the cream of cuisine
vos rancheros. Best of all, Hugo takes dogs, being that half the joy of a Cornish holiday is taking the pooch to run on the beach in winter.
The third wonderful breakfast in Cornwall comes from a kitchen which for years has also been serving wonderful dinners — the delightfully old-fashoned Budock Vean Hotel, tucked away between Truro and Falmouth on the Helford River. It also takes dogs and fields a spa, golf-course and swimming pool complex.
Although it seems anachronistic to demand jackets and ties for dinner in the country, when you see the magical, starlit ambience of the hotel’s dining room by night, it positively demands dressing up for five-course feasts which include superbly-cooked fish choices and local cheeses from a nearby master fromager, not to mention delicious starters, soups and desserts. The golf course is organically managed, and non-golfers will enjoy the huge pool or a soak in the outdoor hot tub overlooking magnificent valley scenery. Well-delivered spa treatments are on hand, and there is yoga every Monday evening.
While you might never feel like leaving the premises, with its super-comfy rooms and lovely walks, there are some wonderful gardens in this neck of the woods, of which Trebah — considered one of the world’s 80 finest — is an absolute paradise: a jungle garden built into a ravine, where hydrangeas, ferns and giant rhubarb seem to grow right out of the river-bed, and you can walk all the way down to the crashing Atlantic waves.
Nearby Helford Passage is a delightful little village right on the river, with a footpath leading to a secluded beach. And as Budock Vean accommodatingly also accepts canines, you can enjoy the whole experience with your dog.
Budock Vean is less than 15 minutes’ drive from Falmouth and often overlooked by visitors heading for the beaches. But its National Maritime Museum alone makes it a worthwhile excursion.
One of the quirkier, but most charming, exhibits is a recreation of the Old Curiosity Shop which once stood in the town’s market street, owned by one John Burton, a local character who claimed he could sell “anything from a monkey to a pulpit”.
While the shop closed 100 years ago soon after Burton’s death, there are many more quirky and offbeat shops to enjoy in Falmouth, as befits a town which is home to a major art college, and a good art gallery.
Despite the rather dreary Victorian building, it is a multiple award nominee, with some important works by Burne-Jones, Munnings and other British artists.
This winter’s exhibition, Fish & Ships promises masterpieces from the Newlyn School which evocatively documented Cornwall’s 19th century fishing industry.
Falmouth is also the home of Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII to help fortify Britain’s south coast and scene of a major Civil War siege, and nearby are several outstanding gardens, including Glendurgan which, like Trebah, is considered one of the great subtropicalplanting estates which Cornwall’s mild climate supports.
Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant on Padstow Harbour
Custard, another of Padstow’s culinary wonders