Friday photo – the windswept cliffs of Cornwall

Last weekend I escaped the snowy weather in Bristol for the blue skies and energising sea air of Cornwall. This was our second visit to Treyarnon on the north Cornish coast – you can read more about our previous stay at the youth hostel and visit to Padstow here.

On Saturday we went for a walk along the coastal path, with the sea crashing up against the cliffs sending up mountains of white spray, then sweeping back again. As I stood on the grassy cliff edge, with nothing between me and the sea and rocks below, I was glad to have no young children with me who might unknowingly rush towards the edge.

The sea whipped up  patches of creamy foam like bubble bath then threw it onto the rocks and the wind carried up little chunks of foam into the sky. I love this coastline of Cornwall with it’s wild beauty and big skies – It gives me a great sense of freedom after the closed in city-scapes of Bristol. Perhaps it would have the same effect on you.

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Read related posts
Bright skies and blue seas at Treyarnon in Cornwall
A visit to Padstow and a walk through the dunes to St Enodoc

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See all the other Friday photos at Delicious Baby here.

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My travelling year in 2008

The New Year is here and one of the pleasures of the holiday time is dreaming of all the places I might visit in 2009. There’s a world of possibilities out there. But before I tell you about my plans, I’d like to pause and look back over the last year’s adventures. I don’t think there’s anywhere that I wouldn’t love to go back to again and explore more fully.

Centre parcs
We kicked off the New Year with a family get-together at Centre parcs at Longleat, staying in cabins in the woods and relying on our bikes to get around the holiday park. Our teenage crew tried out some different sports and hung out in the indoor pool complex with wave machine and lazy river. It’s an ideal place for a family get together but on the downside the cost of cabins in high and almost all the activities cost extra. You can read about it in this article;

New Year in the Forest at Longleat Center Parcs

Cornwall
At the start of the year I had a great weekend in Cornwall with friends at Treyarnon Youth Hostel. Despite it being February, the air was clear and the skies were blue and we blew away the cobwebs with walks along the cliff and the beach. The surfers were out too, bobbing like seals in the water. We visited the fishing village of Padstow and took the ferry across the estuary to discover a half buried chapel in the sand dunes. Cornwall is a couple of hours drive from my house, so it’s a favourite weekend destination for us, and I’d recommend it for beautiful beaches, great surfing and wild seascapes. Read about my weekend in these articles;

Bright skies and blue seas at Treyarnon in Cornwall
A visit to Padstow and a walk through the dunes to St Enodoc

Valencia
At the beginning of April I spent a few days with my family in Valencia, the third largest city in Spain. It’s similar in feel to Barcelona which is a little further along the coast, but with a more traditional, Spanish feel. This was one of my favourite trips of the year, partly because the city had a great combination of relaxation and sightseeing, and partly because we made a new local friend who recommended some things that we wouldn’t have found on our own. Read about some of the things I enjoyed most in Valencia;

The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
An evening out at La Utielana with Angel in Valencia
A cycle in the Turia Gardens in Valencia

Rome
Late April saw the generations coming together for a long weekend to Rome with my son and my parents. We stayed in a religious guest house near the Vatican and managed to cover most of the must-see sights such as St Peter’s Basilica, the Collisseum, Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain. I had mixed feelings about Rome as most places were very crowded and I felt in danger of being ripped off at every turn. I’d like to go back and enjoy some of the less touristy spots at a more relaxed pace, rather than ticking off a list of the obvious sites, but how can you go to Rome and not see the Colisseum? Here are some of my favourite articles from the trip;

The Market at Campo de’Fiori in Rome
The view from the dome of St Peter’s in Rome
The turtle fountain in Rome

Sardinia
Due to our trip to Ethiopia being postponed, I planned our August holiday in Sardinia at short notice, attracted by a combination of cheap flights, warm weather and the beautiful coastline. We stayed in a campsite bungalow in the resort of Cala Gonone then moved inland into the mountains for a few days at the end of the holiday. We enjoyed the swimming, snorkling and boat trips but after a while the children got bored, as it was too hot for many of the other activities such as bouldering or mountain-biking. I’d love to explore Sardnina more fully and would go in the spring or autumn with a hire car to tour and see all the different areas. Here are some of my favourite articles from the trip;

Sea caves and a boat trip in Sardinia
Swimming in rock pools near Gola Gorrupa in Sardinia
Bandits and Murals at Orgosolo in Sardinia

Greece
In October, we enjoyed some late-season sunshine on the Greek island of Zakynthos. As my sister has lived there for 20 years, I’ve been many times before, but this time I was able to write about the island on my blog. We always stay for a week, and hire a car for part of the time, so we can get around to some of the beautiful beaches and other sites. I made some new discoveries this year and although we experienced warm sunshine, the cyclamen and pruning of the olive trees signalled that autumn was on the way. Here are some of my favourite articles from the trip;

My top three beaches on Zakynthos
Sunday morning coffee and glika on Zakynthos
A tour of Romas Mansion on Zakynthos

In between the organised holidays, I’ve been out and about in my home patch of Bristol, in Richmond and London where my parents live and down to Devon to see friends. Here are some of my favourite articles from last year that bring back the things I saw on my days out;

A garden party at Buckingham palace
The View from Richmond Hill
Henry Moore at Kew Gardens
Castles and Cream teas at Dunster in Devon
Hunting the Ash-black slug on Dartmoor in Devon

The one that got away
My big disappointment was that we didn’t get to Ethiopia, where we have friends working for the next year or two. Unfortunately the dates just didn’t work out and at short notice I organised our summer holiday in Sardinia instead. I have high hopes that we’ll be able to get to Ethiopia this year instead, as our friends are now settled and keen to take us camping by the southern lakes (stay away from the hippos) and searching for the rare Abyssynian wolf. Read about my plans in this article;

Ethiopian Planning Game

When I tell people I write a travel blog, their next question is often ‘so do you travel a lot then?’. Having reviewed a year’s travel I’d have to say the answer appears to be yes (for someone who’s working with a family). And yet most of my family and friends travel just as much as I do, so I’m certainly not an exception. I’ve concluded that travel is a state of mind and my blog is a way of sharing and experiencing that travel to the full. So here’s to a Happy New Year of travelling and blogging in 2009 – I’ll be sharing my travel plans with you very soon.

More Sardinia articles to enjoy

A tour of the best beaches in Sardinia
Camping at Cala Gonone – in Sardinia
The Museum of Costume in Nuoro

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A visit to Padstow and a walk through the dunes to St Enodoc

On my recent weekend in Cornwall I visited Padstow, a typical Cornish fishing village. Let me clarify – I don’t mean typical in terms of a village that time forgot, but typical in terms of smart restaurants, art galleries and gift shops and the locals complaining about being priced out of the housing market.

Boats in Padstow harbour

Much of it’s down to the impact of Rick Stein, celebrity Cornish chef with a string of TV series under his belt and a number of culinary enterprises that dominate the foodie scene in Padstow. A few years ago I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at his flagship Seafood restaurant, admiring his art collection on the walls, but this time we had teenagers in tow, so it was the local chippie for us.

In August, Padstow is packed to bursting, and even on a February weekend it was buzzing, with fudge and ice cream shops for the children, some arty gift shops and boutiques to keep me happy and enough sunny benches for the menfolk to enjoy a pastie and a pint.

There’s a haunted Elizabethan manor house set above the town, or you can hire a bike from the car park and follow the Camel Trail along a disused railway line beside the beautiful Camel Estuary, as far as Wadebridge and beyond. On our visit however, we decided to take the ferry from the harbour that plies back and forth across the estuary to the holiday village of Rock.

Landing on the beach, we turned our back on Rock, so favoured by the smart, London crowd, setting our faces instead towards the estuary mouth. The broad beach would have been perfect for kite-flying but there was not enough wind. Instead we clambered through the sand dunes towards the St Enodoc golf course in search of the tiny church of St Enodoc that serves the parish of St Minver.

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The chapel dates back to the 12th century but until 1864 it was virtually buried by the dunes that surrounded it, and to hold a service the vicar and parishioners had to descend into the sanctuary through a hole in the roof. In the 19th century it was finally unearthed and the church restored.

Today you can find everything you might hope for in an old Cornish church but in miniature; the cut-down medieval rood screen, the mellow wooden pews and the memorials to those who died at sea.

The former poet Laureate John Betjeman had a holiday home at nearby Daymer and is buried here – he wrote this poem about the church.

If you’re looking for the Cornwall that time forgot, this is surely the place to find it – and not a bad place to be buried either.

Sunday Afternoon Service in St. Enodoc Church

Come on! Come on! This hillock hides the spire,
Now that one and now none. As winds about
The burnished path through lady’s-finger, thyme,
And bright varieties of saxifrage,
So grows the tinny tenor faint or loud
All all things draw toward St. Enodoc.
Come on! Come on! and it is five to three.
Still, Come on! come on!
The tinny tenor. Hover-flies remain
More than a moment on a ragwort bunch,
And people’s passing shadows don’t disturb
Red Admirals basking with their wings apart.
A mile of sunny, empty sand away,
A mile of shallow pools and lugworm casts.
Safe, faint and surfy, laps the lowest tide.

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You may also enjoy
Dinner at the Stag Inn at Rackenford in Devon
Castles and Cream Teas at Dunster in Devon
Hunting the Ash Black Slug on Dartmoor in Devon


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