Blue Skies, Seas & Clotted Cream

21:56 Alyson Tart 1 Comments

In 2005, I made my second trip to the UK with my grandparents and sister. This was the time I really fell in love with the country and its cities full of cobbled streets, stately old homes, countrysides dotted with sheep, all of it steeped in history.  We were part of a week long cruise that went to coastal cities in England, Scotland and Ireland. One of our final stops was St. Ives - unlike Edinburgh or Dublin, I'd never heard of it before, but immediately knew I needed to come back.

St. Ives town view, Cornwall

Me circa 2005 - ignore the fashion sense ;)

After moving here, I kept telling Paul we needed to go, but it is so far to make it to St. Ives by train, so we hadn't quite done so yet. With a car, it became (slightly) easier, so we decided last May to give it a go for an extended weekend. After researching, we found that in addition to the distance, my beloved St. Ives was perhaps no longer the sleepy town I remembered, so we booked ourselves into Port Gaverne instead - shortening our drive in the process!

Road trips with 7 month year old babies and a dog are guaranteed to take longer than the allotted time, so after a few hours and stops for nappy changes, potty breaks and feedings, we arrived in Cornwall. Last year we had gotten an English Heritage membership and looking around Cornwall, discovered Tintagel Castle was not too far from where we were staying, so we made a pit stop there before checking in to our hotel.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, King Arthur

The castle's claims to fame are beautiful coastal vistas and as the place King Arthur was conceived. While there's no verification to the latter, the views are beautiful.  The castle was built in the 1230's and is set on a cliff, spanning two hilltops with narrow, winding staircases leading you to and from. Not much of the castle remains, but you can see why someone would want to build a home there, regardless of it's connection to King Arthur.

We weren't the only ones to enjoy it, Belle was in heaven! From the water (where we let her off for a brief moment of joy despite the leash rules), to the green hills, she ran and sniffed as only the happiest of dogs can.

The town itself was bustling as well - being a bank holiday weekend and a sunny day meant the crowds were out. To tide ourselves over before lunch, we decided upon some ice cream, but not just any ice cream...... clotted cream ice cream. If you've ever had a proper scone in the UK, you know nothing beats Cornish clotted cream. So other than St. Ives, all I needed to convince me to visit Cornwall was the promise of clotted cream!

The next day, we met up with one of Paul's old co-workers who had retired and now lives in Cornwall (apparently you can't consider yourself a local if you don't go WAY back). We both brought along the dogs and went for a walk in Daymer Bay. The weather wasn't quite as much in our favour with winds and rain, so we didn't make it as far as we'd hoped. Luckily, you only had to go just over the hill and through the determined golfers to get to St. Enodoc's Church, a church built into the dunes in the 12th century.  After that, we decided the best place to be was inside, so went back for a Sunday roast at the pub and a cuppa by the fire.

Monday, was May Day. I had never really put two and two together here, or thought May Day was anything other than a day off. Luckily, Paul had heard about the 'Obby 'Oss Festival, so we decided to take the ferry across to Padstow to see the excitment.

The festival is centred around the hobby horse or 'obby 'oss and is considered the oldest dance festival in the country. There's the blue ribbon 'obby 'oss (peace 'oss) and the old 'obby 'oss, and throughout the city, different 'oss are represented by their supporters with red or blue ribbons. They parade throughout the day with music and dancers following in their wake and eventually meet up at the May Day pole. The pole was beautiful despite the grey backdrop, covered in ribbons and was more than I could have expected from my first May Day festival.

We missed the first parade, but luckily there were several throughout the day all across the town. It's impossible to avoid joining in the fun and crowds when the 'oss passes you by. There's a superstition that says if you're caught under the veil of the 'Oss you'll be pregnant within a year, so we several times heard the joke about it being a good time at the festival last year. Luckily I was spared having to dance with the 'Oss, but it was still quite the festive time.

Before taking the ferry back, we queued up with half of the other revellers to get pasties (pronounced past-ees) from the Chough Bakery. Of course we made sure to get the true local variety with clotted cream and steak.  As it was just starting to rain, everyone was vying for the same seats, so we decided to take the pasties to go for the ferry ride.

As the ferry arrived, L was still sleeping so rather than wake a slumbering baby, we decided on a walk on the beach. Belle loves the water and dives right in, jumping over waves and pretending to fetch sticks while playing. It's so much fun to see her in her natural element and I can't wait til the day it's a toddler and a dog playing fetch together on the beach.

On our last day in Cornwall, we decided to stay local. Our hotel was in Port Gaverne, a small fishing town, but a (very) short walk to on the coastal path took us to Port Isaac. I would have also thought it a small town, but apparently it's famous as it's the setting of the popular show Doc Martin.

St Endellion Church in Port Isaac Cornwall
St Endellion Church, Port Isaac

We were determined for afternoon tea, so we wandered from one end of the town to another. We found a roadside standing selling magnets and jam that was off a take your own, honesty policy. We stumbled upon a church, a restaurant that was shutting for the day and a hotel that looked to be basically closed.  Such is your luck when visiting a small town over a holiday weekend I suppose! We decided to head back to Port Gaverne and the weather decided to take pity on us and offer up blue skies for the walk back, affording us a lovely vista over the water and town.  Before leaving, our hotel was offering afternoon tea complete with scones & Cornish clotted cream to give us one last taste of my Cornish obsession before heading back to London.

Port Gaverne Hotel, Cornwall

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1 comment:

  1. I love Cornwall blog posts ❤️ I used to live there - very near to St Ives and so any blog posts about Cornwall take me back but Cornish people definitely are particular about who they consider to be local!