Diary of an unadulterated pig – part 1 of a week or so of eating in the South West of England

Whilst foreign travel is very much back on the cards, after the Covid induced moratorium, Mrs. SF and I haven’t been abroad for nigh on 5 years now. Can’t say I miss the hassle and stress of airports if I am honest and we can take the dog with us.

In terms of the UK holidaying, Mrs. SF and I have been going down to Cornwall for probably more years than I care to remember and the UK’s Southern most working fishing town, in the form of Porthleven, is our most oft port of call.

A bit of an hidden gem (for how much longer who knows as I have heard it called the “new Padstow” 😬 – although Stein was not exactly the toast of the town during the short tenure of his gaff here) in the Cornish crown, I have been going on about it since on here since 2016 (a very rare case of me being ahead of the game) and been going there since the early 2000s.

It is full of good places to eat and it is also very dog friendly. As such it suits us very well and is also a very good base for exploring the southern end of Cornwall.

This year we decided to elongate the holiday so as to include a bit of North Cornwall and Southern Devon, plus a stop off in Bristol so this is going to be a two parter post.

As a bit of a departure from my normal format this it a sort of travelog.

Day 1 – 2

We meandered our way down to Cornwall, at the leisure pace a close to vintage Volvo affords. Our first stop off was in Tintagel to allow Mrs. SF to go full mountain goat (with the dog) on the precipitous slopes of the “Castle” (not much left of it if truth be told), whilst my heart rate (being very acrophobia – not an irrational fear of heights, but rather a very reasoned fear of hitting the ground at high velocity) went through the roof.

After having the bejesus scared out of me by Mrs. SF hanging over various precipitous drops, I deserved a cake. This was duly delivered by a rather nice Tintagel beach cafe below the castle

That first night we stayed at the Ye Olde Malthouse,

which (despite the rather twee name) provided  a nice room, an adequate dinner

Regrettably both the mussels and tuna were off.

and a good breakfast.

The latter set us up nicely for the trip further south.

To break up the journey even more and kill time before the 15.00 access time for our cottage in Porthleven, we visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan (highly recommended and very dog friendly).

Decent cafe there too,

which was (surprisingly, at least to me) not too pricey.

A bao filled with rare breed pork (from the on site farm) and veggies (also grown onsite) was very good (£8).

and a medley of home growm roasted heritage potatoes (£5) had a good flavour, with a punchy aioli, but could have been a tad crispier.

This allowed us to arrive pretty much at our check in time of 15.00 and once we had settled into our cottage, food and drink was the order of the day (I am very predictable) and Porthleven offers a plethora of options on that front.

To me when in Cornwall, with its 674+ miles of coastline, you have to focus on the seafood and Porthleven (being the UK’s most southerly working fishing port) offers plenty of fish from the sea on that front, although oddly only one chippy.

Friday night bought fish and chips from said solo chippy (Porthleven Fish & Chips)

Decent portions, with nice crisp batter and flake on the fish (oddly and disappointingly for a fishing port choice was limited to cod and haddock), non flaccid chips and decent mushy peas paired very well with a picpoul de pinet.

Nice enough, but I am hopeful that Landed,

which is a much more adventurous place,

will reopening shortly (signs are promising on that front from a sneaky peak through the window) 

After the obligatory walk around the harbour, it is the law (when in Porthleven) to stop off for a pint at the Ship Inn,

with the weather good enough to sit outside with a pint

and drink in the view.

Day 3

Usually I am knackered on the first full day of a Cornish holiday down here due to the (oft) tortuous drive down, but as we had broken up the journey I was raring to go.

Fortified by a very good coffee (roasted on site, so the smell was amazing) and a fine cinnamon bun at The Roastery (on the way out of the town towards the Penzance – Helston Road, with an array of EV chargers in the car park for those rich enough to have one – a worrying sign of Padstowification)

we went off to explore an old gunpowder factory in the Kernall Vale.

Fascinating place, with nature being allowed to reclaim the valley from its former industrial use.

Appetite and thirst duly built up, the afternoon/early evening bought beer, wine and nibbles at the Shoal Brewery tap house at the Shipyard in Porthleven.

Nice selection of booze and nibbles (love the pint and pickles option)

with pizzas at the weekend.

There is also the ability to bring in your own food in (there are a myriad of takeaway options in Porthleven), with our choice being a taco place.

Baja fish tacos and fries went down very well with the beer.

Tad more seasoning on the fish if I was being picky (I generally am), but still very nice.

It was then back to the Ship Inn

for another pint,

with Oscar in the chair.

Day 4

Time to stretch the legs a bit with a rather brisk march (we were running late for lunch meaning we had to nearly run not to be late – I absolutely hate being late for anything – much to Mrs. SF’s chagrin) along the coastal path via the Penrose Estate

to build up the appetite for Sunday lunch at the Halzepheron Inn in Gunwalloe.

Very good, properly rare, beef, although veggies could have been hotter and pots a tad crisper. Not cheap at £16.95,

but Mrs. SF paid.

My sister raves about the Sunday lunch at the Packet Inn (does necessitate a drive whereas the Halzepheron is a pleasant 40 min walk), which we will try next time.

Bit of impromptu birdwatching on the way back added to the fun,

as did a “reward for the walk” ice cream (rum and raisin for me, lemon for Mrs. SF and, doggy friendly, butternut squash and blueberry for Oscar – which he loved) from Nauti but Ice back in Porthleven.

Day 5

Mrs. SF is a keen gardener, whereas I am not (like a good garden, just not the effort required to get and maintain one and when I inevitably go to Hell I fear my punishment will be an eternity of wandering, with no purpose, around a garden centre), so it was off to a garden in the morning in the form of Trewidden near Penzance.

Touch muted in September, but nice enough.

The teas shop/ restaurant looked rather nice for lunch (Newlyn Squid was the special), but I had an eye on a place in Newlyn.

We normally go to the very good Tolcarne Inn and had heard very good reports of Argoe (the later not open on day of our visit nor dog friendly inside, but it is on the terrace), but decided a change was as good as a rest so the Mackerel Sky Seafood Bar was the chosen venue (very dog friendly, despite Oscar being an utter arse and barking at every passing dog, car, motorbike etc. of which there were many as we choose to sit outside – a school boy error on our part, but when the weather is with you…).

Nice looking menu

and an intriguing special.

We went large with our order and very good it was too.

The stand outs were the crispy sole with katsu sauce, the mussels in a cider cream and tarragon sauce and the crab nachos (with no skimping on the crab here).

Only let down was a gawd awful non – alcoholic beer,

which tasted like dishwasher. Have had some decent non/ultra low alcohol beers (not least the Drop Bear Beer Co. at Hills in Brecon) and this was not one of them.

Food very good at this place, but drinks offering needs a bit of TLC I think.

Booze’s honour was restored with a bottle of Mercado 44 manzanilla (now that or it’s ilk should be on the menu at every fish focussed restaurant)

to toast the end of the day.

So that brings me to the midway point of the trip.

In order to avoid a more War and Peace like blog post tome than usual, part 2 – days 6 -10 – will follow in due course.

Have to say when the weather is with you and the food is great there is little to beat a UK holiday.


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