A Wintery St Ives
I’ve learnt a few things about holidays in the short time Nella has been with us; fundamentally I’ve learnt that holidays are not the relaxing experience they once were. (For more on this see my blog post ‘Travelling With a Baby; The Same Old Shit, Just Somewhere Else’.) I’ve come to realise that my new definition of a holiday is to alleviate some of the stresses of day-to-day life; to minimise the cooking, cleaning and washing and focus on spending time together as a family whilst getting out and about in a different location. In order for that to be possible; there must be ‘stuff’ nearby e.g. cafes, restaurants, shops, activities and all ideally within walking distance. Thankfully, we discovered this was all easily achievable in the beautiful seaside town of St Ives and in winter.
It was four years ago when Andy and I made our first journey down to St Ives; before we were married and pre Nella, which feels like a lifetime ago now. Thinking about the childfree car journey from London to Cornwall seems blissful in comparison and that’s including the journey back when we were both suffering from food poisoning (would not recommend!). Travelling on a long car journey is hard work with a little one; Nella suffered a nappy explosion on the way there and was then sick all over herself on the way back which I think was my fault for plying her with too many snacks to keep her quiet – oops! But weighing up flying with Nella vs driving, I think driving is easier (Andy driving that is) as you can stop on the way and you don’t have to worry about luggage allowance.
You can tell St Ives is the type of seaside town that breathes a sigh of relief once the summer is over and all the tourists have left; judging from the pictures and speaking to the locals it is absolutely teaming in the school holidays. This is why we’ve loved coming in winter – you don’t have to queue for anything but everything is still open and you can enjoy quieter cafes and restaurants. Plus many holiday lets offer off-peak discounts which is an added bonus. Of course the only thing you can’t do during winter is sunbathe on the beaches or swim in the sea (unless you like a bit of cold sea swimming). But walks are lovely nonetheless.
In case anyone else is thinking of going to St Ives, I’ve summarised our holiday experience – where we stayed and what there is to do.
Where We Stayed:
Both times we stayed at the gorgeously cosy Moon Shadow Cottage which we booked through Beachspoke https://www.beachspoke.com/. The interiors are stunning with an apt ocean feel including a blue/grey colour scheme and artwork of waves. Despite the colour theme, it isn’t a cold space; there’s the comfy brown leather Chesterfield sofa to curl up on and they’ve filled the place with faux fur throws and sheepskin rugs, plus the underfloor heating adds an added luxury making it the perfect place to escape the cold. The upstairs is remarkable with a high beam ceiling creating a lofty, spacious feel and a huge, high raised bed takes up the vast amount of the space. Also upstairs is the impressive walk-in shower room with pebble tiles which provide a little massage for the feet. It has interestingly quirky features like a large silver wardrobe which is almost industrial in feel with a chain close. I love the fact that nothing is perfectly matched but everything has been thought through and it all fits together so well. I would love, love my home to be like Moon Shadow!
· The interiors and décor really are beautiful and it is very comfortable.
· It is perfectly situated - quite literally a minute’s walk away from the beach (we could hear the sea at night time) and only a few minutes’ walk from the town centre.
· All mod cons are provided (except microwave and washing machine) and to a high spec. Plus Bamford toiletries, Berry Bros sparkling wine, tea, coffee and flavoured water which makes it all feel extra luxurious.
· It is a tiny cottage so there isn’t a lot of room especially with Nella. They don’t market it for kids and I can see why, it is just that bit too small. But it is perfect for a romantic weekend getaway.
· You walk directly in from outside to the living room so if it’s been raining or you’ve got muddy/sandy there isn’t really anywhere to put your things.
· If you have a large car then parking is away from the property – about a 5 minute walk.
· There are no views of the sea or any garden.
Things to Do in St Ives
· St Ives boasts beautiful sandy beaches which are lovely at any time of year (but during the Summer holidays they are packed).
· The town is an art lover’s haven packed full with art galleries, studios plus it’s the home of the Tate Modern where they have kids activities.
· It is a pretty cobbled town so you can spend time pottering about the shops; there are plenty of boutiques, souvenir and gift shops as well as lots of pretty ceramics and pottery to buy.
· Yoga; I went to a drop-in yoga class with Nikki at Porthmeor Studios – a rustic studio with a beautiful sea view; a definite place to feel zen.
Where to Eat
There are many, many restaurants, cafes, bakeries and general eateries in St Ives which is what sets it apart from many other seaside towns. A few must visits are:
· Porthmeor Café: situated on the beachfront, this place is perfect for a leisurely breakfast or lunch. I had a tasty goats cheese, walnut and butternut squash omelette one morning and one lunchtime we shared a tapas style lunch with fresh fish which was perfect.
· Portminster Café: the one place that everyone who’s ever been to St Ives raves about and for good reason; their food is delicious! I had the best Monkfish Curry with fresh prawns and mussels I’ve ever eaten (and that includes Rick Stein’s). It isn’t swanky wanky either which is what I really like – their menu is surprisingly extensive even out of season. Plus it’s another beachside café so getting a window seat is a must to sit back and watch the waves.
· Cheese on Coast: a fabulous little cheese shop that came up with the novel idea of making takeaway cheese boards. You pick your own speciality cheese along with homemade, savoury flavoured scones or scotch eggs and they package it all up beautifully with speciality chutneys and crackers. An absolute must!
· St Ives Bakery: perfect for popping in for fresh bread or croissants plus they do daily takeaway hot stews – meat and veggie options available.
We very much hope to make St Ives an annual family holiday as we love it so much. We may even brave the summer months next time although we’ll make sure to avoid the school holidays whilst we still can. I’d love to know if you’ve been to St Ives and your experiences! Do get in touch.