Visits of friends, in this case Julia and Allan, always lead to excursions. Our first day out centred on a lunch at Jamie’s Fifteen restaurant in Watergate Bay. As we arrived nice and early we had a drive around Newquay (pretty scruffy). A walk along the sands was then called for to work up an appetite…On our previous two visits to Fifteen we have had excellent food. Unfortunately on this occasion the food was not only expensive but also very disappointing. I think you can see that from the thoughtful expressions! We had a Groupon-subsidised chef’s choice of four courses and we seemed to have spicy beans for everything but the pud! Julia and Allan’s lamb for two at £52 I think was a bit of a rip-off It’s always a let-down to promise a great experience and then see it fall very short.Our next objective (I do like to have objectives) was Bedruthan Rocks – pictured at the top on a good day weather-wise. If it had been calm we would perhaps have descended to the beach. It was far from calm, but therefore there were spectacular seas….I did get down half the steps….but any more would have led to certain accident (or death!) I am sure….We were to spend the next three days based at a cottage near Penzance, but before going there we were booked to have lunch at Senara – a completely different experience from Jamies’………It justifiably is one of the top restaurants in Penzance, and renowned for its incredible food and service. But the interesting thing is that it is a training kitchen for professional cookery students at Truro and Penwith College and is located in the college itself, with great views of St Michael’s Mount. The service was amazing, the food absolutely first-class and the whole experience wonderful. All this for £10 for 3 courses….incredible! Because of its pricing and value the restaurant is also used as a takeaway by staff and students at the college as well as the public. What a fabulous organisation this is….faultless, and with a great vibe. Here is a typical lunch menu……
Cured seatrout, salt baked swede and beets, carrot tops, crème fraiche and caviar.
Smoked chicken Caesar salad, pancetta, baby gem and parmesan.
Pork fillet, pork scrumpet, smoked mash, carrots, cider and thyme jus.
Plaice, mussels, warm tartare sauce, tenderstem and confit potatoes.
Roast heritage squash, tabbouleh, harissa, feta, yogurt and rocket. *****
Sticky toffee pudding, fudge sauce and clotted cream.
Mocha cheesecake, amaretto raisins and vanilla ice cream.
Mr Hanson cheese, Senara chutney and biscuits.
I imagine we will have lots more visits here, and we will be looking forward to every single one of them. Lunch completed, off we went to nearby Mousehole. We parked as usual on the Bay road and the weather for October was very pleasant indeed.Parking here enables you to walk into Mousehole past the old lifeboat station for the Penlee lifeboat which is always thought-provoking. All crew lost and such a small village.Mousehole still retains a lot of its original character and we discovered little roads that we hadn’t been down beforeThe flowers showed that Cornwall was living up to its reputation for its mild climate……The Weslyan Methodist chapel still operates but I doubt it has as many members as the 1780’s when 200 out of a population of less than 1000 were members. Here’s the Evangelical Times…”The character of the whole town was transformed, as blasphemers and immoral people were saved from their wickedness and brought into the joys of salvation. The main work was done over a period of four months.” Reading the guide on its noticeboard, the musicians here were known as ‘The Teetotal Band”…very apt I am sure. the men sat on the hill side of the chapel and the ladies on the sea side.Our cup of tea was in the Old Coastguard Hotel with its great views and lovely atmosphere.There were some unusual views too on our walk back to the car….Wednesday was our day trip to the Scilly Isles. An early start from the cottage… and dawn breaking over the harbour….Our first glimpse of the Scillonian ferry showed it busily loading freight (including cars)and leaving harbour we were promised a pleasant day – which we had………..We knew Julia and Allan would enjoy the views of the Cornish coast before we headed out into the deep ocean….and we could see Mousehole, the Minack Theatre and Lamorna cove as well as Land’s End. During the voyage we saw gannets bombing the sea vertically at great speed, and we were very lucky to see several dolphins skimming in and out of the water….what a privilege………what wonderful creatures.The journey is two hours forty minutes, not long enough to get seasick on relatively placid seas, and we soon had our first sighting of the islands…..We hurried off the boat at Hugh Town as we were intent on catching the little boat to Tresco. However due to unusual tides there was no chance of us getting it there and back in time for the return trip to the mainland, a disappointment we quickly got over when we started to wander around the little capital….And we were soon sitting in the sun admiring the first of many beaches…..We were making for Juliet’s cafe where we knew we would get a reasonable lunch with a view and, on the way, called in a little gallery (there were many) where the local birdlife was as friendly as the locals!We could see Tresco sparkling with its white beaches across the channel but never mind!At Juliet’s it was still sitting-out weather….and more friendly wildlife was encountered.Leaving, we walked a short way down a path which we discovered was the coastal path for St Mary’s. This would be a great thing to do if one was staying overnight, and I made a mental note.Great views wherever you are in the Isles of Scilly and interesting to see the regular shuttle planes flying to and fro from the tiny airport….We just had time to climb the hill out of Hugh Town towards Star Castle which is now an excellent hotel, and enjoy a more panoramic vista………..as well as looking in some of the old buildings……..I was surprised that on our return voyage we went around St Mary’s in the opposite direction to our arrival, and consequently down very narrow channels where we were very close to the shore……Just about dark when we got back to Penzance after a fantastic day out…….On our last full day it was blowing a gale – Storm Callum actually – and torrential rain, so we decided to go to Penlee House Museum and Gallery, a favourite. There was an exhibition on the mainly marine painter of the Newlyn School – Borlase Smart. Here’s the man himself en plain aire painting The Pilots’ Boathouse…..After taking a couple of pics I was told off (no photos). That meant I could concentrate on the paintings!The cafe was full so we took the car to St Just where we knew we could get a good pasty, and drove down the byroad to Cape Cornwall where we enjoyed it – in the warmth and sunshine. We saw a little notice whilst we were eating saying the National Coastwatch Institution lookout was open so we bobbed round the corner of the Cape and climbed up to it. The views were even better than those we had had so far, and our talk with the volunteers was very interesting indeed. Plus, absolutely amazing sightings though their very powerful telescope……..On our way to Land’s End we stopped off at Sennen to look at the quaint little harbour and expanse of sands…….The visitor site at Land’s End itself was a massive improvement on the last time we were there. Then it had been frankly tawdry with amusement arcades, burger bars etc etc but now everything was painted a fresh white and all the buildings were spick and span. Just shows what you can do. Impressive scenery was enjoyed, and although we couldn’t today see the Isles of Scilly 32 miles away, we admired the Longships lighthouse which seemed from some viewpoints touchable but is in fact a mile and a half away.Almost our last stop on a very interesting tour of the Far West was the Minack Theatre. I wondered whether it would be worth visiting without a performance, but I need not have worried – it was magnificent. Our first view before entering the site was of next door Porthcurno Sands really one of the best beaches in the world, but here foreshortened because of high tide.The Minack cafe is pretty spectacular too.What a unique place this is. Obviously you get many Greek and Roman theatres built into hillsides throughout the Med but this was largely and almost unbelievably built by one very strong-minded woman and her gardener…..Rowena Cade. Not by a whole army of soldiers and slaves. After excavating and pouring concrete during the day, and gouging designs with an old screwdriver, she would go down to Porthcurno beach and lug up bags of sand on her back ready for next day’s concrete mixing.It seems a bit glib to say they don’t make people like that any more, but really, do you know of anyone who would undertake a project like this (in all weathers of course) into their eighties? A redoubtable woman indeed….We all enjoyed clambering around the various levels of the site and experiencing the views the audience and actors would have…. I had one more location in mind to give Julia and Allan a full flavour of West Cornwall – the Tinner’s Arms at Zennor. On the way there we couldn’t help but stop at an old engine house too. This particular one was Carn Galver tin mine – looking very benign in the evening sunshine. It’s impossible for us these days to imagine all of Cornwall as one huge industrial site in Victorian times….dirty, noisy, dangerous and pulsating with work.After parking we had a quick look in at Zennor church to see the famous ‘Mermaid of Zennor’ and the ravishingly beautiful barrel roof.You don’t often see the bell ropes hanging freely…..Duty beckoned (Excise Duty!) and we had our well-deserved pint in The Tinner’s……..and I did like the ‘Fish Only’ entrance…..What a good way to end a day – a pint at The Tinner’s. On our way home to St Keyne the following day, if it had been nice, we would have called in at the incomparable St Michael’s Mount. As it was atrocious weather we had a drive round instead one of my favourite parts of Cornwall – the area around Helford. Pity the Shipwright’s wasn’t open. We had lunch at the Black Swan in Gweek….good pub fare.