Category Archives: Travel

A Perfect Day

Staring down the barrel of another winter, there’s nothing for it but to wrap ourselves in chunky knits and warm memories.

Before summer left us, I had a magical day of the absolutely perfect variety, that will no doubt haunt me for years to come in deep sleep and desktop daydreams.

It was a perfect day in a perfect week spent at Menabilly with my family. And it started very early – before the night had even left us. Armed with a torch and binoculars, I raced morning up the cliff path to watch the sun rise over the sea in a symphony of pink and orange. The silence was so complete that I could hear the fishermen talking from their boats on the waves below.

Menabilly sunrise1

Menabilly sunrise2

Menabilly sunrise3

If I’d had my paints with me I probably would have caught pneumonia on that hillside desperately trying to capture the wash of colour and the explosive moment the sun breached the horizon in a blaze of gold. Thankfully for my physical and mental health I made do with just my camera, and I arrived back at the cottage in time to catch the rest of my family finishing the last crumbs of breakfast. Some more hungry than others, we jumped in the car and headed into a fairytale – otherwise known as Tintagel. The legendary seat of King Arthur is perched on a Cornish cliff top on the north coast, and its rugged beauty had me immediately head over heels. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and there were ruins, rocks, waterfalls, caves and beaches to bounce around. It was my idea of absolute heaven.

Tintagel 1

Tintagel 2

Tintagel 3

Tintagel 4

Tintagel 5

Waterfall at Tintagel

Cave at Tintagel

Me on the rocks at Tintagel

When I was done clambering upon all that there was to clamber upon, and had finished imagining round tables, swords in stones, ladies in lakes, and all things Arthurian, we headed to Polkerris for dinner at my favourite restaurant – Sam’s on the Beach.

That night Sam’s outdid themselves: my huge bowl of white wine soaked spaghetti was so delicious that dignity went utterly out the window and I ended up wearing more sauce than makeup; they seemed to be exclusively playing a list of my favourite songs; and as we laughed, chatted, and enjoyed each other’s company we had the best seat in the house to watch the sun sink into the harbour.

Sam's on the Beach

Sunset at Polkerris

Chlo at Sam's on the Beach

Mum and Dad

Olives at Sam's on the Beach

Best pasta of my life

Sunset at Polkerris

So the perfect day ended as all perfect days should – with full tummies and full memory cards. And when winter bites, and you catch me with a glazed expression on my face, this is where I’ll really be.

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Cornish Calories

As well as my (highly dubious) theory that calories don’t count when you’re on holiday, I also have an inkling that everything tastes better. Maybe it’s because you’re happy and relaxed (maybe it’s because you’re in denial about not gaining weight) but whatever the reason, I always enjoy food more when I’m away.

And the food in my favourite holiday spot never disappoints.

First off, let me take you to Fowey. The little town is a few miles from our slice-of-heaven cottage on the beach, and it oozes charm at such a rate that even short visits have the dangerous potential to melt your heart into a little puddle of gloop. My favourite place for brunch is no exception.

Welcome to Pinky Murphy’s.

Pinky Murphy's
You can bring your dogs inside, but you must leave your grumpiness at the door.

Pinky Murphy's
Once inside you would be forgiven for wondering if some kind of retro bomb had recently detonated. The telly might be showing surf videos, or old Tom and Jerry cartoons. The sofas are a hotchpotch of different shapes and colours, and the tables are named after musicians rather than numbered. And there is stuff everywhere. It’s a beautiful mess.

Pinky Murphy's

Pinky Murphy's
We plonked ourselves down at Bob Marley and ordered our elevenses. You can just glimpse the little galley kitchen behind my dad’s smile (it’s hard not to smile in Pinky’s!) which was expelling a steady stream of mouth-watering-ness.

Dad in Pinky Murphy's

The tea arrived…

Mum in Pinky Murphy's

And then the teacakes!

Toasted teacake and jam

Sis and I were two happy bunnies at this point!

Gem and Chlo at Pinky Murphy's

Toasted teacake and jam

In fact, I may have enjoyed myself just a tiny bit too much…

Gem the jam fiend
That’s my not-even-a-little-bit-embarrassed smile.

Still feeling a little bit peckish after that huge pot of jam? A dinner visit to  Sam’s on the Beach over in Polkerris will soon fix that, if you can bear to drag yourself away from Fowey. (If not, Sam’s have a restaurant in the middle of Fowey too.)

Stop to stroke this handsome chap if you see him on your way in…

Ginger Cat
…And then come on inside. My dad’s even holding the door open for you, look!

Sam's on the Beach
Sam’s was the Polkerris lifeboat station from 1859-1922, so the back wall is a huge window showing a fantastic panorama of the harbour, and the ceilings are high enough to fit the old Fowey lifeboat inside – and to make me with my love of space and light very content indeed.  

Sam's on the Beach

Mum at Sam's on the Beach
The décor’s pretty lovely, too.

Sam's on the Beach

Sam's on the Beach
Sam’s is a seafood restaurant but they do a damn good pizza, so no matter what floats your boat or tickles your fancy, perusing the menu is bound to make you smile – as demonstrated nicely by my mum who was positively beaming at this point…

Mum at Sam's on the Beach
We ordered bread and marinated olives to share for our starter (and my family forgave me for eating more than my fair share of the green ones)…

Olives at Sam's on the Beach
… And then I got down to business with this bad boy.

Pizza at Sam's on the Beach
The artichoke hearts, aubergines, olives, onions, tomatoes and rocket topped pizza went down a treat, until I was feeling decidedly stuffed. But it’s a well known fact that human beings have a separate stomach for dessert…

Beachboker Glory at Sam's on the Beach
That, my friend, is magical mixture of ice cream, chocolate sauce, cherry sauce, and marshmallows, named a Beachboker Glory. Calories? Never heard of ’em.

 

Woodland Wonderland

I love this time of year. The trees are all dressed up with nowhere to go, decked out in their finest freshly unfurled leaves and heavy garlands of blossom. The birds are singing as fervently as if they’re all in the shower and nobody’s home. And everything smells so fantastic that I want to roll in it, doggy-fashion. Spring has unquestionably sprung in all her glory.

And, thanks to nature’s most luxurious carpet, nowhere is more magical than woodland in May time. If you go down to the woods in May you’re in for a blue surprise.

I am of course talking about bluebells. I’ve spent the last few weeks enjoying the show. Home in Hertfordshire isn’t too shabby…

Bluebells Hertfordshire 2014

Bluebells Hertfordshire 2014

I’ve actually been visiting Ashridge to pay homage to these mystical flowers for a very long time. My whole life time in fact. Let me take you back to 1995…

Gem & Chloe in bluebells, 1996

When I was growing up, it was a family tradition to pack up a picnic breakfast early one morning at the start of May, and eat it perched on a log amongst the bluebells. We have photos documenting my sister and I growing up, set against a backdrop of blue, munching buttered toast or hot cross buns.

At some point I started borrowing my Dad’s camera and became more interested in the bluebells than in the breakfast. (Blasphemy?!)

2011 was a sunnier affair than this year…

Bluebells Hertfordshire 2011

Bluebells Hertfordshire 2011

I’ve been struggling to capture the symphony of green and purple for the last decade. I took this one in 2005…

Bluebells Hertfordshire 2005

Anyway, this year I was lucky enough to give my bluebell addiction a double dose. My family headed off on a bit of a last minute Cornish adventure, and were met with the most glorious display of bluebells, wild garlic, and red campion.

Woodland wild flowers in Cornwall 2014

The smell was heavenly. This is in a little copse on the cliff overlooking Polridmouth Beach, and the trees are all twisted and gnarled from a life exposed to the elements. I felt like I was in The Wind and the Willows. 

Bark and Moss

Wild wood, Cornwall 2014

Bluebells and wild garlic seemed to be everywhere. In the woods, in the fields, lining the roads…

Prickly Post Lane

Even the track down to our cottage was banked in splendour (and the over-hanging azaleas didn’t hurt either).

Azalea and wild garlic

Woodland flowers

Wild garlic
But, like all good magicians, the woods saved their best for last. On our final day in Cornwall we visited the Luxulyan valley to find our favourite woodland haunt.

Luxulyan Aqueduct

Not far from the shadow of the aqueduct, there runs a stream. And if you follow it down the valley, you will find this place.

Luxulyan Valley
Giant rocks are strewn around as a long-gone glacier’s calling card, trees have spent centuries getting comfortable and stretching their roots out, leaf litter covers the ground, moss clings to every surface it can, and – apart from the musical noise of the stream – there’s an almost holy quiet that settles over everything.

Moss on tree roots in Luxulyan

Luxulyan Valley

A magical place made more magical by the presence of my favourite little bells of blue.

National Trust-ing

You may well love dressing up, going out, and dancing around in your highest heels as much as the next girl, but it’s hard to deny that sometimes there is nothing better in the world than exploring National Trust gardens in your wellies, eating an inordinate amount of cheese, and sinking into a bubble bath with a glass of wine. So scampering off for a thoroughly middle-aged adventure with one of my favourite partners in crime (and cheese, and wine) for the weekend was an excellent idea on her part.

Right next door to our little flat for the weekend was Peckover House.

Right next door to our little flat for the weekend was Peckover House.

We booked ourselves in to a National Trust-owned converted coach house loft apartment with a key to the gardens at Peckover House in the Cambridgeshire town of Wisbech. The description of Peckover House on the National Trust website is of “a hidden gem”; an “oasis hidden away in an urban environment”, and when we explored Wisbech we understood why. If you want to go to a nice town, where you won’t see people urinating in public in the middle of the day, then perhaps don’t visit Wisbech. At this point we aborted our exploration and practically ran back to our little National Trust sanctuary, where there was beauty and calm, and the people were friendly (and wearing pants). Who needs access to a pub anyway? We had a lot of fun with the fauna and flora on offer. Yes, you heard me: we had a lot of fun with plants.

Jess having aforementioned fun with plants.

Jess having aforementioned fun with plants.

If you’ve never been in an orangery in the middle of winter before then you might not quite understand why we were so excited. Walking into a fragrant greenhouse filled with citrus hues and a miniature jungle of fresh green foliage, in December, was like walking into a summer holiday in the Mediterranean.

See? Fun!

It makes people pull this face.

Spot the very happy Gemma.

Spot the very happy Gemma in the jungle.

When I’m grown up I would like a giant greenhouse to play in, please. But as much fun as plants undoubtedly are, we were happy to find some four-legged friends too.

This kitten liked Jess' mitten.

This kitten liked Jess’ mitten.

The inside of Peckover House was equally lovely, especially as the smell of mince pies cooking was wafting up from the Georgian kitchen and two elderly gentlemen were performing a duet of Christmas songs with a piano and violin. Feeling thoroughly festive, we headed back to the loft to crack open some wine, have a bubble bath, polish off a block of Wensleydale, and watch Strictly Come Dancing in our pyjamas. (We’re so, so cool.)

So, this happened. Possibly the greatest photo of Jess, ever.

So, this happened. Possibly the greatest photo of Jess, ever.

Only one National Trust adventure per weekend just isn’t enough for us crazy kids, so we popped into Wimpole Hall Estate on the way home on Sunday. We were, erm, moderately excited to find that Wimpole Home Farm had resident donkeys, pigs, shire horses, goats, sheep, Shetland ponies, and a cat named Gina who spends her time sleeping on the shelves in the National Trust shop. (There’s only one thing better than a National Trust shop – a National Trust shop with a cat.)

We also made friends with a donkey.

We made friends with a donkey.

We would have made friends with these piglets but they were too busy napping.

We would have made friends with these piglets but they were too busy napping.

All in all, a thoroughly excellent weekend!

Bath Day

I have never wanted to live in a city. Sure, I enjoy the energy of London and I am more than a little hypnotised by the romance of Paris. But I am in love with open spaces: woods and fields, hills and rivers, an ocean of uninterrupted sky. Cities make me walk faster, turn my music up louder, and tune out of my daydreams. On my daily commute I shut my book as the train pulls into London and think of it no more until I leave in the evening, and the gesture is almost symbolic. The hustle of the crowd raises my heartbeat and my temper. Perhaps if I were fortunate enough to be able to afford a Chelsea town-house or a Parisian attic apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower I would think differently. But the light is less clean in a city; the air not so sharp. So I was pretty surprised by a September Saturday spent in Bath.

Pretty lovely, right?

Pretty beautiful, right?

In just 24 hours in this city I fell in love; hard. Sat in the midst of Somerset’s lush green countryside, the streets are wide enough for the light to be clear and leafy enough for my liking. The architecture is stunning; a winning mix of Gothic and Georgian with the famous Bath stone a rich mocha in the shade and caramel in the sunlight. There is a different aesthetic treasure around every corner, and it is no wonder that Bath is one of only a handful of entire cities to have attained World Heritage status. Even the streetlamps are beautiful.

Dominating the city’s skyline is the Abbey.

Bath Abbey looking as nonchalant as a building that big can look.

Bath Abbey bathed in September sunshine.

I’m not in any way religious, but I love places of worship. They always feel so peaceful. Plus, I may have become quite (over) excited about the Abbey’s flying buttresses and fan vaulted ceiling and gone off on a happy monologue directed at (poor) Lucy about late Perpendicular Gothic architecture.

Fan vaulting is almost enough to make me believe in an intelligent creator. Almost.

Fan vaulting is almost enough to make me believe in an intelligent creator. Almost.

Wandering into the Abbey was like stepping into an oasis of tranquillity, with the light from the incredible stained glass windows refracting over the memorial stones of past residents which pave the floor. It is a humbling place of eternal slumber, prayers both recent and long forgotten, and peace. I could have sat lost in my thoughts here all day, had I not been on a tourism mission. We blinked our way back into the daylight, and I was content to admire the other churches from a far. My favourite was a golden affair which, set against the bright blue sky, looked so inviting that I was a bit disappointed at my lack of religion.

No idea which church this is but isn't it lovely!

No idea which church this is but isn’t it lovely! (I would make a terrible tour guide.)

As well as the structures which reach high into the air, Bath is home to architecture which spreads across the landscape. I wish I had better photos of the Circus and the Royal Cresent: the former a ring of houses broken by three street entrances, the latter a sweeping curve. Have a Google, or better yet, a visit. There is something about a curved street which takes hold of your imagination. When I was little I wanted to live in a perfectly round house, until someone pointed out how difficult it would be to buy furniture. Living on the Circus or the Royal Crescent would be a happy compromise. If only I were insanely rich.

The beautiful sweep of either the Circus or the Royal Crescent. I blame my tour guide.

The beautiful sweep of the Royal Crescent (or the Circus). I blame my tour guide.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. We kick-started our day of culture by a morning visit to one of my own sacred spaces: an art museum. The Holburne Museum houses a collection of fine and decorative arts built around an original collection by Sir William Holburne (1793-1874). Frankly, I would have been content just to sit and look at it, never mind inside it.

I think I want to live in the Holburne Museum...

I think I want to live in the Holburne Museum…

But like all the best beautiful things (Fabergé eggs; well-bound books; M&S melt-in-the-middle chocolate puddings) the grade one listed Holburne Museum is beautiful inside as well as out. My favourite room might as well have been a shrine to light rather than antique tableware. The reflections from the glass case and polished silver had my inner magpie utterly transfixed.

My favourite room at the Holburne. So. Sparkly. Can't. Look. Away.

My favourite room at the Holburne. So. Sparkly. Can’t. Look. Away.

However, despite the beauty of the Georgian architecture and the treasure chest at Holburne, they were not the main reason why I was so enthusiastic about visiting Bath in the first place. Ten years ago I had a history teacher who really, really did not like the Romans. He told his class of eleven-year-olds that they were barbaric (the Romans, not the kids, although we were fairly awful too) which was ironically a term frequently used by the Romans against their enemies. He told us that the Romans had given Britain two things and two things only: cabbages and cats. (Eleven year old Gemma raised the point that if they were responsible for cats then surely they were exempt from all criticism.) As an avid fan of Time Team (and cats) my younger self remained an enthusiast for all things Roman, despite my teacher’s best efforts. So to say I was excited about visiting the Roman Baths would be a rather large understatement.

The Baths

I love the juxtaposition of Classical and Gothic in this view of the Baths and Abbey.

I feel like this photo is a metaphorical middle finger at that history teacher, because how could you not love a civilisation which built things like this? The same feeling of tranquillity reigned over the Baths as in the Abbey; the tangible presence of history; the mingled sense of magnitude and of your own smallness. The urge to swim in the waters and submerge ourselves in history was almost over-powering, despite the crowds and the written warnings about the dirty water. So great was the sense of ancientness that it was hard to reconcile the fact that the water was not the same water in which Roman citizens bathed. My favourite exhibit inside the Baths was the one which most resonated throughout history: a selection of curses written on lead by irate Romans found in a pool dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva. It was both amusing and touching to see the curses from understandably grumpy bathers who had emerged from the water to find someone had stolen items of their clothing. 

Finally, to conclude a very happy day spent in Bath; having explored Holburne, the Abbey, the Baths, and done a mini walking tour of the city; foot sore and sleepy, we headed to Côte Brasserie for a well earned supper.

Sometimes I think I prefer reading menus to reading books...

Sometimes I think I prefer reading menus to reading books…

I have written on here before about how I feel regarding pizza. But I have yet to pen an ode for roasted vegetables with goats cheese. This is because my thoughts on the combination of roasted vegetables and goats cheese cannot be condensed into a succinct enough soliloquy for one short paragraph. So to summarise as best as I can, it is a meal I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; for a week; and still come back for more. So I was pretty happy (ecstatic) to find it on the menu.

Possibly my favourite meal: warm goats cheese and roasted vegetable salad (with black olive tapenade crostini).

Warm goats cheese and roasted vegetable salad with black olive tapenade crostini.

Uploading that photo was a poor choice for my rumbling tummy: I’ve been sat here dreamily salivating all over my keyboard for the last ten minutes. And to make matters worse in my current hungry state, I chased up my favourite main with my favourite dessert.

I can never say no to a crème brûlée.

I can never say no to a crème brûlée.

All in all, if I moved to Bath tomorrow I would not be heartsick for trees and grass and open spaces; in fact I would be a very happy (albeit poor and slightly chubby) bunny.

Defeating the Surprise Killer

I love surprises. I mean, not the kind of surprise when you check your bank account and realise you’re going to need to start selling your possessions, or when you find a spider up your top. I love good surprises. But in true totally nonsensical control freak style, of which my mother can be very proud, I like knowing that I’m going to be surprised. I like it so much that I will go to quite extreme lengths to make sure that the surprise is preserved – you could tell me that you had left my unwrapped Christmas presents in a pile (optimistic use of the word pile here) at my feet and I wouldn’t look down.

So when Boyfriend called me on Friday night and said to come over because he had a surprise planned for Saturday, I metamorphosed into an excitable puppy waiting to be given a really good chew toy. I bounced out of bed first thing Saturday morning, and bounced into the shower, and bounced my way through breakfast. Teddy, who is not used to someone else playing the role of excitable puppy, was very enthusiastic about my enthusiasm and joined in with the bouncing. Boyfriend, who isn’t exactly the biggest fan of mornings, was probably thinking he’d unleashed a monster.

Bouncy Ted and bouncy me!

Bouncy Ted and bouncy me!

By the time we were ready to leave I was terrified I would accidentally work out the surprise, based on Boyfriend telling me to wear clothes suitable for the outdoors. I realise that does not sound like a massive hint, but I’m really good at ruining my own surprises. I’m quite the surprise killer. (As in, I kill surprises. I don’t sneakily murder anyone.) When it comes to surprise ruining, put me in 221B, stick a deerstalker on my head, and call me Sherlock.

I decided that the best way to proceed would be to fill my brain with a cacophony of white noise to block out any unwanted eureka! moments: cue BBC Radio 1. After driving for about half an hour, Boyfriend expressed concern that I would work out the surprise based on the road signs. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to ignore the feeling that I might not be impervious to travel sickness after all.

Finally, just as I was wondering whether I love surprises enough to be sick out of the window of a moving car with my eyes shut, the sat-nav announced that we had reached our destination. Boyfriend confirmed that I could open my eyes. We were driving along a track with a field of red deer on one side and a sign saying “Go Ape” on the other. After a couple of seconds I yelped “Are we at Woburn Safari Park?!”

We were indeed. Bearing in mind that I have only been to Woburn once about ten years ago and had no recollection of there being any red deer, you have to admit this was pretty impressive. Admittedly, it would have been much more impressive had I not seen a road sign to the village of Woburn whilst briefly opening my eyes to help Boyfriend navigate a roundabout which the sat-nav didn’t think existed. But I know stuff about red deer so I’m going to keep my imaginary and very aptly named deerstalker hat on, thanks, and you can still call me Sherlock.

Anyway, Boyfriend (who shall now be officially known as The Best Boyfriend Ever) paid for our tickets and we started the circuit.

First of all were rhinos, and oh boy were they friendly.

The camera on my phone is doing a pretty good job, right?

Getting his 5 a day.

I mean, really, really friendly.

He was so close we could hear him breathing!

He was so close we could hear him breathing!

The tigers, lions, bears and wolves were far more camera shy, and I wished I had my SLR, but the giraffes more than made up for it.

We thought this guy was going to put his head through the window!

We thought this guy was going to put his head through the window!

After the giraffes came the monkeys. In the middle of their enclosure was a climbing frame which I didn’t think saw a lot of use: the moving cars were a far more exciting adventure playground. They leaped all over the vehicles, perching on wing mirrors and play fighting on roofs and wind screens. I wish I’d been fast enough with my camera to capture them ripping the aerial from the roof of the car in front of us but I was too busy trying to see if we had an aerial and if it were still intact.

We then moved on from the road safari to watch the sea lion show (very entertaining but I thought it was bested by its equivalent at Whipsnade Zoo) and then stopped off for lunch. Boyfriend proved the value of his good surprise by creating a bad one: accidentally covering our chips in sugar rather than salt. I was extremely amused, especially after Boyfriend (who is more of a barbecue sauce man than a salt and vinegar fan) allowed me to drown out the flavour of the sugar with malt vinegar. Then we moved on to the foot safari to ‘take a walk on the wild side’. We saw penguins playing, elephants caravanning, yellow mongoose scurrying, red lorries flying (they’re a bird not a vehicle), a porcupine snoozing, and, much to the dismay of Boyfriend who takes after Indiana Jones in this respect, a boa constrictor. He shuddered from head to foot (Boyfriend, not the snake) and was very keen to move on to the next animal.

I have a bit of a thing for fluffy tails so I was very excited about the lemur exhibit. I started feeling a bit emotional when one ring-tailed lemur cuddled his tail.

Look at his beautiful face!

Look at his beautiful face!

Then my heart melted when a three-legged red-fronted lemur followed me around his enclosure, walking beside me along the fence.  Apparently he had lost a leg when a visitor accidentally shut him in the gate, but he seemed energetic and cheerful and all in all a very happy lemur on only three legs.

I was much more upset than he was about his leg.

I was much more upset than he was about his leg.

And just when I was feeling decidedly emotionally vulnerable, we came to the meerkat exhibit and witnessed a pup losing his mother behind a rock and making the most heart-wrenching little crying mewling noises until she came back to find him. I had to blink quite rapidly at this point.

So I lost my cool, but I had an amazing day and it was a top-notch surprise. Hats off to Boyfriend!

Holiday Heaven

For anyone who has ever (had the extremely good fortune to have) met me, one of the first things you might notice is that I look like an iron deficient anaemic vegetarian. This is largely because I am. Or at least, I was: my doctor reckons I’m cured – of the anaemia, not of the vegetarianism, much to the disappointment of my omnivorous family. So the vampiric paleness is nothing to do with blood or red blood cells. It is perhaps more to do with the fact that most of my summer holidays have been spent in Cornwall.

Which will probably leave you thinking something along the lines of So why not holiday somewhere other than Cornwall? Jump on a plane, travel somewhere exotic, get a nice tan, and stop your friends making jokes about only being able to look at you with sunglasses on! 

Well, you have a point. (And seriously guys, stop it with the sunglasses jokes). But my answer is a pretty great one. As often as we can, my family like to spend our holidays in a cottage not far from the beautifully sleepy Cornish seaside town of Fowey: to be precise, here.

My favourite place in the world: Polridmouth Cottage, Menabilly.

My favourite place in the world: Polridmouth Cottage, Menabilly Estate, Cornwall.

If fishermen’s cottages, lakes, beaches, woods, hills and meadows aren’t your thing then I don’t think you should read the rest of this post let alone book a holiday here. But for me, this place is an English Shangri-La.

This is where the idyllic summer holidays of my childhood were set, and where I spent a wonderful ten days with my family after my graduation at the end of July. This is the ‘home’ that I ran back to at the end of the sorry tale of the dead sheep. This is where I would live if money and power were no object.

So let me explain (if one picture was not quite enough for you) exactly why I am so in love with this place.

Firstly, for anyone not lucky enough to be staying in ‘our’ cottage, the beach is quite a long way from the car park which means that it is never very busy and for most of the day we have it to ourselves.

Boyfriend and a lot of sand.

Boyfriend and a lot of sand.

And with all that sand, there’s no excuse not to build some awesome sandcastles.

This kid thought our sandcastle was so awesome he helped dig the moat.

That’s right, my sandcastles come with moats.

The lake runs down onto the beach which means a tiny waterfall and lots of fun for dads making dams with the stream.

See? Waterfall.

See? Waterfall.

There are ducks that live on the lake who you really, absolutely, should not feed.

No really, don't feed them.

Boyfriend and I are rule breakers at heart.

There are beautiful cliffs to clamber over and rock pools to be found.

I found this particular one in 2005.

Here is me, age 13, finding a rock pool.

And there are cliff paths with stunning views of ‘your’ beach.

My favourite spot.

My favourite spot.

But remember, no matter how beautiful the scenery, always keep an eye on where you’re putting your feet. One summer an unfortunate walker had to be rescued with an air ambulance after breaking his ankle on the cliff path.

We felt sorry for Dennis but enjoyed the air ambulance landing on our lawn.

We felt sorry for Dennis but very much enjoyed the air ambulance landing on our lawn.

And if you get peckish, my favourite restaurant in the world is just a few miles away. Sam’s On The Beach serves the biggest and best pizza I’ve ever had in England and is, as you might expect, right on the beach front at Polkerris. Spectacular views and an intimate atmosphere make the food taste even better – not that it needs any help.

The pizzas are so big they barely fit on the table let alone the plates.

The pizzas are so big they barely fit on the table let alone the plates.

Order the olives as a starter if you are ever there. There is something magical in the marinade.

To be honest I think there might be something magical in the water off the Cornish coastline as well.

It's (cheese alert) where my heart is.

It’s (cheese alert) where my heart is.