On Tuesday of our week in Cornwall, we visited St Michael’s Mount. The thing about visiting this island is that when the tide is low, a causeway appears and you can walk over from the mainland in Marazion. But when the tide comes back in, the causeway completely disappears under water, and you have to take a ferry.
So we waited for the causeway to open that morning, and walked across.
I was amazed by the number of people. Marazion feels like such a small, quaint town, but apparently loads of day-trippers come in by bus to visit the castle. We stood in long queues for everything: tickets, the castle entrance, the café, the ice cream stand, and the ferry back.Fortunately for us, E was very patient all day. They had a little scavenger hunt for kids to do throughout the castle, and they got a medal at the end for finishing it, so she enjoyed that. And during the summer, they were offering arts and crafts outside on the lawn.
We ended up spending most of the day there—half of it queuing, felt like—and took a ferry back.
Some more adventurous people decided not to wait for a ferry, and they ended up wading/swimming back up to their necks as the tide came in!
Once we got back to the mainland, we needed some sustenance, and headed straight for Philps Pasties, which some claim are the best pasties in Cornwall. We certainly agreed. I’ve had “Cornish” pasties in London and Bath, and these were a hundred times better. It was Day 4 of our trip and M was already on his fifth pasty.
We had a date night that night, for a late dinner. We’d hired the housekeeper of our cottage, a lady who lives just two doors down, to come stay with the girls after they’d gone to bed a couple evenings so we could go out to “nicer” restaurants. We went to Ben’s Cornish Kitchen, which was fantastic.
On Wednesday, we drove to picturesque Mousehole, which locals pronounce “Mowzle.”
It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed wandering around and in the art galleries and shops.
And we came across this cool plague stone in our wanderings:
And this big rock pool:
Then we drove to Porthcurno, and had lunch at the beach café there: a caught-this-morning crab sandwich.
The beach at Porthcurno is stunningly beautiful, but very windy. I know for next time to bring wet suits, body boards, and a wind shield, which is what the prepared people had there.
The outdoor Minack Theatre is also in Porthcurno, but we didn’t have tickets to anything this trip, because we hadn’t been able to confirm the babysitter until we’d arrived and met her. Next time I’d really like to go see a play there.
We went for a drive along the coast with incredible views, trying not to have a heart attack as the car barely scraped by in the narrow, winding lanes.
We skipped a stop at Lands End after M explained what it was like (he had ridden there on his bike)—a bunch of tourists taking their picture by the sign.
We made a much better stop at the cutest little ice cream hut in the middle of nowhere with an amazing view. The ice cream is made right there on the farm.
Then we drove into St Ives, which really is gorgeous, but quite busy.
We didn’t have time to walk around and explore the town, since we had a dinner booking back in Porthleven at the Rick Stein restaurant there.
We watched the sun set over the harbour while enjoying—what else?—another ice cream cone.
Thursday we made a beach day in our local Marazion. I had been wanting to try stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP), so I took a lesson that morning, which was really fun. We paddled all around St Michael’s Mount and could see some cool fish where the water was really clear. And I managed not to fall in—success!
On Friday, our last day in Cornwall, we returned to Paradise Park, to do some of the outdoor parts we didn’t do our first time, when it was raining. They have an option to purchase return tickets when you leave, which got us back in for really cheap.
The zoo was pretty good, except for this disturbing scene:
Me: “Hurry up kids, let’s make sure to get to the otter feeding! Come on, don’t want to miss it!”
[Otters are thrown what appear to be fetal chicks]
Someone in the crowd: “It’s biting that chick’s head off!”
Me: “TIME TO GO, KIDS.”
That afternoon, we drove back to St Ives, because I really wanted to explore it a bit more, especially the art galleries, since it’s known for being an artists’ enclave.
We took the shuttle bus down into town from the car park way up at the top of a hill, which probably wins the “car park with the world’s best view” award.
We had lunch from the “unofficial” pasty place; the pasties there have an unsanctioned top crimp instead of the official side crimp. My, how rebellious! (I preferred Philps, FWIW.)
I had a wonderful time browsing in St Ives’ art galleries, shops, craft market, and artist society while M took the kids to the beach.
We booked a boat ride for the early evening, but it was soon cancelled due to the wind.
Then we couldn’t get the kids anything to eat because the restaurants there all close between 4-5:30, which is, of course, when our kids were starving. Then the St Ives brewery was closed, too, for a private event.
So we gave up on St Ives and headed back to Marazion.
M and I had a late dinner at another restaurant in town (the Cutty Sark), while the housekeeper “babysat” again.
We came home to a red-eyed E, who had apparently gotten up right after we left and watched “Coronation Street” and “Doc Martin” with the babysitter, and was now on to the 10 o’clock news.
Ah, well. It was her summer holiday, after all.
We all had such a wonderful week in Cornwall and didn’t want to leave. I think the thing I like most about Cornwall, besides its obvious natural beauty, is that, as beach destinations go, it feels fairly unspoiled and welcoming to all. It doesn’t feel pretentious and overpriced, and neither does it feel trashy, or overly touristy. It feels like just the kind of place I want to take a family seaside holiday. And I’m so glad we did.