It was a dark and foggy autumn day when we set off from the farm in Hereford. We were driving through Wales on our way to Cornwall. Our route took us past the ruins of Tintern Abbey rising above the wreaths of cold mist.
Tintern Abbey, or Abaty Tyndyrn in Welsh, seemed as unreal as its pictures in a book of poems. Yet there it stood, founded in 1131 near Tintern village in Monmouthshire on the Welsh bank of the River Wye. I looked at the remains and imagined the music that once filled the monastery now replaced by roosting crows.
The skies brightened as we passed through the border to England and headed to the Cornish coast. St Ives didn’t offer sunshine, but it did provide peaceful seaside views and a tasty Cornish pasty.
The next day we were on the road again to Land’s End. It was our three-year anniversary. The sun came out and the sky was brilliant blue along the winding cliff roads. It had been almost 10 years since I last visited Cornwall and to me it hadn’t changed a bit.
At the end of the country John took me past the famous signpost to a quiet spot overlooking the sea. Here he asked me to marry him and I said yes. That done in a manner that suited us, we were engaged.
A short walk along the cliff path took us to a small farm where we met a cat called Felix the Mighty and his human friend Edward, who I thought might be a pirate. Felix has the honourable title of first and last cat of Britain because he lives at Land’s End where planes fly over to and from the British Isles.
Edward told us a story about memory and time travel, which I won’t share with you here because it is his story. To say thank you, I shared our secret with Felix and I was rewarded with a semi-precious stone from the mighty cat’s treasure box. John was not so lucky. Edward told him the points along the coastline of Land’s End where a proposal must be done and to take me there immediately.
And so we walked further up the cliffs where John proposed twice more – in all, three times for the three years we have been together.
The sun was starting to fade as we drove to the charming village of Marazion. We parked for a late afternoon stroll across the Giant’s causeway to St Michael’s Mount – we had till 6pm before the tide returned. “Keep an eye on the sea,” said a local as we went across. “Because God and tide are two different things.”
The castle at the top of the mount is almost 900-years-old and belongs to the St Aubyn family, who have lived there since the 17th century. According to Cornish legend, a giant’s stone heart is trapped within the mount.
The island village itself is all cobbled streets and cottages surrounding the castle’s subtropical gardens. When the tide is out, the beach is the children’s playground and when the tide is in they have the sea all to themselves.
Our journey through Cornwall, or Kernow in Cornish, continued from St Ives to Newquay to visit The Eden Project. John drove off the map to discover more of the rugged Cornish coastline like Perranporth. Here the blustery week had turned out perfectly for kite-flyers and dog-walkers.
The surfers’ paradise of Newquay offered us a brief moment to catch our breath before taking off again to explore Eden.
Another surprise was waiting at The Eden Project – bees! These three colourful bee hives are part of a project to conserve the British black bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) in Cornwall and the UK.
The Eden Project is home to artificial biodomes housing a captive rainforest and a Mediterranean habitat with thousands of plants collected from all around the world.
As a beekeeper, the giant bee resting in the flower beds and the hexagonal-celled biodomes made me feel quite at home. Of course, there was lots more to see.
Inside the rainforest we found exotic flowers, curious birds, waterfalls and a baobab tree offering welcome refreshment for the humidity.
From Eden to King Arthur’s country, the remains of Tintagel castle waited on the last day of our holiday.
It was a steep climb up the stone steps to the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. The ruined Medieval fortification is split in two by rocks and sea, which make views of Tintagel simply breathtaking.
Even more exciting than the castle was the discovery of the Tintagel Honey Shop owned by very charming beekeeper. A whirlwind shopping trip and a couple of jars of honey later, we were due back in Hereford for tea time, I had tasted some delicious local honeys and had a nice chat about bees.
From Tintern Abbey to St Ives, we’d travelled to the end of the country, seen a giant’s castle and explored King Arthur’s land. I said farewell to Cornwall and a thank you to John for our surprise engagement holiday. That done, we drove back to Hereford racing hot air balloons along the way.
You can follow the adventures of Felix the Mighty, the first and last cat of Britain, on his Facebook Page.
All about Cornwall
St Michael’s Mount
The Eden Project
I will have a lot to tell the bees next Saturday! My next post will be about beekeeping notes for November with a flurry of snow.
I recently visited Tintern Abbey for the first time and adored it! 🙂
It’s so hauntingly beautiful, I love it too! 🙂
Beautiful post. My father was born in Newquay.
Surfer’s paradise! It’s a great little town – have you visited?
No. Never did, oddly enough. I now live in South Africa, so it’s even more difficult. But I would like to. Maybe on my next trip ”home”?
South Africa is beautiful – my grandmother lived in Cape Town – but yes, you must pay the west country a visit on your next trip 🙂
What a holiday – so romantic! You found so many fascinating things. Drew’s brother-in-law Alan has photographed weddings at the Eden Project – the groom has the option of coming down into the dome on a zipwire. Quite the entrance.
So lovely to see Cornwall after 10 years – and a big surprise from John too 😉 We kept our families guessing when we got home and took bets on who would notice the ring first 😉
PS Don’t tell John about the zip wire – he’ll make us both do it!
The world is a beautiful place….makes you want to explore every inch of it.
and Congratulations 🙂
Thank you – and yes we must never stop exploring, there is beauty everywhere.
What an amazing holiday but first of all congratulations! The photographs are fantastic and very enticing for me who does not know to Cornwall, although the Eden Project has been on my “Must visit” list for some time. The St. Michael’s Mount reminded me of Mont Saint-Michel in France. Thank you for sharing such a special trip. Amelia
Thank you Amelia 🙂 Yes, St Michael’s Mount is twinned with Mont Saint Michel. I think you would love it there and the Eden Project is utterly inspiring – I highly recommend it! 🙂
Whoop whoop! Congratulations to you and your new fiancé What a lovely proposal xxx
Danielle Drainey 07733161715
Thank you Danielle! It’s always a pleasure to hear from you – I hope you’re well xxx
Congratulations Emma and John, as a Cornish lad of 65 years I couldn’t be more pleased that you came to Cornwall to get engaged. Long life and much happiness to you both
A blessing from Cornwall is all we could wish for – thank you! It was the perfect place for us 🙂
You two make a cute couple. It was a wonderful proposal too – so romantic in a romantic place. I loved visiting the Germanic castles and one day I hope to see the ones in the UK and France. It must be nice to be able to visit them more easily. So far for me.
Thank you! And I hope you get to visit Cornwall, I’d love to see your photos of Tintagel – they would be spectacular. I enjoyed going out of season, less busy and more time to enjoy the scenery! Take care xx
Happy Anniversary Emma. The trip sounds wonderful and the accompanying photographs are fantastic. It’s like enjoying the journey with you. I visited Cornwall many years ago and it seems as beautiful as my memory of it. But talking of memories, your journey roused another one in me for which I’m grateful. When I was in the RAF almost 45 years ago, I was stationed at RAF Credenhill in Hereford and fond the County to be beautiful too, and I promise that had nothing to do with the abundance of cider on offer.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
Hereford does the best cider, and also potatoes and beef. In (Here)ford You Can is the county slogan. I hope you enjoyed your cider-drinking RAF days in West Midlands 🙂 Thank you for your good wishes – Hugz xxx
Cornwall is very beautiful and better (to me) out of season – also many congratulations to both of you!
Cornwall is quite a magical place, very lovely to be back – and much better out of season when it’s quieter and you can fully enjoy the natural beauty. I was pleased to find Marazion so unchanged 🙂
Many congratulations. Enjoyed your trip as a Herefordian who has also enjoyed the places you mention in Cornwall.
Thank you! I always enjoy Hereford too each time we visit – I look forward to the view of the Malverns and unspoiled countryside.
Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Such a romantic occasion too! Is he a beekeeper also?
Thank you! John’s not a beekeeper, but he does tolerate my bee obsession very well!
What a beautifully romantic trip, definitely one to remember forever, lucky you!
Thank you! It took some planning on John’s part – I think he is still recovering 😉
Hi Emma. What a delight to finally land upon your wonderful blog today, and see all of these wonderful Happy photo’s.. First Happy Anniversary belated I know.. but how wonderful to revisit old haunts and I love Cornwall… Thank you for this Happy Share Emma. Loved each and every photo..
Have a wonderful week.. Love to you.. Sue ❤
Thank you Sue! We had such a happy holiday there and so much fun. Cornwall is a magical place! Have a wonderful week too! xxx
You too Emma.. Hugs ❤