My feet were getting itchy. Maybe it’s the nature of my job, always being on the move, living out of a suitcase, in and out of various theatres and auditions, but I can’t go too long in the same place. Now I know that opportunity to travel is a privilege, especially during a global pandemic but there are so many ways we can feel like we’re on vacay without, you know, actually leaving the country. A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I took a spontaneous trip to the Cornish coast for a long weekend after I had been working in Devon and it was one of my favourite places we’ve ever visited. If this year has taught me anything it’s that there’s so much for us to see and love right here in Blighty.
We drove down via South Wales, as we decided to drop in on my Nanny for a socially-distanced dinner date. This split our six hour journey into two more manageable chunks. Podcasts on – Up and Vanished is our current obsession – we cruised down to the edge of the country to our chocolate box Airbnb in Ruthvoes.
This pretty little hamlet is perfectly situated for easy access to both sides of the Cornish coast. We decided to spend our first day exploring, on foot and with a pub or two en route. The rain was torrential but with brollies up and wellies on, it was joyous to be out and about exploring somewhere unfamiliar.
Now I mean this with every fibre of my being, Cornwall is the Paris of the UK. You will not have a bad meal out. So much of the produce is farm fresh and – bonus time – the portions are generous. Seriously, the best Chinese food we’ve ever tasted we stumbled upon in Saint Columb!
Day Two and the weather decided to warm up. We visited a local owl sanctuary, aptly named Screech. We had it on very good authority that this was an excellent day out, getting to see these magical creatures in their natural environment really brought out my inner Ravenclaw. And you can get a cream tea in the cafe for £5. It’s a hard yes from me.
It was only a twenty minute drive to reach our next destination, the gorgeous hidden treasure of Saint Austell. I’ve never been before and I wish we’d spent more time here. Less busy than Padstow or Newquay but just as Instagram-able. All the local businesses had Covid-safe procedures in place, allowing everyone to really relax and possibly, just for a moment, forget all the turbulence of the last six months. I could’ve quite happily have stayed in Saint Austell, drinking Aperols all evening and falling asleep under the stars.
The following morning we wanted to check out our old haunts from our last holiday. The last time I was in Tintagel I desperately wanted to buy a ceramic piece from the local potter but I was worried it wouldn’t survive the car journey home, especially if I was driving. This time though, my mind was made up. I selected a beautiful cornflower-blue coloured bowl that I’m sure E would covet; she LOVES her ceramics.
A quick sidebar about driving in Cornwall: sometimes you are better off following the signs and not your SatNav. James Nesbit – our SatNav has a Northern Irish accent – sent us down an impossibly long twisty road that we then had to reverse back up when we almost hit a truck coming the other way.
We eventually made it to Padstow or PadSTEIN as the locals call it, thanks to their local celebrity. On our previous trip to Cornwall our day in Padstow was totally overshadowed by a downpour, being attacked by wasps in a tearoom and very, very bad hangovers. We felt the town needed another chance. I’m sorry to report dear reader, it didn’t fair much better this time. The harbour is adorable but far too crowded, not ideal, even pre-pandemic. Beyond the crowds it has it charms which is why, of course, it is so very popular. Rather selfishly, I just wish there had been fewer tourists on the day we visited!
For our final couple of days we moved to a hotel in Newquay. The town has changed a lot since the post A-Levels surf and clubbing days of the early noughties. It is busy with families now, taking advantage of the water sports and beach front bars. We managed to catch the tail end of storm Francis for our last two days but this didn’t dampen our spirits. In fact, it gave me an excuse to buy a new raincoat, so happy days.
You could fill a lifetime of summers with trips down to the Cornish coast. There really is magic around every cove. Even with a dose of unseasonably poor weather, that Turner-esque sea breeze was a tonic in a strange, Covid-compliant summer. I can’t recommend a Cornish adventure highly enough.
I am the daughter of Earth and WaterPercy Shelley
If you want to see more from my Cornish staycation, check out my Instagram and let me know where you’re off to next.~L.