Last weekend was a 3 day weekend and was also Willow’s 2nd birthday so we took advantage and decided to take a road trip to Cornwall. When we found out we were moving to England, James and I started watching a lot of travel shows so naturally, we had to watch all of the Rick Steves England episodes. One of the ones we watched a couple of times was his feature on Cornwall and we decided that this was a must-see.
Cornwall is a county of England that is bordered by the Celtic Sea, the English Channel and the county of Devon. It forms the westernmost part of the south-west peninsula. Tin mining was historically an important part of the Cornish economy as well as fishing and agriculture. Unfortunately, Cornwall’s economy struggled after the decline of the mining and fishing industries. You can visit an old mine just like in the Rick Steves episode and see lots of mining areas as you walk along the coastal areas.
Cornwall is the home the Cornish people and is recognized as one of the Celtic nations. Some question the present constitutional status of Cornwall, and a nationalist movement seeks greater autonomy within the United Kingdom. You can see Cornish flags waving for those who believe that Cornwall should be separate.
The UK is fairly small, so James and I have had a difficult time wrapping our heads around the idea that it could take a long time to get places. When I told my boss that we were planning to travel to Cornwall over the holiday weekend, she said if we want to make it and have enough time to see things then we should leave around 4am on Saturday morning and plan for a long trip home on Monday afternoon. My coworker mentioned that on one family vacation over a holiday weekend, it took them 9 hours to make the 4 hour drive home. Basically, there isn’t the necessary infrastructure in the road systems to support the amount of people that travel so traffic can be horrible.
We took the advice to heart and started our day at 4:30 Saturday morning and got to our first stop at Tintagel Castle around lunch time. The rest of the afternoon we drove along the coastal road to St. Agnes where we were staying at a B&B. Along the way, we made a few stops for walks and to take in the views. In the evening we found a nice dog friendly pub and had some scrumpy and dinner and then ended the night early after our long day of travel.
The next morning, we had our first “Full English Breakfast” consisting of sausage, British bacon (which is more like ham), a fried tomato and fried bread. We weren’t thrilled with it but after talking with a friend, I’m told that we should give it another go at a better restaurant. We ventured off with Willow and did lots of walking and stops for photos until the late afternoon when it started to downpour.
After a late lunch, we decided we were ready to head back to Oxford since it was predicted to rain even harder on Monday and we hadn’t slept well in our B&B. We headed back to St Agnes and packed up our luggage and it was smooth sailing all the way home. We we will definitely do this early/late type of travel again on a long weekend because it was so nice to avoid the traffic and be home relaxing on Monday.
Here’s the map of our travels:
Here are some of our best shots from the weekend:
When we told our coworkers that we were planning a trip for the weekend, we were given lots of good advice on things to see and do, but most importantly on what to eat. One of the preconceptions we had about England was that the food wouldn’t be good but that’s definitely not true, it’s just very simple. Cornwall’s national dish is the Pasty which is a mixture of meat, vegetables, potatoes, swede (rutabaga or turnip), onion, salt and pepper baked in to a pastry crust. You pretty much can’t go wrong with those ingredients but it was so much better than I expected. Luckily for our visitors, there is a Pasty shop in Oxford city center so we won’t have to go all the way to Cornwall to get one.
Cream tea was another treat that was highly recommended. As far as I’ve seen, you can get cream tea almost anywhere but one of James’ friends said that it is especially good in Cornwall. “Cream tea” is a scone topped with clotted cream and jam and served with a pot of tea. I wish we could eat these every day!
And of course we had to have fish and chips. Surprisingly, we’ve been here for over 2 months and this was my first time having it here. It lives up to all of the hype and I now see why when people think of England they think of fish and chips.
We loved this trip. It reminded me a lot of travelling along the Oregon coast with the cute towns and scenic views. Some of the roads reminded us of driving the Road to Hana, and since we survived I guess we could now say that James is an expert at UK driving. It was also a good place to take a dog because there are lots of walking trails along the coast and many pubs are dog friendly. The biggest disappointment was that dogs are not allowed on the beaches. It have been and even better trip with Willow if it hadn’t rained.
In other news, we are expecting our first visitors next weekend and are so excited! We are also having mostly good weather and are getting over being so homesick.