Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A Very Cornish Holiday

In my mind Cornwall equals summer holidays:  Beaches, sun and sandy picnics, seaweed, rock-pools and Daphne de Maurier. Teenagers partying in Rock and the Port Eliot Festival. So a post-Christmas Cornwall break was not a plan that I had formed or thought about, until I saw an inviting three-bedroomed house for rent in Port Isaac, North Cornwall, right above the harbour. It looked idyllic.
Mount Pleasant
View from the twin Room
Port Isaac is a charming, fishing village where Marin Clunes films Doc Martin and out of season, it is lively, but not crowded. Our house is called Mount Pleasant which we rented through Classic Cottages.  On our first morning, we wake up to the sounds of seagulls and the sea and an incredible view - sunlight on the cliffs, waves laping on the beach, fishermen preparing to take a boat out. My husband is delighted to discover a good coffee shop and a fabulous fishmongers selling fresh oysters, mussels and all kinds of fish, less than five minutes walk from the house, but my tip would be to avoid the cornish pasties.

We are lucky enough to have almost perfect weather. On our first day, we hire bikes in Wadebridge and cycle along the old railway line, The Camel Way, five miles to Padstow, which the children love, as they don't particularly like going for walks. When we arrive we stumble upon the queue  at Rick Stein’s caf√© and join it. The grilled mackerel and chips are delicious, my husband enjoys his cod and chips and it all seems even better after our bike ride. We waddle off to one of several ice cream shops in Padstow and the children tank up on huge sticky icecreams.  Rick Stein has a food empire in Padstow, although apparently he lives mostly in Australia!  When we pop into his deli on the way back to the bikes, I am not amused to find a loaf of bread selling for £7. The second time we went to Padstow to meet some friends, we had to queue at the fish and chips for 45 minutes, but still somehow it was worth it. The man I was queueing next to, told me that in August you can’t even get into the car parks in Padstow! I dread to think how long you would have to wait for a table during the peak summer months. 

The children went flowriding twice at the Retallack Resort  (about a half hour drive from Port Isaac) which they loved – basically you learn to surf on a kind of giant wave machine, an ingenious idea.  They enjoyed it despite freezing their buts off and having to wear over-sized wetsuits that were wet and cold when they put them on (NB Retallack, equip yourself with more wetsuits).  On New Years Eve we gazed at the short but sweet firework display over the harbour  and wished each other a Happy New Year, while swigging champagne that had been left for us in the fridge! 

We walked along cliffs, glanced at rainbows, ate in numerous pubs, played scrabble, read and ate some more. We walked along the beach at Polzeath, where brave surfers were out on their boards despite the cold. We did a challenging walk along the cliffs from Port Isaac to Port Quinn on a beautiful afternoon. I came home, rested, fat and happy to have spent time with my family, as usually we go on holiday with friends. Happy 2014!

To book Mount Pleasant (from £456 for the week) or other coastal and country cottages call 01326 555 555 or visit www.classic.co.uk

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