Quintessential Cornwall


Cornish Airbnb cottage in Demelza, Cornwall

Road sign marking Demelza hamlet, Cornwall

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.

Bubble and squeak with bacon and egg at Bystro at the Bank, St Austell, Cornwall

Bystro at the Bank, St Austell, Cornwall

View towards the churchyard in St Austell, Cornwall

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 …

Tall ships in the harbour at Charlestown, Cornwall

View across the harbour to cottages at Charlestown, Cornwall

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.

Pebble beach under the cliffs at Charlestown, Cornwall

Blue sea and sky looking out towards Gribbin Head from Charlestown beach, Cornwall

And who am I to argue when it looks this good?

Sam Edelman Gigi sandals amongst the pebbles on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

pinkschmink looks out to sea from rocks on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

pinkschmink looks out to sea from rocks on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

pinkschmink on the rocks at Charlestown beach, Cornwall

pinkschmink on the rocks at Charlestown beach, Cornwall

And ok, yes, I wimped out and borrowed my sister’s Havaianas because pebbles. And also rocks. And also, as it turned out, jellyfish …

Jellyfish at the edge of the water on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

Jellyfish amongst the pebbles on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

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 …

Waves lapping at pinkschmink's feet on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

View along Charlestown beach towards the cliffs, Cornwall

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?

Cave on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

Hidden treasure?

Cave on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

Two hundred-year-old barrels of rum?!

Cave on Charlestown beach, Cornwall

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.

View along the coast from Charlestown beach, Cornwall

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 …

Tunnel from the beach to the harbour at Charlestown, Cornwall

… back past the tall ships in the harbour …

Tall ships in the harbour at Charlestown, Cornwall

… and up on to the harbour wall.

pinkschmink looking out over the beach from the harbour wall at Charlestown, Cornwall

View of the beach from the harbour wall at Charlestown, Cornwall

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.

Miss France and Laura enjoying the view from the harbour wall at Charlestown, Cornwall

pinkschmink on the steps up to the harbour wall in Charlestown, Cornwall

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 …

Charlestown harbour, Cornwall

… and did a little shopping in the galleries just off the main road.

Handmade glass coasters for sale in Charlestown, Cornwall

Those blue marble coasters almost came home with me. Along with all of this pottery (particularly that pink bowl).

Handcrafted pottery for sale in Charlestown, Cornwall

Handcrafted pottery for sale in Charlestown, Cornwall

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.

Sail Loft Emporium, Charlestown, Cornwall

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.

Sign pointing to Fowey, Cornwall

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.

Steps into town at Fowey, Cornwall

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 …

Blue house on the steps in Fowey, Cornwall

Houses on a hill in Fowey, Cornwall

Vintage car outside shops in Fowey, Cornwall

Georgian house in Fowey, Cornwall

You’d never run out of things to Instagram in Fowey.

Boats in the harbour at Fowey, Cornwall

Houses along the waterfront in Fowey, Cornwall

Any Old Lights shop in Fowey, Cornwall

Dog in the doorway of an art gallery in Fowey, Cornwall

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.

The Lifebuoy Cafe in Fowey, Cornwall

Inside the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

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) …

Chocolate cream tea at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

… for Laura, the savoury cream tea, the number one choice for all you cheese fiends out there …

Savoury cheese cream tea at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

… and for me, the traditional Cornish cream tea.

Traditional Cornish cream tea at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

Traditional Cornish cream tea at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

Traditional Cornish cream tea at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

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.

Oops.

Cream tea at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Cornwall

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.

Pouring milk into tea at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

Inside the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

Miss France playing board games at the Lifebuoy Cafe, Cornwall

Inside the Lifebuoy Cafe, Fowey, Cornwall

Full to bursting with tea and jammy, creamy, sconey goodness, we walked it off around Fowey’s winding streets.

The Ship Inn, Fowey, Cornwall

Pink ice cream shop in Fowey, Cornwall

Shops beside the Ship Inn, Fowey, Cornwall

The pink King of Prussia pub in Fowey, Cornwall

We had a nosey around some of the shops, and I furnished my imaginary Fowey house …

Cushions in the window of a shop in Fowey, Cornwall

Cushions in the window of a shop in Fowey, Cornwall

… 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.

Freshly made vanilla fudge in the window, Fowey, Cornwall

Different flavours of fudge for sale in Fowey, Cornwall

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 …

Steps between houses in Fowey, Cornwall

… past adorably-named cottages (of which Fowey has many) …

Puddleducks cottage in Fowey, Cornwall

Whistlefish cottage in Fowey, Cornwall

… and took one last look at the view.

View of Fowey harbour over the rooftops, Cornwall

Maybe I won’t be moving to Fowey any time soon, but one thing’s for sure – I’ll be back.

Looking out to sea from the top of Fowey, Cornwall