I first heard about Tintagel a couple of years ago, I came across a painting of Merlins Cave on Facebook by an artist called Anne Sudworth. It was quite simply, Magical. It awoke a desire in me to visit it one day, sadly the distance was too far and the time was never found for the journey, but the desire to go bubbled away beneath the surface. It was always a destination that I researched whenever a new trip was planned.
So, five weeks after my relationship had ended, where I had been cut off with zero contact (apart from one email that stated there was no going back and questions weren’t going to be answered), denied closure and removed from his life, I found myself needing to plan something, a point in time to look forward to, something to aim for, something to prove I was somebody in myself, that I could do things myself.
So the research began again in earnest and with purpose.
I googled places to stay, there were a few but the one that stood out for me was Camelot Castle Hotel – how could it not! It was perfect! Right in Tintagel, on a cliff, overlooking Tintagel Castle – perfect. But I didn’t book it, not straight away, oh no! I have to have conversations with myself first 🙄 but eventually the impulsive me won (thank goodness), I usually just end up saying to myself ‘will you regret it if you don’t do it?’ Something I always try to ask before saying no and walking away. The obvious answer being Yes so book it I did. Oh my goodness! The excitement I felt once I’d done it, I knew instantly it had been the right decision, I like to go with my gut instinct, it doesn’t normally fail me. I felt like a proper grown up, I’d made a decision, I hadn’t discussed it with anyone else – well apart from in my head!
Now I don’t think I appreciated just how far it actually was, a mere 297 miles. But I have to say in all honesty I was really very scared. I had been away on my own before, when I followed the Vulcan around the country to watch her fly, but I had someone to message and share it with, even if it was virtually. So this was different. This was me, Ange, not Mum or wife of or other half, Me, making decisions and looking after myself (I have ‘children’ who are 21 and 20 and to this day I’m amazed they made it this far!) so it was definitely a challenge. But I’m up for a challenge.
Luckily, I love to drive as it took me around 6 hours in the end but I wasn’t rushing, I could stop as and when I wanted, I do like my comfort breaks. I’ve had too many experiences of being painfully desperate so I stop regularly, just in case there’s a traffic jam around the next corner because the first thing I do is panic. I had my music playing – loud – and I sung my heart out, which is quite satisfying and therapeutic and must look hilarious to others driving past but did I care?! Nope!! The traffic wasn’t great on the M5 somewhere but it eventually cleared, it didn’t bother me. The most testing part was the last 60 miles, the rain had started to come down, well, sideways really but it landed at some point. The wind was incredibly strong too and trying to watch the road in the dark, with spray and lights while checking on the sat nav was interesting to say the least.
The roads eventually became less busy, narrower and darker but for me, driving in the dark on country roads becomes easier because you can see other cars approaching earlier than in the daytime. The rain began to slow and eventually eased off completely. On the last few miles into Tintagel I followed a driver who obviously wasn’t too confident either in the dark, on country roads or both! I ended up following them all the way to the hotel which even in the dark was very imposing.
I parked up and grabbed my bag and made my way to the reception, through the main front door and then through an old revolving door. I couldn’t really do too much looking around until I had checked in. The question “ is it just you” was uttered, I guess I’ll have to get used to it, I answered with as much dignity and normality as I could muster “yes, just me”, as if I’d been saying it for ages. He came round and showed me into the ‘lounge’ area. Oh My God. I was in love with it. It was perfect for me, old – I love old.
There was a huge round table with chairs around it, a giant stone fireplace at each end of the lounge, very large deep sofas that you could sit on and no-one would know you were there, a grand piano, a harp, giant paintings, well the list is endless, there was just so much to take in.
The guy told me the times of breakfast (very civilised, nothing at stupid o’clock) and explained where my room was, I had a sea view and a view of Tintagel Castle, but that wold have to wait until morning as it was 8.30. He left me to go and see to the other couple who had arrived at the same time as me – yes, they were that slow and apparently not just on the roads!
I made my way up the gorgeous wide staircase with sumptuous carpet on the stone. The banister was wide and wooden. I just went upstairs with a huge grin on my face (which I have to say barely left me the entire weekend) and found my room.
It was lovely, cosy and very welcoming. I unpacked a few bits and went back downstairs where the WiFi was apparently stronger. I’d eaten on my way down so that I didn’t have to worry when I got there. I just had a little wander and then sat on one of the sofas and just took it all in.
I was too shy and nervous to ask for a pot of tea so I took myself back up to my room to make one. While the kettle was boiling I turned off the lights to see if I could see anything outside. I couldn’t make anything out but I could hear the wind howling through the window so I was very surprised to notice that it was a clear night and I could see stars. I love gazing at the stars, it brings everything into perspective for me. The windowsill was big enough to sit on so I took my tea and sat on it with my feet up and just watched, in the dark. I knew there was a meteor shower peaking but I never thought I would be lucky enough to see one – but I did. WOW! I actually took a sharp intake of breath and put my hands to my mouth, it had completely taken me by surprise. I made a wish. I saw a couple more little ones. I felt so blessed and very lucky to be there and to see it. All doubts faded away. It had been the right decision. I was supposed to be there. I was supposed to wait a couple of years to go, to do it on my own. It was meant to be.
I had plans the next day, to go to Tintagel Castle and, the main reason for going, Merlins Cave. I was so excited. The wind was still blowing, storm Brian was still threatening but sleep came easily, it all felt so comfortable and right and I had a view to look forward to as well.