Padstow

Padstow in autumn

My recent trip to a sunny and balmy Padstow last week seems a lifetime away now that I am sitting at my desk looking out at the sideways rain on a miserable Monday morning. Of course, it’s half term and I guess that is when the rain usually makes an appearance.

Anyway back to Padstow… I was in town to get some new ‘location shots’ as ours are looking a little bit 1980’s and I think things have probably changed a bit since then! First job – get some photos of the harbour. Attractive but not picture postcard pretty, Padstow is still home to several working fishing boats which sit alongside some rather smart looking yachts and power cruisers. Beyond the harbour wall, the estuary looks absolutely incredible with golden sandbanks, beautiful blue waters and a sunny haze giving the air of the Carribean – it really is stunning! The little ferry is making its way across from Rock and a queue of day trippers is forming on the quay. I am very temped to join them but just don’t think my diary will allow for a boat trip today. It does however remind me of a particularly hilarious speedboat trip we went on a few years ago on Thunder – one of four that operate from the harbour, the others being Fireball, Jaws and Sea Fury- all living up to their crazy names and highly recommended even if the whole experience is a bit 1980’s!

Back in town, I take a wander around the shops and find a real mixture of seaside meets city chic with buckets and spades next to boutique clothes shops, expensive jewellers next to the pasty shops and galleries galore tucked in between them all. I am really pleased to see a fishmongers has opened in the town, something which unbelievably has been missing from many Cornish towns recently. In the Padstow Museum there is an exhibition of paintings by local artists– definitely worth a look and you might discover the next Terry Frost, although I am not convinced, each to their own though…

It is easy to see why Rick Stein has made such an impact on Padstow, his shop, deli and patisserie look fantastic, like they should be in Notting Hill – not quite what we are used to down here! They might not be the cheapest place to buy your bread and basics but for a treat there are some incredibly tasty looking items. It’s a far cry from my first trip to Padstow when The Victorian Tea Rooms seemed to be the only option for coffee and a cake (not an experience I wish to repeat).

Of course there are no shortage of restaurants and again Mr Stein has a bit of a monopoly with the seafood restaurant, bistro, café and deli, oh yes and a fish and chip shop, and probably some others that I have missed. However this has only served to raise the game in town with Paul Ainsworth at number 6 and Nathan Outlaw across the water in Rock. It isn’t all fine dining though with plenty of pubs and cafés to choose from too.

Tour done, I just have time to take a little walk away from the centre up Duke Street where pretty perfectly painted pastel coloured houses line the road. No doubt most are holiday homes now but you do get a feel for the old Padstow before it became such a popular holiday destination and people left their stable doors open onto the street – in fact a few still do…maybe things haven’t changed so much after all.


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