‘BECKY; TUNA PANINI!’ We are sat on the shingle at Fishcombe Cove and yes, the Panini is ours. The call is from the beach-cafe owner, letting us know our lunch is ready, a call that could be heard half a mile round the corner at Churston no doubt. I’m tempted to go and order more food paid for by fictitious characters until someone cottons-on, but I’m not sure the humour in it will be appreciated.
Fishcombe is wooded, sheltered and has clear seas but despite the idyllic surroundings the vibe is a bit off, or at least it is in my mind. A guy behind us is literally bellowing at his young daughter when her exploring takes her ten feet away and the family in front almost parked themselves on top of us in a move that was more aggressive take-over than mutual beach merger.
The arrival of lunch is a welcome interlude to the odd body language and the bellowing. We tuck in happily and almost on cue, Huey wakes up. In the last few days we have been feeding him (or letting him play with), his first solid foods. This progression has been supervised by Becky via an approach known as ‘baby led weaning’ that I will talk about in another post.
Whilst she has read the book on B.L.W, I have not. There’s little excuse for this oversight either as she’s left it with me to read, relevant pages with post-it notes in place. Regardless, spurred on by Bec’s success and a desire to feed my child I remove a chunk of tomato from the Panini and pop it in Huey’s smiling mouth.
I can’t remember Bec’s exact warning words as I do this, as what follows is complete choking, chaos. You see the idea of B.L.W is exactly that, that the baby feeds itself, not an adult poking chunks in its mouth. Mercifully, Huey’s choking body does what it needs to do and in a few seconds the tomato is on the beach. My heart however is running around 200 bpm and I’ve already resolved to read that book, comprehensively. We manage to bring ourselves back from the edge of panic and finish our lunch, but despite the nervous laughter and my apologies to Huey we’re both of a mind to get going.
Before we’d set off today I’d done my usual boy-scout routine and worked out that you could reach a second cove from here called Churston. Instead of leaving the day on a low we decide to give this a shot and off we set. The walk from Fishcombe to Churston is a lovely affair through well established deciduous woodland that’s letting glimpses of the strong August sun strike the floor. This walk is tough, steep and requires care…as usual this is no concern to Huey who has forgotten tomato-gate and gone promptly to sleep.
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Your first view of Churston is framed by trees, looking out to an aquamarine sea and on this day a solitary, white sailing boat. Scenes like this in Torbay make me laugh; with the sun beating down this could just as easily be a sheltered spot in the Mediterranean, its absolutely lovely.
We arrive at Churston and look for somewhere to decamp. This is another shingle beach like Fishcombe but it feels much more secluded as there is no obvious access, no cafe or other facilities. If you want to get here its a hike along the South West Coast path, a swim or a boat. We decide on a peaceful grassland spot at the back of the beach, just beyond a large group of twenty somethings (how old am I exactly?).
Settled, I decide to test the waters and take a swim, but it’s not to be. Only ten feet from the shoreline and getting everyones full attention, is a very large male grey seal. This supposed ‘cute’ inhabitant of our seas is of course inquisitive, but his presence at such close quarters is unnerving people (already in the water), to say the least.
For a few minutes I’m caught in indecision as to get in or not, then the seal ‘bites’ someone and my mind is made up. I find out later that seals, a bit like baby Huey, explore much of their world with their mouths, not generally doing much or any harm. This of course is not much solace when your biter is double your weight, immeasurably superior at swimming and out of sight! This seems to me the nearest the UK can replicate JAWS. There’s no limbs lost, no boats sank; instead a number of us mumble our concerns and retreat to the safety of the beach to watch the wildlife.
Back at base Bec’s is more than a bit surprised to see me return largely dry. Without any exaggeration I recall the story of the ferocious, biting Seal and why I took the sensible precaution of not getting in. Neither her or Huey want to swim either. Instead we luxuriate in the last of the afternoon sun and laugh about an incident that could have been a lot worse…(the Tomato, not the Seal).
Getting to Fishcombe or Churston Cove with a baby…
Both require a baby sling to get too. I would not like to try either the S.W Coast Path or the walk down to Fishcombe with a buggy. The walk between the two is particularly tricky, but worth it.
We parked on the road next to Battery Gardens but had to pay at the meter. Parking is tight here so doubtful you’ll find it for free (I will update this though if I find some!).