We took the train to Carbis Bay for a Mother’s Day treat from David and Katherine (and me) which was for a one-night stay in the magnificent Carbis Bay Hotel and a meal in its restaurant. We arrived early to make the most of our time, and having dumped our case we first had a drink and a read of the paper in the Clubhouse overlooking the private beach and then walked into St Ives – a pretty walk along the coastal path. The day was warm and sunny and, as whenever we visit this area, the whole experience was spectacular…where on earth would we rather be?! The whole of St Ives bay is one long beach really, stretching miles, and in the pic below F. is looking towards Godrevy lighthouse its little island separated by the narrowest of margins from the point. It is said to have inspired Virginia Woolf, author of To the Lighthouse – although she locates the lighthouse in her story in the Hebrides. The actual ‘light’ is now not on top of the tower but on the adjacent rock, and is solar-powered and controlled from Trinity House in Essex! If there is one job I have always imagined myself doing it is lighthouse keeper…doing good, tucked away in a safe place in dangerous conditions, and with no-one to bother you, marvellous.
The walk is mainly alongside the railway line and one of the high points of it is to
look at all the expensive houses built into the sea cliffs and imagine what it would be like to own one. Well, one can but dream. As St Ives comes into view you first encounter Porthminster beach which despite it being holiday season was uncrowded for a lot of its length. Here we are walking down past the kitchen garden of the much acclaimed Porthminster Cafe and Restaurant. We had a quick look at the menu which seemed very reasonable indeed, but decided to opt for our all-time favourite further on. The tide was out so the harbour beach was more extensive than we usually see it and with boats moored in the bay it looked a most inviting scene.
However no boating for us. We wandered through the shops and then past (and sometimes into) galleries in Downalong before ending up at Porthmeor Beach Cafe in the shadow of the Tate for our usual tasty and reasonably-priced and very well-cooked lunch. Looking at the surfers and beginner surfers, and the variety of bodies on the beach from the attractive to the obese, and the many ways in which families interacted, provided our in-meal
interest and amusement, and watching the Lifeguard hard at work was reassuring (for someone). We took a slightly different route back, booked into our room and then spent some time enjoying the local private beach (although anyone can visit). Having our free pre-dinner glass of wine was a pleasant experience in the conservatory, overlooking the sea. The barman was particularly friendly, told us his name was Martin, liked visiting Looe, and said that, as there was a wedding on, if we gave him a wave he would see to us, no problem. Most helpful (unlike most barmen I come across!). Dinner can only be described as delicious. Amuse bouche and three courses….all without exception tasty, beautifully-presented, and not over-facing. I was worried whether we might be getting second-best as the wedding had taken over the main restaurant where we were due to eat, but not a bit of it. The room was lovely overlooking the sea and the sunset, and everything was first-class. We retired reasonably early ready for bed after our walk and the sea air. The room was a garden room, overlooking the car park and garden, beautifully presented and with an excellent en-suite. Having seen the superior rooms overlooking the sea with private balconies, our only regret about the stay was that we could not have one (probably all booked for the wedding and too expensive for us!).
After a great breakfast on Saturday we went for a swim in the supposedly heated outdoor pool. Luckily we were early and bagged sun loungers. The swim was ‘invigorating’ but the jacuzzi afterwards was hot as could be and utterly relaxing. Oh, to have a jacuzzi! Changed, we walked again to St Ives and this time slummed it in the lower, beachside cafe of Porthmeor which we had not used before. Incredibly cheap prices, and all good. Wandering the back streets of St Ives is almost like being in Spain, dozens of fishermen’s cottages virtually all converted into holiday accommodation. On our way back, we hovered at the door of the St Ives Arts Club where they were mounting an exhibition. Luckily for us we were invited in although it was not officially open. We saw some interesting work and one painting in particular which we both liked very much. We have been looking for the best part of a year for a painting to hang in the living room to ‘finish it off’, and were looking to spend up to about £500. This painting was £280 and just the right size. We bought it. The organisers then had the problem of filling the gap. It was rather cumbersome carrying it back along the coastal path, but well worth it. A last couple of hours was spent sunbathing on the very edge of the sea, where for half an hour we watched a friendly seal very close in to the beach indeed…if we had waded in we could have touched him. A lovely experience. All in all a great couple of days.