We took a week away to celebrate our first anniversary. Ages ago, we thought we’d go to New York (I even found a little Brooklyn bolthole for us to stay) but boy-oh-boy am I glad we dropped that idea (Sandy. Obviously). Instead, we swung for staycationing and headed south to Cornwall, with a weekend pit stop in Devon to break the journey on our way.
We stayed about 10 miles or so from St Ives, in a tiny four-house, two-dog village up a rambling lane a mile and a half long and far away from everything. Our home for the week was The Apple Store, a former barn converted into an open-plan cottage. It was lovely – all whitewashed stone with big, airy windows, the bedroom tucked on the mezzanine under a high ceiling and reclaimed wooden beams.
With the autumn days, it was especially cosy, with lamps everywhere to light up all the corners and a wood burner, plus thick throws to huddle under – a perfect retreat from the inevitable chill. We really liked this place – with no phone signal and no wifi, we properly switched off.
We settled into a simple routine. I started knitting for the first time in years. R made his way through all the back copies of New Scientist that he rarely gets to otherwise read. I finally curled up with my latest stash from the library and my Kindle, books I’d been itching to lose myself in (Gone Girl, Into the Darkest Corner, Heartburn).
We’d make lazy big breakfasts in the morning whenever we got up, with fresh farm eggs and bread kindly left out for us when we arrived. Then we’d venture out in the afternoon, driving wherever we fancied with no real plan – into St Ives, Penzance and, my favourite, Porthleven, where we walked through thick fog along the coast and up high, taking photos, feeling the raindrops in the air which promised to burst but didn’t quite on our tongues, in our eyes and on our hair.
My breath literally got swept away one incredibly windy afternoon at The Lizard, the most southerly point of England. All I could keep thinking was how we were stood on what was the bottom of the map, tracing the outline of the coast in my mind and with my feet as we walked along the edge of the rocky peninsula.
On our way home, we’d stop at the farm shop in the local village, picking up whatever assortment of ingredients we could find and then think what the easiest thing to cook with it would be. We stewed vegetables, big fat peppers, mushrooms and courgettes, and baked chunky potatoes. We ate easily, indulgently; cheese on toast became R’s speciality and scones with home made jam and clotted cream my dangerous snack addiction. We’d packed our coffee maker, grinder, beans and all – we came prepared.
We stayed ‘home’ and chimed in our first anniversary with sparkling elderflower and enormous bowls of pasta, exchanging little gifts (much rather this, than Valentine’s).
I felt completely far away without actually leaving the country. One night, we accidentally left the grill on and had to throw open all the windows and doors to get the smokiness out. As I stood out in the fresh dark air, I felt what it was like to be in the absolute still of the night – not a lamppost, not a car engine, not a noisy neighbour. Absolutely. Still. I wouldn’t have swapped this break for sunny shores or five star luxury. This was magical.