I went on holiday. Yes that’s right, a proper bona fide holiday. With sunshine, and no work (apart from a phone call from my deputy/son with a query about an order he was processing). Bliss.
Seven days with no interruption, no obligations. I don’t remember the last time that happened. Years. And sunshine. All without even leaving the country.
When my partner first suggested Cornwall, I was luke warm on the idea, I have to be honest. I generally err on the side of heading north not south. But I did a bit of research. It started to grow on me. And I was promised Eden.
Cornwall is a long drive from Yorkshire so we made a stop over in Weston super Mare. We’re big fans of the Great British Seaside and everything that goes with it. (We once managed to enjoy a day out in Maryport in the rain, and that’s some achievement.) Weston did not disappoint. We arrived the back end of Sunday, and so the place was pretty quiet. The sun shone on the murky Bristol Channel and everything felt right with the world.
Every time I stay in a Premier Inn there’s a part of me really wants to despise it. Souless identical rooms, clinical plastic curtains, dreadful mass produced “art” etc etc.
But then there’s the predictability, the customer service, the peace and quiet, and the beds. Which really are the most comfortable beds in the world. And that’s coming from a woman with a high spec memory foam mattress at home. Call me middle aged (which I am), but the best night’s sleep in weeks is sometimes about as exciting as I need my life to be ! Anyway, it set us up for a proper explore of the town the next day.
We found ourselves in the old lido that more recently was the scene of Banksy’s theme park, the remains of which (MEDIOCRE) can still be seen on the walls.
It’s currently home to a fun fair. I love the colours and sounds and smells of funfairs – the actually rides, not so much.
There’s plenty more to Weston too, and we walked for miles, before heading back to the car for the next leg of our journey. We were a bit sad to leave Weston to be honest.
Now I know a lot of people who would turn up their noses at a Haven holiday park, and we’d found ourselves justifying our holiday booking to friends in the last few weeks. But out of school holidays, I have to say I’ve always found them a great place to stay. I mean, you don’t actually have to go to the bars, or watch the entertainment, or whatever else goes on in the Fun Shack, if that not your thing. Our chalet was clean and comfortable and fairly well appointed. (It’s a bit stingy of Haven not to provide bedside lamps though, however “standard” the chalet). Apart from its proximity to the beach, the best thing about the Perran Sands site is how it’s nestled in the sand dunes, so there’s no straight rows of caravans, making it feel less refugee camp than some sites.
So that was our home for the next few days. On the Tuesday, I persuaded S that a visit to the Barbara Hepworth museum and garden was what we needed. I’m not sure he was that keen, being of less arty persuasion than myself. But St Ives won him over. It’s a completely charming village/town. The sea stunned us with its full on turquoise-ness. We ate pasties ( what else) in the harbour, with a warning of seagulls. (Honestly, St Ives seagulls have nothing on Scarborough seagulls. We didn’t see a single mugging.)
Then on to the museum. Now I’m a bit of a Hepworth fan, so this was always going to be a treat, but as you know I’m also a gardener. I could have stayed there for ever. Totally entranced by Barb’s garden and sculptures. S put up a good show of enjoying it too, especially watching the restoration team at work on a couple of the exhibits.
Sometimes a trip like this can be ruined for me by an impossible climb back up to a carpark. When you have COPD, a hill can be a formidable adversary. But luckily there’s a handy shuttle bus from the bottom to the top at a measly £1. It stops outside the co-op, incase you need to know that kind of thing!
The following day we had a day out in surf city (Newquay). We were served a weird but not entirely unpleasant lunch by a man for whom everything was “awesome” and “cool”, including my need for the salt pot. We dipped our toes in the sea, watched surfers, explored the town and fantasised about living in the house on the island. Or staying there for a week. Or just getting a glimpse of it. According to an overheard conversation it was once a cafe with a glorious garden. We wished it still was.
Thursday was all about the beach. Books, suncream, sand in our sarnies, full on beach experience. Boy it was hot. But this is no Med, and I’m too much of a wuss to swim in the Atlantic. Honestly, call myself a Yorkshire-woman!
The walk back up the cliff just about did me in. It’s times like this I hate my bloody body. But I have an extremely understanding supportive and kind partner who makes many allowances for my ailing lungs when I forget to. We got there in the end.
On Friday we packed up and left our chalet. Perranporth for lunch and a walk on the beach, then a drive across county to the Eden Project.
Remember I’d been promised this as the Cornwall lure. But first a night in the unusual setting of the Eden Youth Hostel. Which is actually a series of shipping containers fitted out as tiny ensuite rooms. I’ve stayed in alot of youth hostels in my time, but this one is completely unique. The common room and self catering kitchen are in a marquee, the reception and bar in a shed, in the marquee. The room was erm, bijou let’s say, and would definitely benefit from an actual window. But its extremely well designed and well appointed. You do have to like your room mate though!
The Eden Project. What to say? It is spectacular. Built in an old quarry, it has its own micro climate. The planting is perfect. And educational. And a plant lover’s heaven.
I don’t think I’ve ever visited anywhere so perfectly designed. Everything is so well thought through. Where anywhere else signs would tell you not to climb on the tree ferns, Eden explains why you shouldn’t and gives you an alternative climbing suggestion. Where everywhere else would have a Costa concession, Eden has its own fantastic, eco friendly, totally tasty cafes. Where everywhere else would warn you it might get hot on the tropical jungle glasshouse Eden provides water fountains and a “cold room”.
The jungle is very very interesting, but I preferred the Mediterranean dome. I really think I was intended for the Med – the climate, the plants, the food, the lifestyle. A Yorkshire heart and Mediterranean soul, summat like that. Certainly my body thinks I belong in warmer climes. I think we have Moorish ancestry, perhaps my body knows that! I love that arid landscape and pelargoniums and proteas and aloes and lavender, the dry heat, the cicadas.
The outdoor environment is at least as interesting as that in the domes. I particularly liked the gardens with the prehistoric brackens and ferns, and the knifofia meadows. I do love a red hot poker!
And then that was it. S heroically drove the seven hour trip home in one go. I am a terrible navigator. And I mean terrible. I don’t even know left from right. I was long ago, and very thoroughly superceded by satnav technology. My contribution to the journey was to feed S sweets , test the comparative merits of branded and own brand toffee eclairs, and research how synthetic banana flavour is achieved. (Look it up for yourself, I really wasn’t so invested in the subject as to remember it. I hate banana flavour.)
We tried to think of all the good things to come home to – Yorkshire tea made with Yorkshire water, memory foam beds, beloved offspring, but honestly, I’d rather we were still in Cornwall.