Cornwall: A Staycation-worthy Destination

Friday, 11 August 2017

Our most anticipated trip to LA was cancelled almost at the last minute much to our my disappointment. With my annual leave already granted (a few months before)and our minds set to a few days away from the hustle and bustle of the city, we had to find an alternative place to spend a few days and unwind. A foreign travel was ruled out as it was a bit too late to book anything cheap, so we chose to staycation instead. The Jurassic Coast was our original plan as I've always wanted to see Durdle Door, but on second thought decided to go further southwest to Cornwall, which was an even better idea.

I have been to Cornwall at least three times before but actually not seen it the way I've seen it this time. Majority of the places we went to were places I've never heard of before, but certainly will now be on my list of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. 

Planning this trip was apparently more challenging than when I planned our trip to the South Island in New Zealand. Luckily, I have a very supportive travel buddy so our itinerary was as perfect as we hoped it would be. We spent four days in Cornwall and here's how we did it:

Day 1:
- As the drive to Cornwall seemed long, we decided to take the 3 1/2 hours train ride from London to Plymouth and then hired a car from there. Our first destination was Polperro, a quaint fishing village almost an hour drive away from Plymouth. We parked our car on top of a hill and enjoyed an idyllic 15-minute walk to the village. We walked through narrow and winding streets, and passed by small shops and white cottages with colourful hanging flower baskets. I had to remind myself that I was in England and not in Greece. Polperro is a truly picturesque little village.

After my first Cornish cream tea (of this trip)at Bean & Scone, and J's Cornish pasty at the shop next door, we headed to our next destination - The Lost Gardens of Heligan in St Austell.

To be honest, we didn't explore the garden enough to even say whether  the £14 entrance was worth it. All we saw was basically hanging mirrors and lamp shades. We even almost missed "the head of the giant" which, despite being located just at the side of the entrance, wasn't easy to find.

So, after our brief tour of the garden, we decided to drive to our hotel in Mitchell, 20 minutes away from Pentewan.

Where we stayed
The Plume of Feathers-  Mitchell, Newquay TR8 5AX
- I'm not normally keen on accommodations attached to a pub, but The Plume of Feathers exceeded all my expectations: very clean and spacious room away from the pub, free-standing bath tub, rain shower and beautiful garden view. Highly recommended.

Where we ate
- We didn't even bother looking for nearby restaurants anymore because The Plume of Feathers looked so inviting. The food and service was indeed good. I had the Monkish and Prawn Scampi with fries and salad (£12.50), while J had Chicken Supreme (£14.50). Then we had equally good breakfast at the conservatory the following morning.

Day 2:
- We had a full itinerary on our second day in Cornwall, so we ensured to visit St Michael's Mount first to beat the high tide and well, the flock of tourists. I have been here once before but I didn't go up to the castle. The castle is full of fascinating stories, from the appearance of Archangel St Michael to a giant's stone heart that you can still apparently hear beating if you listen close enough. 

As touristy as it is, St Michael's Mount remains one of the best places in Cornwall that anyone should visit. For £9.50, you get more than what your money's worth, with its rich history and stunning views.

Then we were off to Land's End- the southwestern-most part of England. Er, sad to say that apart from my photoshoot in the flower fields, I didn't enjoy my trip here. It was far too busy. Honestly, it's a tourist trap and I feel that the only thing special about this place is the fact that it's the "end" of England. I suppose that's enough reason to visit the place, hey?


Contrary to the underwhelming experience at Land's End, our next destination- the Minack Theatre was incredibly stunning. This open-theatre was built by a lady named Rowena Cade in the 1930s and it is still in use up to this day. You don't necessarily need to watch any shows though. For a mere £5, you have the liberty to enjoy the very impressive architecture and spectacular views. This is a kind of place you would only think of seeing in countries like Greece or Italy, and not England. The theatre is set on top of a cliff overlooking the turquoise water of Porthcurno Bay. No matter where you're coming from in Cornwall, this place is worth the drive. It is simply breathtaking.

It only took us about three hours to see everything that we wanted to see that day. At just after 3pm, we've ran out of ideas where to go. J came across this stonehenge-ish place in his google search and so we drove about half an hour to Madron in Penzance to find the "Lanyon Quoit". The monument is tucked away in the middle of nowhere and is not very visible from the road. We only found it because I saw a couple sitting atop the rock. 

We then drove off to Gulval to check on Tremenheere Sculpture Gradens. They have some interesting sculptures there I must say.

By the time we finished exploring the area, we were feeling a bit tired so we drove back to Penzance where we would stay the night.

Where we stayed:
Hotel Penzance - Barton's Hill, Penzance TR18 3AE
- The hotel has certificate of excellence and good reviews on tripadvisor but we were certainly not impressed. The room looked old and tired. Besides, there was this smell of I don't know, something old that won't go away. I had to ask for an air freshener to get rid of the smell. Our room had the view of the harbour, but even that won't convince me to go back again.

Where we ate:
The original plan was to have dinner at Ben's Cornish Kitchen but it was closed on a Sunday so we ended up at The Admiral Benbow, a historic pub located in the city centre. We were dumped right at the back of the pub and waited for almost 45 minutes for someone to take our order. I was feeling claustrophobic in that little corner and if it wasn't Sunday, I would have walked out. Then the food finally came. J ordered the fish of the day (and chips) for £12.25 and I had the baked chorizo cod (£12.25)- both mediocre. Honestly, it wasn't worth the long wait. We ended up having dessert at The Bay Restaurant attached to our hotel. We should have gone there in the first place, but we wanted to experience a bit of Penzance. We ended up being disappointed.

Day 3:
- I have forgotten how busy St Ives can be so when we arrived just before lunch, there was nowhere to park. We spent half an hour driving round and round trying to look for parking but we were unsuccessful. Irritated, but not totally disappointed, we decided to give St Ives a miss and drove straight to Carnewas and Bethruthan Steps.

Carnewas and Bethruthan Steps was quite dramatic. I thought I have overcome my fear of heights but going up and down the narrow 140+ steps was terrifying, especially because it was wet and sandy. But in the end, it was worth it. The coast was beautiful and the outcrops were amazing. It was low tide so we were able to go around and climb the rocks, and even passed through a cave. However, it wasn't long until the tide came rushing in and we got caught to say the least. 

We spent a good hour exploring the beach then we headed to Trevose Head Lighthouse towards Padstow. 

Then came the biggest surprise of our trip- the B&B in Wadebridge.

Where we stayed:
Trewornan Manor - St Minver, Wadebridge PL27 6EX
- So, our last night in Cornwall was the best thing ever. Trewornan Manor is definitely not a B&B, it's more like a fancy hotel. It is everything I wanted in a hotel (or a house for that matter)- very spacious and immaculate room (we stayed in Daymer), free-standing bath overlooking the front garden, power shower, some French style furniture, a dressing room, massive mirror, etc. Everything was impeccable! And there was complimentary cream tea, too! I would love to go back one day and stay longer. Hotel + service (from the owner) = 5*

Where we ate:
- Rick Stein's Cafe in Padstow certainly made up for the disappointing dining experience the night before. The food and service was great. For starters, we had Thai fish cakes for £6.95 and Mussels for £8.95. Both were tasty and the serving was almost the size of a main course. For mains, J had the Grilled Hake (£13.95) and I had the Vietnamese Pho (£11). An absolute fine dining experience. 

Overall, we loved Padstow and we would definitely go back if we have the chance.

Day 4:
- There was only one place we wanted to see on our last day in Cornwall and that was the historic Tintagel Castle. In order to get to the ruins of the 13th century castle, we had to climb some 145 steep and narrow steps. Prior to that, we walked at least 10 minutes from the carpark to the ticket area. All in all, it was quite a challenging walk. But when we reached the top, we were rewarded with nothing but fantastic views. The castle ruins alone were fascinating. There was also a statue of King Arthur on the top of the cliff. I know so little about King Arthur, but Tintagel castle is apparently where he was conceived. 

And that was the end of our Cornish adventure.

During this trip, I realised that indeed, the greatest treasures are found right on our doorstep. I admit that I haven't explored England thoroughly and I know that there are so many beautiful places in this country that I still need to go to, but it's always been traveling abroad that satisfied the wanderlust in me.  But after this trip to Cornwall, I know that I need not look that far anymore. Turquoise water, historic buildings and ruins, spectacular landscapes and sea-views, breathtaking mountains, beautiful narrow country roads, picturesque villages, stunning flower fields, relaxing romantic walks, fine dining experience, friendly locals with strange accents, moisturising rain (haha)- all of these and more can easily be found in England. And for this reason, I decided to stay in England for the rest of the year and start traveling abroad next year (hopefully).


TIN x

My 20 Favourite Cities In The World

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

So far.

It's now more than eight months since we moved back to London and I can finally say that I am fully settled here. With this came the realisation that I haven't actually traveled abroad since November and I am definitely missing it. There is always something about visiting a new city that gets me high- and it's not just the beauty of the place. It's the personal experience I gain whenever I set foot on a foreign land that makes me happier. 

This blog entry is a summary of my favourite travels in the past, and I ranked the cities based on how they impacted my life one way or the other:

1. Wellington, New Zealand
- But of course. I've only lived in the "coolest little capital in the world" for over ten months, but Wellington holds a very special place in my heart. It's laid back culture allowed me to be the person that I've always wanted to be. Small as it is, there are a lot of interesting things to do, and they're only 15 minutes away by foot or by car. Even the bad weather (Windy Welly as it's fondly called) adds essence to the whole experience.

2. London, England
- I can't even believe that I thought of putting London second on my list. I initially had personal issues with London but now, I am absolutely loving this city. It's the second most visited city in the world and I am not surprised. The list of things you can do in London is endless.

3. Siena, Italy
- I only wanted to go to Siena because of the sunflowers, but the city is definitely not all that. The Piazza del Campo (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), lined with al-fresco cafes, is one of the most beautiful squares I have seen. It slopes down and is shaped like a fan. At the centre of it is the Palazzo Pubblico with its towering Torre del Mangia.

4. Sydney, Australia
Sydney was never on my list of cities to visit. But fate took me there and I am happy because I was able to experience the place that most people in this side of the world are talking about. The elaborate Sydney Opera house and the cobblestone streets in the Rocks are my favourites.

5. Venice, Italy
- I last visited Venice in winter 2013 and I finally saw it in water. The acqua alta, bitterly cold weather and the cloudy days made the whole experience quite poetic. I was so inspired that I made the biggest decision that changed my life for the better. This trip remains one of my proudest moments.

6. Rome, Italy
- My trip to Rome two years ago was third time lucky. I finally saw Rome the best way I wanted to see it - not rushed nor forced. Apart from indulging on the architecture, art and history, walking along the quiet streets early in the morning was one of the best things I have done in the Eternal City.

7.  Salzburg, Austria
- I am a fan of The Sound Of Music and this is the reason why Salzburg is one of my favourite cities. In Salzburg, I stayed at the real Von Trapp family home (not the one in the film), which was a rather nice experience. I love Salzburg more than Vienna because although Salzburg is smaller, it's actually more picturesque. It's also the birthplace of Mozart.

8. Santorini, Greece
- You have to go to Santorini when you can- at least once in your lifetime. It is one of the most breath-taking places you can ever go to. Apart from famous Oia, there are a lot of things you can do to enjoy Santorini (and be away from the many tourists), like a donkey ride to the Old Port in Fira and a volcano tour to Nea Kameni. And if you are a hopeless romantic, you shouldn't miss Oia's famous sunset.

9. Lisbon, Portugal
- There are three reasons why Lisbon is on my top ten: the mosaic pavements and cobblestone streets, pastel de nata in Belem and the Elevador de Santa Justa. And for a fairy-tale experience, Sintra is only 40 minutes away by train.

10. Krakow, Poland
- I never watched Schindler's List until I went to Krakow in 2010. Since then, I became more interested in history. More than the cobblestone streets and the historic city of Krakow was my emotional trip to Auschwitz. It was winter and the snow somehow made my experience more poignant than I thought it would be.I left Auschwitz with a heavy heart, but it remains one of the most unforgettable trips I've ever had. 

11. Prague, Czech Republic
- Prague is one of the cities that I would love to go back to. I like the fact that it's very clean considering it's one of the most visited cities in Europe. Apart from Charles Bridge, I loved the intricate astronomical clock in Old Town square and the artworks in the subway.

12. Delft, Netherlands
- I am lover of small cities and therefore chose Delft over Amsterdam to be my number 12 favourite city in the world. Delft also has beautiful canals and amazing architecture just like Amsterdam, but it's more quaint and less busy.

13. Marrakech, Morocco
- Marrakech was my gateway to the Sahara. For this reason, I would love to go back to Marrakech as I wasn't able to thoroughly enjoy it the first time I went there. I would love to go back to the Souks and explore it a little bit more. I loved Djemaa el-Fna although it was extremely busy, and Jardin Majorelle was a very good experience.

14.  Athens, Greece
- What is there not to love about Athens? I love everything about it- rich ancient history, the numerous ancient monuments, the delicious and healthy food, the friendly people and the panoramic view of the city from the Acropolis. Another city that deserves a second visit.

15. Budapest, Hungary
- Budapest was a part of a Christmas Market tour that I did about seven years ago. Apart from the beautiful architecture and friendly people, I really enjoyed the food in Budapest. Katy Perry's song "Fireworks" always reminds me of the city. :)

16. Madrid, Spain
- An avenue (Avenida de Filipinas) and a metro stop (Islas Filipinas) named after the Philippines and Jose Rizal's monument in Calle Santander - were enough reasons for me to visit Madrid, because I am a proud Filipino. However, there are more reasons why you should visit Madrid: the delicious authentic Spanish food at Mercado de San Miguel, the buzzing Plaza Mayor, sculptured trees in Retiro park, the museums (del Prado and Reina Sofia) and a whole lot more.

17. Stockholm, Sweden
- I have a lot of friends who love to travel but I don't think Stockholm is even on their list to go to. Well, it wasn't even on my list but I am glad I had opportunity to visit this colourful city. Stockholm is simply beautiful. 

18. Edinburgh, Scotland
- I still haven't changed my mind. If all else fails in London, Edinburgh is the place I would want to live.

19. Paris, France
- Paris is dirty, there is no doubt about that. I never liked Paris that much but when I went there for the third time, I realised that there is so much to love about the City of Love. 

20. New York, USA
- It was a close call between San Francisco,  California and New York. But because the Big Apple was a challenge and it took me four trips before I could finally say, "I love New York", I decided to put NY last on my list. 

I can't wait to start traveling again so I can update this list in a few year's time. :)

TIN x

41 Important Lessons I Learned In The Last Year

Sunday, 23 July 2017

I've been loving myself far too much lately (I think) because I have been spending hours reading previous entries on my own blog and looking at my posts on instagram. It's a good thing that I did this though, because one of my blog posts inspired me to reflect on the important lessons that I've learned in the last year or so. In fact, some of the things that I will be writing here are extracted from my previous entries. 

A lot of things have happened between 40 and 41. It's amazing how things can change so swiftly in a short span of time. As they say, change is always good as it allows us to be the person we are meant to be. And for that, here is my list of the important lessons that life taught me before I turned a year older:

1. Don't be afraid to take the leap of faith no matter where you are in your life right now. Forget about the uncertainties and look forward to the many possibilities.

2. In connection to that, always follow your heart because even the things you never dreamed of will happen when you do.

3. In this life, you don't always get what you want no matter how hard you pray for it. Instead, you are given what you need

4. A Bucket List is a good idea, but when I failed to tick half of my 40 before 40 list, I stopped making lists and decided to just go with the flow. No bucket list means no pressure. It also means less disappointments. Besides, most of the good things that happened in my life were unplanned. 

5. Not to say that I no longer have ambitions because I still do. I just realised that living a life doesn't mean constantly chasing goals and living in the future, but rather enjoying the present and focusing on what's important right now.

6. At the end of the day, I have no one to impress but myself

7. Date yourself often. Dating myself made me realise that I am the best friend I could ever have. 

8. Being selfish is a good thing- only if it means loving yourself first so you can love others better.

9. I learned how to invest time, effort and money only on those things and people that I know can help me become a better person.

10. I regained control and power over my life by learning how to say no. The truth is, you can never please everybody no matter what you do, so only say yes to the things that are important to you.

11. Life is too short to spend on forced conversations and meaningless friendships.

12. Life is so much better if you get rid of anyone and anything that give you unnecessary stress. 

13. Surround yourself only with people who infuse positivity in your life. People who never fail to remind you of who you truly are. People who bring out the best in you even in the worst situation. People who will push you up when the whole world is trying to pull you down.

14. You only need a handful of really good friends to survive in this world.

15. Losing friends is not a reflection of your being, but a mere proof that people do change and weak friendships wither.

16. Even the people you've done only good things for will doubt your character and your loyalty when things don't work out in their favour.

17. Walk away from friends who give you reasons to doubt your friendship.

18. You are not responsible for anyone's behaviour towards other people.

19. Every person who comes into our lives has a purpose. Some leave once their purpose is fulfilled, while others stay for the rest of our lives. 

20. Anger doesn't last forever. But the hurtful things you say and do when you're angry do. So, think again.

21. Once someone starts ignoring you, do not bother them again.

22. Success is not all about working hard. Believe me. It is also sometimes just being at the right place, at the right time, with the right people.

23. Invest more on experiences, less on material things. Experiences become important memories that we can keep in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Material things lose value over time. 

24. True wealth is not measured by material possessions. It is measured by your ability to remain humble despite being rich.

25. Never complain about not having enough clothes or shoes to wear. There are people out there who genuinely do not have anything to wear.

26. Quality over quantity. Always. In everything. 

27. Be careful whom you show your vulnerability to because they can use that against you.

28. Less words, less trouble. Share your stories and opinions only with those who are genuinely interested. Some people are just there for the gossip. Always remember, words travel faster than you think.

29. Some people's insecurities are hidden in their confidence.

30. Sometimes in life, you need a man who is willing to take a risk with you and take you under his wings.

31. Knowing your partner's language of love will not only help you understand him, but will also help you manage your relationship expectations better.

32. In managing relationship issues, there is no point in arguing if you can talk things through.

33. Comparing the past with the present made me appreciate the present more

34. Men are often confused, if not lost. They need a strong woman to lead the way. If you choose to be that woman, you need to be patient.

35. And if you want something from your man, ask for it and be specific. Men can't read our minds apparently.

36. Make it a habit to make someone feel good about themselves by simply telling them what you like about them- sincerely.

36. Give not because you believe that "the more you give the more you receive", but because you genuinely want to.

37. Family is family, no matter how bad they make you feel sometimes. 

38. Distant relatives are never distant if you have that special connection that brings you closer together.

39. "What other people think of you is none of your business", so always be yourself. They can take or leave it. It's their choice not yours. 

40. Self-reflection is the key to becoming a better person.

41. Your thoughts are as powerful as your words. Think positively.

There are actually more than 41 crucial lessons that I've learned in the last year. However, this blog is for my 41st birthday so I will leave it as it is. Perhaps, I can write some more in the future. 

For now, I just hope that you can pick up a lesson or two from my list above as I continue to learn more lessons from the best teacher that is life.

TIN x

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