Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter in the depths of Devon and Cornwall

My favorite perk of living in England is the 4-day Easter Bank Holiday. Just as spring has sprung and you're dreaming of distant shores and sunshine, you get a nice big long weekend for free. It's amazing. We always try to take advantage of it, usually tacking on a few extra days of vacation before or after, but this year we decided to keep it simple; the ongoing house-hunt and saving, combined with the fact that we're going to the US next week for a wedding, meant we wanted to just chill out and be a bit frugal.

So we decided to hit up The Irishman's friend whose parents bought a second home in Devon and head down there with him. It sounds a bit cheapskatey but to be fair he's been giving us a hard time about how we haven't gone down to the house with him in the past 2 years since his parents bought it so it was more a case of "no time like the present!" 

Our friend had actually been in Norway the week before, so we met him at Gatwick Airport first thing Saturday morning when he and some other friends were due in and then we all piled into a car and drove to the ends of the earth. Well, not really, but Devon is bloody far away. We ended up at this lovely cottage.

After restorative cups of tea, we all bundled up and went for a short walk around the neighborhood to get the lay of the land.

After our walk, we went home to prep food for dinner which we did on the BBQ. My first BBQ of the year! Too bad it was freezing outside and the grill, predictably, took 2 hours to properly heat up. My contribution were these very exciting vegetable kebabs – the local Waitrose didn't stock wooden skewers so we used rosemary stalks to hold them together! Very good idea for anyone out there with a) a grill, b) a garden, c) no skewers.

Easter Sunday we woke up and headed down into Cornwall to a town called Wadebridge, where we rented bikes and cycled 5ish miles down the Camel Trail to the town of Padstow. Padstow is famous for being the home of celebrity chef Rick Stein's restaurants and other ventures. When we arrived, we headed straight to his posh fish n chips shop to get lunch.

The highlight of our visit to Padstow was my chance to pet the statue of Rick Stein's late, famous dog Chalky. It's infront of his restaurant, in case you want to make a similar pilgrimage.

The village of Padstow was cute and very touristy, but is also on a really lovely beach so we walked around the harbor and out onto the beach as the tide gradually came in.

Then it was back to the bikes and back home to cook Easter supper.

Monday was pretty miserable – cold and rainy – so we leisurely got up and packed up the cottage, and then headed deep into the countryside to find a tiny country pub located and recommended by our friend's parents.

There we shared one final lunch together before departing – we were in separate cars, and with long rides ahead we were all eager to get on the road. We got dropped off at the train station in Exeter for a mere 2 hour journey back to Paddington; only problem was, everyone else got that train and we had to ride sitting on the floor in a vestibule. Sigh. But it didn't take away from the fact that it was an amazing weekend in the Southwest full of good friends, good food, and good views.

If you go:
First Great Western trains depart regularly from Paddington for Exeter and points south in Cornwall. There's even an overnight train! Campsites, house rentals, and B&Bs abound but unless you're in an actual resort town you will definitely need a car to get around.


  1. Aw, looks nice and so English. There's nothing like spending a pleasant few days with friends somewhere that is both pretty and comfortable.
    I have always wanted to see the Furry Dance in Padstow, it's in about a month's time. Maybe you can get an invite back and report on it for us! :)