The last five days were spent in St. Ives, Cornwall, on the English coast. St. Ives is the quintessential seaside village of which dreams are made. Imagine, beautiful sandy shorelines met by the most stunning turquoise water dotted with tiny white sailboats guarded by vibrantly green, moss-covered rocks and boulders. Seagulls abound, hoping to snatch a bit of freshly dropped fish and chip which was only just caught earlier that morning by a fisherman whose boat waits on the sand in the harbor. A nearby hillside, rife with white and purple cockleshells, provides respite for locals and tourists alike seeking a quiet bench to do some seaside reading (or, in my case, writing) while ocean waves crash in the background. Quaint, locally owned shops line the narrow cobblestone streets, beckoning passersby with the alluring aroma of freshly baked pasties. If any point of criticism exists, it is that our time in St. Ives was far too short.
The completely impressive beauty of the beaches of St. Ives was nearly impossible to capture in photographs. In fact, I’m quite sure that any photo would come in only a far second to seeing it for yourself. Put this place on your bucket list, folks! We spent many hours enjoying the handful of local beaches and braving the frigid waters as much as we could possibly stand! While it wasn’t as warm during our trip as it soon will be in St. Ives, this also provided the benefit of missing the influx of tourists soon to hit the beach and made our time all the more enjoyable.
Aside from spending time on the beach, we also learned more about the local specialties and tasty treats. In Cornwall, that means Cornish cream…and lots of it! Cornish cream is incorporated in pretty much anything you could think of and comes in a variety of forms: Cornish cream fudge, Cornish cream toffee, Cornish cream ice cream, shortbread, honeycomb…Cornish cream on scones, in coffee…you get the idea! Apparently, Cornish cream is the very best in the world. From what I understand, each milk producing Cornish cow is provided with her own Cornish butler to see to daily needs and desires. Cornish cows work in a no-pressure environment and when they are ready to grace the world with their award winning dairy supplies they simply call to their butler, “Come, James, I am ready to be milked!” After which, they attend Cornish cow yoga classes, hit up the Cornish cow spa, or join in a rousing class of Cornish cow jazzercise.
If you’ve read my previous post about tea at The Orangery, you already know that afternoon tea is is the perfect way to relax and socialize after lunch time socializing has ended and before dinner time socializing commences. Afternoon tea in Cornwall is a bit different, being much simpler than traditional high tea but no less enjoyable, particularly when enjoyed by the seaside. Cornish cream tea is served with a pot of tea, two scones, strawberry jam, and, wait for it…Cornish cream! To become better used to the difference between high tea and cream tea, and to make sure we gave it a fair shot, we partook in multiple cream teas at a variety of different cafes. Therefore, I can say with total confidence that Cornish cream tea holds its own against any traditional high tea and should not be scoffed upon. It was tasty, y’all!
Another local foodie favorite is the Cornish pasty. A pasty is a rather large, baked pastry shell filled with any number of savory meat and vegetable fillings. Many countries have their own version of the pasty, with loose comparisons including the Spanish empanada, the Italian calzone, and the Salvadorean doblada. In Cornwall, however, it is the pasty. And it is very, very popular for good reason. Pasties are fun-filled, easy to carry, delightful bites of Cornish happiness. What’s not to like? We set out to answer that question by sampling five different varieties, including the traditional steak pasty, spinach and ricotta, spicy Mediterranean veggie, cheese and onion with potato, and chicken with spicy chorizo. Hands down, the winner was cheese and onion with potato. Now go, go and search for some Cornish pasty goodness of your own!
No proper post about St. Ives is complete without an entire section dedicated to the seagulls. Remember earlier when I said my only criticism was that my time there wasn’t long enough? Well, in a brief lapse of memory, likely due to lingering trauma, I forgot about the gulls. I know what you’re thinking…what’s the big deal about seagulls? It’s the beach, you say. Seagulls are always at the beach, you say. No. Not these seagulls. These seagulls swoop down upon their innocent victims when it is least expected. They lurk behind the rocks, on top of the shop awnings, and on the walkway rails, ready to steal your ice cream, fish and chips, or whatever tasty morsel you thought you were about to enjoy. Shop keepers give a word of warning with each bit of food they sell, “Watch out for the gulls!” Warning signs posted on railings give visitors a chuckle, until they become yet another faceless victim on the seagull’s growing list. One day as we were sitting on the beach, fervently shielding our food as the flying beasts gave us the stink eye, my son pointed out that humans rank above seagulls on the food chain (as if to indicate that these small creatures should not incite so much terror). My first thought was, “Not today, my boy, NOT today!” The gulls are waiting. They will find you. They will see that delicious Cornish cream ice cream cone you are about to enjoy, and they will take it. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
All in all, St. Ives, Cornwall, was the perfect way to spend five days before returning to the hustle and bustle of London. Thanks for stopping by to read about our travels and don’t forget to come back for more as our adventures unfold. See y’all again real soon!