Oh, the London life! Many have written books, articles, and even songs about it. I’m forever grateful that I get to live here, and when I walk down its streets under a crisp blue winter sky I thank my lucky stars for the opportunities and the friends this city has given me. But sometimes it can be a bit… overwhelming. Samuel Johnson famously coined the phrase: “A man who’s tired of London is tired of life”. Mind you, Mr. Johnson, I’m a woman and after a whole year of working 10-hours days, taking crammed trains to go to my office and feeling like I haven’t taken a real break in forever, I’m not tired of life, I’m tired of everything and everyone -even myself- and I’m ready to leave the city behind.
Nobody tells you before moving to London that the price you’ll have to pay to become a Londoner – apart from an insane rent for a tiny flat- is being tired all the freaking time.
“Let’s spend Christmas in the countryside” – I say to my husband, who’s sitting comfortably on our sofa checking the news on his phone, unaware of my need for green pastures and seeing a cow or two – “We could see my sister in Devon and go to the beach. What do you think?”
He looks a bit puzzled at first. For a split second, I think he’s going to tell me I’m crazy -who goes to the beach in winter?- but he actually seems excited by the idea “Let’s go! – he says going to business mode almost immediately- I’ll check the places to stay” I beam at him and I realize he needs a break of the city as much as I do.
It’s December 22nd and we are ready for our road trip. The boot of our car is full of everything you need to spend Christmas somewhere else: presents, Christmas crackers,
César and I will be
Before we continue and just to be clear, we didn’t plan to go glamping. If you are not familiar with the term, is going camping but with lots of amenities (like showers, beds, and even fully equipped kitchens) and none of the hurdles of “traditional” camping. When we started checking places to stay we wanted a cottage but the ones we liked- I blame “The Holiday” and Kate Winslet for our high expectations- came with a very fancy price tag. Then, we found two nice places: one small cabin in Cornwall and a shepherd hut in Devon, near Salcombe. We decided to rent them because they looked
Visiting Cornwall: the cabin near Wren, the Land’s End and St. Ives
César and I arrived at our destination in the middle of the night. We drive through several small villages before reaching Wren, all quiet but beautifully lit up with lovely Christmas lights. I’m afraid we’ll get lost in the way -it’s a very foggy night- but the instructions left by our hosts- Joe & Kirstie- warned us to ignore the GPS and follow the road signs.
When we finally get there we can see the cabin is sitting in the middle of nowhere. It’s so dark I can only see the shadows of some very tall trees to my right, its leaves moving with the cold wind, and the soft light of the entrance of the pod. It’s raining heavily and we rush inside, relieved. The cabin is warm and small, and we are completely exhausted so we are extremely grateful to our hosts when we see they’ve left us tea and milk in the fridge. As I sit on the sofa with a steaming cup on my hands, I can hear the soothing noise of raindrops falling on the roof.
“Listen. Can you hear that?” I ask César, sitting next to me. He listens intently, maybe believing I heard an animal or something. “I can’t hear anything but the rain,” he says. “Exactly,” I say, smiling broadly. And just like that, I sleep like a rock for the first time in weeks.
The cabin (you can check it here) has a small shower, toilet, a double bed, and a mini-fridge. We only booked it for one night and when we are leaving we meet our hosts (you can check-in and check-out yourself so we were lucky to see them) They are all smiles and they recommend us a farm nearby to have breakfast.
After eating an English full breakfast each and spotting our first sheep, we drive to St. Michael’s Mount, near Marazion. The island can be accessed on foot if the tide is low and there is a castle sitting on top of a hill. The salty, cold air makes me feel alive and I’m grateful I’m wearing my wellies because I’m free to walk near the water and jump in all the puddles I want, without worrying about getting my shoes wet. The castle was closed to visitors and the island felt a little like a ghost town, but I loved the experience. You feel like traveling back in time, to an era of knights and
Traveling to the coast in winter has its own charm: you walk under a grey sky, you watch the emerald green waves reach the sand under your feet, you think a lot about the true meaning of life and then you go to a warm place to drink something hot. Perfection.
We leave the castle and drive another 15 minutes to the Land’s End. We had read reviews about it and on them, some people mentioned that the presence of cafés and stores made the place less charming. However, everything is closed when we arrive so I really don’t know if the place feels less epic or not due to the shops. We brave the cold and walk to the cliffs but unfortunately, a dense fog doesn’t allow us to see a lot. After a couple of minutes the fog clears a bit and we can see the rocks beneath us and the waves crashing against them. They seem pretty epic to me, cafés or no cafés! However, I think it’s better to visit the Land’s End on a clear day. Now we have the perfect excuse to go back during the summer.
Last, but not least, we visit St. Ives. The town is the definition of “quaint little English village near the sea”. We drive down the hill and park near the train station. Before we start exploring, I tell César I need some food to gather strength -my sweet tooth is getting the best of me- and point to a cute-looking café. When we enter, I fall in love instantly: The décor- a lot of white, wood and seahorses- is simply gorgeous. After taking all in, we sit next to a window from where we can see the Celtic Sea. A family is having lunch in a table near us. An acoustic Christmas album is being played softly on the background. I wish we could stay forever.
The café turned out to be the Porthminster, a very famous place due to its amazing seafood. We didn’t have seafood – we weren’t that hungry yet- but tea and scones. Brilliant scones, all soft and buttery. After saying good-bye to the café and their lovely staff- yet another good excuse to come back soon- we took a walk around the beach and the town. The camera of my phone wasn’t able to capture all its charm!
And just like that and way too soon, we leave Cornwall and drive back to Devon.
Hope you like the first part of our adventure to the south of England. Have you been? How was your visit like? Would you visit the beach in winter?