a few years ago my friends took me to the japanese gardens at st mawgan – a beautiful bit of escapism in the cornish countryside – filled with zen gardens, azaleas, bamboo and bonsai trees – its worth the visit.. whilst you are in St Mawgan go and see the monastery there, it dates back from the 6C; not sure if you can go in, but take a walk around it. the village of St Mawgan is very pretty and there is also a good pub with big garden there.
whilst I am down there, I always try to make a visit to St Ives; St Ives must have more art galleries and crafts studios per square foot than any other town I have been to. I love its winding streets, up and down, higgledy piggledy , surrounded by the sea all round, its a really atmospheric town. probably best to visit out of the high season and school holidays. we usually pop into the Tate St Ives too.
i also pop into the barbara hepworth gallery, probably my favourite place in the whole world – the gardens, the house, the sculptures and the workshops are just inspiring.
we ate lunch on the terrace at porthgwidden beach cafe, which looks onto the beach. the only downside to st ives is the distance from london- its even further than padstow! I think you just have to take a good book on the train and see it as a way to relax and catch up on reading. I am reading Remarkable Creatures at the moment, by Tracy Chevalier, which a friend gave me. the film Ammonite is based on the main character, so interesting to see how the different adaptations of Mary Anning.
back to padstow – if you have had enough of the rick stein empire, try the basement restaurant, which actually have an outdoor summer house to sit in, despite its name – its forte is sea food and is of a very good quality. Paul Ainsworth has a good daily menu too. I am really looking forward to getting down there this summer, not only to see the lovely coast again, but also to visit our lovely friends.