Monday, 18 August 2014

Adventures in Cornwall

Hello gorgeous lovelies! I'm unusually chilled out at the moment, because I've just returned from a week visiting my family in beautiful Cornwall.

If you've read my 'Life Update' post, you'll be up to speed with why we had to cancel our planned break to Cuba and I ended up settling for something perhaps a little less glamourous, but certainly just as fun!

I'm lucky enough to have family living in West Cornwall, including my mum, so I can escape down there when I need a break. I ended up driving down last Friday for a few days of relaxation, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Due to the last minute decision, Seb couldn't get the time off arranged to come with me, so it was a solo road trip down there.

Cornwall is about 6 hours drive from where I live in South Nottinghamshire, so it can be a bit of a nightmare (but better than when I used to go on the coach before I passed my test, which could take 12 hours!).

I took a half-day from work, so I left at 1 and motored straight down there. Unfortunately, the traffic was awful and there were plenty of roadworks on the M5 and grid-locked jams on the way down. I only got there at quarter to nine that evening!
 

These disgusting blue energy drinks and the tunes of Annie Mac were what kept me going. I normally don't like the taste of Red Bull and things, but I have to admit, these were actually nice, even if they probably rotted my insides!

Finally, I arrived at Mum's place, to a very warm welcome.

She lives in a little stone cottage on the site of what used to be an Abbey at Penzance, and its all very cute and picturesque. Most of the other houses are holiday let cottages. Her place is quite small and cosy but very sweet.


I love these houses because they're so traditionally Cornish. They're set on little narrow streets that look down over a small harbour. They would originally have been the outbuildings of the abbey itself.


There's a little hotel there that you can stay in too, which used to be the abbey building itself:

 


After that drive, I was too tired to do much. Mum made halloumi pitta breads for supper and we had a glass of wine and watched Great British Bake Off on catch up before I voted for bed!

This was a different kind of break because for the first two days I was there, Mum was working, so I sort of had to entertain myself! 

It was a time for long walks, exploring and catching up on some reading. Luckily, I value a little of my own company from time to time and with all the recent stress over the house, it was really nice to have the headspace of being alone a bit and reconnecting with myself. I was determined to make the most of it.

Day One - Walk to Newlyn and Mousehole


The first day dawned bright and sunny, even though there was a tropical storm coming in, so I decided to take advantage and walk over to Mousehole, which is a charming little fishing village about three and half miles from where Mum lives. You might remember it from the famous kids storybook 'The Mousehole Cat'. Its every bit as cute as in the book!

I really enjoyed having a calm, solo stroll at my own pace, and I recorded some of the sights along the way:


These brightly-painted Edwardian villas caught my eye. I love how they look like doll's houses and are so neat and symmetrical - they're my ideal place to live. I could just imagine me in one of them, having tea and cakes overlooking the harbour! 


Due to the mild climate down there, you see some amazing flora and fauna. I loved these hydrangeas that were flowering everywhere. They always remind me of weddings now, as I carried a bouquet of them when I was bridesmaid for my sister in law, Kirsty. 



On the way, you walk through Newlyn, which is a working fishing port still, although I imagine the scale of it is much smaller than times past. There were boats and fishing nets everywhere - its the best place to get fresh crab as well.


Then I arrived in Mousehole, which has to be one of my favourite spots in Cornwall. I do so hate the word 'quaint', but there's really no other word that sums up the beautiful, lopsided little cottages and winding cobbled lanes so well. The original village was destroyed in 1595 by the invading Spanish fleet, and a lot of the residents were killed defending it. Today, the atmosphere is very tranquil and the little harbour seems so peaceful.

I had to stop and treat myself to a Cornish pasty (I ate a few while I was down there!) while I admired the view.

After I walked back to Penzance, I had a good look around the town there as well and called in on some of my favourite spots. To get to Mum's place, you can cut through the church yard, and this ornate gravestone always fascinates me. It commemorates a curious sounding chap called 'Henry Fudge' who was a 'master mariner'. I spent a while trying to imagine what he must have been like! 


There's also this amazing little property opposite the church called 'The Chocolate House', and it does look good enough to eat. The frontage is all decorated with wooden carvings. You can actually hire it to stay in! 


In town, one of my favourite places to visit is The Cornish Hen deli. It sells an amazing selection of local produce, so I always make sure to stock up on foodie gifts there just before I leave. Cakes, tarts, preserves, pies and pastries -  you could really get fat there! 


And this local landmark is called The Egyptian House - its sort of plain to see why! This building started life as a geological and mineral specimen collection. It was built during the Victorian period, when there was a big mania for anything exotic and Eastern - it was originally two cottages that were knocked together, and the facade was built to draw people into the store. 

Today, it has a skincare boutique on the ground floor, and the other two floors are rather stylish apartments.


And of course, there were seagulls everywhere  - what would the great British seaside be without them! I ended up having to share half my pasty with this baby on.

Day Two -  Exploring St Michael's Mount and Marazion

 


The second day also dawned bright and clear, so I decided to strap my trainers on again and explore in the other direction down the coast. After walking a few miles along the beach, I got to the gorgeous little town of Marazion, which faces St Michael's Mount.

I was really excited, because everytime I've been there, the Mount has either been shrouded in mist or cut off by the sea. I managed to get there at low tide this time and walked across the causeway to the island for the first time. 


Isn't it just amazing? The Mount houses an old monastery built by French Benedictine monks after the Norman Conquest, and several miracles are said to have occured there over the centuries. To me, its just such a beautiul, eerie, spiritual place. I loved the chance to cross over onto the island and explore. 
 

This was the view when I stopped and took a rest looking over the harbour of the Mount. I also discovered that the Mount has a really amazing giftshop. I picked up a couple of items as Christmas presents for Seb (yes, I have started that early!). 

I must admit I missed him a lot that day, we've taken the same walk together in the past, and I know he would have liked to see the Mount. When we went it was really misty and we couldn't even see the Mount from 200 yards away on the beach! We also managed to get lost in a cabbage field (how??) but its a nice memory for me of spending time together.


Of course, it doesn't count as a holiday if you don't have an ice-cream! After I'd walked around Marazion, I treated myself to a homemade real Cornish ice cream. This was honey and lavendar flavour, and it was exquisite! It had already started to melt quite a lot when I snapped this pic.

Evening in Truro

 

After a quick shower, I drove over to Truro that afternoon for catch up with my Nana, Aunty and cousins, who live there. It was amazing to see my Nana. She's such a lovely, elegant lady. I really regret that I don't get to spend more time with her. After visiting with her, we had some dinner and then my Aunty and my two cousins decided we were having a girls night out in Truro.


This is me with my cousin, Emily. I haven't seen her for years as she's been living in Kent. She has a three year old daughter called Molly who I'd never met before, so it was lovely to meet her little girl and to have a catch up.

We went to a couple of bars, Vanilla and The Old Grammar School, which were really nice. I decided not to drink so I could drive home afterwards (public transport down there is not great) so I was on the energy drinks - but still had a great time.

This is my other cousin, Natalie. We're the same age and have always been pretty close (or as much as distance allows) so I was so pleased to hang out with her. We were born less than a month apart and we're pretty similar in our attitudes and tastes. She always takes me out when I go down to Cornwall and we have a great time! 

Day Three - St Ives on the train


Even though I got in pretty late, I felt quite fresh the next day thanks to not drinking (might have had a slight caffeine hangover though - is that a thing?). Mum was finally off work, so we decided to catch the train for a day in St Ives. 

St Ives is definitely one of my favourite parts of Cornwall, I just adore it. The beaches there are stunning, and all the little shops and art galleries are amazing. I can't wait to take my children on holiday there someday.

We took the chance to hit some of the lovely little shops and boutiques as the weather was a bit patchy and there were a few sudden downpours. I loved these brightly coloured scarves - I resisted buying one though because I have sooooo many already! 


One of my favourite finds was a handmade chocolatier called 'I Should Coco'. Doesn't your mouth just water looking at these? They were making them out the back so the whole place smelt of delicious melting chocolate as well. Amazing!


We had fish and chips for lunch -  why do they always taste better by the sea? And then followed it with these gorgeous, melt-in-the-mouth meringues from the St Ives Bakery. They also had some truly amazing looking bread on offer. It really inspired me to start baking again!


We finished the day enjoying the afternoon sunshine sat on Porthminster beach. Its such a pristine, gorgeous, sheltered spot. I had a good read of my book and even fell asleep for a bit...so relaxing! 

Then it was time for the train home. I didn't fancy doing much after the night before, so Mum made a Prawn Pad Thai and we popped over to see my 'Bonus Auntie' -  my Mum's best friend. She's sort of related as her brother married my (real) Auntie, Mum's sister. I always love to see her. Her and mum and some of their friends are off to Barcelona in a few weeks, I'm so jealous! 

Day Four - Picnic at Gwithian beach and walk to Godreavy Lighthouse



Would you just look at that stunning view! The next day, Mum and I decided on a beach picnic, so we drove out to Gwithian, which is one of the most stunning beaches down there -  also perfect if you like rockpooling! I have vague memories of going there as a child.

Mum and I share a massive love of picnics - we'd eat that way all the time if we could. So we went and stocked up on baguettes, cheese, olives, salami, smoked salmon and antipasti and took it all to eat on the beach. Heaven!


When it clouded over in the afternoon, we decided to walk to Godreavy lighthouse to admire the view. We saw a kestrel on the way, as well as tonnes of butterflies. Nature is wild and beautiful down there.


Sporting my new polka dot jeans from Jack Wills and a not very fetching windbreaker!


This is my Mum, looking rather windswept on the crest of the hill! The weather had definitely taken a turn for the worse! But it was lovely to spend some time together. Sometimes its hard living so far away.

In the evening, there were fireworks over St Michael's Mount, so we walked towards them and oohed over the pretty explosions next to spectacular low copper moon that really stole the show!


Day Five - Trip around the Carns and Cream Tea at Zennor


The next day dawned really bright and clear, so Mum and her partner, Alex, decided to take me on a trip around some of the ancient sites, or 'Carns' in West Cornwall. There is ancient history all over the place down there. There are several ancient stone circles and mysterious monuments on the moorland or by the coast - and they know exactly where to find them all.


The magical path above led across the fields to Carn Euny, which is the site of an ancient Iron Age village settlement. You can still see the boundaries and outlines of the buildings, and walk through the 'fogue' or underground tunnels. 

Its amazing that such a piece of ancient history just exists in the middle of nowhere like that. It would be easy to miss. As a history buff, I loved the chance to explore and try to imagine the lives of those who lived there centuries ago.


Bit of an Iron Age selfie there! I kind of let myself go in Cornwall and dialled down the make-up a bit, although I couldn't bear to go without a bit of eyeliner! 


This is Carn Bosarven, another ancient site. It was just so stunningly peaceful. Like I could literally feel all the stress and tension about the house, work etc, just draining out of me.


All that history makes hungry work, and I couldn't visit Cornwall without a cream tea! I swear, its all about the food when I go down there. We visited the Old Chapel at Zennor, which is such a great little cafe. I highly recommend the scones there!


After refreshments, we went next door to Trewey Mill which is a farm and also a completely amazing small museum (check out the astounded reviews it gets on Trip Advisor from people who've stumbled across it!).


They also produce a wide range of organic flours at the antique watermill there, so we picked up some spelt flour while we were there.They happen to produce ice cream too, but we were too full from the cream tea to even think about it!

Dinner at The Front Room with Natalie

 


My cousin Natalie decided she wanted to treat me to dinner, so on my last night down there, we met up and went for some food.


She chose a lovely little place called The Front Room in Penzance, which is a beautiful eclectic cafe and small restaurant that serves good strong coffee by day and some amazing food by evening.

I had a totally delicious Crab, Lemon and Dill risotto which was absolutely heavenly. It was just so nice to have a catch up with her. We stayed for hours chatting about life, love and family until they nearly had to throw us out.I hope Natalie will come to visit me soon so I can show her a bit of Nottingham - but she has four horses and leaving them is difficult. I hope she can find someone to 'horse-sit' soon!

Natalie insisted that we have puddings, even though the main course was really filling. I chose the Raspberry and Almond Eton Mess and it was sublime.

It was the perfect end to a perfect visit. I may not be getting a fortnight in the sun this year, but Cornwall really recharged my batteries and, as usual, it floored me with its quirky charm. 

Agas gweles, Kernow!
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2 comments

  1. It looks like you had such a nice time. Can you take me next time?

    ReplyDelete
  2. the place looks so mysterious! looks like you have a fun trip :)

    xx
    http://felishmichelle.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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