So, September. The bank holiday hoopla is done and dusted, the barbecue has been extinguished and summer is a thing of the past (though unpredictable weather shifts are not, because that would be too easy). You’ve packed your bags and returned from exotic destinations such as the Maldives and the Caribbean or history-filled city breaks in Rome and Budapest. You have had your taste of foreign culture, away from the humdrum town life and familiar fronts of chain stores of home – and now, you must return to your humble abode back in Blighty after a rather taxing few days or weeks on your wallet.
Well, you can keep your jaunts around the world for the moment. Because, when it comes to looking for a holiday next summer, why not try something a little closer than a flight away? Why not try a place where the views are just as stunning, the food is just as rich, the air is just as intoxicating and the locals still speak in a strong, slightly unusual accent?
Why not try Cornwall?
To clarify, I am not a member of the Cornish Tourism Board, nor have I ever been. But as a man who is in love with the history of the world, it’s been four years since I ventured off Britain in search of pastures new. After all, why should you, when Britain itself provides some truly wonderful locations for a break? This year, I made the journey south to Falmouth, one of the lesser tourism hotspots of the South Coast, a small town port that provided all you wanted from a week-long holiday in the summer, including all of the following, and at a rather reasonable price.
British weather is, at its best, unpredictable, and Cornwall is no different. That being said however, as the most southern county of the mainland, it is just that vital bit further south that allows for a rise of five or six degrees on the rest of the country. Indeed, when summer weather does periodically descend across the country, Cornish temperature is nearing that magical mark of thirty Celsius. Plus, you’re not having to compete with foreign tourists for that spot on the beach; Falmouth is a distinctly British destination that is often glossed over in favour of other South Coast resorts. It’s not necessarily quiet – but it’s certainly got less of a buzz than Brighton, and the weather is just as good.
Though its heyday as a maritime hub may be behind it, Falmouth is still a port with trade, and perhaps unsurprisingly, fisheries and chip shops are a dime a dozen. There is no clear winner here either – they’re all so darn delicious. Couple that with a plethora of old fashioned pubs and steakhouses lining the road into the port and you’re spoilt for choice. Head a little further in however, and you’ll find perhaps the best sweet treat of the lot – Roly’s Fudge. Here, award-winning craftsman deliver a beautiful line in a range of flavours, from traditional clotted cream to the Canadian-tinted Maple and Walnut, to the after-dinner favourite flavoured with Baileys. There are stores across the country – but for that truly authentic taste, there’s none better than the Roly’s of the South West.
If you’re looking for that cultural fill, Cornwall isn’t exactly a bad place to be. A lot of the architectural structure of Falmouth’s surrounding villages is inspired by French design, particularly that of the channel regions such as Brittany and Normandy. Sandstone structures and half-timbered buildings are the norm in some of the older areas, with licks of baroque and gothic giving them a distinctly continental feel. And they’re not the only beautiful thing around here – as a county primarily ruled by hills and lone highways, there are sweeping panoramas of windswept valleys within an hour’s walk of wherever you are in Cornwall. Head away from the mainland and you’re in for another treat – the rugged, beautiful Cornish coast, all glittering blues and warm yellows as the English Channel spills out into the Atlantic. No North or Irish Sea here – Cornwall borders warmer waters where you can take a refreshing dip (or fall in, if your balance is like mine) without the risk of hyperthermia. Be warned – sharks are known to swim around the craggy edges, so don’t get any Jaws-esque ideas of midnight skinny dips. For the more adventurous around, the bays are littered with shipwrecks; chartered boat trips are available for those who fancy a quick gander and the area is famous for scuba-diving students getting to grips with marine life too.
There are three Cornish breweries really worth sampling if you’re in the area, but the closest to Falmouth is that of St Austell, home of the rather fabulously named Proper Job, a refreshing India Pale Ale. As a fan of IPAs, I can heartily recommend it – but for the traditional bitter fan, you can’t go much wrong with a pint of Cornish Best, a simple, balanced refreshing beverage. The Cornish Pale Ale Tribute is another firm favourite, both around these parts and nationwide, and the introduction of their own lager Korev has been heralded across the region. But the real delights are to be found in their seasonal casks. Whilst visiting, I sampled two – their midsummer golden ale Liquid Sunshine (as oddly warming as its namesake suggested) and the early autumn pale ale brew Harvest Moon. There’s plenty more to come over the next few months too; a red ale appetizingly titled Bucket of Blood is a Halloween special, whilst Tribute Extra, a stronger, more full-bodied take on the original, helps tide punters into the winter season. Their regular beverages are also available canned and in bottles, so you can truly take the taste of Cornwall home with you when you back your bags at the end of your stay too – and it’s definitely worth it.
There’s so much more than what’s touched upon here, but a good writer knows that some things are best left discovered by the reader. So why not discover them yourself? Next year, push the Canary Islands and New York to one side, and look at a place a little closer to home that’s a treasure trove of wonderful times. Try Cornwall – and you won’t regret it.