For many years as some of you will know, who have been regular readers of my blog, we have holidayed in St Ives Cornwall, but in recent years, mainly due to the British inclement weather, we have holidayed further afield, drawn to more sunnier climes.
This year though, mainly from pressure from our daughter, who was missing her beloved Cornwall and also because myself & Mr B were also curious to see if we had missed it as much as we thought we had, we decided to swap our week in the sun for a gamble on the Cornish coast. Amber, our daughter, was excited to be taking one of her best friends, since birth, Molly, to show her around, what she considers to be, her second home and before we could change our mind or look at the weather forecast, we had booked a week for the Spring bank holiday, in a self catering property with far reaching sea views.
St Ives hasn’t changed that much since my last blog post, which you can read here, it of course being, a very traditional Cornish fishing village, but, as with any town or city during the recent recession, businesses have come and gone and favourite shops and restaurants are no longer operating. So for anybody considering a Cornish escape this summer, here is a little update and some of the places I can highly recommend, due to having been there myself or through recommendations by my best friend, who also happens to live there.
The Queens Hotel
For a great Sunday lunch and regular live music,The Queens Hotel ,which has undergone a renovation in recent years to become a gastro pub. The Sunday lunch consists of local meats and veg and with children eating for only £6 can’t be beaten. For another great value carvery all day Sunday, try The Western Hotel. The surroundings are not as boho but the food is great value, home cooked fare, with as much as you can eat for £10.00, children half price.
The Halsetown Inn
This well known landmark next to the Balnoon camp site, has been rebranded by the owners of Blas Burger, which I wrote about in my previous St Ives blog. We couldn’t secure a table on our visit due to it being fully booked, which speaks volumes and my friend assures me it is excellent local home cooked food.
Serving freshly caught fish and seafood, this restaurant has been around for quite a few years now, enough said in this ever changing town.
The Rockpool Seafood cafe & Bar
Newly opened this season, the location in Gwithian is perfect for watching the sun set on the sand dunes and we ate fresh fish and seasonal vegetables, beautifully cooked in a friendly fun setting, perfect for family dining as children’s portions of anything on the menu are half price and the large decking area and beachside location make it ideal for younger children to wander freely.
The Vintage Store and coffee shop
A vintage store and coffee shop in one, with a harbour side location and beautiful harbour views from the elevated position. Everything in the cafe is available to buy including the original ercol sofa we sat on. The homemade cakes and lemonade went down well with the girls and the choice of vinyl tracks being played made it a place you want to linger.
Too many to mention here but two new favourites recently opened were:
Port of Call
Opened by the people that own Academy clothes shop, which is probably the most stylish place to buy clothes in St Ives if you don’t want surf wear or SuperDry. Port of Call is based on stylish items for the home, including beautiful throws, cushions and candles with a range of hipster magazines and books such as Kin and Cereal and skin care by REN.
Nautical themed accessories for the home such as ships lights, port hole mirrors and luggage racks, beautifully crafted in chrome or brass, with a range of ceramics and household linens. They have a comprehensive website and can ship anywhere in the country and also have a small selection of, equally stylish, self catering holiday lets on their website.
Located on Back Road East going towards Porthgwidden beach, this ceramics shop and studio has been in St Ives for over 20 years and everything is hand made by the owner of the shop. From simple earthenware plant pots to dipped dyed vases and glazed decorative wear. A true piece of artisan St Ives to take home with you.
The weather, as anybody who holidays in England knows, isn’t always great so to keep your small people entertained I can highly recommend two activities that we have tried and tested with our two.
I Should Coco
This is a fantastic chocolate shop where everything sold is made by hand on site and can be bespoke made to order if you so wish. As a way of sharing the magic of being a chocolatier, the owners of I should Coco open the shop after hours, mainly during the school holidays, to children, where the run chocolate making and decorating workshops. The workshops last for 1 hour and everything your little ones make during that time can be taken home with them. Check their website for dates, times and conditions.
Original photograph from St Ives Holidays
Kidz R Us Theatre
This is an award winning amateur dramatics society, that put on amazing shows throughout the school holidays that are some of the best I have seen, other than by a professional cast. Our children have been supporters and avid theatre goers since their friends moved to St Ives and joined the group but even though they no longer perform, we still thoroughly enjoyed our evening. Last week, the show was West Side Story and was so professional, that the cast got a standing ovation. If you are looking for some alternative entertainment rather than just eating or drinking, I can highly recommend the shows and defy you not to be entertained.
The Tate gallery has a varied range of exhibitions and installations, some including the works of the St Ives artists such as Alfred Wallace and Ben Nicholson. The main exhibition this summer focuses on Images moving out onto Space, with a bulk of the work on display by Brigit Riley. Whatever your personal thoughts on the exhibitions, you can not argue that the building and the space, with its stunning sea views of Porthmeor beach and the Atlantic are some what spectacular and if the works of art don’t float your boat, the rooftop cafe and gift shop are excellent.
Probably St Ives most famous resident to date, Dame Barbara Hepworth’s studio and house are now a museum which you can visit. Walk around her gardens which house many of her sculptures and take a peek at her studio, left pretty much as it was on the last day she worked in it. This is one of my favourite places to visit in St Ives and one I never tire of. A real insight into the life and work of a major artist and a tranquil hidden garden, staggering in its botanical beauty all enhanced further by her monolithic sculptures. You can purchase a dual ticket for access to The Tate and the Barbara Hepworth gardens.
Located at The Western Hotel, every Tuesday evening from 9.00pm, this renowned Jazz Club, started in 1998 and this year won the Parliamentary Jazz award for best venue!
I hope this is a helpful insight into the many wonderful things that St Ives has to offer.