Approximately one week ago I was sitting having breakfast with Mr H gazing out at the waves lapping on the beach outside the window and sighing – you know the kind I mean, those sighs which happen when you are in optimal daydream space and think of nothing of importance and have nowhere to be, you just sit there and fall into a little trance and suddenly everything is very simple and easy – This was me in my happy place at the end of a week away in our Cornish bubble.
For anyone who has been to St Ives you will know why it holds such a pull. For me it started when I was a child and we would visit on family holidays, although the memories from then are of ice creams and lots of hills (there are many photos of at 6, 7, 8 year old me sitting on stone steps halfway up a hill with a very grumpy face in my hands refusing to go on any further – that was until the international parental incentive of an ice cream was offered!) This is a tactic I used many times over last week with Mr H, although the incentive was found in a pint glass rather than in a wafer cone.
So having fallen in love gradually with this Cornish harbour town it is now one of my happiest places and a favourite spot to “find myself” (I do tend to get lost occasionally!) and it has only increased it charm since a pair of doey eyed love birds spent their first holiday there.
So after a very busy spring / summer of music and flower festivals and now married, although still very much doey eyed we decided that the most perfect way to renew and recharge would be in a cosy fisherman’s cottage by the sea in our special spot. After many MANY hours searching Google for the “most romantic cottage in Cornwall” we managed to wheedle down the short list to one (not that we had high expectations, just the perfect location, open fire, rustic and cosy with a modern twist, close to the beaches and the harbour … and the pubs!!) Trelawney cottage was to be our bubble. (See below for booking details)
The only downside of the trip is the flight time, from Shrewsbury to St Ives you won’t be touching down till at least after 5 – 6 hours, this is why preparation is needed, plenty of snacks, good music, fluffy socks and knitting … yes my new hobby, although I am not going to be rolling out many doctor who scarves any time soon as I drop more than I pearl – I actually have no idea what this term means, but I know it’s not good and nor is my holey scarf.
So at 8pm on the Friday night we were negotiating the narrow cobbled streets of St Ives looking for our drop off point (again if you know this area, a drop off is essential as otherwise you have many trips up and down a very steep hill to the car park in the dark with bags, wellies, coats and Desperadoes)
Then by 9pm we were in the Sloop – a ritual that will always be observed, involving 2 beers and two goofy smiling faces. Within 30 mins the sea air, excitement, warm food and contentment took over and we are ready for bed before 10pm – no surprise there then.
Thankfully after a year and a half of marriage Mr H is accustomed to my early morning bounce, so at 6.30am when I jumped out of bed the following morning, he knew I was off to explore … and that’s exactly what I did.
The location of the cottage was right in the middle of an area called the Didgy, which is central to everything, from stepping foot out of the door I was down on the harbour within a minute watching the sun coming up with just the seagulls and local fisherman in sight – this is something that is a must, even if you must drag yourself out of bed … or if you are an energetic young thing then not go to bed, but standing on the harbour watching the fishing boats coming and going with just the noise of the waves crashing is one of my favourite things about this place – its having time to just stand and watch what’s happening around you, all the simple things and the beauty of nature.
From the harbor I have a route that takes in the most spectacular parts, through Porthgwidden bay then to the very top of “The Island” where from an old chapel you get a panoramic view of the town, sea and bays below and here tucked behind a wall is an old stone bench where you are sheltered from the wind can find yourself sitting with no idea of time watching the waves breaking and the surfers trying to catch them.
Across Porthmeor beach, bare foot and squealing every time to water touches me (this is compulsory for those who do not sequel are not getting the full experience of paddling in British seas!) I was earlier informed that currently the sea was the warmest it would be this year, hmm, my blue hobbit’s feet were not convinced.
Then up to the Porthmeor cafe on the beach to have a quick look at the menu (which I already know by heart and they do the most delicious falafel I have ever had!) before heading back into town and being greeted with the smell of fresh bread, pastries and of course pasties reminding me that its breakfast time and hoping that I will get back to find a hubby up and ready for coffee – that’s always pretty much a given.
We like a relaxed breakfast and by that I mean a good couple of hours sitting, eating, reading, chatting and planning and there are a few good places for this in the town; our favourites among these being;
The Porthmeor beach cafe, overlooking the surfers beach below is has very laid back, fun vibe and a great breakfast menu with anything you could possibly want.
The Porthminster Kitchen – overlooking the harbour and with granola that comes with a pot of honey that would make Winnie the pooh a very happy (female) bear – also when disaster struck and my laptop battery went caput the guy running the place was more than happy to come to the rescue with his own!
Outside of St Ives the best without a doubt are Godrevys Cafe which sits on a national trust site, a beach and is a short walk from seal bay. The other is Lusty Glaze, although I shall be telling you more about this little piece of heaven in another blog as this was part of a spa day adventure to Watergate bay, which was so unbelievably fantastic needs its own post.
There are of course so many things to do in St Ives and the surrounding area, there is the Tate Gallery (currently closed for a referb till 21st May 2016) Painting workshops, cookery schools, surfing lessons, an amusement arcade, which on this visit to our disappointment had an “out of order” dance mat, so I was unable to hold my winning score from last time.
Then further a field there is the Eden project, St Michaels Mount, “Rick Steins” Padstow and for those a little more lively and wanting a bit of shopping Newquay is just 45 mins away.
However we choose to do absolutely none of these and instead visited the nearby Newlyn (where you will find the freshest crabs just off the boat) and Mousehole which is a quaint, miniature, quieter St Ives and is also where we came upon the wonderful JoJo, who is currently commissioning my new wedding ring (also another post).
Apart from these little jaunts out, we filled our days walking, drawing, knitting, reading and eating, lots and lots of eating …. Which when surrounded by such fresh and local ingredients is a must.
HOWEVER … I would like at this point to iterate a very important health and safety warning … DO NOT under any circumstances stop whilst eating a delicious saffron bun and attempt to photograph it (me photographing food again, yes really!) otherwise you will find yourself in the grips of a SAS (seriously aggressive seagull) who will attempt to take you along with the item of food off into the sky … I realise this sounds slightly dramatic, but I kid not. Gone are the days of them swooping and trying to seize. They will these days stop at nothing and after the trauma of the attack was over and Mr H had regained his composure after bursting into fits of giggles I decided that all future food photography will be very securely inside with no Alfred Hitchcock extras in sight.
When it comes to eating out we look for two things; a delicious, locally sourced fresh menu that usually includes hummus or Salmon and that there is no formal dining in the slightest, this is a must, there is nothing worse than sitting on ceremony when eating. A meal for us is all about enjoyment, relaxation, being sociable and does not require countless cutlery options … just one to eat and one to cut, oh and a great big wine glass.
The best place for a fun and relaxing meal in St Ives is the Rum & Crab shack, where with a drinks menu of over 40 rums and also cocktails, wines and beers the food menu still manages to impress just as much and from a fully dressed crab to simple scampi and chips you won’t be disappointed, although after many glasses of rum just be careful how you negotiate the steep stairs when leaving.
A stunning setting for lunch is the Porthminster beach cafe, if you want romance then this is it. Simply styled and chic inside, however we opted to sit outside on the raised terrace, which may not seem ideal for a November day, but with the heaters, pillows and lots of fluffy blankets to keep you warm whilst enjoying a glass of prosecco, some extremely fresh and delicious scallops and a ceaser salad whilst wave watching, this lunch in the sea air had the effect of the spaghetti scene in lady and the tramp!
Another favourite food option is to put together a picnic, for the beach or the sitting room – it’s your choice – but the one place to go and stock up is “The Allotment”. This deli is tucked away in fore street and is very much like my beloved Pomona Grocery in Shrewsbury, its FILLED with fresh fruit and veg, but then also freshly baked bread, quiches, dips, olives, cheeses, meats and the most creamy chocolatey raw vegan cheesecake .. I know “vegan” but do trust me when I say that some things that bare this label are not only edible, but are really tasty … but yes granted a lot don’t compare to a real chocolate brownie.
The spot that however topped our foodie happy places was the Beach Hut in Watergate bay (again, sorry another blog to follow).
So on from food … and to drink and more importantly cocktails. On Halloween night we meandered through the all the trickery of goblins, witches and zombies that were out and about and were in search of a treat of our own and to our delight and fortunate timing we found one. A brand new bar had recently opened up in the town and after two very miserable attempts of trying the previous evening to re create a Pornstar Martini we came across a hidden doorway and a sign that declared that our prohibition was over.
18A is a brand new venture, housed in a large upstairs, open plan, dimly lit room and it is a really good bar. The team behind it not only have great cocktail knowledge they are also full of energy and enthusiasm for what they have managed to get up and running and for bringing something a little different to St Ives – They also made two big kids very happy when realising that we had missed out on picking up a pumpkin before they all sold out, they happily gave us one of theirs, so after a few more old fashioneds and Martini’s we headed back to the log burner, a strictly spooktacular and an evening of carving ahead … happy Halloween indeed.
For my last few morning walks I was joined by a new companion, no not Mr H, he was still fast asleep and having resorted to earplugs to combat the seagull morning chorus he was not to be disturbed. This companion happily bobbed, dived and swam along by me round from the harbour to the quiet bay of Porthwiddgen where I spent many mornings standing and watching him (him / her … not sure how to tell the difference, just guessing!) playing just metres in front of me in the shallows, he was a beautiful and mischievous little seal, I say this as every time I tried to capture his antics he would disappear under the water only to re appear with a wiggle as soon as the camera was back in my pocket, the same thing happened on the last day when having finally persuaded Mr H to join me at such an un natural hour to meet my little friend he didn’t turn up at all … although as we turned to go I’m sure I saw a little wiggle and splash!
So after such a wonderful week how to end it, if only there were fireworks and mulled cider …
well luckily for us there was. On bonfire night the whole community of St Ives put on a spectacular firework display hosted by their local football club on Porthminster Beach, a tradition that brings together the whole town and beyond and is just magical and was the most perfect way to spend our last evening before nipping in to 18A for a quick happy hour
then snuggling up back at the cottage with good old fish and chips and smiles.
Then before we knew where the cream teas, pasties and time had gone it was time to pack up and return home to Kansas (well it wouldn’t be right without an Oz reference in here somewhere). With a final walk and paddle in the “warm” sea it was time to say a very fond farewell to our bubble.
There is something incredibly wonderful and restorative about St Ives, it may be down to the lovely memories it holds, or that for a whole week I got to leave my diary at home. But, there is something more and throughout the week I met and spoke to many people that agreed, I think there is something special that gets blown in with the sea air, a kind of magic (oh now I have queen in my head!), but cliché and 80’s moustaches aside I happened by a word that describes it better than I ever could –
Smultroställe (n.): Lit. “place of wild strawberries”, a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness. (St Ives) ♥ ♥ ♥
♥ Trelawney Cottage was a truly beautiful and very romantic cottage and was booked through The Cottage Boutique: http://www.cornwall-cottage-boutique.co.uk/cottage/trelawney-cottage.php
♥ Porthminster Beach Cafe: http://www.porthminstercafe.co.uk/
♥ The Hub: http://www.hub-stives.co.uk/
♥ The Rum & Crab Shack: http://rumandcrabshack.com/
♥ Godrevy Cafe: http://www.godrevycafe.co.uk/
♥ Lusty Glaze: http://www.lustyglaze.co.uk/
♥ The Watergate Bay Hotel: http://www.watergatebay.co.uk/
♥ JoJo’s Mousehole: http://www.jojosmousehole.co.uk/
♥ Porthmeor Beach Cafe: http://www.porthmeor-beach.co.uk/cafe/
♥ Porthminster Kitchen: http://www.porthminster.kitchen/