Monday, 5 March 2012

A trip to the Cornish coast

The Boy and I took a road trip this weekend to the beautiful south Cornwall coast of the Roseland Peninsula. We booked the weekend just after getting engaged back in December, when we discovered that the enchanting English Heritage St Mawes Castle was holding a Wedding Showcase. Getting married in a castle by the sea?? Yes please! We may, however, have got a little ahead of ourselves with romantic dreams of vows by candlelight, photographs of us by towering turrets, and speeches echoing around medieval stone walls. Here's a peek at how our first "wedding research" trip went...

St Mawes Castle 

After an early Saturday morning start and a very long drive accompanied by classic CDs such as The Best of the Beach Boys, we arrived to dazzling sunshine, sparkling blue ocean views, and a biting wind. We headed straight to the English Heritage castle overlooking the entrance to the Fal estuary in St Mawes, a delightful little fishing village surrounded by fantastic sea views and the lush greenery of the temperate Roseland Peninsula. As a major castle geek, I was super excited to see one of the best-preserved coastal artillery fortresses built during Henry VIII's reign to guard the area against invasions from France and Spain. Fast becoming a wedding planning bridezilla, I was even more excited to see the castle dressed as a unique, seaside wedding venue. The castle was just as enchanting as we had hoped it would be. From the beautifully minimalist ceremony room at the top of the castle, with panoramic views of the sea, to the turreted terrace used for drinks receptions, and the ancient gun room used for dinner (prepared by an adventurous team of caterers in the open-air makeshift kitchen!), the castle certainly provides a special venue for a wedding. Unfortunately we knew immediately that it felt like a great place for a day out but not the right place for our wedding (especially as the narrow stone steps and slatted floors would rule out any elderly guests or high heels!). 

St Mawes Castle, looking out to the lighthouse used in Fraggle Rock!
Childhood Memories 

We spent a whole day exploring the gorgeous villages and coves along the coast between St Mawes and Fowey. The very friendly landlady of our B&B gave us a list of places to visit if we were "brave enough to take a drive around the coastal road" and waved us off, jokingly checking that we knew where the reverse gear of our hire car was. An incredible adventure followed. I took The Boy on a tour of the delightful harbours and unspoilt beaches that I used to visit as a child, which involved some scary near vertical, one-track, winding roads; some near-misses with scathing local drivers; and some absolutely breathtaking views. I loved rediscovering the area. I had forgotten how clear the sea is in Cornwall, and how golden the clean sandy beaches are. Even the huge seagulls are haughtily superior and the salty air smells amazing. Here are a few of my favourite snaps from the weekend... 

The harbour at Mevagissey

View from the Rising Sun Inn, Portmellon

Sheltering from a rain shower at Caerhays beach

Daphne Du Maurier's Menabilly bay

Pretty shop window at Portscatho

Urchin shells for sale on the quay at St Mawes

View of the creek from St Just in Roseland church
Foodie Treats

Now that we're saving for a wedding, The Boy and I have had to reign in our foodie tastes somewhat and eat out a little less. We packed up a picnic for the long journey down to Cornwall, consisting of flasks of coffee, chocolate brioche, kettle chips, sushi and delicious corned beef and mustard rolls. After a quick trip to the castle, The Boy just had to sample the local fish and chips as an afternoon snack. We grabbed a portion of twice-cooked chips from The Watchhouse in St Mawes and were disappointed. They were too crispy and tasted of the oil they were cooked in. The Rising Sun Inn right in the centre of St Mawes more than made up for it with a fantastic dinner menu later on. I had Scallops and Smoked Salmon with lemon mayonnaise, followed by a tasty special of grilled bass fillets and crushed new potatoes with cherry tomatoes and a beurre blanc sauce. The Boy tucked into a wintery dish of roast pheasant breast and bacon on a potato rosti. Delicious!

I was desperate to revisit a pub in the nearby village of Portmellon after enjoying their menu of fresh fish a few years ago. As part of our tour, I took The Boy to the Rising Sun Inn on the harbour at Portmellon for a traditional pub lunch. Luckily the pub remains unspoilt and we sampled a simple and generous roast beef lunch - I especially liked the fresh, flavourful carrots and green beans, and the interesting cheese rosti added to the already heaving plate! The welcoming mother and daughter team also offered us extra gravy and homemade horseradish sauce. It was the perfect lunch spot, and really well-priced too.

Roast Beef at the Rising Sun Inn, Portmellon
So, although the search for our perfect wedding venue continues, I'm looking forward to having as much fun along the way as we did this weekend! I'll keep you posted...

Enjoy! :-)