Over Easter I went to Cornwall for the first time since I learnt to walk, so as you can imagine I didn’t exactly remember much. Adam has raved on about the seaside town of St. Ives ever since I first met him, so I was very excited to join in on his big family holiday and see what all the fuss was about.
Once I had had a chance to have a wander, I soon realised why Adam loved it so much. The town itself is adorable, with the tiniest cobbled streets leading all over the place. It is full of an obscene amount of art galleries, delicious fudge shops and niche boutiques. Alongside this are your usual touristy bucket and spade shops, and middle class clothes stores full of nautical stripes and bold floral prints.
The narrow streets were oozing with tourists like us, all eager to take advantage of the extraordinary sunshine. You soon emerge onto the lovely harbour front. We would daily then head left along the harbour, heading towards Porthgwidden Beach – Adam’s family favourite. Nestled away, it was a smaller and a bit more private than Porthmeor and Porthminster. The weather really was incredible and I had not packed appropriately. I also did my usual trick of forgetting that the sun is still very strong in England, like I do every Spring, and consequently left the beach resembling a lobster. An unfortunate consequence of both of these foolish mistakes is that I still, a few weeks on, have prominent tan lines dividing my calves thanks to my rolled up jeans.
Most days we spent dozing in deck-chairs to the sound of the waves lapping the shore, leaving occasionally for a toe-numbing paddle or a climb on the rocks.
Dividing Porthgwidden and Porthmeor is a hill that gives wonderful views over both beaches and the town. At the top of the hill is an adorable, little chapel. Luckily there had been a wedding ceremony one of the days we were there so it was unlocked and we could have a peek inside. We found that the hill was the perfect spot for kite-flying as it got a bit breezy up there. Ignoring the incident where I almost strangled Adam’s sister after an aggressive gush of wind sent my kite hurtling towards her head, I thought I was pretty pro at this whole kite flying thing…
Something that I gave ago that I had never before was crabbing. Considering I grew up by the coast, I don’t know how I avoided it. But then I was (and still am) pretty girly so it probably wasn’t up my street! Crabbing was a rollercoaster of emotions. I began bored – everyone was catching crabs and I just kept getting my line stuck on rocks and losing my bait. Pure glee followed once a little crab decided to have a nibble and Adam’s sister helped me catch it in the net. It was pretty tiny but I was very proud and named her Luna. Frustration and wrath followed after. The crabs, obviously very practised at escaping tourists, were having a fishy feast at my expense. I came so close, so many times but they kept outwitting me. In the company of many children I tried my upmost from swearing at these creatures, it wasn’t my finest moment. Eventually my determination paid off and I caught the absolute beast that had been eluding me all afternoon. After this I triumphantly bought an ice cream. I really don’t know what I thought of the process in retrospect. Obviously they were all released, but it seemed like a lot of unnecessary trauma for the crabs. But then again they got a lot of food out of it. I guess you can’t exactly ask them what they’d rather!
Good food is the one thing that will always make me happy. St Ives was full of it. My first proper Cornish Pasty was divine. There are numerous Pasty shops on every street but our favourite was the Yellow Canary Cafe who made theirs extra peppery.
Like any seaside town there was lots of ice cream. Kelly’s Cornish Ice Cream is spectacular. I liked to keep it simple with their classic Cornish Clotted Cream but was also pretty partial to the Salted Caramel. They sell their popular flavours in most supermarkets and I have seriously had to restrain myself because I know if I buy some I will demolish the tub in one sitting. There are also lots of fudge shops. I brought a box of Cornish Clotted Cream flavour home with the intention of sharing, it didn’t happen. It was sublime.
There are plenty of restaurants to chose from, but as I am allergic to shellfish my choice was more limited. I would certainly recommend Smeaton’s Fish and Chip shop. We ate in one night and had a beautiful view of the pink sunset over the harbour. The price was reasonable and the portion left me at just the right level of full. The batter on the fish also looked like a work of art! It has only recently re-opened after a renovation and it is a great place for a casual dinner out.
I would also recommend Porthgwidden Beach Cafe. Although open all day, we went in the evening. It had a really chilled out vibe with quirky touches like a sandcastle bucket as your wine cooler. There was a lot of shellfish in their dishes so was a bit restricted but I certainly was not disappointed. I had the Grilled Haloumi to start with red onion jam, confit tomatoes, walnuts and toasted bread. I was a bit worried as usually with starters they scrimp on the cheese but I had a huge piece which always gets a big thumbs up from me. I followed with more cheese and had Tomato, Rocket and Chilli Linguine, topped with goats cheese, olives and fresh herbs. Like the starter they put a loads of cheese on and it was so scrumptious. Both were simple but the flavour so rich, I’m definitely going to try recreate the pasta at home.
The one place Adam had really raved about in St Ives was The Sloop. There are plenty of pubs in the town but this is the icing on the cake. Founded in the fourteenth century, it has since became an intrinsic part of the harbour-front. It was rammed most of the time but that didn’t stop us all heading in there every evening for a few pints of Rattler.
St Ives was gorgeous and I completely understand why Adam’s family love it so much. I just guess you always risk the weather when you have a holiday in England – we were just very lucky!
But even when it clouded over, St Ives was undeniably beautiful. The perfect staycation.