A long weekend in Cornwall

Cornwall is roughly 5 hours drive from London so it’s as far as Italy for us. In late June, despite the weather being generally nice, it was surprisingly chilly on some days. Think jeans and thick windbreaker rather than shorts and tees. Cornwall is relatively big geographically for a 4-day weekend but we managed to visit a number of seaside villages.

We first hit Looe, a small fishing village on the coast with cobblestone alleyways, independent shops and cute cafes. A population of around 5,000 people gives you a sense of how tiny the village is. Interestingly, its population is also older than the national average (which was the sense we got in many Cornish villages). We had lunch in Daisy’s Cafe, a tiny cafe with few tables and decorations such as polka dots tablescloths, colourful crockery and signs like “sprinkles are for cakes” in the washroom. We shared scrambled eggs on toast. Overall, food was very delicious with generous portions. Only fault was that the coffee was too milky for our tastes.

Looe, Cornwall - A short stroll uphill from the Daisy's Cafe brought us to this vantage point.

Looe, Cornwall – A short stroll uphill from the Daisy’s Cafe brought us to this vantage point.

The next village we visited was Polperro, another coastal village which felt even smaller than Looe. It has a fishing port and we spent a good part of the afternoon sitting at the harbour watching kids play in the water. The day we went happened to be the congregation of the new mayor, with seemingly the entire village out celebrating. Shops closed, signs such as “closing early for new mayor’s announcement” and “find me across the street” suggest that there is a great sense of community in this village.

One of the many lovely cafes which line the narrow streets in Polperro.

One of the many lovely cafes which line the narrow streets in Polperro.

The pier where we simply sat and watched kids play in the chilly water.

The pier where we simply sat and watched kids play in the chilly water.

Further south, we visited Padstow, a touristy seaside town made famous by chefs like Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw. Padstow had a very special seaside vibe; turquoise water, fresh ice cream, seagulls everywhere and people dining alfresco (which, to mention, we couldn’t resist indulging in ourselves) were all features adding to it. Although we don’t usually have much desserts, we couldn’t resist ice cream flavours such as “peanut butter and chocolate crunch” and “blackberry and apple crumble”. After a 25km cycle from Wadebridge to Padstow and return, I was pretty shattered by the last 8km. Ice cream and cream tea never come easy.

The harbour in Padstow was filled with cafes, souvenir shops and ice cream parlours.

The harbour in Padstow was filled with cafes, souvenir shops and ice cream parlours.

The next seaside place we visited was St Ives, a popular holiday resort town consistently ranked as the best UK seaside town. There are several beaches here famous for surfing and and it was a gorgeous view to take lunch by the beach, at the Porthmeor Cafe, with fresh crab sandwiches and steaming mussels. St Ives was by far the busiest town, as proved by the difficulty in finding parking. Not to mention that driving through the narrow streets was a bit of a challenge.

We walked across the beach and climbed up to this viewpoint in St Ives.

We walked across the beach and climbed up to this viewpoint in St Ives.

After a scenic drive from St Ives to Zennor…

Scenery en route St Ives to Zennor.

Scenery en route St Ives to Zennor.

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall.

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall.

We arrived at Marazion to see St Michael’s Mount, a giant castle in the middle of an island. The castle has been owned by the St Aubyn family since approximately 1650 and today it is managed by the National Trust. At low tide, it is possible to walk from the mainland to the castle. It wasn’t possible for us to walk through so we just hung out on the rocks and watched this amazing castle with the ocean in the backdrop. And attempted to take photos on rocky surfaces without a tripod.

Someone's declaration of love!

Someone’s declaration of love!

Our final stop took us onboard a small fishing boat,  the (superb) Emma Kate II, for mackerel fishing. We set off from Padstow where our captain, Lee, was extremely knowledgeable in taking us to the hottest spots off the Cornish coast! We weren’t to be disappointed as within minutes we had hit multiple shoals of mackerel. Our (hardly) efforts were rewarded when we returned home and cooked up a delicious meal of grilled mackerel. Straight from the treasures within Cornwall.

Fresh mackerels caught off the Cornish coast. It may not look very appealing in a plastic bag but rest assured it was very fresh and tasty!

Fresh mackerels caught off the Cornish coast. It may not look very appealing in a plastic bag but rest assured it was very fresh and tasty!

Into Thin Air – Paragliding in Bled

I am not an adrenaline junkie. I’ve never seen the thrill in bungee jumping or skydiving. For what, so you can get bragging rights? Yet I really wanted to try paragliding. It seemed to be as close to flying as I could get in this lifetime.

Bled is a beautiful place to go paragliding. The morning we went, it was extremely foggy and at one point, it was uncertain whether we can continue as the fog did not seem to clear. Although this was something I’ve always wanted to try, there was one moment while we were standing at elevation 1220m overlooking the fields far below that I thought “maybe it’s for the better that we cannot fly today”. Suddenly, as if answering my thoughts, the skies cleared. The instructors immediately started preparing the gears and equipment. “Who wants to go first?”

Nobody answered in our group of four. Somehow I ended up going first. I casually asked the instructor how long he has been flying for, trying to judge if I was in safe hands. Thank goodness he has been flying for more than 20 years. I am supposed to run as fast as I can downhill towards the edge of the cliff and keep running until we’re up in the air. “I am a bit scared,” I admitted.

“Your guy is more scared than you,” the instructor replied. It made me laugh and calmed my nerves a little.

Soon we were off. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing except I was running and suddenly there was no ground beneath me anymore. I slipped back into the seat made by my backpack. It was freezing cold and my fingers were numb. Once we slipped into and out of the fog, we could see the lush green fields and mountains in Lesce. It was an aerial view of very uniform fields with various shades of green. Looking back into the direction of where we launched ourselves into thin air, I see other parachutes in the sky. Looking in front, I could see the horizon. It was an absolutely amazing feeling to float peacefully through the sky. There is nothing quite like it.

Definitely one for the bucket list!

It was very foggy while we were waiting to run off the edge of the cliff.

It was very foggy while we were waiting to run off the edge of the cliff.

And we're off!

And we’re off!

An easy and gentle landing.

An easy and gentle landing.