On an impulse in mid-June, spurred on by encouraging news reports about restaurants re-opening on the first Saturday of July and the hope of somewhat replacing my mum’s cancelled birthday travel plans, we booked a week’s getaway to Cornwall.
Now of course, a staycation to Cornwall is just about as groundbreaking as florals in Spring, and yet as a family who only realised just how beautiful this bit of the world was last year on a speedy weekend trip it seemed like the perfect option.
Now, my mum is fussy. She likes to pretend she’s not, but when you see her return 8 out of 10 coffees she orders because they’re not quite right her argument falls to pieces. In this case, her flyaway statement of “Oh I’m ok with anything darling, but if it had a sea view and a terrace (and a coffee machine and chic design aesthetic) that would be lovely” led to my sister and I spending hours on Google only to have most of our suggestions rejected when we saw the slight moue on her face.
As it turns out, all this pickiness led us to the perfect accommodation: A lovely three bedroom house, perched on a cliff overlooking the little coastal village of Portreath. With jaw-droppingly pretty views, lovely hosts and a large kitchen, it was love at first sight when we arrived.
We did a shop at Costco prior to driving over from London, bringing with us supplies to make most meals at home as we weren’t particularly comfortable with eating out more than a few times. Some of my “essentials” were a crate of passion fruits, a huge bag of avocados and all the mushrooms I could fit.
We spent the first day exploring the area on foot, going on a coastal cliff walk that led us to find these adorable ponies having a little cliffside snack.
After having a lazy morning the next day, since I’d been up all night listening to the ocean and reading SJ Maas’ new book Crescent City, we headed to the Eden Project. Having always loved getting lost in the glasshouses of Kew Gardens, I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to enjoy myself a lot here.
The Rainforest Biome was breathtaking, if you ignored the ETFE Bubbles enclosing this balmy paradise, you find yourself transported. From rushing waterfalls to cute little lizards to fascinating bits of information dotted around, I could easily see myself coming back here time and time again. My favourite personal discovery was that there is an Amazonian plant called cuaniquil or ice cream bean, because it tastes like vanilla ice cream but with the texture of candyfloss!
After a quick break for ice cream (blackberry and cream, if you were curious), we wandered into the Mediterranean Biome. Definitely feeling like I was in Santorini, I particularly loved the vineyards they had planted with each grape variety labelled.
One day was very well spent idly sipping Tesco cocktail cans and eating sandwiches at Kynance Cove, after a walk on the South West Coast Path feeling very much like I was in Wylie 2008’s paper (very niche Geography reference, sorry not sorry).
My family are a great lover of animals, my sister is in fact set to go to vet school in September, so we had to make a visit to Newquay Zoo. I was most taken with the sheer variety of beautiful lemur species they looked after. This particular one is a Black-and-white ruffed lemur.
It seems that otters really do not give a shit about social distancing rules, truly a joy to watch them pile onto each other. Main takeaway from this enclosure – I miss hugging my friends.
Another day, we went to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary to look with literal heart eyes at all of the adorable seals that they looked after.
This particular one is a Grey seal named Ray, who is so charismatic he has his own facebook page!
The second bar we tried after lockdown eased was called Tap House in St Agnes, vaguely Hawaiian / tropical themed, it was everything I had been missing in lockdown! I had two very strong, very yummy rum cocktails and tried a vegetarian poke bowl for the first time!
One of the most stunning sunsets we watched from our terrace, G&T in hand of course!
Our final day in Cornwall we decided to spend the morning at Polly Joke beach, very near to Newquay but considerably less busy than the larger beaches closer to town. After a short walk down to the beach (Cornish beaches seem enjoy to making you work for your sunbathing time), we lay around soaking up the sun and taking a bracing dip in the ocean.
Our final stop was Tintagel Castle, built half on the mainland and half on a headland with a newly built bridge connecting the two. It is a place where history and legend intertwine, with 12th-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth claiming it as the place were King Arthur was conceived with the help of Merlin (and later writers claimed it was also the site of his birth), and it also being an important site in the tale of the tragic romance between Tristan and Iseult. Inspired by these myths, and Tintagel’s role as a stronghold in the 5th to 7th century, Richard, the Earl of Cornwall, built a castle here in the 1230s.
Walking through the ruins of this castle, seeing views only marginally different to those looked upon by nobility of the past, is a beautiful experience – it is easy to see why this place inspired so many.
Images Source: Sarina Chandaria