On a summer vacation I had the opportunity to visit my grandparents that live in England for more then ten years. Because I didn't knew the town I got used to go to the video shop around the corner to rent some videos.
One day I had decided to visit Clovelly. It's a small fishing village situated in the south-west of England, on the north coast of Devon.
It was a little after ten when I arrived at the entrance gate after a leisurely, uneventful drive. The tourist invasion had not started yet; in fact the place was strangely quiet, yellowish mist hanging onto tree tops and houses roofs, mine the only human presence in sight. It was like stepping back in time. I stood still for a few moments, eyes half closed, hearing only the angry cry of the seagulls, as I was trying to feel the pulse of the place.
It was not without difficulty that I shook myself free of this self-induced trance and started the long walk downhill. The only thing I could hear was the strange muffled echo of my own footsteps on the narrow cobbled street. Now and then I stopped to peer at a quaint little house which seemed to have come out unspoiled from an illustrated history book. It was as if the place had stood still while all the world had been rushing and rumbling past it. I couldn't help glancing furtively around me, waiting for someone in medieval dress to call from an open door.
But then, the breeze slowly drove the mist towards the sea, leaving behind a clearly-focused scene of unreal beauty. I stood on the cold granite steps and gazed in wonder. The village was like a waterfall, the flower-strewn little cottages seemed to tumble over one another down both sides of the cobbled main street, as it descended in broad steps towards the sea. In the distance I could barely see where the milky sky met the water. There were no boats in sight; it was too early for pleasure cruises.
As I started again towards the pier, the atmosphere was entirely different. The sun was now bright and the air was filled with the soft hum of faraway voices. When I finally came round the last curve in the road, a totally new sight met my eye: dozens of people, old and young, searching amongst huge boulders for something which I soon saw were pebbles of all shapes and colours . Tourist at long last!
The way back up the same street cobbled street woke me completely from my earlier reverie; in fact, Clovelly seemed to be an entirely different place from the little old village that had taken me back in time that very morning. Tourists all around, cameras flashing, the unfamiliar sound of other languages, the laughter of children riding indifferent-looking mules, the smell of fresh scones coming out of the little places where cream teas were being served.
As I was making my way to the car, even more tourists were pouring out of the gift shop, but I was sure none of them could ever buy what I had enjoyed in the peaceful hours of the morning: those unique moments of solitude when I had felt the pulsse of the real Clovelly.