St Ives harbour

Travel bites: a family holiday in Cornwall

It had been ages. Years in fact, since we last visited Cornwall. But when we caught COVID in March and had to pay a hefty balance on an Easter overseas family holiday, we didn’t feel that comfortable. Husband said ‘we could go to Cornwall’ and that was it.

I got into gear and started planning, as I do, searching for hotels, airbnb, places to see and things to do. Oh, and restaurant to check out of course.

Off we went, stopping overnight in quaint Bruton.


Rested, the next day we made our way towards the coast. Intending to visit primarly two restaurants (Kota Kai in Porthleven and Ugly Butterfly in Carbis Bay), we decided to splurge on the accommodation (a bit) and opted for 4* Penverton Park Hotel, near Redruth.

The hotel is extremely dog friendly: in each room a basket with dog bowls, treats, blanket. The grounds of the hotel are a great place for a walk (although some areas are a little run down) and dogs are allowed in the lounge and in the bar area, so you can also have a meal with your pooch. The Penverton was possibly the most dog friendly hotel we have ever been.

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As for humans, the hotel has an indoor swimming poor, jacuzzi, sauna and gym, also reasons for choosing it. Our little one loved swimming in the pool, and that was great – however considering the health centre is also open to external (paying) guests, it was disappointing.

The pool didn’t look the cleanest, the ‘solarium’ was tight and not really that relaxing, and the windows kept being open, which meant the whole room was chilly as well as the water temperature. The gym was ok – I would not pay for such fitness centre, which was small and quite basic, with well worn equipment and only a handful of free weights and machines.

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Amber and I at the Penverton

The food was decent. Breakfast was pretty good, and dinners (we had a few) was a little hit and miss; one evening we even had to send the vegetables back (bland, uncooked).

They do offer kids menu but, like often the case, this is a super bland version of the adults. The pasta for example was just boiled pasta with ‘sauce’ from a jar (or that’s what it tasted like). Aren’t kids supposed to have taste?

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Mount St Michael


We drove around a bit. The area is full of historic sites, particularly stone works and rings. We managed to visit Chysauster ancient village, on a wind swept hill with a great view (dog friendly English Heritage) and did not venture north towards Tintagel sadly.

We stopped for a stroll in St Ives, beautiful as I remembered and absolutely rammed (we tried a day before without finding a car space). We visited cute harbour town of Porthleven a couple of times, having a very enjoyable lunch at Amelie (bright, airy dining room overlooking the harbour) and popping upstairs for food at Kota Kai, for which my friend Maya had kindly gifted me a voucher for my birthday.

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Perranporth beach

Origins Coffee Roasters are actually based here and in the summer have a coffee shop where I enjoyed a perfect if pricey espresso too.

We also spent an afternoon in Perranporth with friends. The town is small and has the proper ‘summer beach’ vibe, with ice cream parlours and surf shops. The beach is really nice and sandy and not as open as others (although the wind was pretty impressive when we visited).

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Lunch in Porthleven


So apart from the above mentioned Porthleven eateries, of course the highlight of our stay for me was Ugly Butterfly, Adam Handling’s Cornish stunning outpost. Adam opened here just over a year ago, and hosted the G7 dinner, what a way to kick off the re-born Ugly Butterfly!

It is located right on Carbis Bay, an absolutely marvel of a natural bay, with a large, straight sandy beach flanked by hilly sides, lush in green. Ok you look behind you and the Carbis Bay Estate might have a debatable look to it but its position is incredible. The estate comprises of an upmarket hotel, a few cafes and bistros and of ccourse, Adam’s fine dining restaurant.

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Ugly Butterfly

I walked in and I went ‘wow’. It’s truly an incredible place with floor to ceiling glass windows right over the beach. There is a bar and then the dining area. They offer tasting and a la carte and a couple of children’s options whch is great. The other fantastic thing is that they are dog friendly so we were able to dine with Amber with us, which of course makes everything so much easier and enjoyable.

The menu is typical Adam with some local focus, and as always sustainability is at the heart of Adam’s ethos. We loved it.

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Other places we tried worthy of a mention:

  • Harbour View Cafe, Porthleven
  • Deli & Ice cream, Porthleven
  • Sea of Coffee, St Ives
  • Carnbrea Castle, Redruth
  • The Treleigh Arms, Rednor


A section I must dedicate to Redruth the town where the Penverton hotel is located. I walked Amber into town a few times over the days we were there and loved exploring it. I had never heard of it before, but it seems the town was actually quite an important mining centre in the past, and traces of such past are to be found all over.

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The town has, I admit, a feel of neglect or if not neglect, of abandonment. There are a lot of shops which are shut and empty, and many vestigia of the past.

My favourite was without a doubt the Regal cinema, a marvel of art deco which is actually still very much open and active, and gorgeous.

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Art Deco interior of Redruth cinema

Not far, the Redruth Drapery Stores are a few shop fronts either restored or closed. One seems a treasure trove of antiques and modern antiques, but I was never lucky enough to find it open.

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Beside it, what looks like a knitting centre full of second hand clothes. One morning it was open and it had a ‘coffee’ sign. I did manage a take away flat white (oat milk only) – very friendly service if a little bonkers and surreal. Card machines barely connected and so I stopped for a chat with the ladies inside who were very friendly and swore a couple of times in front of my 5yo (and dog of course).

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Redruth high street at sunset

I loved taking photos here and there, and loved the feeling the town had. I could perhaps describe it as green shoots of regrowth popping up here and there. Other than the Penverton for example, the town has no actual restaurants other than kebabs, fish and chips and take aways.

We loved our Cornish break; it is a fair drive from London (we had a stop over on the way back too). Pace of life is slower than London, and it can get really packed in the more touristy areas. But the scenery and the sites are well worth it!

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Amber on Carbis Bay beach

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