Thank you all for your wonderful trips!
In the end, we just started driving Saturday morning. Although we had hoped to start out at 6:00 am, we were delayed getting out because I overshot my one-drink only with friends on Friday evening, which turned into one-bottle only…Fortunately, the hubby wasn’t too annoyed and all went well.
Here are the places we managed to visit between London and Cornwall:
After what felt like FOREVER getting out of London proper, we took A303, past Amesbury and the unexpected parking lot of cars, slowing down to crane their necks at those big stones in the middle of the field. Admittedly we did the same. It hadn’t been part of our plan but it was a nice surprise to ‘stumble’ upon them.
We first stopped in Bruton at Bean Shot Coffee. I was feeling guilty about our late start and I hope that I could appease my husband with a bit of Java. By then, I was also needing some coffee for my pounding headache and hoped the Java was distract my husband from my condition. Bean Shot Coffee is a bit of a hole in the wall, but a good hole. After coffee, we walked next door to sample some cheese and other local goodies from a very friendly man who, upon hearing from my husband that I was not sampling because I was a bit ‘hung over’, asked me if I wanted to sample a bloody good mary. How could I say no to that?
He was right; It was a smooth taste of fresh tomatoes, not too acidic and not too salty. If I had been feeling better, I would have probably purchased a bottle but all I wanted to do was lay down on his floor so I couldn’t really concentrate on anything else. My husband ended up purchasing some delicious Godminster Organic Cheddar and Brie with some crackers or digestives and some Blackcurrent spirit to wash it all down. I was just eyeing the floor space lovingly. From there we walked to At the Chapel, where we hoped to score a table for lunch. Unfortunately, we weren’t alone in our plans; there was a 3-hour wait for a table for two. We opted not to wait or else we would never reach Cornwall. As we were walking out, we thought maybe we should grab a pastry or something from their bakery, in case we couldn’t find another lunch spot. They had a few baked products (breads, croissants, pasties, etc.) for take away so we purchased a delicious onion quiche and a cheese panini, thinking we would eat it as we drove on. But after we had paid, the server said that we could eat it on the high counter separating the bakery from the pizza preparation area so we grabbed a high chair and settled down to enjoy our quick lunches.
Fairly soon we started chatting with the pizza maker who was really busy putting more wood into the big oven or making pizzas none stop. When my husband told him that I was a bit hung over and not feeling too well, he suggested that I needed something greasy to soak up all the alcohol. I must have given him a half-hearted smile because he added: “Trust me. You’ll feel better after eating it.” How could I say no?
And he was right. By the time I was taking my last bite of the pizza, I felt 100% better than I had when I had entered the bakery and wanted to just crawl onto the floor and die.
After lunch we got back on the A303 and continued towards Polperro, where we hoped we could stop for the night. But as we neared the eastern borders of Dartmoor National Park on A38, I remembered that I had noted Bovey Tracey as a place to stop. Given our delayed start, I was hesitant to stop, but at the last minute, my husband decided we needed a break and break we did. My distraction took longer than planned so we didn’t have time to visit the The Devon Guild of Craftsmen but if I were to visit the town again, I would. As I distracted myself, my husband used his phone to search for possible accommodations for the evening. He found a converted convent that he liked in Truro and announced that that would be our bed for the evening. I was just happy that I was starting to feel much better.
In Truro, we wanted to dine at Taabs, but then found out that the restaurant was closed and on vacation. Arghh. None of the other places appealed to us, so we decided to try something different and went to Kathmandu Palace. We got there around 6:30 and it was packed but we managed to grab the last empty table and was told that we had to be out by 8:00, which was no problem for us. The food was okay, nothing amazing. But the service was extremely friendly, accommodating and attentive. And the bottle of wine we ordered- so cheap and decent, compared to London. And of course, after dinner, the husband needed to see if the town had a gelateria or a special ice cream shop, which they did: Angelato Italian Ice Cream Bar. As we walked from Kathmandu to the ice cream place, we passed a small group of German speakers. No matter where we travel to, Germans are always there. At Angelato’s my hubby had the Pistachio and Hazelnut, two of his favorites. If I hadn’t eaten so much Nepalese food, I probably would have tried their dark chocolate, which was almost pure black in color and their peanut butter, which looked interesting as well.
As the next day was Sunday, most places in Truro were shut so we drove to St. Ives for breakfast at Porthminster Beach Cafe. We parked up at the top near the Leisure Center and walked down into the town, which only took about 8 minutes. It was before 9am so the beach was still relatively quiet and we were the first guests at the cafe. But by the time we had eaten and were leaving, the cafe was quickly filling up. The breakfast was better than expected. If you like your breakfast sweet, try their french toast with banana and nutella. I didn’t try it, but my husband said it was good. I ordered the British breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatos, but substituting spinach for the baked beans. The food was nothing to write home about, but the view of the beach with the dogs playing in the water, the beautiful blue skies above, the morning shadows all made it worth the steep climb back up to our car afterwards. And who should be parked next to our car, unloading their children in their wellies and rain gear: Germans with a Germany-plated car. My hubby and I just looked at each other and smiled.
For lunch we tried to get a reservation at The Masons Arms in South Moulton but they were booked, as was Jack in the Green in Exeter. We called The Seahorse in Dartmouth but no one answered. We decided to drove through Dartmoor National Park and see if we could stop for Afternoon Tea at Gidleigh Park Hotel. In the worst case, we figured we had enough cheese and digestives to snack on if we had to carry on to London without a stop.
Driving through Dartmoor National Park was my favorite part of the short weekend. The beautiful landscape, the sheep everywhere, the rich colors of the area, etc. Simply gorgeous. Unfortunately, I had expected the Gidleigh to be an easy to reach spot within the park. Boy was I sadly mistaken. A harrowing journey through a two-meter + high thicket of brambles, trees, etc. in a space that barely allows the side mirrors to miss being scraped by the rocks on either side, I was so relieved when we reached the end of the road and the Hotel. I told my husband that if they couldn’t accommodate us for lunch after that journey, I would just have to throw a temper tantrum in their sitting area. Luckily, it didn’t come to that. The host with the thick Parisian accent happily informed us that we could join them for lunch. Indeed, after the stressful journey to their hotel, we opted to do their 7 course menu rather than just an afternoon tea. Here’s a snapshot of the menu and the sea bass (the yuzu and shiso with finger lime added a wonderful tang to the Sea Bass :
Thank you again for all your suggestions, especially on such short notice!