”: I don’t know a word of Italian.)
So, all of this is just to say that, in my defence, I’m not quite myself when I’m on holiday. And I blame that fact for what transpired last summer when I was in Cornwall.
Want to find out what happened? “I Spy” is now published as “Summer Holiday in Cornwall is Always Brilliant” at The Secret Boneyard on Medium.