Hello! I’ve just returned after a fantastic 2 night break away in Cornwall for my wedding anniversary feeling refreshed and relaxed (it won’t last I’m sure). Those who may have read my earlier post on childhood holidays may be aware of my love for parts of Cornwall and after reading my blog post my husband was inspired to book us a romantic 2 night break at the most amazing hotel (collective awwwww here please!).
The Cornwall Hotel is a fairly new hotel just outside St Austell town centre, we came across it whilst browsing the internet and I have to say their website does not do them justice (or make it as easy to plan your stay as they could), it is possibly however the nicest hotel I think I’ve ever stayed in (and I’ve done a reasonable amount of international travel). Surrounded by woodland the hotel is modern, vibrant, luxurious and yet relaxing and comfortable, it literally strikes the right balance between plush and down to earth!! With this being our first hotel trip in 4 years my husband and I made good use of the facilities including fantastic massages at the spa facility in a couples room, walks around the grounds and stunning walled garden (including spotting many different types of wildlife scampering around), afternoon tea including the most decadent chocolate cake I’ve ever had (and that’s saying something), and delicious cooked breakfasts made to a very high standard. Let me be clear, I am not being sponsored or bribed to write this blog, this is entirely on the back of customer satisfaction!
In spite of the rain, and in fact probably because of it, we crammed a huge amount into the 48 hours we had before having to get back to our demanding and impatient cats; leaving home at the unsociable hour of 6am to start our long journey we actually made it to our destination by 10.30am!! Surprised by our extra time to spare we were able to add extra visits to our planned itinerary;
- Arrived at St Austell too early to check in so drove to Mevagissey and had lunch in a gorgeous harbour-front pub
- Drove to the hotel to check in, settle into the room and then headed to the spa for massages in the couples room
- Enjoyed afternoon cream tea in the lounge and checked out the paintings by a local artist dotted around the dining room
- Drove to Charlestown, looked around the harbour in the rain in the hope of finding the tall ship featured in the latest series of Doctor Who (hubbie is a huge fan) before deciding to move on
- Drove to Fowey, all shops were shut but the harbour was picturesque and beautiful
- Drove back for a relaxing night at the hotel
- Indulged in a fantastic breakfast at the hotel, then regretted eating a croissant on top of and having a cooked breakfast, curse you hotel buffet breakfasts for being too tempting!
- Took a quick stop by Mevagissey again to take a look in some of the shops we had missed the day before
- Drove to Gweek seal sanctuary and spent a couple of happy hours wandering around and making friends with the animals
- Drove on to (try and) find Roskilly’s ice cream farm, this took a while since Google directions were rather inaccurate and upon arriving the farm was a little disappointing (should have seen the warning signs when it was busy but no-one was eating ice cream!!) Left a tad despondent…
- Passed Goonhilly and took some pics…
- Drove to Porthleven upon which the sun came out and poured glorious sunshine on our outing, we indulged in a 3 scoop cone of Roskilly’s ice cream (so this is where all the good ice cream was hiding!) from my favourite ice cream parlour Nauti But Ice, including my all time favourite Blackcurrant Cheesecake flavour, whilst stood by the harbour watching the boats and waves, bliss. Wandered around the shops, took lots of pics and took deep breaths of sea air. A definite high point of my trip
- Left and drove to Marazion to stop briefly and take some pics of St Michael’s Mount and watch the crowds of people walking across the causeway
- Drove on to Penzance and caught the shops just before closing time, good news for me as I was able to find a New Look (I can’t help myself), and it was still open, bonus!! Grabbed a tasty Cornish pasty from a local pasty outlet but was forced to eat it from the comfort of the car, in a car park, by a closed funfair, as we were being stalked by a very beady eyed seagull (who we named Snappy!) who decided to stand on our roof and car bonnet until I caved in and gave him the last quarter (yes quarter!) of my pasty…cheeky so and so!
- Drove back to the hotel to freshen up quickly before heading back into St Austell for a meal at Frankie & Benny’s. I need to explain this next part as I need to pre-empt it by saying how lovely the staff at the restaurant were and how they could not have been more attentive and helpful…however it was a terrible meal, ironic since this was our actual anniversary and we had made the choice to visit here instead of a local independent restaurant! Having visited F&B many times before we knew what to expect from the chain however my starter was burnt, my main was swimming in oil (at least a cm deep), my cocktail tasted like Benylin poured over ice and we both ordered sundaes for pudding and they literally arrived half full…we had to stifle laughs at the empty glassware in front of us…what made it worse is that the waiter played the Cliff Richard “Celebration” song (those who know F&B will know this can happen many times each night!) for us to the whole restaurant and had stuck a candle in the half empty sundae glass…I sank back in my chair and was thankful the lights were off to hide my blushing face…painful!
- Returned to the hotel and promptly collapsed…
- Another cooked breakfast and one less croissant…still full to bursting but it was worth it…
- Quick trip back to Fowey to look in the shops that had been closed the first time we went
- A visit to the Eden Project; having heard a lot of reviews from friends it lived up to our expectations and we spent a happy 2 hours there wandering around (you can easily spend longer but we didn’t feel we missed too much by leaving when we did). I recovered from the heat of the rainforest biome with a spot of browsing in the gift shop before we made our way home via Lostwithiel (where I stayed with my dad and sister one year in my teens) and wanted to just revisit for the sake of seeing it again…
Phew, I’m exhausted just reading it back but like I said we crammed a lot in to such a short space of time, just what I/we needed though and very enjoyable. Rather pleased that having felt like we knew Cornwall pretty well we managed to do and see pretty much all new things (we’d made a point of avoiding Lands End, because, well there is nothing there and we agreed it just wasn’t worth the drive!). Having been a fan of south Cornwall all these years I think the charming Cornish villages I saw this time round have won me over to mid Cornwall, definitely a pleasant surprise 🙂
Most kids I went to school with went on holidays to America, Disneyland, Spain or other far away and exotic places but due to various circumstances (parents divorcing, finances etc) we weren’t in a position to do the same so many of my holidays from my early teens until I left home were in the UK, more specifically in Cornwall or Gower (in Wales). At the time maybe I felt this was unfair, my stories at the start of each term never had quite the same glory as those who had pictures with Mickey Mouse, at surfing lessons or came in with amazing suntans, however what I now know I gained was an appreciation for the places worth exploring in my own country and that a holiday is more than just going somewhere, it’s about what you do when you are there.
With only a few exceptions this annual family summer holiday would alternate between Oxwich Bay in Gower and Porthleven in Cornwall. If you are not familiar with these places then you have missed out I promise you. As I grow older there is a very strange desire to return to these places and although I have visited them both in the last 10 years (and subsequently accepted I was unlikely to return for some time) it’s amazing how strong the pull is to go back.
Porthleven, a charming little seaside harbour town at the tip of Cornwall, close to Penzance, Helston and the Lizard Peninsular I most associate with my years sitting on the wall of the harbour, licking an ice cream from the amazing ice cream parlour “Nauti but Ice” which boasted at one time over 50 flavours (the blackcurrant ice cream was my favourite) whilst watching the surfers and smelling the salty spray as it crashes against the walls of the harbour. (Baring in mind I was going through my teenage angst years) I remember imagining I was like a 19th century Bronte novel character or some moody figure in a music video wistfully looking out to sea (unfortunately Cheryl Cole beat me to it with her video for The Flood!!) My dad, sister(s) and I would explore Cornwall by day, going to place like Lands End, Penzance, St Michael’s Mount and the Lizard, then walk around the harbour in the evening soaking in the atmosphere of sea air, fishing boats bobbing up and down on the waves, fairy lights hanging on buildings and laughter coming from the pubs on the harbourside. We would occasionally sit in the Harbour Inn or Ship Inn pubs and enjoy a diet coke and some crisps…proper family bonding time 🙂 I won’t talk about the time by Dad tried to bet us how far into the harbour he could throw a pint glass…oops 😉
The Gower peninsula equally has some of the most breathtaking views (coastal and countryside) of anywhere I have ever visited. Many a summer was spent staying at the holiday park there, cooped up in a small chalet with my Dad and sister, playing Yahtzee on rainy days, walking along the beach recanting our summer reading to each other on dry days and visiting local villages and places of interest. I remember only a couple of small tourist shops on the country lane leading from the park to the beach, both of which were full of Welsh dragon ornaments, buckets and spades and other nik naks for the visitors. I have a very vivid memory of going for a long walk on the beach with my sister one day (Oxwich is a very long beach and when there is a low tide it stretches for several miles through to Three Cliffs Bay) and becoming so disoriented on our return that we couldn’t find my Dad in the crowd. By the time we eventually found him several hours had passed and he certainly wasn’t very impressed with us! Rhossili Bay is the more famous location on the Gower, home to The Worms Head (a rock formation sticking out of the sea like a magnificent reminder of how surprisingly nature can be! Of course no trip is complete without the best lasagne, chips and peas I have ever tasted (excluding my husband’s cooking of course) courtesy of The Worms Head Hotel in Rhossili!
I guess my point is this, I could have grown up in circumstances where I was able to travel internationally and experience things I still yearn to try, however I still have amazing memories, I still HAD a holiday, and I learnt how to appreciate landscapes, crafts, simplicity and quality family time, things which have held me in good stead for many years now. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to visit Disneyland as a kid or go to a sunny villa in Italy but the memories I have now I wouldn’t trade for anything 🙂
Porthleven, Oxwich and Gower