Sunday, 31 August 2014

How to make the most of a British summer holiday

This year, I have been lucky enough to enjoy two gorgeous city breaks (the first, to Paris and the other to Berlin), several adventures for magazine travel pieces (including a fantastic visit to Iceland) and some really brilliant out-of-season festivals, including Horizon Festival in Bulgaria.

By the second half of the year I decided it was time to reign things in a bit. Instead of taking another flight, booking another hotel and negotiating the logistics of another set of transfers, I decided that a holiday 'chez mes parents' was in order (they live in St Just in Cornwall, portrayed rather sweetly in a postcard I found by illustrator Joseph Mason, above).

We took the train from Bristol Temple Meads down to the final stop of the line, Penzance, and spent a week in traditionally-mixed English weather enjoying wild South West Cornwall. We braved the rain to see old mine buildings, managed to enjoy two beach days, snatched one glorious barbecue and, of course, enjoyed plenty of cosy pints in the pub. Here are several ways to make the most of a summer holiday in Cornwall.


Embrace the rain
If it hasn't stopped raining since the wee hours and is showing no signs of stopping, then dash out, dodge the puddles and see if you can still see some famous landmarks. We managed to get over to The Crowns in Bottallack – though none of us were brave enough to climb down for a closer look in the persistent drizzle.

Snatch the beaching opportunities
As soon as it is sunny, grab the bikini, Ray-Bans and Mum's oldest towel and hotfoot it to the nearest and most beautiful beach. Swimming through the waves at Sennen was a highlight of my holiday.

Go to the pub
When it does get nippy – and because you have survived your day until the afternoon – get yourself down to the pub for a cheeky half (or four). English pubs are unbeatable and a family favourite is The Queen's Arms in Bottallack.

Ride an open-topped bus
For fantastic views and fresh air getting where you need to go, nothing beats the open-top. Just be prepared for high winds, overhanging branches and a change in the weather. And don't expect that hair to stay neat. We took the 300 between St Just and Lands End.

Visit the end of the earth
By which I mean Land's End, of course. The miniature village we found there is cute despite the lack of seeming to have any real purpose. And we saw an Oompa Loompa (I kid you not).

Brave a barbecue
If the clouds still haven't descended following a blissful beach day, stay out! Light up the barbecue and enjoy a burger of unadulterated beef packed with salad, sauce, pineapple and too much cheese – one of the best burgers I have ever had (and I have had a few).

Wrap up warm to take in the scenery
Sometimes just looking at Cornwall is enough. How about wrapping up and enjoying a walk along the coast? A light lunch at The Godolphin Arms overlooking the beach was the perfect way to break the day up when we went for a stroll around Marazion before getting the train back to Bristol.


A typical Cornish view...
Wrapping up against the wind and rain
Surfers at Sennen
Sennen pier
Porthcurno, Cornwall


On Porthcurno beach
The miniature village at Land's End
Oompa Loompa doompadee-doo...
St Michael's Mount from Marazion
A view of Cape Cornwall from the open-topped '300' bus






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