Lost in admiration – once the cottage was found
For some reason I had it in my head we were taking our autumn weekend break in Cornwall just around the corner from the delightful little coastal town of Marazion.
First rule of any holiday, though, especially if, like me, you are both trip organiser and driver, is to look on the map to see EXACTLY where your holiday destination is.
I did not. Which is how after a lovely late lunch in the aforementioned Marazion, overlooking the iconic St Michael's Mount, I discovered our destination was on the other side of the bay, past Penzance and around the corner a bit.
Finally, admitting my mistake and actually reading the specific and accurate directions supplied by our holiday cottage owners, St Aubyn Estate, we arrived in Porthgwarra.
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In an instant every one of us – wife, sister and me – forgot about yours truly's directional stupidity.
For this really was some place. A little gem of a location. The estate owns and rents out a number of the neighbouring properties to the one we were staying in, Cove Cottage.
No chance of any trades description difficulties with the name, either. It was, indeed, a charming character- packed fisherman's cottage. And it was on a cove.
In fact, the sea was less than a very feeble stone's throw from its doorstep.
Getting to Porthgwarra, though, is not for the motoring faint-hearted. It's one of those journeys which dwindle, by which I mean the road gets narrower and narrower as you descend down the contours of what is, in effect, a Cornish cliff.
But, boy is it worth the effort. At the bottom, along with Cove Cottage, are a clutch of other residences, a tiny car park, a cream-tea serving cafe, a cove with boats pulled up from the sea and seals bobbing along on the near horizon.
The coastal path runs in either direction out of the cove. One way takes you to Land's End, around three-and-a-quarter miles. The other to the world-famous cliff-side Minack theatre. That's just one and a quarter miles. In truth, we did nothing so arduous as trekking, choosing to laze away a lot of our time there, soaking up some late-year sunshine and gazing out to sea.
As the tide goes out a little beach appears in the cove which, like the cottage, is about as picture postcard as it gets, featuring some great rock pools, decent sand and a tunnel to explore, carved long ago by local miners to aid with seaweed harvesting.
The little cafe I mentioned is the only nod towards commerce you'll find, so it's best to arrive properly prepared with food and drink supplies as you won't want to leave too often.
When we did drag ourselves away we did not venture far by car.
To Land's End, of course, which is disappointingly filled with the sort of attractions you might find at the end of a traditional seaside pier. No matter, you feel you have to go there, just to say you've been, as it were.
Sennen Cove a few miles away on the other coast of Cornwall was better, with an interesting working harbour and a nice beach to walk along. We also spent some time in bustling Penzance and its neighbour Newlyn.
But on each occasion all three of us admitted to being drawn back to our cosy cottage by the sea down its "secret" lane. When the sun went down we shifted indoors and lit the wood burner. Occasionally popping outside to look at the fabulously clear night skies.
Cove Cottage sleeps four, very comfortably. It has two double bedrooms, one with an en suite bathroom, plus a second bathroom. It has bags of wardrobe space and a generously-sized combined lounge / dining / kitchen space.
There's a telephone, essential in an area where the mobile reception is sometimes erratic, along with a large flat screen TV, DVD, CD and a supply of logs, fire lighters and so forth for the wood burner. In the basement is another holiday essential, a washing machine and dryer.
Our break began on a Friday and ended on a Sunday and we were genuinely sad to leave this lovely little holiday home... but on the way back we headed to where our adventure first began, Marazion, and a visit to St Michael's Mount.
What you have on the Mount is a castle and priory church, sub-tropical gardens and a proper community of islanders who live below the castle walls. It's still the home of the St Aubyn family, part of whose estate runs Cove Cottage.
This was my first visit but the Mount really is captivating and well worth the steepish walk to gain access to the castle itself. The views from the ramparts are simply stunning.
It's a great place to eat, too. We enjoyed a really excellent, good value lunch in the Sail Loft Restaurant.
Cove Cottage – the 2013 tariff ranges between £495 to £1,150. More details on www.staubynestatesholidays.co.uk/ cove_cottage.htm.
St Michael's Mount opening hours until March 17 2013 are Tuesday and Friday for guided tours at 11am and 2pm. For
more details go to www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk.