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Meet artist Jo Downs

Jo Downs’ handcrafted glasswork of echoes the beauty and hues of Cornwall’s landscapes and reflects her passion for the coastline.

Imagine a lifestyle entrenched in the beauty of Cornwall’s spectacular coast. Well, for designer Jo Downs, that’s what the daily grind is all about – as she captures the light, colour and detail of this county in her beautiful, handcrafted glasswork. We meet Jo at her Launceston studio to discuss her endless creativity, and 25 years of dedication to her craft.

fish installation

TRUE PASSION

I never doubted I’d be an artist. From childhood I sketched, and drew, and had plans to be a potter. But glass, it seems, had other plans for me. I first tried fusing glass at university, and the glorious lump of colour I created got me totally hooked. I couldn’t get over the brilliance and beauty of it. A whole world of creativity opened up to me right then, and I’ve honestly never looked back.”

BIG IDEAS

I started my career at the deep end, designing large scale installations for hotels and cruise liners. Creatively, it was thrilling, but technically it was very demanding and really taught me the art of perfecting fused glass. Big ideas are no good if you can’t make them a reality for your client. You need to perfect the skill and understand the science that brings the beauty out in fused glass. It’s such a unique material.”

art installation and table

MY INSPIRATION

I came to Cornwall in 2001 and it totally changed my life. The visual inspiration here is endless, and it’s something I’ve poured it into my work ever since. I walk and run on the coast, and my home looks out over the sea, so I’m surrounded by the details and textures of Cornwall every day. Anyone who loves my work loves Cornwall – their passion is the same as mine – and it’s a passion I really love sharing.”

MY GALLERIES

I opened the first Jo Downs Gallery in Padstow in 2005, and now have galleries in St Ives, Fowey, Tintagel, and Launceston (and also one in Surrey). They’ve become a real icon of the Cornish high street, with window displays that showcase all the dazzling colours of the coast, and I’m so proud of that. They’ve allowed me to showcase my large-scale work, and a range of smaller ‘take home’ pieces that celebrate the beauty of Cornwall.”

fish art

MY STUDIO

My studio is my sanctuary. It’s state of the art – not like thefirst little kiln I had in my bedroom when I was a student – and that luxury allows me to really push the boundaries of what’s possible in fused glass. My work is about capturing beauty in glass, and my studio is the perfect space to think, to draw, and to test out ideas in the kiln, with the radio on and my Jack Russell, Izzy, by my side.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

I’ve designed lots of collections, but of course I have my favourites. ‘Cornish Pilchards’ is the most recognised and perhaps the best-loved of my designs, and celebrates its 10th anniversary this year! And my wall-mounted Shoaling Fish and Leaf collections were a real game changer for me, and have led to so many wonderful spin offs and bespoke designs, including a stunning range of chandeliers.”

table set with cakes

ONE TO ONE

Creating bespoke work is my favourite thing to do. It’s a special thing to design a one-off commission for a unique space. People express their individuality through their design choices, and a commissioned piece is the ultimate example of that. If I can spin my client’s aspirations into a spectacular glass installation or artwork, I will, and if somebody says it’s not possible, I’ll have tons of fun proving it is!”

jodowns.com

Images from an installation at Dragon House, Mawgan Porth.

#beherelater

After two weeks of reflection, worry and uncertainty, being humbled by the work of doctors, nurses and key workers, adjusting to the new norm, and contemplating what’s really important in our lives, we’ve turned our blog over to the Beach Retreats team, now working from home.

We asked them to share their exercise route from the weekend, be it walk, run or cycle.  No beach BBQs, no meeting up with friends, just a snapshot from their course while practising social distancing.

We hope you are all staying safe and we will see you in Cornwall some time soon. #beherelater

Porth and Lusty Glaze

This is Lusty Glaze beach perfectly framed by steep cliffs and the rolling surf, between Newquay and Porth beach. This area is close to Newquay centre, and home to some spectacular coastal views and beaches.

Lusty Glaze looking eastwards towards Watergate Bay

lusty glaze coast line

Porth beach

Fistral and Pentire

On the other side of Newquay centre sits Fistral beach and the Pentire headland. Little Fistral is a hidden gem at the end of the beach.

little fistral

From Pentire, Crantock beach sits across the Gannel estuary.

And for an early morning run, this is sunrise over Fistral beach.

fistral sunset

Mawgan Porth

A few miles along the coast Mawgan Porth remains one of Cornwall’s hidden gems.

the path

Mawgan Porth beach

Mawgan Porth beach

Trerice

It’s not just about the beaches though.  This is the view from Trerice House towards Newquay.

view of fields and trees

Stay safe and we hope to see you soon in Cornwall. #beherelater

Carbis Bay to Porthkidney Sands circular walk

Just a 5 minute walk from 4 Godrevy Court and 4 Seas Reach is Carbis Bay. Often described as the Caribbean with its white sand and turquoise water, this large sheltered beach boasts calm bathing waters, flanked either side by green woodland.

Awarded its Blue Flag status year after year due to its clean water conditions, Carbis Bay is the perfect base for families and water sport enthusiasts.

Below we walk you through our Carbis Bay to Porthkidney circular walk via the South West Coast Path. This particular route needs a low tide at the start of your journey.

beach with blue sky

Start your ramble by making your way down the steps in front of Carbis Bay Hotel towards the beach. The beach itself has a shop for a quick bite to eat or an ice cream, with restaurants nearby inside the hotel. Here you’ll often see the train passing by, voted as one of the UK’s most scenic routes.

picture of beach with blue sky

Walk barefoot along the shoreline and you’ll soon spot Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance. Now a famous lighthouse because of Virginia Woolfe’s novel ‘To the Lighthouse’, the white 26-metre octagonal tower is located 3 miles out to sea at West Cornwall’s St Ives Bay.

picture of beach with blue sky

The long stretch of golden sand at Porthkidney can be reached around the above rocky point from Carbis Bay at low tide, but be aware that the tide comes in very quickly, and strong currents make the water unsuitable for bathing near the estuary.

Porthkidney’s large expanse of sand is perfect for kite flying, ball games and letting the kids tire themselves out. Even in the height of summer there is room for everyone.

When you spot where the Hayle Estuary meets the sea, you’ll find some steps to the right leading you up to the South West Coast Path towards the rail line.

picture of beach with blue sky

Take to the path and begin your walk back, at a higher level offering spectacular views like this one.

picture of beach with blue sky

The stretch of Porthkidney is backed by a large area of dunes, dune grassland and dune scrub, exhibiting a wide range of unusual wildflowers.

picture of beach with blue sky

Follow the wooden posts with a yellow arrow, to keep on the South West Coast Path. Below was our favourite part of the walk and a real Instagram worthy moment. As the tide begins to flow back in, take a moment, rest a while and listen to the sound of the ocean.

picture of beach with blue sky

We take this walk in March, where the wild yellow gorse flowers are out in full. Depending on the time of year, here you’ll spot, sea pinks, bluebells and even the odd daffodil.

picture of beach with blue sky

We’re nearly back at Carbis Bay, where the water is a glistening turquoise. There are often benches along the way for you to take a moment and enjoy the breathtaking ocean views.

picture of beach with blue sky

You’ll now spot St Ives in the distance, known for its stunning beaches, art scene and foodie hot spots. When staying in one of our Carbis Bay self-catering properties, you can walk the coast path for 30 minutes in the opposite direction to St Ives, or take the 5 minute train ride.

picture of beach with blue sky

Known as one of the UKs most scenic rail journeys, we urge guests to experience this in full from St Erth to St Ives. The train comes every 20 minutes in peak season, with the last train returning at 10pm.

Hop off at the end of the line at Porthminster Beach, where you’ll see a large sandy bay backed by a wooded valley, with all the beach amenities you and your family will need.

picture of beach with blue sky

That’s it for the Carbis Bay to Porthkidney circular walk. Once you tick off this one, visit The South West Coast Path and to planning your next ramble along the coast.

Search Carbis Bay Self-catering Holidays with Beach Retreats. 

Spring Gardens in Cornwall

Cornwall is home to an abundance of garden wonderlands thriving with sub-tropical species – and spring is a great season to explore them. Picnic in carpets of bluebells, tunnel through bamboo jungles, and play hide and seek in magical woodlands. These are our top six spring gardens in Cornwall.

Trebah Garden, Mawnan Smith

This sub-tropical garden tumbling down to the banks of the Helford River is one of our favourite destinations for a family day out – and dogs can come, too. Wend your way through magnolias and rhododendrons bursting into bloom, tunnel through bamboo jungles and giant gunnera, and emerge on a divine sandy beach where you can order a mug of tea from the Boathouse Café and skim pebbles to your heart’s content.

More info: Open daily from 10:00. Dogs welcome.
trebahgarden.co.uk

 

Trelissick, Feock

Whether it’s still cool and blustery, or a blue-sky day with wall-to-wall sunshine, Trelissick’s stunning 300-acre estate is the perfect place for a springtime excursion. Wander through woodland along the banks of the River Fal, climb magnificent beech trees and explore the gardens, then take afternoon tea in the cobbled courtyard, where you can nose around the gallery and second-hand bookshop. Ramp up the adventure by arriving by ferry from Falmouth or Truro, or why not hop aboard the King Harry Ferry and head on to explore the verdant Roseland Peninsula?

More info: Open daily from. Dogs welcome on the woodland trails, but not in the gardens.
nationaltrust.org.uk/trelissick

St Michael’s Mount, Marazion

Once home of a legendary giant, part of a pilgrimage route and an all-round enchanting spot to castaway to a fairy-tale castle, St Michael’s Mount is also home to stunning terraced gardens, where exotic plants cling to steep granite cliffs. Stand high in the castle turrets and look down upon stonework and lawns bursting with colour, or follow the trails through flower-lined paths beaten by the salty breeze. More info: The gardens are open from April to September; there are I Spy cards for children, and tours are available.

stmichaelsmount.co.uk

 

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Austell

As we step into springtime, these ancient woodlands, water meadows and productive gardens burst into colour and scent. Daffodils and snowdrops line the paths, beneath tree ferns, banana palms and gigantic rhubarb plants. This historic sleeping beauty was re-awakened from the brambles in 1990 and is now Europe’s largest garden restoration project, with family-friendly trails, farm animals, adventure play areas and secret hides where you can spy on the wildlife.

More info: Open daily, except Christmas day.
heligan.com

 

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, nr Penzance

Squirrelled away in a lush landscape close to Mounts Bay, art and nature merge seamlessly at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. Climb trees, wander through woodland, and nature’s wonderland through a series of art installations including a camera obscura and a series of contemporary sculptures including a Minotaur and a brick throne overlooking St Michael’s Mount. Amongst a series of exhibitions and creative workshops held in the grounds and gallery, this spring you can catch Cousin Jack’s Theatre Company’s performance of Percy Pengelly and the Wibble Wobble. What with a kitchen serving scrumptious seasonal delights, a gift shop and nursery, it makes a great day out for the whole family.

More info: Open daily from February.
tremenheere.co.uk

Lanhydrock, nr Bodmin

One of the most magical times of year to visit Lanhydrock is during spring, when the woodlands of this sprawling country estate are carpeted with bluebells. Explore a labyrinth of footpaths winding through 900-acres of countryside, along the banks of burbling stream and into landscaped gardens where the rhododendrons and magnolias are coming into flower. Step into history in the Victorian manor house, take part in a range of family activities and freewheel along the bike trails – from easy-going family routes to demanding woodland tracks.

More info: Open daily – see website for times and details.
nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock

Lanhydrock castle

 Photo credit: Janine Forbes

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Things to do in Cornwall During February Half Term

10 Things to do in the Great Outdoors for February Half Term

February half term is a fantastic time for a break in Cornwall. And while there are plenty of indoor attractions – from the Eden Project to the Blue Reef Aquarium – we prefer to immerse ourselves in nature, embrace the elements and be outside. Here are our top ten outdoor activities for February…

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Hit the Surf

children surfing

During winter the waves are more consistent and powerful, yet there are less surfers in the water – making it the perfect season to increase your wave count and work on your technique. Get lessons from the Extreme Academy in Watergate Bay, where the instructors promise to keep you as toasty during winter as they do during summer surf sessions. Using high-tech wetsuits, gloves, booties and hoods, you’ll barely even notice the cold air and water temperatures, so with expert tuition and no crowds to contend with, you’ll be riding waves like a pro in no time at all.

extremeacademy.co.uk/

Don your wellies and go down to the woods

For all-weather walking and biking trails, den building, a wildlife pond and plenty of trees to climb, head to Tehidy Woods. Whether you’re looking for an energetic stomp, a romantic stroll, or a family ramble, it’s a magical location come rain or shine. Follow the buggy-friendly routes, feed the squirrels and ducks, and tuck into cake and hearty Cornish food in the café. Dogs are welcome in much of the estate, except in the designated wildlife area.

Get moving on a Park Run

Get active on a 5km run in the stunning surroundings of Cornwall’s parkland. Join hundreds of other runners – and walkers – to kick-off the weekend on a fun run for all abilities and ages. Starting at 9am each Saturday, locations include the Penrose Estate (near Porthleven and Loe Bar), Trelissick (hemming the River Fal), Lanhydrock (close to Bodmin), the Eden Project, Heartlands and Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. There are also junior 2km events at some venues.

parkrun.org.uk

Follow the clues along a Treasure Trail

Who doesn’t love solving a mystery or searching for clues along a treasure trail? From a murder mystery trail through historic Hayle, to a secret spy mission in Mousehole, or hunting for buried treasure in Charlestown, there are lots of self-guided Treasure Trails that will take you under the skin of Cornwall’s heritage and landscapes. Simply choose your location, download your map and follow the clues – it’s a fun day out for the whole family.

treasuretrails.co.uk/things-to-do/cornwall

Slide down giant sand dunes

Six miles south of Newquay’s buzzing surf hub, Holywell Bay is the perfect setting for an active day in the Great Outdoors. Having scored a starring role in the BBC’s recent Poldark hit, its breath-taking beauty needs little introduction – with the iconic twin peaks of Gull Rock and towering sand dunes. We love exploring the sea caves and collecting shells, but our favourite thing to do is strap a sandboard to our feet and slide down the giant dunes as if we’re surfing a huge wave or snowboarding.

Encounter seals and sea life

Over winter there are large numbers of grey seal pups found stranded on the Cornish coast, unable to make it back into the wild due to injury or malnourishment. The Sea Life Trust offers a sanctuary for rehabilitation, nursing the seal pups until they are ready to head back into the ocean. On a visit to this picturesque setting on the edge of the Helford, you can see rescued seals dipping and diving their way to recovery, learn all about grey seals and other species, and encounter lots of marine wildlife including sea lions, otters, penguins, crabs and starfish.

visitsealife.com/gweek

Hike along the South West Coast Path

walking the coast path

There’s nothing like a coastal walk to blow the cobwebs away and clap your eyes on Cornwall’s staggering scenery. Wherever you’re staying, you can pick a section of the South West Coast Path to suit your timescale and energy levels. For an easy-going two-hour stroll, wend through the woodland from Cawsand and trace the cliff path to the remains of the chapel perched on Rame Head. If you’re up for a challenge, some of the toughest sections of coastline await on the northern fringes of the Atlantic coast between Bude and Morwenstow, where calf-busting climbs etch the rise and fall of dramatic cliffs that collapse onto rocky beaches.

southwestcoastpath.org.uk

Get your skates on

While ice skating at the Eden Project isn’t entirely alfresco, we really recommend you visit this world famous attraction for a twirl around the ice rink before it melts on 23 February. While you’re there enjoy lots of outdoor attractions including gardens and a mini beast play tower. Throughout February half term you can explore the incredible world of colour, with craft workshops, a colour trail around the biomes, and get hands on with the creation of a giant collaborative art installation. If you need any more fresh air, fly half a mile along the SkyWire and take in the biomes from 100m above.

edenproject.com

Freewheel along the cycle trails

One of Cornwall’s most popular cycle routes is the Camel Trail, and February is one of the best months to enjoy it crowd-free. We love the easy section along estuary from Wadebridge to Padstow, stopping for fish and chips by the harbour of this foodie town. Our other favourite for off-road cycling is Lanhydrock, where a series of bike trails and skills areas are graded for all abilities. Plus, you can fuel up in the National Trust café, and take a twirl of the grand Victorian manor house on the sprawling country estate.

nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock

Drop in on your skateboard

If you can’t face the freeze of the ocean’s waves in February, head to the world-class concrete waves of Newquay’s revolutionary new skate park. Cruise around the retro pool, race along the street run, get air on the stairs and drop into the bowl. Making skating fun for all ages and levels of board riders, this is the place to head for guaranteed waves. And if when you’ve had enough of board life, it’s located right next to Newquay Zoo, the Trampoline and Play Park, and Waterworld swimming centre.

Find a retreat in one of our beach locations, and look out for special offers for your February half term stay.

What's on in Cornwall 2020

Get the low down on our favourite events in Cornwall…

World Pasty Championships, Eden Project, St Austell, 29 February

Celebrate the traditional Cornish pasty recipe, as well as some more unusual varieties. From the Americas to Australia, pasties derived from recipes passed down by Cornish emigrants over centuries, eaten and enjoyed by many millions of people around the world.

edenproject.com

Mexican Friday The Beach Hut, Watergate Bay 20 March

Feast on a two-course meze with dessert as you watch the Atlantic waves crash beneath you.

watergatebay.co.uk/gather/events

 

Cornwall Spring Flower Show Royal Cornwall Showground, 4-5 April

Explore flower displays and over 120 horticultural trade stands, with various activities to keep young ones entertained.

cornwallgardensociety.org.uk

 

Boscastle Walking Week, 19-24

April Enjoy a week of walking the Cornish coast and countryside with local guides in one of Cornwall’s most spectacularly scenic areas.

visitcornwall.com

 

Obby Oss Padstow, 1 May

Padstow at its best and good old Cornish culture by the bucket-load. Watch the Obby Oss make their way through the town.

visitcornwall.com

 

Tunes in the Dunes, Perranporth, 1-3 May

Set on the beautiful golden sands of Perranporth beach, experience live music with a backdrop of scenic cliffs and sand dunes.

tunesinthedunes.co.uk

 

English Nationals surf competition Watergate Bay, 1-3  May

The English Nationals surf competition returns to Watergate Bay for 2020. Spectators are welcome to watch the competitors battle it out for national titles.

watergatebay.co.uk/gather/event

 

Fal River Festival Falmouth, 22-31 May

A 10-day festival with something for everyone. From music, drama, arts and heritage, to gig racing, swimming, walking and more.

falriver.co.uk

 

The Great Estate Festival Scorrier, 29-31 May

The most rambunctious Garden Fête! Expect major international The most rambunctious Garden Fête! Expect major international headline acts, a mix of comedy, theatre, music and the arts, all within the headline acts, a mix of comedy, theatre, music and the arts, all within the beautiful grounds of Scorrier Estate. Look out for the vintage fairground, beautiful grounds of Scorrier Estate. Look out for the vintage fairground, woodland silent disco, secret gin garden and more. woodland silent disco, secret gin garden and more.

greatestatefestival.co.uk

 

Royal Cornwall Show Wadebridge, 4-6 June

The county’s biggest annual event filled to the brim with exhibits, activities, competitions, food and drink, and shopping.

royalcornwallshow.org

 

Lusty Glaze Sundowner Sessions,weekly from 17 June

For endless evenings, relaxation and music, head to Lusty Glaze for weekly music sessions within a picturesque oceanfront setting.

lustyglaze.co.uk/sundowner-sessions

 

Golowan Festival Penzance, 19-28 June

Enjoy a packed programme of artists in celebration of music, performing arts and theatre. Events include a fireworks display on the prom, Mazey Day and spectacular parades through the streets.

golowanfestival.org

 

Lobster Friday The Beach Hut, Watergate Bay, 26 June

How does a four-course lobster feast sound to you? Let The Beach Hut take you on a tour of the lobster; a night to celebrate the king crustacean in all its delectable glory.

watergatebay.co.uk/gather/events

 

Mevagissey Feast Week, 28 June-4 July

The week-long event features exhibitions, demonstrations, live music and lots of fish dishes to eat.

mevagisseyfeastweek.org.uk

 

Lafrowda Festival St Just, 3-18 July

From hip hop to harmony, folk to funk, there are hours of free entertainment to suit every taste, alongwith street performers, stalls, refreshments, bouncy castles and, of course, spectacular processions.

visitcornwall.com

 

Rock 2 Rock, Let’s Rock Watergate Bay, 18 July

Join visitors and locals alike at Watergate Bay’s music festival and sunset beach (2km or 5km) run. The night finishes off with fireworks.

rock2rockletsrock.co.uk

 

St Endellion Summer Music Festival Near Port Isaac, 28 July-8 August

See the beautiful church of St Endellion become a concert venue for some of the most prestigious soloists and musicians in the UK.

visitcornwall.com

 

Charlestown Regatta Week, Charlestown, 1-7 August

Regatta week is an annual tradition bringing together the local community and visitors alike to enjoy a variety of live music, competitions, pasty demonstrations, craft stalls, raft races and more.

visitcornwall.com

 

Boardmasters Watergate Bay and Fistral beach, 5-9 August

This world-famous surf and music festival is one of the coolest dates in This world-famous surf and music festival is one of the coolest dates in the Cornish festival calendar. By day international surf pros battle it out the Cornish festival calendar. By day international surf pros battle it out to be king of the waves, while in the evening big-name bands hit the to be king of the waves, while in the evening big-name bands hit the stages overlooking Watergate Bay. stages overlooking Watergate Bay.

boardmasters.com

 

Bude Carnival, 15 August

Expect dance displays, live music, stalls, fancy dress, awards and of course the main event of the procession itself.

budecarnival.org.uk

 

Bude Jazz Festival, 1-5 September

Putting a swing in the step of the town each year, the lively four day Bude Jazz Festival features a great bill of both local and national jazz musicians.

visitbude.info

 

Newquay Fish Festival, 18-20 September

Any trip to Newquay should include a seafood feast and trip to the historic harbour to Any trip to Newquay should include a seafood feast and trip to the historic harbour to see the fishermen landing fresh catch. If you’re here in September, celebrate the area’s see the fishermen landing fresh catch. If you’re here in September, celebrate the area’s fishing heritage and enjoy street bands, seafood cooking demos and, of course, plenty fishing heritage and enjoy street bands, seafood cooking demos and, of course, plenty of fresh fish dishes to sample. of fresh fish dishes to sample.

newquayfishfestival.co.uk

 

St Ives Food Festival, 12-26 September

See top chefs from Cornwall and beyond demonstrating mouthwatering dishes in the Chef’s Theatre, or head to the beach for street food, music and family fun.

stivesfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk

 

Speed Hillclimb Watergate Bay, 19-20 September

Now in its third year, Cornwall’s only motorsport event on a closed public road. Watch over 100 cars race 850 metres up the hill towards Newquay.

watergatebayhillclimb.co.uk

 

Cracking Crab at The Beach Hut, Watergate Bay, 25 September

Three-course celebration of the crab. Grab a drink, gather around the fire, and soak up the live music while chefs demo how to tackle a succulent feast of brown crab.

watergatebay.co.uk/gather/events

 

BSUPA British Standup Paddleboarding Championships Watergate Bay, 26-27 September

The British Stand Up Paddle Association National Championships return to the Bay.

watergatebay.co.uk/gather/events

 

Falmouth Oyster Festival, 8-11 October

The annual festivities celebrate the start of the oyster dredging season, the native Fal Oyster and the diversity of Cornish seafood, with four days of feasting, cooking demos, live music, food and craft stalls.

falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk

 

Bonfire night displays around Cornwall 5 November

Watch a colourful fireworks display from a Cornish clifftop on various nights throughout Bonfire week.

 

City of Lights Truro, November

Watch the breathtaking parade of lanterns in Cornwall’s city. Every year, large-scale lanterns tell a different story, set to the beat of percussion, music and dance.

cityoflights.org.uk

 

Mousehole Christmas Lights, December

See the twinkling lights at Mousehole Harbour throughout the festive season. The harbour will be illuminated by pretty displays in the water and on old fishermens cottages.

mouseholelights.org.uk

 

Padstow Christmas Festival, 2-6 December

Lit up by fairy lights on the edge of Lit up by fairy lights on the edge of Padstow’s pretty harbour, Padstow’s Padstow’s pretty harbour, Padstow’s Christmas Festival is a veritable Christmas Festival is a veritable Christmassy outing for the whole family. Christmassy outing for the whole family. Not only can you get your hands on Not only can you get your hands on Cornwall’s finest artisan foodstuffs and Cornwall’s finest artisan foodstuffs and witness chef demos from the region’s witness chef demos from the region’s greats such as Stein, Outlaw and greats such as Stein, Outlaw and Ainsworth, you can blitz your Christmas shopping at stalls showcasing Ainsworth, you can blitz your Christmas shopping at stalls showcasing the handmade arts, textiles, toys and trinkets. the handmade arts, textiles, toys and trinkets.

padstowchristmasfestival.co.uk

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Sea Food & Eat it | Guide to Cornwall's Best Seafood

Tuck into shellfish that’s freshly flipped from sea to plate…

No longer a destination where fish is deep-fried fish and wrapped in newspaper, Cornwall has become a gastronomes magnet, with freshly caught seafood at the heart of its foodie scene. Bag a table in one of the many restaurants flaunting coastal views, and you only have to cast your gaze out to the ocean to see the provenance of the ingredients on your plate. While Rick Stein was the trailblazer of the foodie revolution when his flagship Seafood Restaurant opened in Padstow, Cornwall now boasts plenty of venues from Newlyn to Newquay, where chefs are serving up local seafood that’s been flipped straight from rod to pan.

When you take a seat at The Boathouse in Newquay, it’s not just the lobster tanks that give you an inkling you’re about to get the real deal sea-to-plate experience. Nestled in Newquay harbour, the seafood on your plate is landed just a few sandy footprints from your dinner table, by a handful of local fishermen.

A family business

Buck Beckett is one of a handful of fishermen who land daily catch for The Boathouse. For 27 years, since he was kicked out of school at the age of 14, Buck has been hauling in lobster and Newquay Brown Crab on his fishing boat, Frellie. Now his 11 year-old son, Freddie, joins him whenever he can, and is already excited about joining his Dad full time when he finishes school.

Tide times

Being a fisherman isn’t a 9-5 job. The day starts whenever the tide is in and the boat can be launched, whether that’s 2am, 4am or 6am. It’s usually before sunrise. And days are long, typically lasting 8 hours at sea. There are 200 pots to check, split into three ‘sets’, with each set being checked every three days.

 

Catch of the day

The bulk of the catch is made up of crabs, spider crabs and crawfish. In the summer Buck also catches turbot, monkfish and ray. Once the pots have been emptied and the tubs and been filled, the catch of the day is landed on the harbour wall. That’s less than 250 metres from your dinner table at The Boathouse.

 

Coastal cruising

The best thing about a day in the life of a fisherman is enjoying the Cornish coast – especially in the sunshine. Not many people get to witness the sunrise, afloat on a glassy ocean, far removed from the hubbub of land.

View to dine for

When you take a seat at The Boathouse, you often get to see your food arriving as Buck’s boat pulls into the harbour. Watching the fishing boats puttering in, the whiskered noses of the seals often popping up in their wake, tells the story of the fresh, local seafood on the menu. Pick a crab from the tanks and you can rest assured it’s been plucked from the ocean only hours ago.

Go there and eat now…

Book a table, soak up the watery views and taste Cornwall’s sea to plate dishes.

the-boathouse-newquay.co.uk

Many of the seafood restaurants in Cornwall have a local story behind the fish dishes they serve. In addition to The Boathouse, here are ten more of our favourite restaurants to dine on the finest ocean’s bounty.

Find a discounted stay near Cornwall’s foodie scene on our special offers page, or browse our beach locations to explore more of the coastline.

Weekend retreat in Cawsand

Local blogger Hayley Spurway and her family castaway to Cawsand for a weekend…

Following the directions along narrow, winding streets to reach The Penthouse 4 The Bay, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you might end up driving straight into the sea. It’s only just before you hit the shoreline that you turn into an underground parking lot beneath a brand new complex of beachside apartments: one of which was our weekend pad.

 

SWANKY BEACH PAD

While the boys’ jaws dropped at the technical bling and bunk beds – with a PS4, bedside screens and all the gadgets they’re not allowed at home – I was stunned by the eye-popping views and our proximity to the big blue and. A serene ocean-scape flooded through every window, with a pop-out balcony in my penthouse suite, where I could soak up said views and listen to the meditative echo of the waves in a private sanctuary, squirreled away from the rest of the house. I even had control of my own Sonos sound system, so with excitement levels running high and the boys already commandeering the soundtrack downstairs, I cranked up my own tunes, took a deep breath of briny air, and kicked back on the plump cushions scattered on the bed. Bliss.

room with large windows

 

SEASIDE LIFESTYLE

Ensconced in the coastal lifestyle, our hectic pace of life quickly adjusted to the beat of the ocean and the steady ebb and flow of the tides. We eased open electric blinds to watch the sublime sunrise over Plymouth Sound, where sailing boats crossed the watery border between Devon and Cornwall. Our bare feet padded across the sand and along the cobbled seaside lanes, on the way to buy fresh sourdough bread from The Old Bakery – ready for breakfast after an invigorating sea swim. Skimming stones for the dog to chase, splashing in the shallows and swimming out to sea until the cold water prickled our skin, sparked a hearty appetite for coffee and eggs, served back on our balcony overhanging the sea.

room with a sea view

 

CAR-FREE ADVENTURES

Although we were content to while away hours in our beach pad – playing snakes and ladders and scrabble, and gorging on Cornish cream teas (the ingredients thoughtfully provided by the owners) – it was time to breakout on some family adventures and explore this divine and ‘forgotten corner’ of Cornwall. So, fresh Cornish pasties in hand, and with the dog in tow, we climbed aboard the little Cawsand Ferry, which puttered to and from the beach, right outside our door.

Passing maritime and military landmarks, we crossed the watery border into Devon, tracking a course towards the iconic Smeaton’s Tower – a lighthouse that was originally built to deter sailors from Eddystone Reef, then moved stone by stone Plymouth Hoe in 1884. Climbing the lighthouse tower is just one of the amazing things to do once the ferry moors in Plymouth, and another family favourite is a visit to the largest aquarium in the UK. However, after a ramble along the Barbican, we stepped into the fascinating Mayflower museum, took a twirl along the hoe, and tucked into fish and chips. By then is was already time to hop back on the ferry for a bumpy crossing back to Cawsand, which was swiftly followed by a sundowner at The Bay, basking in the last glimpse of the autumn sunshine.

boats in the harbour

 

HOME COMFORTS

Despite a tempting menu at The Bay bar and restaurant, we chose to head back upstairs and make use of the high-spec kitchen in our penthouse. After all, what’s the point in residing in a stylish beach house if you don’t make the most of it? Whether you want to throw a dinner party or cook up a hearty family feast, the kitchen is well equipped for all occasions. And whether you’re cooking, chilling out on the sofa, or sitting at the dinner table, the views from the open-plan living space far outdo those from the restaurant downstairs (even if our food wasn’t as high calibre as the seafood-biased menu being served there).

the bay

 

DOG-FRIENDLY DAYS

The beauty of being able to bring your dog to stay at The Bay is that are so many walks on the doorstep. From October to Easter you can pad straight out onto the dog-friendly sands with your morning coffee, while neighbouring Kingsand beach is paw-friendly year round. Keen for a picturesque Sunday stroll, we made tracks along the South West Coast Path, following chestnut-littered paths beneath woodland canopies, to the Rame Peninsula.

With the trail never veering more than a pebble’s throw from the water, we peeped through the autumn leaves to sailing boats on Plymouth Sound, before emerging at the historic Penlee Battery. This made the perfect spot for a picnic, while the kids made the most of nature’s playground, clambering on craggy rocks where fishermen lured Sunday lunch onto their lines. The coast path continues all the way to the chapel perched on the tip of Rame Head, or you can follow a circular route back to Kingsand.

dog by a window

 

SURF’S UP

Staying at The Bay, there’s no need for a car to enjoy plenty of family adventures by ferry and foot. However, the whisper of a wave on nearby Whitsand Bay was enough to nudge us to start the engine, and explore the sweeping expanse of coastline wrapping its way back towards south Cornwall. Winding along mile-upon-mile of wave-lashed coastline, it makes an epic road trip through a landscape that echoes with history and legend. It’s thought that Freathy Cliffs are still haunted by the ghost of a smuggler named Silas Finn, who betrayed his friends to save himself from the authorities.

Sitting beneath the cliffs at Eddystone Beach Café, we watched the surfers who now flock to this coastline in place of the smugglers and seafarers of days gone by. It’s the juxtaposition of past and present – the meeting of a rich heritage and state-of-the-art living – that makes this ‘forgotten corner’ of Cornwall so magical. And as the sun went down on our weekend away, we felt relaxed and rejuvenated, having been immersed in the history and beauty of Cornwall, all from the comfort of a contemporary beach house.

THE LOWDOWN:

The Penthouse, 4 The Bay, The Bound, Cawsand
Sleeps 8 in 4 spacious bedrooms with en suites
Dog-friendly.

kitchen area with balcony

Book a stay at The Penthouse 4 The Bay in Cawsand.

Beach Retreats Top 2019 Instagram moments

As we say goodbye to 2019, we look back at some of our most memorable Instagram moments from the team at Beach Retreats, past guests, bloggers and photographers using #beachretreats. We hope to welcome you all back in 2019 for another memorable stay.

Follow us on Instagram to see all of our 2019 moments.

Visiting Cornwall for a romantic adventure? Check out our romantic cottages.

Tintagel Castle in north Cornwall just got better with their brand new footbridge, recreating the historic crossing from the mainland to the headland. Would you brave the drop?

We enjoyed a day in sunny St Ives earlier this year, walking the coast path past its picture-perfect beaches. Look out for our brand new property nearby joining in 2020, 4 Godrevy Court in Carbis Bay.

It’s no surprise that Fistral Beach is one of our favourite go to sunset locations. Pack a picnic and watch with your loved one on the headland, or dine alfresco at The Stable, Fish House or Fistral Beach Bar.

Newly decorated for 2018, The Penthouse at Coast (sleeps 6) offers fantastic sea views, with the golden sands of Porth beach as its back garden. Can you imagine relaxing on this balcony watching the world go by?

Look out for our brand new film in 2020, where we showcase the beautiful harbour town of Porthleven. Home to our Tom’s Cottage, guests can enjoy amazing surf here and dine at Kota Kai or Rick Stein Porthleven.

Another photo taken while we were filming at Porthleven earlier this year. Look over the wall above the beach and you’ll often be greeted to calm and crystal clear waters, perfect for a morning swim, kayak or SUP.

 

Ramble along Treen Cliffs and  you’ll be greeted by some beautiful wild horses (and very friendly). We enjoyed a spot of lunch here while overlooking the insta famous Pedn Vounder and Porthcurno beach in west Cornwall.

From Treen cliffs to Porthcurno. Here the water is often a Caribbean blue with pristine white sand, making it a popular choice for photographers in the summer months.  We recommend a visit during autumn or spring.

Quite possibly the best sunset we witnessed in 2019, here’s Mawgan Porth and our friend Pete from King Surf Surf School. We enjoyed a day filming and were treated to this at the end of the day. See our range of family properties.

Instagram loved our sunset taken above overlooking the brand new Dunes development on Perranporth beach in north Cornwall. All our properties here come with private balconies perfect for those all important sundowners.

 

A brand new location coming to the Beach Retreats portfolio in 2020. Duporth is a private beach located close to the Poldark famous Charlestown Harbour and Carlyon Bay. Guests staying here will have a private key for beach access.

Skyline is one of our top properties, popular with large families with its short walk to the beach, large garden, games room, private balcony with ocean views and log burner for cosy winter nights. What more could you ask for?

Known as the home of Doc Martin, Port Isaac is always making hearts swoon with its old white washed fishermen cottages, picturesque harbour and towering cliffs. We recommend walking to nearby Port Gavern.

Our followers loved the idea of traffic-free coastal escapism at its finest, while cosying up in this perfect little cabin clinging to the cliff above Whitsand Bay. Could you see yourself waking up here in 2020?

There’s something charmingly simplistic about Praa Sands. A long stretch of white beach with a cafe, surf school and a classic seaside shop selling buckets and spades. Our guests loved hearing about it on Instagram.

Pedn Vounder on a normal day gets heads turning, but we absolutely loved (and so did you) this perfect sunset shot taken by Stephen Kiley on Instagram. So much so, this post reached nearly 24,000 Instagram users!

Chapel Porth beach is a short drive from our St Agnes properties. Famous for its hedgehog ice creams, this is a popular location for local surfers. Their famous ice cream comes with clotted cream and chocolate and nut sprinkles.

Take a look and book our self-catering properties at Porthtowan, or talk to a member of our team on 01637 861 005.

It’s impossible to name just one thing, the hot tub, the view, the five acre garden, the incredible sense of space, the impressive design. Everything about this property is inspiring and that’s why you all loved it so much.

Capture Cornwall’s beauty with our guide to the most Instagrammable locations!

 

10 Self-Catering Houses for a Special Christmas in Cornwall

See a twinkling harbour light up, sip on mulled wine in front of a crackling fire and embrace the elements with a winter walk on Christmas morning. Whether you are looking for a cosy bolthole for two, or a large family holiday home with all the trimmings, we have properties available for a Christmas to remember.

See 10 festive properties below now with 20% off a five or seven night break.

Ivy Cottage, Watergate Bay, sleeps 10

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

Ivy Cottage is a Grade II listed house, located just a two-minute drive from Watergate Bay in north Cornwall. Sleeping 10 guests, it is the perfect celebration for your Christmas 2019 holiday. Put your feet up after a day of exploring in front of the crackling fire and enjoy the original features including wooden floor boards, wooden ceilings, exposed stone work and a comfortable window seat looking out to the front garden.

The kids can take their pick of 5 beautifully designed bedrooms over two floors, while Mum soaks in the bubbly free standing claw foot bath.

On Christmas Day, guests can enjoy drinks in Watergate Bay’s brand new bar – Watchful Mary 12-4.

Find out more about Ivy Cottage.

Ferrypoint, Rock, sleeps 6

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

With picture-perfect views over the estuary, Ferrypoint is a firm favourite for those wanting to explore the best of both in Rock and Padstow, north Cornwall. The ferry picks visitors up just a few footsteps down the road, taking you to the twinkling harbour of Padstow. Dine at an abundance of top restaurants including The Mariners a five-minute walk away.

Ferrypoint is a three bedroom waterside apartment sleeping six guests. Its generous living room comes with a large corner sofa big enough for all, leather Swedish Ekornes swivel chair, orange designer egg chair, large Coach House coffee table and a 66-inch wall mounted Smart television for those all important Christmas films.

Find out more about Ferrypoint.

7 Mawgan Bay View, Mawgan Porth, sleeps 6

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break. BOOKED.

Brand new to the Beach Retreats growing portfolio, 7 Mawgan Bay View sits just a few hundred metres from the family favourite Mawgan Porth beach. The house is perfect for entertaining with its super sized corner sofa, spacious kitchen with a double over and large dining table for all. Walk to the Merrymoor Inn for a lunchtime tipple on Christmas Day before heading home to tuck into your delicious Christmas supper.

Don your walking boots and walk off your food with a ramble along the South West Coast Path to Watergate Bay in one direction and the legendary Bedruthan Steps in the other.

Find out more about 7 Mawgan Bay View.

30 Dunes, Perranporth, sleeps 4

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

With just a few steps between you and the beach, The Dunes Development is is perfectly positioned for exploring the best of north Cornwall’s coast. You’ll have private access to the beach in front and can jump straight onto the coast path and head to St Agnes and Porthtowan. Dine at Perranporth’s newest restaurant The Summerhouse.

30 Dunes is lovingly furnished throughout with some stunning artwork from Whistlefish Gallery. Both bedrooms and the open plan living space are furnished to the highest standard, ensuring you’ll wake up Christmas morning feeling relaxed after a good nights sleep.

Find out more about 30 Dunes.

The Penthouse at Coast, Porth beach, sleeps 8

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

Live the high life this Christmas and wake up just a few paces from Porth beach, situated between Newquay and Watergate Bay. The large open plan living space offers breathtaking ocean views with a large wrap around balcony if you can brave the elements with a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine. The Penthouse at Coast has four bedrooms big enough for all with beautiful and bright interiors with a luxurious finish.

Head to The Mermaid Inn for a festive drink Christmas Day or walk the coast path to Watchful Mary in Watergate Bay.

Find out more about The Penthouse at Coast.

The Village Eco Lodges, Watergate Bay, sleeps 5

Book a 7 night Christmas stay and arrive to a decorated Christmas tree and bespoke luxury festive hamper.

Choose from a wide selection of our eco lodes this Christmas for a truly memorable stay. The Village development is just a 2-minute walk to the golden sands of Watergate Bay and its collection of restaurants including The Beach Hut and Wax Watergate Bay who have a special Christmas lunch offer running throughout December. Guests will also be a stone’s throw from Watchful Mary, a brand new continental style-bar located on the sea wall. Stop off here Christmas Day between 12-4 for a cocktail or glass of fizz after your blustery morning walk.

Our remaining lodges sleeps 5 guests.

Find out more about The Village.

Cove Cottage, Sennen, sleeps 6

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

Oozing with traditional fisherman’s cottage charm, Cove Cottage is perfect for a romantic escape to the coast. It has been beautifully restored to offer great modern comfort whilst retaining immense period character with slate floors, deep window seats, exposed stonework and a huge fireplace. While Sennen beach is just a few yards down the road, the picture-perfect St Ives is a short drive away where you are sure to find plenty of festive cheer in the abundance of restaurants and bars on the water’s edge.

Find out more about Cove Cottage.

 12 Pearl, Fistral beach, sleeps 4

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Newquay this Christmas as you sleep just moments away from the world renowned Fistral beach. Storm watch from the comfort of your own sofa while sipping on something bubbly as you celebrate the festive period. The town’s shops, restaurants and pubs are just a 10 minute walk away. Head to the Red Lion for a cosy bar, complete with a roaring fire and delicious pub grub. Rick Stein’s Fistral and The Fish House are just a minute’s walk in the opposite direction.

12 Pearl is a contemporary apartment with a stylish open plan living space. There are two spacious bedrooms making it ideal for a small family or couples.

Find out more about 12 Pearl.

Sandy Toes, Porthtowan, sleeps 4

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

A contemporary apartment just a few paces from the beach, meaning you’ll wake up to the sound of crashing waves on Christmas morning. Sandy Toes has calming interiors throughout with breathtaking views over the beach below and the Atlantic rollers. Porthtowan sits at the foot of high cliffs on north Cornwall’s rugged coast. The village has a lovely relaxed, off-the-beaten-path feel, with a very pretty sandy beach backed by cliffs. There’s a handful of cafes, pubs and restaurants, plus surf hire and lessons and great walks to neighbouring beaches along the coast path to keep you busy.

Find out more about Sandy Toes.

9 White Lodge, Mawgan Porth, sleeps 7

Save 20% on a 5 or 7 night Christmas break.

Last but by no means least, we have 9 White Lodge set in a prime position overlooking Mawgan Porth. The apartment is newly interior designed with sumptuous beds, large corner sofa and a comfortable dining area. Choose from an abundance of restaurants on Boxing Day including The Merrymoor Inn.

Padstow and the famous 7 bays are just a short drive away, while Bedruthan and Watergate Bay can be reached along the coast path.

Find out more about 9 White Lodge.

Search all remaining Christmas properties.