24 Sep 2007

Lytham and the dunes

After the Newquay trip we are already missing the sight and smell of the sea. We had planned to do a little walking trip around Malham and the limestone paving, but the primeval urge to see the sea was too strong and we set off in the direction of Lytham St Annes. Our first spot is the dunes opposite the airport at Blackpool where our shoes soon fill with sand as we run down the hills as fast as possible in order to climb the next virgin sand hill. It's absolutely hilarious and good exercise as you seem to take two steps forward and three steps back as you sink up to your knees into the sugar sand. We then drove along the coast to Lytham and walked a little further. Newquay, however, it's not and by the time we got to Lytham the tide was so far out we may as well have been walking on the flats at Malham. In Newquay you know you can always stop in a beach side bar that's as continental, hip and cosmopolitan as anything in the South of France (as long as you avoid the town), here in Lytham a greasy spoon and a cup of weak tea seem to be the only things on offer. Oh well we can't be spoilt every week. Anyway loads to look forward to. Kosheen return to the Academy (Manchester) next week.

21 Sep 2007

Newquay Day 4

Another fine breakfast got us off to a good start today. We treated ourselves yesterday as we passed back through the town to some "Weird Fish" clothing. We want to tackle the headland at the other side of Fistral Beach before we go to lunch at the Windswept Cafe today. It's a little cooler today thanks to quite a strong wind that's blown up overnight, though it's still warm when the sun breaks through. This means it's a surfer's delight on the beach today with some good looking swells and surf starting to build. We have both really loved the hotel, the food (especially the food), the landscape and the walking here and will probably return. We walk all the way out onto this rather empty headland that has a house perched right down at the bottom, it looks occupied though the pool area seems to be in need of repair. It looks a great place for an Agatha Christie mystery.

By the time we have made our way all the way around and back again to Fistral beach its time for lunch at the Windswept Cafe. I go for the Tagine of Lamb which is lovely and tender and Jack has a superb "baked squash with feta cheese and crumble" really delicious. A bottle of Rioja helps the lunchtime drift by and then its time to head off back to meet the taxi at the hotel.

The flight is due to leave at around 4pm so by getting to the airport for 2.30pm we should have plenty of time. On arrival at St Mawgan International airport (tongue in cheek) we discover our plane won't be arriving until "possibly" 8.15pm AAARRRGGGHHH! It appears BMI Baby, a) don't possess a fleet of planes that are in working order and b) don't have a back up plan when a plane develops a fault. Next time I'll fly Air Southwest. We are give £3 each to buy sandwiches from the cafe and that's about it, you would think an airport that only has to handle planes no larger than a 737 would at least have the requisite number of chairs in its terminal; but even this seems to be too much to ask. The rest of the day is spent watching all the air southwest flights leave on time and drinking tea!

Anyway here are some links to all the fantastic parts of this holiday, not including BMI Baby, starting with a link to the gallery as the blog seems to be rather temperamental in allowing the pictures to be clickable and expandable.

  • 19 Sep 2007

    Newquay Day 3

    Today we're going to make our way to Padstow and visit Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant for lunch. We want to fit some walking in as well along the Southwest route for a couple of hours and the plan was to bus part way, walk and then rejoin a bus. However as its Sunday the buses only run every two hours from Newquay to Padstow so we'll have to look at an alternative on the way back. We've packed different shoes and Jackie has some leggings for the walk back in the small rucksack so fingers crossed the dress code is not over formal.

    Looking across the bay at Padstow

    The bus trip is prolonged to say the least, we could have flown home and half way back again in the time it takes to get to Padstow but eventually we arrive one and a half hours after leaving Newquay. Padstow is a small village made up of a lot of touristy shops, some pubs and tea shops and the harbour. The landscape here is very flat compared to the area around Newquay so its much less dramatic views. Across the estuary is the village of Rock which you can reach by ferry and which has the main beaches.

    Inside Rick Steins Seafood Restaurant

    After a wander around we go to the Seafood Restaurant and are seated in the main room. Jackie has Char- grilled Whole Dover Sole with Sea Salt and Lime (The sole is seasoned with sea salt and cooked un- skinned on a grill. It's served with a light butter and lime sauce.) This is the best fish dish ever Jackie says, the fish is full of flavour and the sauce is just zingy enough to cut through the quite rich tasting Dover Sole.

    I have a starter of Salt and Pepper Squid Tempura with Coriander, Chili, Watercress and Beansprouts. This is absolutely divine, I had no idea beansprouts could taste so fresh. Forget the horrible greasy things served up in a Chinese restaurant or stuffed into a bag of pre packed salad, these are alive with freshness. Everything works beautifully together, my mouth is awash with flavours though Jackie declares the serious amounts of fresh chili in it are too much for her more delicate palate.

    For main I have Casserole of Brill with Caramelised Shallots, Ham , Garlic and Wild Mushrooms. This is quite a rich almost winter style dish but its so beautiful and intense I just wish it would never end. We wash it all down with a crisp Entre Deux Mers ( a sauvignon from the Bordeaux region, a bin end too- excellent and good value) and finish with some equally divine desserts whose pastry is so thin and crisp the pastry chef deserves a michelin star of his own. Before we leave Jackie makes sure she asks the maitre d' for copies of today's menu (each menu is individually printed for the day)

    A quick change into leggings and boots and its time to set off back

    After coffees we plan on what to do next. The two hour bus service is a bit of a bore so we get a taxi to Watergate Bay (Where Jamie Oliver has his restaurant) and walk back to the hotel from there. It's quite a walk over some fantastic cliff tops. The only downside is that when we reach Newquay's outskirts we have to cut through the dismal town because the tide is in and we can't cross the beaches to the harbour.

    Looking back towards Watergate Bay

    The good news is that this long walk allows us to start to work up an appetite again, though its after nine before we venture into the restaurant at the Headland Hotel for dinner. Lobster Thermidor for me and for Jackie, Sea Bass. Then it's a walk around the hotel grounds and the headland stretching away into the blackness of the Atlantic Ocean trying to get some good evening pictures of the hotel.

    14 Sep 2007

    TR Newquay Day 2

    After a good nights sleep listening to the sea washing against the rocks, a full breakfast in the restaurant sets us up for a mornings walking. We set off down the slope that leads directly down to Fistral Beach. A thick sea fog has descended and its quite eerie, you can only see about 20 or so yardds in front of us yet they are still surfers wandering around (presumably looking for the sea) the lifeguards are patrolling in there vans , calling out that the mist will lift in 30mins or so and not to go in the water until after that time. Halfway along the long beach we come across a group of a dozen or more surfers sat in a circle on the sand practicing with their "surf school" teacher. It's quite an amusing sight, especially as you can hardly see your hand in front of your face, let alone the sea. We finally come to the steps at the end of the beach that lead back up to the cliffs above. Nestled in this corner is a small wooden building on stilts which has a bistro/restaurant on the second floor "The Windswept Cafe" (Wetsuits Welcome), we will be having lunch here on our last day

    The Windswept Cafe
    We head back in the direction of the town, which in comparism to the harbour and the coastline is a truly depressing example of poor town planning, we quickly depart and climb back down to the beach. The tide is out so are able to walk around the headlands to reach Tolcarne Beach, a lovely expanse of white sands and traditional changing huts. There's a small restaurant and we call in for a drink and watch the sea and soak up some sun. Its hot today, hot enough for the water to be tempting. As it turns out as we walk back the way we came; our destination the New Harbour Restaurant, we have no choice but to take to the sea as the tide is coming and will reach the headlands before we can pass. Shoes removed we paddle around the headlands passing some worrying sites on the way!
    Reginald Perrin anyone ?

    Dont worry, the owner did return after a quick dip. Out in the sea a Navy Frigate? has appeared this morning and set anchor. It appears to have a team in this weekend's sea rowing races which we can see taking place out in the bay. Today it's the ladies' teams and we can hear the commentary as we walk back through the water nicely cooling down and working up an appetite for lunch. We are going to The New Harbour Restaurant which sits right on the harbour and had been recommended to us by a friend. We had booked in but on arrival appeared to be the only people having lunch so we grabbed a table right in the centre of the terrace on the harbour's edge. I ordered Fruits de Mer and Jackie the Moules Marinere (not technically correct as the mussels came with cream in the sauce, strictly speaking marinere does not contain cream just wine and shallots). My selection was a good plate full of Lobster, Mussels, Crab and a whole Mackerel. Both dishes were very good however I dislike restaurants that seem to make every other item an addition :Salad, Bread, Fries are all extra charges and how are you suppose to eat mussels without bread to dunk? Good wine and we were kept entertained by the ladies rowing and the five resident harbour seals that follow the boats around. Jackie insisted on purely sinful scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam as a dessert, will have to walk even further tomorrow to get rid of the calories.

    I told you we should have set off earlier

    We then returned to the Hotel and decided to work of some off those calories by trying the pools. After some time in the outdoor pool swimming and sunning ourselves we moved indoors to try the jacuzi and sauna. Then it was time for a shower and to dress for dinner.

    Feeling totally fished out we decide to try the Cornish beef. Fillet Mignon for Jackie in a simple red wine sauce and Sirloin for me which came with a pepper sauce. Though tasty and cooked well I think its best to stick with the fish as I soon became bored with the dish. A steak has to be extra special for me to enjoy, think Shulas at the Swan and Dolphin WDW. A rather fruitless strawberry and rhubarb tart finished Jackies meal but left her wanting. I chose cheese (again) which is not going to do my figure much good but I have no sweet tooth and lots of red wine left.

    The New Harbour Restaurant

    13 Sep 2007

    TR Newquay Day 1

    We spent the morning of departure passing the time reading Kevins latest trip reports from his last trip. I should have known better than to find his departure story so amusing (well he shouldn't write such funny TRs.) Suffice to say we spent the same amount of time as the flight takes to get from Manchester to Newquay just sat on the tarmac at Manchester whilst a variety of people came on board thumbing through manuals the size of the Encyclopedia Britannia whilst sat on the floor outside the cockpit. Eventually the "technical problem" was solved (presumably they turned it off and turned it on again) and we were on our way. A strange flight (50mins)you climb to 28000ft get a drink and then descend, my first landing whilst still clutching a beer that had only been served to me a few minutes previously. Its a beautiful day and the taxi is waiting for us, driving us straight to the Headland Hotel. I forget until I see it just how much I miss the sea, it looks beautiful here. Check in and check out the room which looks directly out along the headland and has views of the sea on either side. I'm not convinced by the latest addition to the Headland Hotels grounds, a group of self catering cottages they have added, designed like a small village they seem to have the design qualities of a small council estate in the bright sunlight, perhaps they will look better in the dark. Unpack and go straight out and walk to the top of the headland, then follow the coastal path back around to the harbour to check out the restaurant we have booked for lunch tomorrow. (Can you see food is on the mind already)

    Newquay Harbour

    Return to the Hotel for a quick shower and dress for dinner. The Hotel gives a choice of two Dining Rooms , a slightly more formal restaurant or a brasserie. We opt for the first which has splendid views out over Fistral Beach where surfers are still out catching the late evening waves in the setting sun. Food is gorgeous and all produce is locally sourced from the area. Lobster Thermidor for Jackie which is served with scallops just to make sure your Newquay Shellfish experience starts off with a bang. I order scallops on a bed of spinach cooked in saffron butter to start and follow it with two lovely pieces of Turbot in a broth of asparagus, tomato and saffron potatoes. Both dishes are wonderful though I feel I have had a slight saffron overdose (must read the menus more carefully next time). All this is washed down with a crisp Macon Villages and I finish with an excessive amount of Cornish cheese whilst Jackie plumps for the profiteroles.

    The Headland Hotel from Fistral Beach

    Anyway all thoughts of the slight delay this morning are banished from our heads. Can't wait for the morning.

    7 Sep 2007

    Weekend to Newquay

    Quick update. Today we fly down from Manchester to Newquay. It's always been a dream to stay at the Headland Hotel so we will see if it lives up to expectations. Other things to look forward to are some good rambling down the South West coastal path to Padstow (Phew) though lunch at Rick Steins Seafood Restaurant should be ample reward; review to follow. Other recommendations have been the New Harbour Restaurant and The Windswept Cafe which sits on stilts at the other end of Fistral Beach.
    If your wondering about the picture, this is our faithful herd of cows in the field adjoining the garden which wakes us up every morning during the summer months, they are here this morning as I type and I just liked the picture. Ok we had better get Minky off to his holiday home and make sure I (lol) have finished packing.
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