The bit on the back...
Lucy, hi. It’s Tom. How are you? It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to get in touch but it’s hard to know how to after so much time. I hear you’re doing really well up there. I knew you would be.
You should come here, you know, back to Hideaway bay. Come and see everyone, see how little it’s all changed. Feel the sand between your toes, the Cornish sea breeze on your face. When the sun hits the surf in that way it does, it’s as magical as ever.
That’s why I’m writing to you, actually. I want to get the gang back together again, one last time before…well…just one last time. You should come too. The four of us, a summer on the beach, like old times. We all want you here for it. I want you here for it. It’s been so long since I saw you.
I still think about you.
24 hours in North Cornwall
Any day in Cornwall should start with breakfast with a view. As this is my fantasy 24 hours I’d be waking up in the gorgeous St Enodoc Hotel in Rock, and tucking into kedgeree on the terrace overlooking the estuary, washed down with plenty of coffee.
From here there’s a cliff path walk past sweeping beaches and endless sea views, all the way to Polzeath, my favourite Cornish beach. There’s time to grab a quick coffee here from Cone Zone, right on the edge of the sand, and to watch the surfers doing their thing. There’s also a great branch of Ann’s Cottage surf shop in Polzeath, perfect for a bit of retail therapy – or the ideal place to buy a wetsuit and body board if it’s too hot to resist getting into the water.
After getting salty in the surf and drying off on the golden sand, it’s time to head to Padstow for lunch. A ferry runs from Rock to Padstow, and there’s nothing quite like the sea breeze on your face as the nippy boat chops across the water at surprising speed. Padstow gets a bit of a bad rep with some for being too touristy, and there’s no escaping the fact that it is a tourist haven, but for good reason. It’s not somewhere I’d come to spend a whole day, and the prospect of trying to park in the town on a hot summer’s day is enough to fill any Cornish person with dread, but I find myself drawn back to Padstow time and time again for one very good reason – Rick Stein’s fish and chips.
For a long time I’d say I didn’t even like fish and chips, until I discovered Rick Stein’s harbour-side takeaway in Padstow. The beef dripping chips, and the piping hot fish fried to order is a whole different ball game from the paltry offerings on most high streets. So I’d always include a trip to Padstow for the food alone, and if, by some miracle, you aren’t too full after lunch, there is a fudge shop tucked away in the town called Buttermilk whose traditional Cornish fudge is absolutely divine, and worth stocking up on (if you’re a better person than me and can resist devouring the whole lot in one go despite the very best intentions).
As a girl who’s fond of shopping I’d probably find myself in Wadebridge after a trip to Padstow, it’s got a few lovely boutiques, and very importantly, an amazing wine shop where you can buy Camel Valley fizz – a local sparkling wine which smashes champagne out the park in international competitions. The Glasshouse is a great spot to grab afternoon tea (or wine, if you’re me), while people-watching in the sunshine.
There’s still time for a final beach walk and a trip to the dunes of Daymer Bay to breathe in the sea air and soak up the scenery. The beaches in North Cornwall never fail to take my breath away. Daymer in particular almost never feels busy, and has its own unique charm nestled between the busier, more touristy, spots, attracting lots of dog walkers, windsurfers and locals. I never want to rush too much in Cornwall, it’s the kind of place that forces you to take your time and enjoy a slower pace of life. When a Cornishman tells you they’ll do something ‘drekkly’ (directly) that could mean they’ll do it anytime from now to next week, there’s just not that rush down here to get everything done in double time. It’s a nice reminder not to race through each day without stopping to breathe and look around.
Cornish evenings are a special time, when the heat of the day has peaked and the sun starts to soften in the sky, the bars start to fill and the shops bustle with people buying food to barbecue. There are few things I like more than being on the beach for these hours, ideally with a handsome companion to talk about hopes and dreams for the future (if my husband’s reading this, don’t worry, I mean you). Then a revitalising shower back at the hotel and off for dinner looking fabulous (well, this is my fantasy). The Michelin starred chef Nathan Outlaw’s latest venture, The Mariner’s in Rock looks like my kind of place, with laid back local food and a great wine list. I’d watch the sunset, glass of Camel Valley in hand, and toast a perfect day in my favourite place on earth.
I grew up by the sea in Cornwall, spending my summers on the beach. I left to study History at Oxford University, before starting a career in television during which I was lucky enough to travel the world interviewing incredible authors for the Richard & Judy Book Club. Fast forward ten years I’m now married to a lovely man called James and have a daughter who keeps us on our toes. Oh, and a very furry cat called Bobby.