As I was going to St Ives

A view of St Ives harbour over the roofs of houses.

I didn't meet any men, or wives. Nor did I see any cats the whole time I was there. That rhyme's awfully misleading.

Anyway, Mr Robot and I spent last week in St Ives. It started ominously last Sunday, as on arrival we learned the B&B that the booking website said had 'limited parking' didn't actually have any available, so we had to park in the municipal long-stay 1,000-space car park. That's clearly made for tourists, which is good of the council, but after dragging my suitcase half a mile down the steep hill to get back to the B&B I was less than cheery. Then that evening it turned out the resort was absolutely heaving, as a result of Brexit and the 'rona meaning more people wanted to holiday in the UK, and pretty much everywhere doing food was booked up weeks in advance. I like fish and chips, but hadn't anticipated the possibility of living off them for a week.

Fortunately things improved. The B&B was in a great location on the very edge of the old town, and we had wonderful sea views from our window. The sea was a brilliant shade of blue, one you don't really associate with the UK. As a covid precaution rather than having a breakfast room open all breakfasts were continental and left on trays outside the bedroom doors, and there was a fridge with milk, yoghurt and juice in a cupboard in the room. I actually preferred that as having to be up at a set time always feels like a chore, and this way if we weren't dressed I could just open the door, grab the tray and eat in my pyjamas. It made mornings very relaxed.

A boat on a very clear blue sea.

We still had to walk half a mile up the hill (climbing 14 storeys, according to the step counter on my phone) to get to the car if we wanted to go out of town, but it wasn't so awful when we weren't pulling suitcases. The exercise probably did us good. And the weather was utterly gorgeous, with only one wet day the whole time we were there. Simply strolling around in the sunshine felt wonderful. 

I'll save our excursions to Heligan and Tintagel for another post (or maybe two). In St Ives itself we visited the outpost of the Tate Gallery – the art was too conceptual for my tastes, I'm afraid, I'm a bit of a barbarian – and the town museum, which is a small building into which all sorts of artefacts have been crammed. It didn't really give a good sense of how the town had developed over the centuries, but it was fascinating nonetheless. I hadn't realised that in the 1920s and 30s there was a small studio, Crysede, printing silk in the town, and there were samples on display that really made me wish some enterprising soul would reproduce them. Photography was banned, otherwise I'd have images to share with you. However, you can see some examples of Crysede designs on the John Bright Collection website. Because of the printing process the colour schemes were limited to six colours at most, but they really did make the most of the colours they had.

A red-haired woman in a black floral trouser suit.
I wore three outfits all week. I am so glad I made this set!
The lightweight fabric was perfect in the sunny weather.

If you want to buy a painting or a pot, St Ives is your town. It's been popular with artists since the jazz age, and the Leach Pottery was also set up in the 1920s. Sculptor Barbara Hepworth's probably its most famous past resident. I'm a sucker for ceramics and Pete loves pictures, so we came home with some nice souvenirs. One thing you can definitely say about the town: it does not do tacky.

A pint of cider on a wooden table, in front of a lamp made out of a piece of machinery. The walls in the room are rough, whitewashed stone.
A drink in the Pilchard Press. That lamp is made out of part of a press.
We bought a small tin of posh pilchards home as a gift for the cats.

And did we eat fish and chips for the week? We did not. Though we did have them twice because they were very good. We had a slightly disappointing meal in one pub, and a very good meal in another, The Sloop. One night we had pork pies as a bar snack along with beer in a little place called the Pilchard Press, a room with a handful of tables and tapped beer kegs on a counter, like a pub from yesteryear. The night before our anniversary we ate at one of the hotels, which was pretty decent, and on our anniversary itself we had a nice lunch as everywhere was fully booked for the evening. Neither were quite what we'd imagined for the occasion, but at least we weren't sitting on a bench fending off greedy seagulls! Our last meal was in a Belgian-themed place, which specialised in beer, moules, and all sorts of Low Countries snacky things like bitterballen. 

All in all, it was a fun week, despite the way it started. I think I'd go back, once people have more travel options again and St Ives itself is less busy.

St Ives harbour at night, with the full moon reflected in the water.


  1. Look at the full moon! Yeah we took the precaution of booking every night after our landlady warned us how busy it gets to eat out. Not just tourists but locals from all the surrounding villages come and eat there especially at weekends apparently. Oh and September is meant to be the best time to visit in terms of weather and not many people, clearly not the case on the later this year!

    1. The moon was gorgeous!

      I was trying to remember who it was who'd warned me to book - it was you! The food situation was really annoying.

  2. In spite of its tricky start and limited food options, it sounds like the perfect getaway. St. Ives is such a lovely little town, although I'll forever associate it with our first visit there. We were staying in a B&B in Helston, and drove to St. Ives late afternoon with the intention of having a meal there. Somehow we must have missed the big edge of town car park and ended up driving straight into the town centre and its tiny lane, where people had to back up against the houses to let us through. Ultimately we made it out of there, but we could easily have got stuck with nowhere to turn :-) Anyway, back to your holiday. I still can't believe there's a Belgian place there! And how lovely to bring back a tin of pilchards for the urchins. I hope they appreciated it! xxx

    1. They did! Well, Pippin did. Usually Ziggy tries to steal whatever she has, but for once she liked it so much she nicked his share too.

      St Ives was lovely, though I don't know if I'd go back, it was too busy for me. I don't like stress about mealtimes...

  3. Wow, these pics are wonderful, Mim! That last one is a stunner! Sorry to hear things were a little hectic in St. Ives, which I've heard of but didn't really know anything about. It sounds like you were able to have a good holiday, nonetheless. Love your chic ensemble! You look like a jazz baby. :)

    1. Apparently it's one of the priciest seaside places in the UK. There was a big summit near there earlier this year - the G7 - and I don't know if that had a knock-on effect and made it busier.

  4. Belated Happy Anniversary!
    Glad you could enjoy some great food at local pubs and hotels, despite the booking problems. It looks that everybody is going out and about (locally) these days.
    I've spied the Crysede designs and felt in love!, no wonder you loved them!.

  5. Happy Anniversary to you both! I'm glad you enjoyed St Ives.
    The photos are fab and I love your glamorous me-made set. I've not heard of John Bright before but followed your link and those prints are stunning. xxx


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