This week The Elaine Show travels to Cornwall and I had the most spectacular time exploring Cornwall’s literary heritage and delicious culinary fare.
How to get there:
Stobart Air, operator of Aer Lingus Regional routes, operate a seasonal route from Cork to Cornwall Newquay 2 times weekly , commencing on 8 May until 5 October this year.
Aer Lingus also operate flights to Cornwall Airport Newquay from Dublin 7 times weekly, with flights starting at €35.99 one way including taxes.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again, the opening lines of Daphne du Maurier’s, Rebecca inspire intrigue and romance − emotions awoken by any visitor to Cornwall. Situated in the south-western most corner of England it is a place where dreams and stories are woven and made. I did try to find Menabilly, the house where Du Maurier once lived and the inspiration for Manderlay in her novel. But alas the sign ‘Beware of the Bull’ and the twitching curtain at the window of the Gate Lodge left me a little uneasy and wondering if Mrs Davers is still around.
Close by the town of Fowey, pronounced foy to rhyme with joy, plays host to a literary festival each May. It’s a pretty fishing town on the east coast with the spires of St Fimbarrus overlooking the layered streets etched into the cliff. Only the font remains from the original Norman Church which was rebuilt in 1336. Fowey was a base for pirates for much of its history but is now filled with olde worlde charm.
This is where I stop off at Kittows − a fifth generation butcher’s family − with purportedly the best Cornish Pasties in the county. Their legendary deliciousness expands the length of England and they offer delivery to all four corners. You won’t find generic chain stores in Fowey, with plenty of quaint boutiques and speciality stores for ice-cream, fudge and art.
My base is in St Austell at The Cornwall Hotel Spa and Estate. This historic manor house hotel, with the rejuvenating Clearing Spa and collection of self-catering Woodland Lodges, is set on a beautiful 43-acre parkland estate. The Hotel’s restaurant serves locally sourced Cornish food, expertly prepared by a team of experienced chefs.
It’s just a few miles from The Eden Project − a must for all visitors to Cornwall. Nestled in a huge crater after a clay pit was left derelict, it now houses five biomes and the largest rainforest in captivity. It is educational and interactive for all the family with tropical plants, art-exhibitions, and restaurants. The zipwire is the longest in England and runs over the site providing something for adrenaline junkies. This time of year ice skating is provided in one of the purpose built arenas and year round concerts and shows run in the theatre. An adult ticket is £27.50 for a full day.
The town of Charlestown is also close by. This charming little port and one street town, is used in the filming of the TV series Poldark, complete with two large rigged tall ships tied up in the harbour. I dine in the Longstore with a good selection of turf and surf dishes to please any palette. The waitress giddily explains that the crew and actors frequent the restaurant during filming and I can only imagine the frenzy of excitement as the swash-buckling Poldark enters the restaurant in full costume. I’ve yet to read the work of Winston Graham but I’m inspired me to take a trip to the library on my return to Dublin.
Moving over Bodmin Moor my literary quest is sated once again as I pop into the Jamaican Inn − cosy pub that overflows with visitors in summer. I’m coming over giddy with talk of pirates and romance so decide to explore one of the coves on the Atlantic side of the peninsula.
The Scarlet Hotel is set upon a cliff overlooking Mawgan Porth. This adult only hotel is tastefully decorated with sculpture being an integral part of the building, leading me into an oasis of calm in the spa area. Outside two hot tubs beckon with unspoilt views of the waves rolling in. A half hour in the hot tub with a glass of Prosecco offers perfect views of the bay and some real escapism. Afternoon tea, with scones and clotted cream of course, is best enjoyed on the balcony and costs £24. A stay will put you back £240 for a room with B&B for two but is well worth the experience.
Cornwall is synonymous with good food and Rick Stein has carved a niche for himself in the labyrinth of streets at his home town of Padstow. I passed his shops and cafes on my way to his cookery school down at the port. Here the fish comes straight from boat to plate and a full day course on cooking Asian Street Food costs £198. Head chef Nick Evans taught me on the delicacies of cooking Asian food and some finer details of removing the poop shoot from a prawn. I can safely say that I can now fry garlic so that it is nice and crunchy but not over cooked. I also can make a pancake without using eggs but that recipe involved some of my own creative embellishing that Rick would be appalled by. Thankfully Nick had more patience with me. I was joined by a group of ten others and the entire day was a delight from start to finish as demonstrations were clear and we didn’t have to prepare our own ingredients − we also got away without having to wash up!
Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen on Watergate Bay offers more stunning views. Based on the same model as Jamie’s first restaurant in London, where he took 15 young people and transformed their lives by teaching them to work in a commercial kitchen. The menus are all seasonal and the tasting menu will set you back £68 but you will relish the flavour of the 40 day aged beef for a long time to come. Cocktails also carry the local flavours and are especially delicious. Of course being set in the kite surfers paradise means that it attracts the trendiest crowd of course! Since his arrival in 2017, Head Chef Adam Banks works closely with trusted local suppliers. The style and presentation is uniquely Jamie Oliver with tasters presented on flat stones found on the beach at Watergate Bay. On summer evenings the windows are opened across the width of the restaurant so guests can enjoy a taste of al fresco dining. https://www.fifteencornwall.co.uk/
If you’re a fan of Doc Martin then make a trip to Port Isaac to see where it is filmed. Close by the town of Tintagel is inextricably linked with the Legend of King Arthur. Tintagel Castle is re-opening this summer once the construction of a new footbridge will be complete. It’s little wonder that so many books and stories are written about this part of the world and difficult to get to see everything on one visit, warranting a second or third.
For all the information you need see www.visitcornwall.com
The Cornwall Hotel Lead in rate from £100 per room www.thecornwall.com
Hired car from Hertz and picked up at Newquay Airport Website: www.hertz.ie
Website link is below: https://www.scarlethotel.co.uk
The lead in rate for the Scarlet is £240 on a bed and breakfast basis, with two sharing a Just Right room.
Info about the Fowey Literary festival: https://www.foweyfestival.com/ 10 – 18 May 2019
Photography credits Terry Talbot