Sunday 21 – Friday 26 January 2018 – St Ives, Cornwall.
El and I had been looking forward to this trip away for a few weeks. While we had a few day trips and weekends away we really only had one week away from the city in the whole of 2017. I was especially desperate for a break from work and the bustle of the city.
We are still looking for that perfect place to buy a house, and St Ives in Cornwall has always been top, or near top, of that list. Its downside is it is so far away from our friends and day to day lives, so this week away was another test of that distance, as well as how we feel about the place during a cold wet January.
What the weather ended up doing did not really matter as it turned out. I was sick for pretty much the whole week and spent more time lying down staring at the wall than I did doing much else. It was lucky that El had quite a lot of work to do, so at least she wasn’t left to enjoy the highlights of St Ives on her own. I did feel for her though, as it was not the week away we planned for our fifth anniversary!
I had plans to take a lot of photos, make this a bit of a photo holiday, I packed my big and small cameras and the tripod. A lot of dead weight in the end, and I think I ended up taking more photos out of the train as we went down than I did while we were there.
The first to capture my attention was small flurry of snow that fell as we pulled into Didcot Parkway station. Snow had been forecast and I was really hoping we would see some in Cornwall, but alas; this was as close as we got.
The civil engineering genius Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the amazing rail line along the south Devon coast, including this section in Dawlish,
and the wonderful Royal Albert rail bridge crossing the River Tamar at Saltash. The coastal route is quite lovely, and would have been an amazing engineering feat when it was built in the 1850s.
The journey through Devon and Cornwall is lovely, we were not blessed with great weather, but the low cloud added to the mystery of the place. There were numerous occasions when I wanted to stop the train, get out and take some photos. One of the benefits, and curses, of being a passenger rather than the driver. I did take some photos at some of the smaller stations on the way!
After almost 6 hours we arrived in St Erth, where we left the Penzance train to catch the small, single carriage train the short distance to St Ives.
A third of that journey is along the stunning Cornish coast, with gorgeous views up St Ives Bay towards Godvrey Head. The view was rather obscured by the very grubby windows!
Finally we made it, 6 ½ hours from London, and I seemed to be getting more and more unwell by the hour.
Luckily the holiday let we had booked was pretty much over the road from the station, so even though it was drizzling with rain and quite cold, at least it was only a short walk to the warm and dry. The view out of the front window was pretty good though, I am sure it is fantastic when you can see the other side of the bay. Though, I think is is actually my favourite photo from the five days away.
After a brief rest we headed out in to the late afternoon drizzle for a walk down the hill into the centre of town. We were quite keen to see what was open on wet and cold Sunday. Surprisingly quite a lot. Not that this photo shows it!
It was cold and wet so we retired to a nearby bar, that had the football on the telly, El’s team were playing, so it was a good excuse to have a pint. Though we did not stay for food, finding a local Italian for pizza instead.
I woke up Monday morning feeling pretty terrible, apart from an urgent work phone call that led me outside to get decent reception I spent most of the day in bed. El and I did venture out for a walk in the afternoon. We stopped for a coffee at a cafe over looking Porthmeor Beach. The first of three great flat whites I had in St Ives; in three cafes. Good coffee is always a bonus for me! There were even a few guys surfing, though I was not feeling up to heading down to the beach to take some photos.
Tuesday I ‘woke’ after a bad sleep feeling even worse than Monday. Apart from no work call, it was almost a repeat of Monday. Instead of going to the same cafe we visited Tate St Ives. It was the only Tate we had not previously visited, it was closed for renovations last time we came to St Ives. I must admit I was not really feeling it, there was some interesting pieces, and I really liked the local focus as well, the Ben Nicholson and Alfred Wallis works were very pleasing. The Barbara Hepworth museum was closed for renovations now, though there were a couple of pieces here at the Tate.
Wednesday had me feeling a little sprightlier than previous days, though when we did get out for a walk, stopping at the chemist for more drugs and tissues was high on the list. We started our walk down on Porthminster Beach, below our holiday rental. I really like this beach!
I particularly like the cafe, and we have a reservation for dinner tomorrow night, our fifth anniversary, we are very much looking forward to that.
We walked along the St Ives waterfront, and out on to the sea wall. Though the town’s main income is from tourism, there is still a small active fishing fleet based out of the bay behind the sea wall.
We stopped in a different cafe again and had a really nice hot chocolate. We were given a glass of hot milk and a small wooden spoon with a lump of chocolate in the end, which we melted into the glass of milk. I have never seen that method of making a hot chocolate drink before. I liked it very much! We went to another pub for dinner tonight, my football team, Arsenal, were on the telly, losing as usual. We met a couple of guys down from Manchester for work who we chatted to for a while – and then the power went out in the block. We hung around for a few minutes and then gave up and went home.
The worst of the cold was over by Thursday, though I was still not anywhere close to being fully well. I still could not be bothered getting the big camera out when we out for an afternoon walk. It was a pretty clear day, definitely the best of the week, though the wind was howling in exposed places and it was quite cold. El wanted to go back to the Tate and I wanted to walk up to St Nicholas Church, and walk around its headland, so we split up for a while and went our separate ways. I had a nice walk, though set a new record for myself by standing in dog pooh twice, one for each shoe. Joys 🙂
The wind over the past few days had created a reasonable swell, and there were a few decent waves lashing the rocks on the headland.
The walk up to the church was a bit of a struggle, my head was feeling so much better today, but my chest was still constricted and I was quite out of breath when I got up there. Sitting in the sun was not much of an option as the wind was very cold, and I was not that well prepared. I rested in the shade of both the sun and the wind until my breathing was normal, and then, cold and with a damp bum, headed back to town.
El and I met for lunch in quite a new cafe. it had a great menu, great coffee, and they were playing some quite dark music; I have never heard Placebo in a cafe before. I loved it. Not sure if the rest of the punters did. After lunch we walked back to our holiday home and crashed for a few hours before going back out for a fabulous meal at the Porthminster Cafe.
As it was time to go home I was feeling much better on Friday morning, I reckon that by work on Monday I will 100% again. Typical. The sunrise was small but stunning on Friday, and I was glad I was actually able to get and out to take a couple of photos from the other side of the road.
And that was it, back to St Erth on that lovely little train, followed by five or so hours back to London on a not so lovely little train.
I do love St Ives, it was such a shame, especially for El, that I was sick for most of it. I am very glad I was well enough for us to go out for our anniversary dinner, in one of favourite restaurants overlooking one of my favourite UK beaches.
Even though it has brilliant coffee, some cool galleries, decent cafes and bars, and was not a deserted winter wasteland, in the end we decided it is not the place for us. It really is just too far away.