By Brian White
Jim Kinney and Brian White.
Greetings from Cornwall! As if we haven’t been traveling a lot this winter with trips to San Miguel in January, Palm Beach in February, the South of France in March, D.C. in April, and Boca Grande and Philadelphia in May, we planned a two-week trip touring around a part of England we have never been to before. My partner, Jim Kinney, planned the entire trip and did an amazing job from start to finish.
We flew into Heathrow on the same British Air flight (the only way to go!) as our friends Katherine and Julian Harvey while they were on their way to their home in Antibes, which was a great start to our trip. While in London, we did have a chance to visit the Wallace Collection and Tate Modern in between some shopping at my favorite spots, including Turnbull & Asser, Smythson and Swaine Adeney Brigg before having dinner at Le Caprice, a favorite of ours. The next day was busy with shopping, seeing sights in London, the theater and finally catching the midnight overnight train to Penzance, which was a blast. I love the idea of traveling by train and the first class sleeper cabins were a treat.
The next morning after arriving, Jim quickly took charge of a rental car and started navigating around Penzance, heading south to n, a charming fishing village on our way to Mousehole, which was the picture-perfect seaside village with the expected art galleries, tea shops and B&Bs. We then headed to Porthcurno for the beautiful beach and outdoor Minack Theatre.
This was followed by Land’s End, the southernmost part of England, and after finding it a tad touristy, escaped in time to make it to the surfing capitol of Britain, Sennen Cove, where he had a classic fish and chips for lunch.
The next day, we headed north from Falmouth to visit the Eden Project, which was a huge undertaking that replaced an old clay quarry with two biomes bringing plants from all over the world into a simulated natural habitat. We then visited Trewithen House and Gardens, which has highly recommended by our friend Steven Bridges, the British Consul General in Chicago, and one of his favorite places to see in Cornwall.
The house is still occupied by the Galsworthy family, descendants of the original owner Philip Hawkins, and it was a gorgeous Georgian house with magnificent gardens.
After having a Cream Tea (tea served with scones and the most wonderful Cornish clotted cream), we raced over to see the Lost Gardens of Heligan outside of Mevagissey, which was a long forgotten garden, totally lost and overgrown due to time, war and fate. It was a garden restoration at its best, and we were glad to have made it in just before closing time! We then headed back to Fowey Hall, our accommodations for a wonderful dinner of native asparagus for a starter and fresh turbot, and I have to say the fresh fish, crab and lobster throughout the trip were really fabulous.
The following day, we headed to Plymouth, just across the border out of Cornwall, since both Jim and I have Mayflower ancestors (I have a total of eight, including Chilton, Bradford, Brewster and Warren), and it was great fun visiting the Mayflower Museum and seeing the harbor filled with sailboats, imagining what it must have been like back in 1620 when the Mayflower set sail.
After a boat tour around Plymouth Harbor, we had a wonderful lunch at the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club before seeing the Citadel, the lighthouse and the Hoe where Sir Francis Drake famously finished his game of bowls before going out to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588.
We then headed to St. Ives for a couple of days to relax on the beach, wander around the charming village and take a boat trip to Seal Island. We then finished the evening with a late dinner at St. Andrew’s Bistro, which was wonderful.
After a few days, we got up at 5 .am. to catch a small plane (8 to 12 people) from Land’s End to get to The Isles of Scilly, where we planned to relax for some of our final days of the trip. We checked into Tregarthen’s Hotel after a 20-minute flight to St. Mary’s Island and immediately headed to the beach. We then had a great lunch at Juliet’s Garden, followed by a nice three-hour walk around the island, where I spent time gathering up a huge bouquet of wild flowers to take back to our room.
Funny enough, on our last day checking out and gathering our luggage, we noticed my huge bouquet of flowers prominently displayed in the lobby of the hotel! Dinner our first evening was actually back at Juliet’s Garden, since the lunch was so good, where we both had the Lobster Thermidor and my new addiction of sticky toffee pudding with fresh Cornish clotted cream. The next morning, after our typical full English breakfast, we took a two-hour boat touring around the islands bird-watching. We even saw the famed puffins along with lots of razorbills, cormorants, shags, tons of gulls and a few gannets. We then met up with our guides and went horseback riding around the island, which was really one of the highlights of the trip.
You could see just over the hedges, and it really gave you a great perspective of the island while riding around, even going along the beach and taking the horses into the water to cool off a bit. On one of our evening boat trips to a nearby St. Agnes for dinner,
I caught this picture of a sailboat in the distance, which I thought was really beautiful while watching the island gig races. One of the things that was so noticeably different was how severe the tides come in and out. Our last day in The Scilly Isles was spent going to the island of Tresco to visit the fabulous botanic gardens, and another highlight of the trip was a marvelous lunch at The Ruins Café, followed by a couple of hours sunbathing right on the beach in front of the cafe — just gorgeous weather and so peaceful collecting shells and relaxing.
We then caught a boat back to St. Mary’s, collected our luggage, got to the airport for our flight back to Land’s End and drove back to Penzance for the night until taking the train back to London the next morning with our final two nights in London.
After some more shopping and museum hopping in London, we found a fantastic little restaurant called The Summer House in the heart of what is called “Little Venice,” a place in London I had never heard of before. We again had lobster, some Pimm’s and some great champagne. Our final day, we ended up going to the theater and seeing a fantastic play called The Spoils that was written by and starring Jessie Eisenberg (from The Social Network among other movies)
All in all, this was such a beautiful trip, and we loved visiting a part of England that neither of us had ever been to before. We highly recommend it and hope you get a chance to visit there someday, too.