My daughter and I had a long weekend away together and we picked St Ives. Well actually she did, but I am so glad. I had never been before and was thoroughly looking forward to it. Just a couple of days to hang out together, relax, do as little or as much as we felt like in different scenery. It is amazing how that can boost your spirits.
The train journey down was fairly uneventful; reserving a seat in advance is always prudent as the cornwall train usually originates in Scotland and goes to Plymouth, sometimes all the way to Penzance, which is as far as you can get on the mainline railway. Our train was stopping in Plymouth where we all had to get off.
On asking a member of staff which train was heading to St Erth – where you change for the line to St Ives – he pointed at the adjacent platform with its two coach ancient train. We then looked at the increasing crowd waiting to get on it and I have to admit, I did wonder if we were all going to fit on. It then occured to me what on earth was it like in the summer when all the tourists with their luggage were heading in the same direction. A nightmare is all I could imagine because I was told, the train didn’t increase in size with the volume of passengers!
My daughter and I were so engrossed in whatever we were both doing (I was watching a tv programme on my phone), that when the train pulled into St Erth, not only did we not hear it announced, we hadn’t even noticed it had stopped. I just happened to look up from my phone and a sign pointing to St Ives platfor caught my eye when I became aware of our situation. Alas, even though we leapt into action, it was too late and we found ourselves heading to Penzance.
There we were able to get on the london train, a slightly newer and longer train – about 15 carriages – back up the line from whence we came to alight at St Erth. The train to St Ives arrived within 10 mins, they run every half an hour so never long to wait for one, and off we set on surely one of the nicest 12 min train journeys in Britain. I promise you, this is a beach in Britain, in fact it is Carbis Bay which you will pass on the train, but you could be mistaken for thinking it was the caribbean. Photo courtesy of Carbis Bay Hotel website.
When we arrived in St Ives, we realised that neither of us had looked up where the hotel was in relation to the station. So off we pootled towards town and found a taxi rank. My gut feeling that is was up the hill overlooking the town was spot on. Treganna Castle hotel is large and old, set in a 72 acre estate of its own, complete with golf course and holiday village.
Our room was perfectly pleasant, clean, bathroom nice with lovely shower (very important!) and very creaky floors. In fact so creaky they became annoying but that aside, the beds were comfortable and we slept well. Those of us who live anywhere where seagulls proliferate will understand the little notice on our tea tray! They are canny birds and I’m sure seagulls and magpies have been giving each other lessons in scavenging.
The hotel has a mass of corridors that are just a maze and so, channelling our inner children, we set off to explore the maze. It doesn’t matter which way you start from at the stairs, each corridor eventually leads back to the same place but it’s fun investigating them all. We are still wondering where room 112 is because as the occupants of 113, adjacent to 111, we couldn’t find it anywhere on our floor at all. My overactive imagination was conjuring up some weird reasons such as it had been bricked up but hides terrible secrets inside it.
Friday night we ate in the hotel and very nice it was too. Saturday morning we had a full cooked breakfast which was included and that was pretty standard fare to be honest; of course there was cereals and toast, croissants and fruit juices as well as the ubiquitous sausages, eggs, beans, mushrooms, bacon, fried bread and tomatoes. Thinking that would set us up for the day until dinner, we set off to explore the town.
The woodland walk through the estate takes you back onto the main road into town and it is very pretty. It is lit up at night with a secure gate at the bottom and you are given a code for entry after 10.30pm. It is a quite steep walk and the path, although tarmac’d, is quite slippy in the wet so do be careful.
We walked all the way across the other side of the harbour and suddenly found ourselves peckish so opted for a cornish cream tea, at 11.30am, at the Searoom St Ives where we also bought very delicious cake to eat at the hotel later. We then walked to what is locally known as the island as I wanted to see the chapel at the top. First though, across Porthgwidden Beach.
When my daughter was little, every time we were at a beach, we used to ‘play chicken’ with the waves, the aim of course not getting wet feet. The knack is to look at the waves forming, have a guess as to how big they will be (not big honest) and then guess how far up the beach they will come. Simples right? Nope, she got her feet wet. I could not stop laughing which was not well recieved.
We carried on, her with squelching trainers and socks, up to the coastwatch tower at the lower hill on the island. It was so bloomin windy we didn’t go further up to the chapel, as we were having an issue with staying upright! I also wanted to visit the Tate St Ives but sadly it was closed until the end of the month.
Saturday night we headed to the Firehouse for dinner and a rarity – a chef who actually knows how to cook a steak medium rare. We sat at the bar downstairs for a while talking to the staff and watching them make all sorts of cocktails, including this one which is an espresso martini, that to my palette, just tasted of cold coffee.
Sunday we met up with some friends who live about half an hour away for sunday lunch, this time following a recommendation from our hotel reception staff to go to the Sloop Inn. It’s a very old pub but I can highly recommend the sunday roast downstairs in the bar. They also have a restuarant upstairs but this is not open on sunday lunchtimes. The choice is roast pork, roast beef or roast chicken; the pork was delicious and the crackling just right. It was great to hang out with our friends who we don’t see that often to be honest and eat good food.
I would love to go St ives again but certainly not in peak tourist season as I imagine it would be a nightmare, packed to the rafters and unable to see the beauty for the tourists. But out of season it is pretty and the beaches just beautiful.