Raise your hand if you’ve ever imagined a place in the world or even your own hometown a certain way only to have your ideals flipped on their ass? I’d like to imagine there is at least 1 person reading this with their hand in the air (if not I’ll raise mine for good measure). Before leaving for the UK I had imagined lots of castles, cobbled streets, older than old buildings, people too busy to chat & dreary skies. All images I’m sure more than one of you have pictured when thinking of England. Well I’m here to shatter all of that. White sand beaches, turquoise ocean so clear you can see all the way to the bottom, sea side towns resembling something from Game of Thrones or Spain, and people that will restore your faith on even the worst of days. No I haven't lost my mind, trust me I’m just as surprised as you are. From what I had been told pre-trip I was set up to expect certain things, and this past week road tripping along the South Coast I was surprised every single day, if not multiple times a day that those things just weren’t true at all. Firstly, I was blessed to experience an English heatwave (think regular Montreal summer temps, +32’c) causing everyone to melt, be sunburnt blond recognition, but the best weather to experience the southern part of the country. So let me break down the revelations that were the last week of my life here in England.
Last Friday, waking up to sunny skies & an adventure ahead had myself & my always adventurous friend Kirsty packing up her car with Cornwall as our end destination. A rugged stretch of the country on Englands southwest coast home to sandy beaches, impressive rolling hills & some incredible surf breaks. Car packed & shades on it was off we went with a long drive (5 hours, which actually took us 8, thanks traffic!) ahead to a weekend of camping. The entire drive down from Brighton I couldn’t seem to drag my eyes away from the view out the passenger side window, sprawling green hills, stunning farm land & hundred of sheep later we found ourselves at our base for the weekend, Polzeath. Boasting a beach front 1500 ft wide and extending over 1000 ft out at low tide we were welcomed with even sunnier skies & surf breaks to impress anyone. The weekend was spent soaking in the sun (I’ve got the sunburn to prove it), catching waves, meeting new friends (thanks to Kirsty’s affiliation with CSUK and it being their annual gathering for 2017).
When we left Brighton, we had a destination to end at but once the weekend was over we had no plans made & nothing to be back in Brighton for until Thursday night. So with the world as our oyster we made plans to head up the coast a little bit to see where we would end up. And with that there was a stop in Newquay, another sea side town with some great breaks & a gorgeous coastline reminding me so much of New Zealand. With temps hovering above 30’c on Monday we made sure to keep ourselves chilled out by checking out some beaches, each more stunning than the last, including that of St-Agnes in a town with the same name & home to some seriously tropical vibes mixes with old architecture and charm. While cooling off in a cute pub (filled with dogs I might add, bonus!) we hopped online & found ourselves a place to stay for the night.
On leaving the pub, someone asked where we managed to find a place (basically everyone in the joint was eager to help us out, amazing!) & when we let them know there were quizzical looks & we were told to try to change it and avoid disaster. Apparently the town we had booked in wasn't the most welcoming and with all our possessions in the car (+ a surfboard on the roof) we were worried, but we set off to at least make the choice for ourselves before making a final decision. And man, were we happy we did that. About an hour and a half out of St- Agnes we found ourselves in one of the most stunning seaside towns I have ever seen in my life. At first glance I could have easily said we were in Spain or Greece with the vibes we got, and our first view of Mevagissey being this (thanks for getting us lost GPS)…
So as you can imagine we were even more excited than our original feelings were about this spot, and when we finally found our B & B for the night that excitement doubled! Trevalsa Court Hotel is a stunning property located high on a hillside overlooking the ocean, but it’s not just the location that will have you jumping for joy. The rooms were charming, bright & airy to suit the surrounding grounds, the staff went above and beyond to make our stay (and most likely everyone’s) more than we could have imagined, and the overall atmosphere was exactly what we needed after spending the weekend living in a tent. After we arrived we opted to relax & soak in the views from the patio to have dinner (first English fish & chips experience was mind blowing in case you were wondering) and within a few hours we had already spoken to the manager to book in for another night (shout out to John for organizing the most amazing upgrade for us unexpectedly!) so we could really get to exploring.
We spent our 1 full day in Mevagissey, exploring every look out and shop we could. We took a 30 minutes coastal boat ride out of the marina for £5 getting a chance to see the stunning landscape from the middle of the water which is something I would totally suggest doing, a totally different view of the town from the sea. We wandered the cobbled streets ducking into local shops along the way (& maybe treating ourselves a little..) before heading back up to the hotel to cool off down at the private beach the hotel offers, yep you read that right- PRIVATE BEACH! You may have to climb a fair few steps to get there, but the views are totally worth it on the way down (think tropical vibes) and the water was refreshing and clear enough to see out for miles. Needless to say the next morning leaving had us both a little sad (okay a lot sad) & both vowing to return soon.
From Mevagissey we hopped back in the car with Plymouth in our headlights for an appointment that Kirsty had, checking out some stops along the way and catching up with a friend of hers (who I had met when I first got to Brighton) and have dinner, then it was off to our final B & B of the trip in Wimborne, at The Canford Crossing . And even though we were barely there 10 hours the accommodation and hospitality shown to us from the owner/operators Diane & Terry was awesome! Brand new facilities & a bathroom I probably could have lived in we had great nights sleep before getting spoiled with breakfast and a cuddle with their dog Lexi & then it was off back towards Brighton.
6 days, multiple towns, countless views, stunning sunrises & sunsets, new connections, and amazing experiences my original opinions of England have totally been wiped out. The hospitality I experienced not only on the road but by strangers in the towns we visited was so refreshing. The views I saw were more than I could have ever imagined and if you still don't believe me, then the photos should help persuade you that England is so much more than just the London scene, castles & dreary days. So do yourself a favour & if you have a trip to the UK booked be sure to step outside of the normal and visit somewhere you may not have heard of before, it'll be sure to surprise you. Sitting here soaking in the last of the sun (before the rain returns), suffering from a sunburn, thinking back on the last few days I’m more than happy with the decision I made this spring to give the UK a shot, and this is only after 3 weeks of being here, so I can't wait to see what the next 3 days/weeks/months has in store for me!