Springtime in Cornwall

On Monday we returned from ten days away, in Cornwall and a couple of days visiting relatives in Devon, in the South West of England. I spent all of Tuesday unpacking, washing, cleaning and putting things back in their rightful place (!) and since then we have been busy seeing friends and gearing up for Easter (will share more soon) so there has been no time to catch up here, but finally here I am! 

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Cornwall – ah what a place! Famous for its wide sandy beaches, rugged coastline and smuggler’s coves; its mining heritage, farming, and fishing; for fresh seafoood, Cornish ales, clotted Cream teas and ice cream, for its impressive subtropical gardens and that special quality of light that draws artists to the area to live and work. All of these and so much more make Cornwall a popular holiday location.

Every spring and summer tens of thousands of holidaymakers flock to the countryside and coastal resorts of  Cornwall and Devon. It is the seventh time we have visited Cornwall and the fifth as a family. There is something about the area that draws people back time and again.

This year, we ventured right to the South Western tip of Cornwall, staying in a cottage in the countryside near Penzance. Oh my, it was a looooooong trip!

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Our youngest daughter got sick with something like food poisoning 😦 so we had to stop off several times for her to use the bathroom and often she couldn’t wait and was sick at the side of the road. Poor love!  It was a horrible journey for her. She was sat on my lap for most of it in the back seat of the car, sleeping and feeling dreadful. By the time we arrived we were both smelling of sick and needed a bath!

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But after the long eight hour drive (it should only have taken six), there was tea and cake and a warm welcome on our arrival at our holiday cottage and all was well with the world again 🙂

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The cottage was gorgeous with lots of space inside to relax and a large back garden, backing onto fields which our daughters loved. The house came complete with a small library, games and outdoor play equipment so there were lots of games of tennis and frisbee and new stories to share. It was so wonderful to not be overlooked and have the whole countryside in front of us. We certainly enjoyed our fair share of stunning sunsets,

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and were even paid a visit by some neighbouring cows who were very curious about what we were up to!

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One day my youngest sang and danced for them when she thought we weren’t looking – the cows were captivated, it was so sweet!

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There was also a young sparrow living in a piece of guttering who sang us a merry tune every morning and throughout the day. He was full of the joys of spring 🙂

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Spring was all around us; lambs in the fields, nests in the trees and wild garlic, celandines, wild anenomes, cowslips and primroses grew abundantly by the wayside and in the hedgerows. So much colour and such beautiful light. We were blessed with some warm sunny days, so we could go out and explore the surrounding area.

I thought I would share my thoughts on our trip to Cornwall here in case it would be of interest to folks thinking of visiting the area and besides I am enjoying documenting what we are doing as a family here, so here goes 🙂

Apologies for the photo quality in advance. I was using my daughter’s camera and she didn’t want me fiddling with the settings so I just pointed and shot and hoped for the best! 

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On our first day we visited Porthcurno  beach. The sun was shining so we ventured to the sea to dip our feet in it. It was freezing! We persevered for a bit, but I am so sensitive to cold, it was too intense for me.

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There were a few hardy children splashing in the sea, but it wasn’t for us. I retired to the beach with my youngest for a spot of knitting on the infinity scarf I am making her. Here she is putting a few stitches in.

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There is a telegraph museum there and it is a lovely walk to the sea from the car park, along paths dotted with meadow flowers at either side. We sampled some of the wild garlic and treated our daughters to their first Cornish ice cream at the cafe there. The beach felt very unspoilt and it is such a beautiful spot.

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Another beach we enjoyed visiting was at Sennen Cove, which is popular with surfers and there is a surf school there.

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The weather wasn’t too warm so we didn’t try the sea that day, but it was fascinating  watching the surfers and our daughters enjoyed the freedom of running around the beach. We had our first cream tea at the cafe there, overlooking the sea.

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Another day we took a trip to Land’s End, which is at the most south-westerly tip of Cornwall. Next stop America!

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The car parking charges were steep at £5 per car and it was rather a commercial set up (think 4 D cinemas and Shaun the Sheep Experience, not to mention charging folks £9 for having their photo taken by the iconic Land’s End signpost!), with nowhere decent to eat (bring a picnic!), but the coastline is stunning.

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So rugged and windswept. Our daughters were keen to see some wildlife: we didn’t spot any dolphins or seals, but we were delighted to see a shag perched on a rock out at sea.

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It was a particularly breezy day, so our daughters didn’t enjoy the walk along the cliff tops and we didn’t get too far. I would say it is worth a visit if you don’t mind paying for the car park, but sadly it is too over commercialised for our liking.

We also visited Penzance one day and St Ives another. I would recommend St Ives for a visit.

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It is a very sweet seaside town with lovely shops, restaurants and some art galleries including the iconic art gallery The Tate, St Ives. We didn’t make it there, but we did look at a few small art galleries/shops including the Jo Downs handmade glass gallery and treated ourselves to a small glass picture for our bathroom. We couldn’t resist such beauty. We had hoped to see some glass work in action, but came too late in the day, unfortunately. There were also several nice beaches and some funky cafes,

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And of course an independent Cornish ice cream parlour 🙂

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We visited a couple of Gardens during our visit. Cornwall is not subject to hard frosts due to its position, so subtropical plants are able to flourish here, which makes it a very special place.

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The first place we visited was the National Trust garden Trengwainton, which was close to our cottage.

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I am always impressed by how succulents and tree ferns can grow happily outdoors here and love the colourful displays courtesy of the camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons.

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Our daughters did an easy trail through the garden and received a chocolate rabbit as a reward to share. As they don’t eat chocolate, we gifted it onto our 23 year old cousin Bradley 😉 They were able to enjoy another ice cream instead in the lovely independent cafe there :-).

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Another garden we visited was Trebah Garden, near Falmouth, which is a favourite of ours. It was a longer drive, but well worth the trip. This lush subtropical garden, with a collection of over 5000 plants, is made up of four miles of winding footpaths,  taking you around an impressive array of planting areas, which include tree ferns, giant gunneras, bamboos, magnolias and vibrant azaleas and rhodedendrons.

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There are many seating areas to rest a while and enjoy the scenery, including numerous ponds and streams.

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The garden stretches all the way down to a small private beach where a stream meets the sea.

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Even sitting outside in the cafe having our lunch was a treat. It is truely sublime at Trebah at this time of year and I hear the summer hydrangeas are just stunning.

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There was a trail for our daughters to follow which they rather enjoyed and we just loved being right in the midst of this subtropical paradise. As you can see, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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We spent our last afternoon at St Michael’s Mount, a place steeped in history and legend. At low tide, you can walk across a causeway from Marazion, but we had to take a little motor boat over there. My eldest was petrified at the thought of it, but once we got going, she quite enjoyed the five minute trip over to the island.

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Cobbled streets (that are rather uncomfortable to walk on!) lead up to the 14th Century Castle and Medieval church, which is now in the care of the National Trust.

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The Mount had a chequered history, alternating between monastic use and serving as a fortress, until wealthy Cornish landowners, the St Aubyns family, bought it in 1660. They owned it until 1964 when it was given to the National Trust to manage.  Some of the family still live in appartments on the island, I believe. We were able to explore the castle and church, but the gardens were not yet open to the public, which is a shame as I have heard great things about them.

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Our daughters did a little trail around the building, but my eldest who is particularly sensitive, didn’t enjoy the armoury and weaponry in the building. It felt oppressive to her, as did our visit to Mont St Michel in the summer. I found it interesting enough and enjoyed taking photos as usual 🙂

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The views to the coast were stunning and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon.

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You can see the causeway under the sea here

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As it was our last day,  we treated ourself to a Cream tea, something you should never miss when visiting Cornwall.

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There is a difference between how the Cornish and Devonians take their cream tea.  I was told that in Cornwall, the jam comes first and then the clotted cream goes on top, but in Devon it is the other way around. I have to say I love it the Cornish way 🙂 My husband and eldest daughter like it the other way and my youngest says she just loves it any way 🙂 A good Cream tea is always a treat!
We did give up sugar and caffeine for Lent and were doing so well, but we agreed on a hiatus for three of the days whilst on holiday as the cream teas are not to be missed and the cake on our arrival was a sweet relief after our long trip!

After we left Cornwall, we paid a visit to family in Devon who are dairy farmers. We spent a lovely afternoon walking around the Tarr Steps area.

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We noticed that there are several felled trees with coins hammered all over them and whilst we were there we saw more visitors hammering coins in with stones.

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I have since found out that these are called “wishing trees”, a tradition dating back to Victorian times. Supposedly people believed that sticking a coin into a wishing tree would take away their illness and pass it onto the tree which had special powers. If the coin was removed, the person removing it would get the sickness.  It certainly looks very effective as a piece of artwork.

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Of course no visit would be complete without some clotted cream ice cream and some fun throwing sticky grass at the relatives! 🙂

I would definitely recommend Cornwall for a visit. There is so much to see and to experience and the people are very friendly and helpful in our experience and the scenery is breathtaking.

 

6 thoughts on “Springtime in Cornwall

  1. It’s good to hear from you again! I was wondering if you were on a trip. I’m sorry you had such a rough start, but the rest of the trip looks so nice. We’ve seen clotted cream on Edwardian Farm, but have never had the treat ourselves. I wonder if it would be possible to make at home. . .

    P.S. I have a new blog address. 🙂

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    • Ah thanks Brandy! Nice to be back 🙂 Yes I imagine you could make clotted cream yourself – it’s just heavy cream, whipped stiff and I think you add some sugar and perhaps some sour cream according to some of the recipes online. I would have look and have a go. Lovely with homemade scones and strawberry jam – maybe something for your june homeschool programme? 🙂 I love your new address and the look of your blog. A change is as good as a holiday, they say! 🙂

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  2. I’m glad you had a good trip, such a shame your daughter was so ill to start with. Love Cornwall but not been down that far yet but your photo of the gardens etc make it very tempting.

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  3. Thanks for sharing all the photos of your trip to Cornwall and Devon! The coast and beach sites look amazing. How interesting that tropical plants can grow there! Would never have guessed that, especially since the beach looks a bit chilly.
    I learned that some of my many times great grandfathers were miners in Cornwall, before immigrating to America in the early 1800’s to then become a coal miners in Pennsylvania. Hopefully my research will uncover even more specific areas in Cornwall!

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    • Glad you enjoyed the photos. The area is so beautiful. They are lucky not to get any frosts in Cornwall, so those the subtropical plants can thrive there – I guess they don’t need it hot all year round (it certainly isn’t!), just not frosty…a little bit of paradise 🙂 Good for you doing this research. Good to know where your roots are and what your ancestors went through so you can be where you are today. Mining must have been such a hard life. Good luck with your further research!

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