by Dave Allan-Petale
Last year was very busy so Carmen and I decided to get away from it all over Christmas and retreat to the English countryside. In 2011, I worked on Christmas day (life of a media hack!) and Carmen volunteered at a women’s homeless shelter, so a week together over the holidays in 2012 was something we were both looking forward to. Cornwall sprang to mind; the rugged English county of pasties, surfing, sailing and best of all, six hours drive from our responsibilities in London!
Carmen left it up to me to organise it seeing as she does just about everything else. I was drawn to a place called ‘The Creamery,’ a cute little place in the village of Feock near the city of Truro. I made the booking, put the dates in the calender and began the countdown.
When the time came to leave work and head down to Cornwall we were bursting with excitement. We hired a car, saddled the suspension down with all of our gear and sped away from London on the Saturday before Christmas. The drive was very long but we did crosswords to pass the time and keep my concentration sharp as torrential rain bucketed down. The roads were so wet and wild we joked that it may have been a better idea to hire a submarine instead of a car! We got there safely – though it was a bit of a mission to find the place in the dark in the middle of a monsoon.
For the next seven days The Creamery was our base as we explored Cornwall. It’s a big county but we managed to to cover a great deal of it in our car. We went as far south as Land’s End and visited Truo, Falmouth, Penzance, St Michael’s Mount, St Austell and the Eden Project. We went to cosy pubs, ate fish and chips, browsed the shops and admired the amazing scenery. But the best thing was staying in. We brought lots of our own food (just like family holidays back in the day!) and cooked big feasts in the kitchen, all of it washed down with glasses of wine. We played Scrabble (Carmen won), watched all the Harry Potter movies and went on big country walks in our wellies.
Best of all, we had Christmas together and though we were away from our families we had each other all to ourselves. On Christmas Day we opened our presents and had a massive breakfast of poached eggs, smoked salmon, avocado and bubbly. To work off the calories we drove to a beach in Falmouth and went on a cliff top walk in brilliant sunshine, the first rays we’d seen on the trip. We even saw some crazy locals strip down to their budgie smugglers and jump into the frigid sea. In Australia we usually go to the beach on Christmas Day so it was nice to keep the tradition up, even if we were wearing scarves and jackets instead of sunscreen!
Cornwall is a magic place and we can’t wait to return.
What you need to know
Costs: All up the Creamery cost us 720 pounds for 7 days, just over 100 pounds a day. For what we got it was great value at this time of year. A big expense was fuel for the car but food and drink is a little cheaper than in London.
When to go: Tough call in England! Summer in Cornwall is when the surfers hit their straps and thousands flock to the region to enjoy its great outdoors. But it’s good any time of year, just be prepared for rain.
How to get there: The best way to see Cornwall is by car, so take your own or hire one. It takes around six hours to get there and you will need to drive carefully in the narrow country lanes, and you’ll most likely need a sat nav. There are trains, buses and even flights to nearby towns, like Bristol.