Haulage, Highwire and Holiday

Cornish Riviera

You may have noticed I’ve been away on holiday. The gorgeous silence emanating from here plus the profusion of holiday snaps on Instagram were two helpful clues. We’ve had a super time in Cornwall, helped along by some fabulous warm sunny summer weather. As I collect my thoughts and prepare to depart for Chicago to speak at Illinois SHRM 2013 in a couple of days time, I would like to share a random bunch of thoughts that percolated to the top of my mind while we were away.


We decided to travel without a car this year. Cornwall is not known for its abundance of public transport links but we figured we could make it work and if all else failed, we’d hire a car for a day or two. In the end, no car was necessary, as with just a smidgen of planning we managed to get everywhere we wanted by train, bus and ferry boat. We first took the train to Penzance (lovely) from where we visited Lands End, Sennen Cove, St Ives, St Michael’s Mount and enjoyed frequent trips to neighbouring Newlyn. We mostly used buses to get about plus a couple of good long walks and a short train journey. We next caught a train to St Austell (not lovely, sorry but that’s how it is) from where we visited The Eden Project, Mevagissey and Fowey. This leg of the journey was covered using buses and a ferry.

I guess the reason I wanted to scribble this note down is that here in the UK, every summer we hear about nightmare traffic jams into and out of Cornwall, as holiday makers pour into an increasingly narrow strip of land. Maybe next time you head off on holiday, take a look and see what other transport alternatives are available instead of defaulting to the car? When you’re not driving, you experience things at a different pace, and the trips themselves become a part of the holiday rather than simply getting from A to B. We did make one big mistake, and that was to cram all our stuff into two biiiig suitcases. Lugging those from London – Penzance – St Austell – London was not fun, shoulder massage please.


On arrival at the Eden Project Keira immediately wanted to ride the zip wire. The wire is about 500 metres long and 90 metres high as it whizzes you right over the Eden Project domes. The holiday was full of enthusiasm so we all agreed to try it and hopped on the bus to take us to the jump off point. During the safety briefing Carole and I exchanged a coupe of nervous glances and laughs, then we climbed the tower to the jump off point. I’m OK (ish) with heights but to see the whole of the Eden Project laid out at your feet while peering at a thumbnail sized landing spot way off in the distance is quite the sight to behold. Somehow I ended up being the first of the three of us to jump. In that instant at the edge of the platform my stomach knotted and a million reasons why I should not do this crazy thing filled my head.

Quickly, before I got to reason number one million and one, I jumped and flew across the Eden Project. About halfway across I relaxed my grip a little and a few seconds later it was all over. Keira followed, arms waving, enjoying every second, and I managed to get to my phone (they pack up and transport all your stuff separately so nothing falls out of pockets etc) and film Carole’s journey. If you watch the video below (it’s only 48 seconds) you get a sense of the scale of the ride. For most of the film, Carole is a barely discernable teeny pinpoint in the distance. The ride was a great experience for three reasons. The initial step off the platform was a great ‘overcoming your fear’ moment, the ride and the view itself was breathtaking, and watching Carole manage to take the leap, and seeing Keira attack the ride with such enthusiasm was hugely affirming.


I hadn’t appreciated how much we needed a break until the train pulled out of Paddington and we all began to relax. Keira’s had another successful and busy year at school, Carole works really hard on planning and delivering her swimming teaching, and since last year we’ve all rallied round to sort out the mound of paperwork involved in finalising Dad’s affairs, and keep What Goes Around, going around. I have nothing to gain from constructing some false life-veneer that shines with artificial brightness, so I’m not going to. As enjoyable as work and life can be, it is also tough, and you need to change, the pace, the place and the purpose periodically to really feel alive.

Seth Godin is attributed with this quote. “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” Now, I think a little of what Seth has to say is of interest, but not this. In fact this quote is my reason number 72 in the ongoing series, ‘Why Seth Godin ain’t so smart’. Thanks but no thanks Seth, I love my life; humps, bumps, ascents, descents, peaks, troughs, losses, loves and escapes.

Here’s a quick Flipagram to give you a feel for what we’ve enjoyed these past twelve days or so. Next stop, Chicago!

photo credit

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

4 thoughts on “Haulage, Highwire and Holiday”

    1. Thanks Peter. I think the act of packing a bag and heading out the door for a few days matters. We had a load of fun on our trip, often in unexpected places and times. A change of scene – a different perspective – lives refreshed. I hope you get your break.

  1. Doug (and Carol and Keira)
    You’re so brave. I think I’d have bottled out going up that high. Last year we holidayed in Chatel and there’s a zip wire that is probably right up your street – Fantasicable – that goes across the valley – see http://info.chatel.com/incredible-sensations-unequalled-speed-with-the-fantasticable.html. It was amazing to be driving or cycling up the mountain then hear someone yelling (traditional to make lots of noise while you zip) then whizzing by overhead. We stood and watched it for ages but wild horses wouldn’t have got me to have a go.
    Well done for travelling by public transport. We’ve done that when we’ve sailed into parts of Devon and Cornwall and it’s great fun, providing you’re not in a rush.

  2. Wow! I thought our zip ride was a big one but that one is huuuuuge! Keira was the catalyst for our ride, I’d said yes before realising what I’d let myself in for. Carole too! On the one you have shared they are flying Superman/woman/person style. We weren’t allowed to do that – it was too windy. Thank goodness!

    The trains and buses thing worked really well for us, and I thought I’d mention it in the hope it encourages others to at least explore the possibility. Something Devon and Cornwall doesn’t need is more traffic on already crowded country roads eh 🙂

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