One of the very few positives to come out of the COVID pandemic was the fact that we were forced to stay and explore our beautiful country as opposed to jetting off to another part of the world. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of 2 weeks in the sunny Maldives beats 2 weeks in rainy Padstow any day of the week, but since we didn’t have the option to fly abroad in May 2021, we made the most of the English seaside and packed our things up for our babymoon.
I was 7 months pregnant and we wanted to get away one last time before we became a family of three. Due to the Zika virus, we originally had the choice of the Seychelles or Mauritius, however we obviously couldn’t go abroad when it came to it so we settled for one week in north Cornwall at Atlantic Bays Holiday Park in St Merryn, and one week in the south in a village called Perranuthnoe.
The holiday park that we stayed in was just outside St Merryn, but we did take a few trips into the village, once to get a pasty from the bakery and once for a lovely meal at one of Rick Stein’s MANY Cornish establishments in the area – The Cornish Arms. When we went it was a week before stage 3 of lockdown easing, which meant that we still had to eat outside. The set up that they had was really lovely – they have a really big outdoor area with some seats, an undercover marquee area, a glammed up trailer which was converted into a bar, and an area in the corner with an outdoor pizza oven where they were offering eat in or takeaway pizzas. They were delicious! The food here was great and the people were really friendly. I would definitely recommend a visit.
Rick Stein officially has THE best mussels (I say ‘officially’ but I really mean ‘according to Scott and I’). They were cooked in the most amazing sauce, and the size of them was like something neither of us had ever seen before. You can’t go to a Rick Stein’s and not try them.
A few miles away from St Merryn was Pentruse Farm Shop where we went a few times to get some essentials or food when we fancied eating in. It’s a little cabin just on the edge of a farm with an honesty box. You simply go in, pick the things you want, enter them into the till yourself and pay before you leave. We found it really useful because you can still pay by card, and it was open until 7pm which is much later than a lot of the other farm shops around.
It’s very difficult to give a fair representation of my opinion on Padstow because we visited during the COVID restrictions which meant none of the shops were open and we had to eat outside (made even more unfortunate by the horrible stormy weather that we had). This is a really popular destination for staycations and I can definitely see the appeal as it’s very well set up for holidaymakers – lots of ice cream parlours, cafes, shops and great crabbing areas around the harbour.
The restaurant selection here is quite upmarket, so it’s not necessarily the place to come if you’re looking to do things on a budget, but the food is amazing. Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant, St Petroc’s Bitro and Stein’s Fish and Chips are all owned by, you guessed it, Rick Stein. The Seafood restaurant has a lovely roof terrace that we were able to sit out on and enjoy the views of the harbour, whilst St Petroc’s is tucked away down a quiet side road and has a slightly more relaxed atmosphere to it; we didn’t actually eat from the fish and chip place but with it being Rick Stein, I would imagine it’s pretty good!
One of the things that we did still manage to do here despite COVID, was go on a boat trip out to see some of the wildlife. Because I was 7 months pregnant, most of the organised boat trips were off limits to me as they were fairly small boats and the rides were far from smooth. The only one boat that I was allowed on was called The Jubilee Queen which was a much larger boat that was gentler and more suited to families. Although we saw lots of birds and one tiny seal pup in the distance, we didn’t quite get the ‘dolphin and seal’ watching that we perhaps hoped for, but it was definitely worth the trip out on the water.
In Padstow, there is a restaurant called Prawn On the Lawn, which was sadly shut when we visited the area. There was however, a ‘Prawn on the Farm’ set up inside a marquee at Trerethern Farm, just outside the town. We didn’t actually eat here but it looked like it had such a great set up for any weather and it looked like they had really made the most of ‘outside’ dining.
Mawgan Porth is a little bit ‘something and nothing’. It has a lovely beach with a couple of ‘surf shops’ nearby, fish and chips and a couple of cafe’s/restaurants. The beach itself makes for a really lovely stroll when the tide is out as there is a huge long sandy area with rock pools around the edges (it’s also doggo friendly). We went here for a few hours one cloudy day and had a lovely time walking on the beach before stopping for lunch at Catch Seafood Bar and Grill where Scott had the best posh fish and chips that he’s ever had. There’s a main car park which costs about £3 to park for the day, so if you do find a spot on the side of the road anywhere to park for free then make the most of it, but most roads are quite a steep walk away from the beach and in our opinion, really not worth it.
Little word of advice – when visiting this beautiful place by car, don’t just type ‘Port Isaac Beach’ into your SatNav. Depending which direction you’re coming from, you could end up driving down the narrowest road, only to come out in the very centre of the port, with no option but to awkwardly drive through the cobbled streets full of pedestrians who make it very clear that you probably shouldn’t be there. Not that it happened to us, of course…
This fishing village isn’t huge but it does offer some beautiful views and lovely places to eat. There are a few cafe’s and restaurants here, as well as a little fish market which sells pots of cockles and prawns to take away. We popped in one day to jump out, grab a bite to eat and stretch our legs (there’s a car park at the top of the town just a short walk from the main port). We ended up stumbling across a little cafe called Fresh From The Sea which offers coffee’s crisps and some light bites and sandwiches. Scott had their daily special of ‘Sole in a roll’ and some really nice oysters. It was a bit pricey but i suppose you are paying ‘tourist’ prices down here.
Not far from Port Isaac was a village called Porteath which we drove to on a really rainy day, as we wanted to visit the bee centre (on Scott’s bucket list, he has to visit a bee keeper, which we were hoping to tick off that day). Sadly, the centre itself didn’t have any bees any more and was more just a little shop selling honey and some bee memorabilia. We bought some ivy honey just so that it didn’t feel like a wasted journey, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend going unless you’re after honey, bee print crockery or just to learn a few facts about bees.
Fowey, pronounced ‘foy’ as the car park sign thoughtfully informed us, is one place that we’ve decided to buy a future holiday home in. It’s such a beautiful little port town with a great atmosphere. It’s a popular destination for visitors but it’s not overcrowded or touristy like St Ives. The buildings are beautiful, the scenery is stunning and it’s got some quirky boutique shops, cafe’s and restaurants, plus the cobbled streets make for beautiful little walks around the town where you can find ‘hideaway’ treasures cut in the gaps between buildings.
On the same day that we travelled across to Fowey, we also drove around to Mevagissey to see what was there. The place itself didn’t have quite as nice of a feel to it as Fowey but it was similar in that there were cobbled streets around the water with independent shops and cafes to explore. None of these were open when we went due to COVID restrictions so I can’t help but feel we maybe didn’t experience it in all it’s glory. There were a few ice-cream shops and cafes on the water’s front that were open for takeaway drinks, and there was a really nice stroll around the edge of the harbour wall with some incredible views out to see. It’s not somewhere we would rush back to, but we’d definitely stop off here on the way through to see if our opinion changes once the streets come alive post COVID.
On our drive from North to South Cornwall, we stopped off in a little village called St Agnes to kill some time and find some lunch. We drove through a beautiful village and down some very narrow lanes until we came to a little car park that didn’t really look like it belonged to anything, however we parked up and walked down the road a bit where we passed a cafe, pub and bakery before coming to a beautiful quiet beach. There were a few little groups of people on the sand with their doggo’s and it looked really peaceful and secluded. We did go out of holiday season so there’s every chance it gets packed in the peak of summer, but from what we experienced it was very much for the locals.
We visited St Agnes just 3 days before the restrictions lifted so we weren’t able to eat inside, but luckily we came across a great pub just up the road from the beach called The Driftwood Spars which had an amazing outdoor area set up in their car park. The food here was great and it was in such a lovely quiet location to relax and enjoy the fresh air.
If you’re anywhere near Newquay, we 100% recommend coming and having a game of golf at Holywell Bay Golf Course. Neither myself nor Scott are golfers but we had so much fun here that we visited twice over the two weeks. They offer mini golf, pitch and putt and a par 3 course; all with the most amazing view over the sand dunes and the sea beyond. We were so lucky that both days we went the weather was beautiful and we had such a great experience.