On our second morning in Cornwall, we had to say goodbye to our little Airbnb hideaway and the tiny hamlet of Demelza, but not before we collected the eggs from the ducks and chickens and said goodbye to the horses and the sheep and the dogs … So by the time we got to St Austell in search of breakfast, we were pretty darn hungry.
On first entering Bystro at the Bank we thought we’d walked into the wrong place, since we seemed to have arrived in the middle of a rehearsal of Chicago. Swiftly reassured by the staff that they were serving breakfast, we took a seat and perused the menu to a soundtrack of Cell Block Tango (my personal favourite song from the musical). When our choices of pancakes with maple syrup (Miss France), bubble and squeak with bacon and egg (Laura) and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (me) arrived, nobody was inclined to wait while I took photos.
Tummies suitably de-rumbled, we hopped back in the car and headed towards our second destination on what was already looking like a beautiful day.
If Charlestown looks a little familiar to you, I’m guessing you’re a Poldark fan: the perfectly preserved 17th century village, Grade II-listed harbour and collection of tall ships are home to the period drama. You’ll also find the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre here, where you can look at artefacts recovered from shipwrecks all over the world, including the Titanic and HMS Invincible. But as fascinating as all that might be, we were here for another reason entirely …
Because Charlestown also happens to be home to a rather lovely pebbly beach. And that blue, blue sea was practically begging us to throw our sandals aside and go for a paddle.
And who am I to argue when it looks this good?
And ok, yes, I wimped out and borrowed my sister’s Havaianas because pebbles. And also rocks. And also, as it turned out, jellyfish …
There were quite a number of these little critters along the shoreline. I think they were dead, but I’m not David Attenborough and I’ve no idea how you can tell …
I should just point out that this is a Sunday, one of the hottest days we had in July, and the beach was practically empty. Bliss.
After I’d paddled, I wandered back up the beach to investigate a little cave I’d seen from the shore. I wondered what could be inside … Smugglers?
Two hundred-year-old barrels of rum?!
I wasn’t brave enough to find out. But some other boys were, and they came out empty-handed, so I’d have been disappointed anyway.
After a couple of hours soaking up the sunshine and the salty sea air, we started to get beach FOMO. So we went to check out the beach on the other side of the harbour, just in case. Through the tunnel …
… back past the tall ships in the harbour …
… and up on to the harbour wall.
I wanted to clamber over the rocks at the bottom of the cliff to reach that little ‘island’ … But we had other things to do, so we contented ourselves with taking a few minutes to enjoy the view.
I’m wearing: this strappy top, my favourite Sam Edelman Gigi sandals (now on sale!) and an old denim skirt, but I love these two embroidered versions from Topshop (one, two) – a little Gucci, no? Or this plain one, and this one – the dream – by Valentino … The sunglasses are actually a freebie pair from Tatler a couple of years back. I always stockpile free sunglasses to take to the beach because if I took fancy ones I guarantee I would scratch/break/lose them. (And let’s not mention the fact that my hair has been expertly styled by the wind and the sea, shall we?)
We took a wander back along the harbour and up the hill …
… and did a little shopping in the galleries just off the main road.
Those blue marble coasters almost came home with me. Along with all of this pottery (particularly that pink bowl).
I picked up a hand-painted silk scarf in shades of blue that reminded me of the Cornish sea. Round the corner, we discovered the Sail Loft Emporium, a shop crammed to the rafters with antiques and collectables, i.e., the sort of place I could happily browse for hours.
In here I found a pretty little necklace for just £10 that I couldn’t leave behind. I think I’ll do a post on my holiday finds once I’m caught up!
But then it was time to move on to somewhere that just about everyone had told us we needed to visit.
If I were going to move to Cornwall, Fowey (pronounced Foy to rhyme with boy) would probably be at the top of my list. It is too pretty for words, and it has fantastic shopping and places to eat.
Plus, imagine how fit you’d be if you had to walk up and down these steps all the time.
If steep climbs aren’t your thing, Fowey is probably not for you. It is the Land of Steps and Hills. But if you’re not afraid of a little hard work, it’s worth the effort. And I’ll bet you don’t leave without imagining what it would be like to live here. Perhaps in one of these gorgeous cottages …
You’d never run out of things to Instagram in Fowey.
This is Charly White, and his job is to sit in the doorway of this Fowey gallery and sneakily draw people in to scratch behind his curly ears, and maybe accidentally buy an artwork while they’re distracted by his soft-as-cotton-wool coat. Cunning.
But we were on a mission, and no amount of puppy-dog eyes were going to stop us. We were on the lookout for a delicious cream tea – and that’s when we found The Lifebuoy Cafe.
As far as I’m concerned, if you go to Cornwall and don’t have a cream tea, it’s like going to the cinema and not buying popcorn – the experience is incomplete without it. But if strawberry jam and clotted cream just isn’t your bag, you’re in luck. Because The Lifebuoy Cafe doesn’t serve just one kind of cream tea, oh no. It has a choice of THREE.
So naturally, we ordered them all. For Miss France, a chocolate cream tea, with clotted cream and Green & Black’s chocolate and hazelnut spread (apparently there’s also a chocolate orange version now, with added marmalade) …
… for Laura, the savoury cream tea, the number one choice for all you cheese fiends out there …
… and for me, the traditional Cornish cream tea.
Do you know the difference between a Cornish cream tea and a Devon cream tea? Although traditionally in Cornwall you’d have been served a Cornish split (a kind of soft bread roll) with your cream tea instead of a scone, these days both versions comprise scones, clotted cream and jam. The difference is in how you eat it: for a Cornish version, you spread your scones with jam first and then clotted cream, and in Devon, it’s cream first, then jam.
Truth is, I’ve always preferred cream first, then jam. And don’t worry, nobody’s going to chase you across the border with a pitchfork if you do it the wrong way round.
While we finished our tea, Miss France busied herself with board games.
Full to bursting with tea and jammy, creamy, sconey goodness, we walked it off around Fowey’s winding streets.
We had a nosey around some of the shops, and I furnished my imaginary Fowey house …
… and then fudge might have happened. You know, by accident. We just kind of, umm, fell into the shop and fell back out again with fudge.
But by this time the evening was drawing in and it was time to make our way to St Neot and check into our B&B. So we trudged up the steps …
… past adorably-named cottages (of which Fowey has many) …
… and took one last look at the view.
Maybe I won’t be moving to Fowey any time soon, but one thing’s for sure – I’ll be back.