Escaping in Cornwall at The Headlands Hotel
The weather cooled down during our second day in Cornwall – a not completely unexpected change from the astoundingly good weather on Friday. It wasn’t raining though, and that’s always good enough around here. After a seriously good breakfast at the breakfast buffet at The Headland Hotel, we went for a long walk along the coast and ended up having a little picnic lunch on a cliff looking out to sea.
We have the most amazing picnic bag and it’s really upped our game this spring so far – it’s got plates and silverware and little wine glasses, plus a heat protected wine carryon on one side and a roll up fleece blanket that is also rainproof on the other side. And it just looks like a regular backpack! It’s amazing. (We got ours at Next for 25 bucks, weirdly, but I’m sure this sort of thing exists in other places, if you are so inclined to look. I’m here to aid you in all your picnicking needs!).
We also managed to book in for my first afternoon tea that same afternoon. I’ve had many a cream tea (mostly in Derbyshire the first summer I ever came to England when we went on holiday with Jon’s family to the Peak District), but had never actually gotten around to doing afternoon or high tea, so we took advantage of the fact that the hotel does a good one (and even did some really nice gluten-free ones for Jon). The main thing separating cream tea from afternoon tea is that cream tea is a hot drink with scones, clotted cream and jam, while afternoon tea has the whole shebang piled high on a tiered tray, with finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones. The more you know. Now that I’ve actually experienced both, I think I’d just stick with cream tea – the scones are the life of the party anyway!
There was a fair amount of laying around in the room during the weekend too, mostly to apologize every time we had to leave Bruce for awhile. The hotel is dog friendly and there were so many dogs when we were there – it was so dreamy! Just fancy English people and their dogs, all over the place. They left a little welcome pack for Bruce when we checked into the room, and a big blanket to put on the bed for him, which was a nice touch.
Jon and I were pretty nervous about leaving him in the room and having him whine and cry and drive everyone crazy while we were out. Dog-friendliness aside, a few parts of the hotel aren’t open to pups, including the main restaurant where we had breakfast each morning (and where tea was served), so he had to be left alone at least a little bit. And if he couldn’t handle it, we were going to have to switch off eating, one staying in the room, one going out, which would have been dumb and put a real damper on the weekend. But he was cool with it and seemed to just sleep while we were out. Plus there was an angry chihuahua staying in the room next door that was much more badly behaved, so I feel like we won the weekend. Is that how parents of humans feel? If the kids nearby are badly behaved jerks it makes you feel better about your own?
On Sunday the weather picked back up again and the sunshine was glorious. We took another morning walk in the opposite direction out to Little Fistral Beach, then made our way back, had some lunch and dropped Bruce off in the room once again before renting some stand up paddleboards and heading out on to the open water, decked out in the sexiest of full wetsuits and booties. They make such a difference, and there were so many people out on the water, despite the fact that it was freezing cold. I really loved that about Cornwall – it didn’t matter what the weather was, people were in the water, on the water and by the water. It was like a chillier version of Southern California, with a really outdoorsy vibe everywhere. The SoCal of England!
I spoke about it in my newsletter last week, but going out on the Atlantic Ocean on a SUP, versus the winding river that I’m used to at home, was terrifying and exhilarating. I was certain I was going to be dragged out to sea, where I would just have to live on my board forever like Buddy the Elf on his ice floe, except I wouldn’t wind up in New York, I would just….die. But we didn’t die! We paddled along the coast going in and out of various coves, stopping to enjoy the sun on the beaches and even climbing some rocky outlays to explore and jump in, aided by some very adventurous little kids with serious skills and no lack of courageous genes.
The Headland Hotel itself was gorgeous. It sits imperiously on the coast, looking equally parts majestic and terrifying. It’s been redone since The Witches was filmed there nearly 30 years ago, but it’s still very much an iconic Victorian hotel. It felt very old English – the rooms were still large and the ceilings were high, unlike more contemporary hotels. And there were lots of antique bits that made it feel very much a part of the landscape.
We had one fancy dinner on our last night at the hotel’s traditional restaurant. Three courses of locally sourced Cornish deliciousness, and a really nice bottle of wine in a room with sea views, timed to watch the sunset. Perfect. This was my Christmas present after all, so a nice meal was very appreciated. Thanks Jon!
The next morning we got up and gathered our things and said farewell to the Headland. Bruce was pumped to get back on the road, but he’s really excited for anything to happen, ever. Low expectations with this one.
I hope we get to go back sometime. It seems like the most magical place to be on a stormy winter’s night, the waves crashing on the cliffs below. Spooky and Victorian, just the way I like it.