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07 October 2015

A Cornish Birthday: St. Ives

This year, my birthday landed on a bank holiday weekend (aka a British excuse to not go to work or school). This meant that every living creature in this country also decided it was time to go play on a Cornish beach. 

While this usually takes some of the joy out of a vacation, somehow the buzz of excitement in the air of St. Ives only made the places seem more charming and quaint and whimsical.
After our somewhat abysmal hotel stay from the night before (they gave us the wrong time for breakfast and we didn't even have a shower curtain!), we were ready to head farther south as soon as possible. When we made it down to St. Ives, it seems everyone had already beaten us to it. We parked on top of a very tall hill, which we had to climb down to reach Portmeor beach. 

Strangely, for so many cars, very few people seemed to be there. We splashed around in tide pools and found little treasures and just sat in the sand and read. It was lovely.

There is a little cafe right out on the beach that was delicious. 

Finally, once we'd had enough of the sand and water, we took a turn through town. St. Ives is this pristine little sea village that is dripping with charm.  From the little shops selling pasties to the candy-striped awnings, everything felt fairytale perfect. We meandered though the little streets, got ice cream and finally popped out on the other side of the peninsula. 

This bit was significantly busier (we'd found all the people!). We were still at low tide so all the boats and been beached in the bay. They were all just out there waiting patiently for the tide to come back in.

After St. Ives we went out in the countryside (battling more hedges) to find Men-an-Tol, a bronze-era holy stone. Jon was less than enthused, especially when he found out he'd have to walk up a mile trail to find it. 

But I like rocks, so off we went. 

There are lots of fun legends around the stone, especially with fairies and folklore. One says that a mother put her changling baby through the hole in order to get real baby back. For many years the stone was used to cure children of rickets. My favourite says that if a woman goes out the rock at the full moon and climbs through it backwards seven times, she'll get pregnant. 

I'm not quite that desperate yet.

We meandered around the Cornish coast, visiting little towns like this one, called Mousehole. Everyone was so friendly and kind, we couldn't have felt more welcome. 

Finally we got our hotel then popped into Penzance to go to dinner. It seems that most the people had gone to St. Ives, as every place else was quiet and peaceful. 

After dinner we drove out to see St. Michaels Mount, which is a little island with a castle and church on it that you can walk out to at low tide (there is a causeway that is covered up at high tide).  As we drove back to our hotel, we had this glorious site in front of us almost the whole way. 

We drove out to the western most point we could find and watched the sun die out. The clouds looked like there was a whole other city just out on the horizon, which felt crazy because we knew there wasn't any more land for thousands of miles. It felt a bit like we were on the edge of the world. 

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