Exploring Cornwall: 5 things to in England’s southwest

Cornwall has been on my must visit list for many years. As well as my general love for all things associated with the sea and coastlines, I was an avid reader of Rosamunde Pilcher’s novels- most of which are set in Cornwall.

When I finally visited the south western corner of England I was blown away by the natural beauty and character of the region. Here are the five things I loved exploring the most in Cornwall.

1. Explore Penzance

Penzance is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is full of winding, hilly streets, Cornish pasty bakeries and picturesque views. The town also has a beautiful ocean swimming pool- The Jubilee Sea Pool.

2. Climb St. Michael’s Mount

Perched on the top of an island, the Castle of St. Michael’s Mount and offers superb views of the bay. Owned by the St Aubyn family since 1650, entrance fees (£16) go towards the upkeep of the castle and grounds.

At low tide you can walk across a stone causeway to the island, while at high tide there are frequent boats to ferry you across, for a small fee.

Marazion- the town at the base of St. Michael’s Mount is also worth spending time exploring.

3. Wander around tiny village of Gulval

This quaint little town is set back from the coast and only a short walk from Penzance. You’ll find charming streets, a beautiful old church with a garden full of towering trees and fields of wheat and chamomile.

 

4. Explore Newlyn and Mousehole

In the other direction to Gulval, are the coastal towns of Newlyn and further along the bay Mousehole. These are both really picturesque and full of little cafes and art galleries.

5. Relax at stunning Porthcurno

Porthcurno is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to. A short walk from the bus stop, the sandy cove provides the perfect spot to relax and take a dip in the sea.

The stretch of coastline on either side of the beach is equally stunning and there’s a coastal walking track along the cliff top to nearby bays and towns. Local buses travel frequently between Porthcuno, Penzance and Land’s End.

Travel Budget: Cornwall

I absolutely loved my trip to Cornwall and can’t wait to go back and spend more time along England’s stunning southwest coast. The thing that surprised me most about the trip was just how beautiful beaches (especially Porthcurno) actually were. I can’t recommend this place of the world highly enough!

If you are planning a trip, here’s a guide on what I spent on a fairly tight budget and what you can can expect to pay for a similar standard. I visited in June, so prices may be slightly higher later in summer and cheaper at other times of the year.

000793470008

 

 

City: Penzance, Cornwall England

Travel Style: Budget

Currency: Pound (£)

Duration: 5 nights

Season: Summer (June)

Total Spend: 178£ (320 AUD, 198 EUR)

Daily Spend: 36£ (65 AUD, 40 EUR)

 

 

Cost Breakdown

Accommodation: 5 nights for 69£

CNV000018

5 nights: 3 at a hostel, 2 on a bus (included in transport costs below)

  • To save money and (mostly) time I opted to take the night bus to and from London to Penzance. I’ve included the cost of this under transport below. I loved that this gave me an extra two full days to explore Cornwall at no extra cost.
  • EasyPZ Backpackers in Penzance was one of the best hostels I ever stayed at. The staff were amazing, the atmosphere friendly and relaxed and the facilities everything you’d ever want from a beachside stay. It was walking distance from the train/bus station and I had a view of St. Michael’s Mount from my dorm window. The hostel staff were also fantastic when it came to arriving early in the morning and leaving late in evening- I could leave my bags, shower in the downstairs bathroom and fill my water bottle from the kitchen.

Transport: 5 days = 43£

000792480025

  • The train from London to Penzance can be quite expensive (for my dates it was around 120£ each direction for a5 hours trip), while the overnight bus (9 hours) was only £14 in each direction. I booked the bus.
  • I did have a problem when I left Penzance- my bus didn’t turn up. I made the split decision to get the last train to London which cost me a lot at the time but I was able to later claim back. Just a reminder to always have a back up plan, especially when travelling alone at night.
  • In Penzance I bought an unlimited local bus ticket for 15£. For two days this is 20£ and three days even better value. So if you plan to explore over a few days definitely opt for a longer ticket.
  • In my usual style I mostly got around by walking.

Food & Drink: 5 days = 50£

000792480012

With a fully equipped kitchen at a hostel, it’s easy to save money on food. Most hostels also have a cupboard of left over food that you can combine with new ingredients for an even cheaper meal.

  • Breakfast: included in my hostel rate. Alternatively, many cafes offer a full hot breakfast for around 5£
  • Lunch: between 2-4£ for Cornish Pastie or salad sandwich
  • Ice Cream: 2.5£
  • Beer: around for half a pint
  • Dinner: I mainly ate at the hostel. Pub meals or similar would set you back between 10-15£ a meal

Activities: 16£

  • Entry to St. Michael’s Mount castle and gardens

000792480015

Total spent:  178£  / 5 nights = 36£ per day

What happens when you take undeveloped film in checked luggage?

You get foggy film.

The effect is much worse when undeveloped film is packed in checked luggage rather than carry on, as the X-ray intensity is much higher. The more times the film goes through the X-ray the more faded/washed out the images will be. If you do need to travel with undeveloped film then be sure to take it in your carry on luggage and ask the airport staff to exclude it from the X-ray. It’s best if you have it in a separate clear plastic bag and ask as you hand over your belongings for scanning.

I completely forgot to do this with my latest films and while one roll was ruined, another had a distinct vintage feel to it that I actually really liked. Here are some of the shots of Cornwall from that roll.

CNV000002CNV000004CNV000005CNV000006CNV000007CNV000009CNV000014CNV000018CNV000019CNV000020CNV000022CNV000030CNV000028CNV000026CNV000029

Exploring Oxford on foot: 5 things to do in the City of Dreaming Spires

DSC00302.jpg

Oxford has been a place I’ve longed to visit for years- a city synonymous with excellence in education and research, in a beautiful and historic setting. Easily reached by train or bus from London, the city provides a perfect day trip or weekend getaway from the capital.

Here are my favourite 5 things to do in the City of Dreaming Spires.

DSC00551

1. Marvel at the Bodleian Library and Bridge of Sighs

Opened in 1602, the Bodleian Library (or ‘the Bod’ as locals refer to it) houses over 12 million items which are primarily used for reference- meaning they can’t be taken from the library reading rooms. The most famous part of the library is the Radcliffe Camera– the stunning round building. To get the best view of the ‘Rad Cam’ go inside the neighbouring Church of St Mary the Virgin and up the church tower. Be sure to go early in the day as the line can become quite long later on.

The nearby Hartford Bridge, more commonly known as the Bridge of Sighs is a replica of the Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice and also worth a visit.

 

2. Visit the University Colleges

The University of Oxford has 38 Colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls of Religious Foundation. If you’re a student or staff member at the University, you must belong to one of these colleges, with everything from accommodation, dining, drinking and studying occurring within them. The oldest is University College which was founded in 1249 and boasts alumni such as Stephen Hawking, C.S Lewis and Bill Clinton.

I was lucky enough to get free entry to the colleges as I visited with a friend who is a researcher at the University. Normally entrance is between 3-6£ per college.

If you only visit one, I’d recommend Christ Church as it’s impressively grand and one of the film locations for Harry PotterEspecially look out for the Cloisters, Bodley Tower Staircase and the Dining Hall. Here you’ll also find a stained glass window dedicated to Lewis Carol’s works.

 

3. Enjoy brunch at Handle Bar Cafe

This place is run by a couple of French guys and not only provides a relaxed vibe and interesting decor, but delicious brunch and coffee with sustainably sourced ingredients. Arrive before you’re starving as it can become pretty busy on the weekends and you may need to wait for a table. More info here.

 

4. Have a drink at one of the classic pubs

There are many traditional old pubs in Oxford with my favourite being Turf Tavern which dates back to 1381! You’ll find it down a tiny alley (St. Helen’s Passage) next to the Bridge of Sighs- opposite the Bodleian Library. It was here in 1963 that legendary Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke set the Guinness World Record for drinking a yard glass of ale in 11 seconds.

Other local favourites include Bear Inn (established in 1242) and the King’s Arms. If cocktails are more your thing try FREVD cocktail bar.

5. Step into the largest single room selling books in the world

Blackwell’s Bookshop on Broad Street was founded in 1879 and boasts the largest single room selling books worldwide- the Norrington Room. A must for any book lovers, my favourite thing was the mystery books wrapped in brown paper with elusive blurbs.

IMG_2073.jpg

 

If you have time to spare then check out the Natural History Museum on Parks Road- entry is free!