We arrived in St Ives on an overcast afternoon, checked in to a Victorian terrace with an ocean view, and wandered down through the cobblestone lanes to the sea. The harbour was pale in colour, with small, bobbing boats and seagulls circling above. I took a liking to the place immediately.
This is where Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To the Lighthouse took inspiration from, when she would peer out at Godrevy Island from her holiday lodgings at Talland House. There is something about St Ives that draws your eyes out towards the sea. I’d love to know more about it’s history. Walking down by the wharf you’ll find The Sloop Inn, a whitewash historical fisherman’s pub dating back to “circa 1312”, with low, wooden ceilings in the bottom floor bar and popular seating outside.
St Ives is also a town populated by, and attractive to, artists. The Tate St Ives (which was closed when we were there, but has since re-opened), is a draw card, as is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. We enjoyed just meandering through the streets and by the harbour, taking in the bakeries and pubs, sweet shops and boutiques.
TASTE: Blas Burgerworks
All St Ives online review roads lead to Blas Burgerworks, a pokey, charming little place, with an impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan burgers. The haloumi stack burger, with spinach, field mushrooms, roast peppers, salad and caper aoli, servied with crispy chips, was exactly what my Penzance hangover was crying out for. A Cornish cider as well and I was on my way to being cured.
Cafe Love: 57 Fore St
While taking our initial wander through town, I made a mental note to return to 57 Fore Street, a warm-looking cafe space with a fixie bike out front that beckoned us with a scrawling script promise of “St Ives Harbour View Upstairs”. Mid morning the next day, we climbed the stairs, snuck into a sunny spot by the window, and enjoyed a lazy coffee break in this cosy nautical-themed cafe.
Winding cobblestone streets of old, flower-laden shops. Joy. There were many great stores in St Ives, but some I want to mention are the bright, exotic treasures of Sweetlime – the boutique equivalent of vibrant world music. Think tasseled jewellery and colourful, woven cushions and bags. Owner lady has taste! Then there’s Common Wanderer, one of my fave adventure stores anywhere, for the stylish lover of the outdoors. Great collection of books if you love the intrepid life (I’m guessing that’s you), camping accessories, clothing, blankets and throws for your cabin. Yeah, I’m their target market for sure. Number 8 on High Street is also worth a mention, especially for stylish dude threads.
We were eager to venture further up the north coast into the surf territory of Newquay, but first we wound over the hill into Watergate Bay, where the grassy green earth stopped in high wave-like cliffs over the beach.
TASTE: Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, Watergate Bay
Everybody loves Jamie, right?! Despite his restaurants popping up all over the world, including my hometown of Sydney, I had never dined at one, so it felt fitting to make my first experience of eating a la Jamie, one of his signature restaurants on the Cornwall Coast. All profits from Fifteen Cornwall go to the charity and the restaurant is home to the award-winning apprenticeship program that you may have seen on his show some years back. From the food to the wine, views, interiors and oh my gawd deserts, this place nails seaside classy casual. We were surprised how easy it was to get a booking last minute and it wasn’t busy.
STAY: Great Western Hotel, Newquay
As much as I would have loved to rest my head at the Watergate Bay Hotel (which came recommended by a stylish shop owner in Lyme Regis), we were spending two and a half months in the UK, so needed to be modest in our spending at times. So we checked into the comfortable Great Western Hotel, which suited this quick stop perfectly. We enjoyed a beer in the huge, see view beer garden out back, and a hearty pub meal downstairs, while watching the soccor on the big screens. The location, between Great Western Beach and Tolcarne Beach, gives a good vantage of Newquay. You could peer out at hunched cliffs, holidays makers getting surf lessons and some of the colourful beach huts that we had been been seeing up and down the coast from the area out back.
EAT: The Stable
There are numerous outposts of The Stable around the UK now, but this was my first intro, and as the website states, this “most scenic Stable to date has breathtaking, panoramic views over one of Britain’s most famous beaches”. And it is true, the high position and open windows make this advantageous brekky spot. But here’s a thing: the baked eggs pictured here were so darn delicious and cheesy and fresh, they were surely a direct apparition from the Gods of breakfast. I wish there was a Stable near my house in Australia.
VISIT: Perched high on the southern end of Fistral Beach is the Headland Hotel & Spa, Cornwall. Do you recognise it? I do, and it gives me chills, even now as an adult. Remember the film version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches? With a brilliantly terrifying Angelica Houston and her eyes that flashed purple? It was released in 1990 when I was young enough to be truly spooked by it, so it was a thrill to visit this site, especially on a grim, spitty day where the dark clouds were brewing just off the coast.
This just reminds me, I happened to be in San Sebastian in Spain when the film festival was on there, and who was to walk straight past me in the street? Angelica Houston. In a crisp white shirt with the top buttons open, cradling a handbag and walking with one of the most elegant strides I have ever seen…
This is Part II of my Cornwall in the Summer posts, check out #1 here: Cornwall Summer (Part 1): St Mawes, Penzance and the Minack Theatre