There can be no place in England more perfect than St Ives. Where else can you enjoy cobbled streets, quaint seven-hundred-year-old pubs, cream teas, and pristine white sand surf beaches all within a few minutes walk of each other?
We arrive on Saturday afternoon in early September and our first glimpse of the ocean is breathtaking. How can this aquamarine vision be British waters? Surely, it is some tropical island in the South Pacific. The illusion continues as the kids spot the palm trees! We twist our way along the narrow, winding streets lined with picturesque white-washed cottages, and after a lengthy search in the very limited parking areas, we manage to find a spot. From our vantage point on Porthmeor Hill, we can see the white top of the Tate Gallery which overlooks Porthmeor Beach, St Ives' premier surfing spot. Brightly coloured VW campervans with floral decals abound, and again, I feel I'm somewhere else, perhaps California?
We head for the beach; the sound of breaking waves and the screams of seagulls accompany us. A short stroll along the shore, and we arrive at our accommodation for the week, Old Saltings, a spectacular 19th century stone house right on the beach, and originally built for salting pilchards. We look up in anticipation at the huge window, where we know our eight foot window seat awaits, and we spot the tiny balcony off the Zen room, where two of our daughters will sleep, lulled by the sound of the sea.
When we enter, we are amazed at the sheer length of the place. The serpentine hallway snakes along as we discover each of the cozy bedrooms, all with the classic white-washed stone walls, the stylish bathrooms, and finally the modern kitchen and vast living area, crowned by the glorious window seat. The panoramic view from this seat is truly spectacular, and we pass many an hour here, with either cups of tea or glasses of wine, depending on the hour, watching the surfers bobbing about until they catch a wave, and marveling at the stunning sunsets.
The weather is surprisingly pleasant for September, but typically changeable, so we very much appreciate our easy beach access. We are also only a two minute walk from the little town, which, for it's size, holds a remarkably diverse selection of shops, not to mention the art galleries and studios. St Ives is a Mecca for artists, and I'm sure it must have the highest concentration of art shops, galleries, and studios in the country! There are many accomplished local artisans showing their work, and of course, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the Tate are here as well. Even our Old Saltings feels like a gallery of its own with its collection of old black and white photos of St Ives and its walls hung with works by local artists.
But it would be remiss of me to write an article on Cornwall without discussing the local food. This is the home of the Cornish pasty, and although you can buy them anywhere in Britain, they are not a patch on the fresh-from-the-oven ones here. The cobbled streets are lined with pasty shops, and as well as the traditional steak (with onion, potato, and swede), we sample lamb and mint, and even an icing-sugar dusted dessert pasty filled with apple and blackberry. I am slightly ashamed to admit we practically lived on these Cornish creations, punctuated only by fresh fruit scones topped with strawberry jam and clotted cream. And, no, I'm not even going to attempt to describe clotted cream. It is such a taste sensation, you just need to try it yourself. You will not be disappointed.
Jane Hastelow is a former high school English teacher and curriculum coach currently enjoying a year of family travel and education with her husband and three children. She has a BA in English and a Masters in Communications. Jane loves to combine her passion for writing with family travel. You can also follow her adventures at