SW Coastal Road Trip Day 4 – St Ives, Lands End & Newquay

We woke up refreshed andready to go for another day of exploring the South West coast!

Waking up In the Hobbit Homes was really cool and very refreshing. You stepped straight outside into the fresh air so it was nice to have a cuppa and enjoy the fresh morning weather! Once we had walked down to the washrooms, had a shower and freshened up check out was at 10 so we got sorted and headed out to explore St Ives! The washrooms were also really clean and fresh. Although it would have been nice to see someone cleaning it straight after we had used it for other guests we also understand in todays climate that might not be possible!

So we jumped in the car and drive the 10 minute drive into the centre of St Ives. The first mistake we made was driving. Parking is really very limited so if possible park at the top of the hill on your way into St Ives. The walk back up might be painful but not as painful as trying to find parking in the centre because it isn’t really plausible on a busy summers day.

St Ives from the off was so beautiful, the blue water and the beautiful beaches and harbour. It was low tide so all the boats were resting on the sand in the harbour as we waded through the masses of people who had finally escaped after the coronavirus lockdown. Admittedly this was the only location out of the many that we visited where I didn’t feel Covid safe walking through the streets. Usually when we were outdoors I’d keep my mask off but when we were walking through I felt incredibly uncomfortable especially being basically shoulder to shoulder and popped my mask on until we had reached the other side of the harbour. All the restaurants were open and it was Ice creams galore! I love all the stone buildings and the cobbled streets. I imagine in winter its the cosiest town of them all.

We wandered across to Smeaton Pier and followed the coastal pathway along the seafront around to the piece of land known as ‘The Island’. To get there we walked past Bamaluz beach and also Porthgwidden beach to finally make our way up to St Ives head, situated on The Island, and also to take a nosey at St Nicholas Chapel too! It was a really lovely walk with beautiful views of St Ives beaches and the harbour. We then finished off with a picture overlooking Porthmeor Beach and a walk back through the cobbled streets of St Ives (trying not to buy even MORE fudge from some of the delicious shops) and up the dreaded hill to the car!

Next up on the agenda was to drive across from St Ives to Lands End! I was really excited for this as I’m from Lowestoft (although no longer residing there now) and Lowestoft holds the landmark on our coast for the Most Easterly Point of the UK! So Complete opposite sides of the country which is pretty fun. So I was very excited when we arrived.

We paid the £7 parking fee which is basically your entry fee and then headed down to the entrance! When you arrive there are so many facilities I really didn’t expect. I was expecting to arrive to the lands end landmark post, the flag and that was really about it. I was shocked to find children’s amusements and also multiple food stalls and places for drinks! There is even a hotel and place for you to stay if you wanted too! It was good as I was hungry so had a portion of nachos for the price of a small London Flat. It was massively overpriced but I guess its the tourist attractions that do that to you!

We wandered past the stalls after some food and headed down to look at the actual Lands End landmark, unfortunately again you had to pay for a picture in front of it. But we didn’t do that and just took a pretty good picture from the other side of the line and our own pictures as we walked down the slope towards the first and last house! It was cool to see the first and last post box and the first and last house, the first and last flagpole and the Lands End viewpoint. I never imaged I’d be that far South West in my entire life. Now all I want to do is go to the most Northern and Southern point! It would have made sense really to go to the most Southern point whilst at Lands End as it was just an hours drive away! Highlight of Lands end was definitely the proposal we saw by the Lands End sign, so nice that even the bad weather didn’t bring the mood down for such a special occasion!

Next location on the adventure for the next two days, the longest we will have spent anywhere on the trip, was Newquay! Now I was so excited to go to Newquay so I could teach Brad how to surf! The drive from Lands End to Newquay was only an hour or so and was really easy.

We arrived at our Airbnb and it was absolutely beautifully decorated and so cosy. We had everything we needed from a coffee machine, bathroom with a shower next door to the room with towels, a TV, a place to put our sandy things from the beach, the COMFIEST double, wardrobe space, Wi-Fi and a TV to relax and watch when we weren’t out exploring. It was like an upside down house, Kylie the host lived upstairs and the room ad bathroom was downstairs. During these Covid times she kept the bathroom sparkling clean also which was amazing. The best part about this Airbnb though? I went to the toilet at 6am and was greeted in an open kitchen door to A HOUSE RABBIT. I must have missed this part on the listing as it definitely states she’s in there but I was so pleasantly surprised, what a great way to wake up! She was super cute!

As we arrived quite late in the evening we decided to walk into Newquay and find some food. Unfortunately at this point the Help out to Eat out scheme had just started and we didn’t even think to book, everywhere was SO busy. We manged to find a table on the main high street at a place called Lost Brewing Co. On a complete whim and reluctantly we went inside and I am so glad we did, it was so good we went back the following day for drinks before our meal elsewhere. Not only do they brew their own beers and sell them here but the food was amazing. I had Halloumi fries, Battered prawns, Chicken strips and some fries as well for finger food as I was just so hungry and couldn’t make my mind up but they are actually super popular for their burgers as well!

All in all another successful day, we headed back to the Airbnb shortly after so we could get some good nights sleep ready for a day full of surfing the next day!

SW Coastal Road Trip Day 2 – Durdle Door, Exeter & Torquay

After an awesome first night in Bournemouth Brad and I were up early (which makes a nice change) and ready for our next adventure to Durdle Door, Exeter and Torquay all in one day!

We decided to get some food once we had arrived at Durdle Door so skipped out on breakfast to get on the road. It took us about an hour to get to Durdle Door from Bournemouth and once we arrived it was already getting busy! We paid the £5 car parking fee for 4 hours and headed down the big cliff to see the sights! Before you make your way down the cliff there is a cute little ice cream shop and a pasty van so we made note of those to make sure we grabbed some food once we made it back up to the top again.

Fun fact: Durdle Door is part of what is known as the Jurassic Coast! What is this? 96 Miles of English Heritage Protected Coastline!

Top tip. DON’T WEAR FLIP FLOPS. The views are beautiful and its really pleasant but the pathway down in white gravel and I nearly fell down multiple times I had to hold onto Brad basically all the way because the one time I let go I fully nearly stacked it. Once we made it to the top of the cliffs overlooking the beach we were in awe. On the left was Man O War Beach and further down from that was St Oswalds Beach. The water was beautifully blue and clear we could’ve been in another country! Then to our right was the monument itself, the beautiful Durdle Door and beach! We headed down the steps to the stoney beach to get a closer look. The waves were crashing and we took a seat right on the shoreline to enjoy the sun. We then headed up the beach to enjoy and sit in the small caves in the cliffs too.

Finally we grew an appetite and it was back up the hill (which was a struggle in the heat and flip fops) and onto the next part of our journey. NOT BEFORE a pasty and a sausage roll overlooking the Jurassic Coastline.

Then it was my turn to drive the 2 hour Journey to Exeter. Unfortunately for us Exeter was not what we expected and we didn’t find all that much to do. We headed over and saw the cathedral in all its glory which was an absolutely phenomenal piece of architecture.

Once we had seen the cathedral the town centre was pretty quiet so we decided to head to a riverside pub for a light snack and a pint (or a cup of tea if you’re me). We walked towards the River Exe and walked past what is known as and what is left of the old Medieval Exe Bridge which has been around for centuries. It was really cool to see the last remains of this piece of old historic architecture! We then walked along the river until we arrived at The Mill on the Exe pub and sat by the river to enjoy our pit stop!

Then it was back to the car for the rest of the drive to Torquay to see my beautiful friend Tasmin! Tasmin lives in Torquay so it would have been SO RUDE to no pop in. To top it off she also did us a huge favour, saving us a fair whack of money on accommodation, and let us stay with her as a bonus. I’ll always be thankful as this also meant we got to spend more time together and it had already been 11 months since I last saw her at our graduation. The Journey from Exeter took us 40 minutes which was really nice and short! When we arrived in Torquay we had a dinner booked to get ready for!

Once we were ready it was into Torquay Harbour for a meal at Twenty 1! This restaurant overlooked the harbour and the 4 of us enjoyed beautiful sunset views, great food and drinks and even better company. We laughed all night and caught up with everything possible, it was such a lovely evening with friends and I was so grateful to be able to do this.

For dinner I think we ordered the whole menu. I had the Chicken and Chorizo flatbread pizza as well as the Tempura Halloumi and the Cheesy Garlic Bread (because no meal is complete without cheesy garlic bread). Another brilliantly priced meal as well with a good vibes atmosphere and great cocktails!

We walked home along the harbour back to Tas’ house well and truly full of food for a final late night cup of tea and bed ready for Tas to show us around Berry Head, Brixham, Totnes and Dartmoor the next day! Another successful travelling day completed!

Global Quarantine Diaries – Lulu

Lockdown in the USA has been one of the weirdest things I’ve experienced. It went from everyone joking about the pandemic, to horrific death tolls, back to a joke, and now we’re all protesting. It’s been a rollercoaster and a very difficult time for its citizens. The world watched us as we handled COVID-19 poorly and in the coming months, I am worried to see the lasting effects especially during the second wave. However, we as people, are resilient and hopeful. I hope the USA can learn from its mistakes during the second wave and act accordingly. 

Where in the world are you located? 

Charlotte, NC, USA 

What are lockdown regulations like? 

Lockdown regulations differed from state to state. For example, if Florida’s governor decided that they would stay open, they had the right to. But, in North Carolina, lockdown began on March 17th. Initially, it began by closing businesses unless they were essential (logistics, grocery stores, healthcare, restaurants for takeout, etc.) so, many people lost their jobs. Regulations included no gatherings of more than 10 people, unessential travel should be avoided, or it could result in a misdemeanor charge or fine (but that was never enforced), and social distance as much as possible. Going on walks, and being outdoors was encouraged but all the state parks, and trails closed down. Then we started reopening in phases by May 14th. “Phase 1” included parks and recreation to open up, retail businesses opened up at half capacity, and childcare facilities opened for essential workers. We are currently in “Phase 2” for another 3-5 weeks which means that restaurants opened up at half capacity, stay at home orders were lifted, and people are allowed to gather up to 25 people outside. Once “Phase 3” goes into effect, essentially all restrictions will be lifted, and normal life can continue. 

How are you keeping busy? 

During lockdown, I took a walk every day. Lockdown was an extremely depressing time and so hard to adjust to. I am a social person that thrives off of interaction with other people, so it was difficult. So, to combat those feelings, I ran/walked a trail by my house every day. I was so excited the first time I saw someone else passing on the trail and we got to say “Hi” to each other. Other than that, I cleaned just about everything you can imagine. Even the little crevices of my drawers. As expected, Netflix and every other streaming platform became my best friend. I watched a full TV series in a day once. Now that we’re in “Phase 2”, I am back to working. I am a bartender/server at a restaurant, and we are open at half capacity. I am required to wear a mask and gloves but the fear of getting Coronavirus sits in the back of my head every minute. I am happy to be back doing something productive and purposeful but with that comes so much anxiety. After the second week of being open, it doesn’t really seem like many people care about the pandemic. I’ve heard one too many jokes about it and my restaurant gradually became busier and busier. Life is starting to look normal here in North Carolina as people disregard the threat of COVID-19. 

What do you miss doing the most? 

The thing I miss doing the most is traveling. When I’m working, I have a lot of flexibility so over the weekends, I like to take trips to the mountains, the beach, and other big cities in North Carolina or surrounding states. It’s been stressful to feel so restricted however it is warranted and necessary. I can’t wait to visit friends and see new things. I also miss going for a night out and being able to have fun with my friends carefree. It won’t happen now, but in time, it will happen again. 

What is the first thing you’re going to do once lockdown is over? 

The first thing I’m going to do when lockdown is over is have a beer with my friends at my favorite dive bar. There’s nothing more comforting than sitting on the porch of a bar with a beer in your hand day-drinking. While technically, I am allowed to do this at this stage in North Carolina’s reopening, I am trying to take more precautions about going out unless necessary considering I am now working in a restaurant and potentially exposing myself more frequently. It’s difficult to see everyone out and about but the pandemic hasn’t halted just because the economy needed to reopen.

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Sri Lanka – Jet Lag Chilling & Impromtu Sri Lankan Night’s Out!

Our First few days were lazy ones, and a crazy one too!

Our hotels didn’t have swimming pools so we had to find a hotel with a pool to lay by for the next 2 days to help us recover in the sun!

We ended up and a hotel called the Camelot on our first day! It was 1000 Rupees for a sunbed for the day which amounts to around £4.50! This hotel was so nice, it had 2 pools, a bar and was beachside. They brought around cold towels and cucumbers for your eyes and if you ordered food they delivered it straight to your sunbed! It was an awesome place for so cheap for the day. They did some amazing spring rolls as well.

As it was beachside we also all went beach exploring! Taking a walk and swim along the coastline, especially taking a fancy to their amazing fishing boats that are on the shoreline with all beautiful coloured sails and the way they are structure. Some photos on the boats were an obvious must for us gyals. The water was warm and choppy so it must take some skill to drive one of those!

The next challenge was finding our first lunch out!

Serving Sri Lankan food we jumped right in, walking down into a small open restaurant on the side of the road. The walls were covered in writing and signatures from all the other travellers who had visited this place over the years! SO WE HAD TO HAD ADD TO IT WITH OURS. It would’ve been rude not too!

We decided we didn’t want to stay in the hotel to eat on the first day we wanted to go out and try somewhere new! So we headed across from the Camelot to a small restaurant called Ammehula!

Once we sat down next to so also amazing wall art I ordered myself some Chicken noodles. Naturally they were delicious, all 6 of us who headed over enjoyed the food and we all made sure to have something different each!

That evening we were in search of dinner & a drink!

Us group of 9 girls were HUNGRY.

We headed out of the Ocean View guest house turning left down the road heading to a place the girls found on maps/recommended! This restaurant was called The Ice Bear and it was SO GOOD. Our first night and the food was already top notch.

As you arrive to the restaurant you walk down a garden pathway surrounded by trees and plants, signs also pointing out there were Tortoises in the garden! It was awesome, we then walked through an oriental archway and there was a tree swing! They also had hammocks! We all definitely had a quick go on the swing and had some pictures before heading up to get seated.

Dinner was quick and easy, I had Calamari and it was so incredibly tasty. Myself and a couple of the girls also bought fresh coconut water and this was brought to us in the coconuts with a hole in the top and a straw. I love coconut water so it was SO delicious and refreshing!

Next on the agenda, a drink. Which ended in an Impromptu night out… Oops!

Now this was not something we expected AT ALL.

We wanted to find a bar with nice music, good vibes and good drinks. After trekking our way back to the hotel we asked the owner of the Seajoy, where we all dined the night before, where was good for a drink.

He sent us right out of the hotel and all the way down the road, PAST The Camelot which is just under a mile in itself to a small bar called Dolce Vita! When we arrived it wasn’t exactly how we expected it to be but it was lovely and there was alcohol nonetheless! There were 2 men also singing and playing guitar on stage, there was a group of men dancing (who were a LOAD of fun and so funny!) and there were a few english couples there as well.

After a few drinks the girls were UP ON STAGE, Singing Despacito! We were dancing with the boys who were dancing before and buying plenty of drinks, it was a lot of fun. bUT, We wanted some more upbeat music. The same guy who told us to come to this place was there so we asked him, where to next? 2 doors down. So off we went.

Well. This was an experience. We walked into this bar, which was basically a club! The music was some awesome house music, there were flashing lights and a dance floor. A gentleman came up to us and ordered our drinks and then brought them to us. He then explained that the 3 large men stood around us were there to LOOK AFTER US.

It did get us a reputation the following days known as ‘The Dancing Girls’ out night out. The club was called Serendib! Which in the day is a restaurant and pub! We smoked shisha, were given cigarettes and bottles of alcohol. We were looked after like VIP’s in a club back in the UK. If we were sat outside and Mel and I wanted to dance? We let the boys know and one would come inside with us in and stand closeby whilst we got our groove on and then walk us back to the table outside to make sure we were not pestered.

It was fascinating and exciting to learn and experience. I also felt safe. I know that we have these boys to look after us but It felt comfortable, everyone was enjoying themselves and we were dancing with so many people! Including the boys who were dancing with us in Dolce Vita who came down to Serendib!

When the night was over at about 3:30 – 4am they even drove us back to our hotels on their Bikes & Tuk Tuks! The Tuk Tuk had loudspeakers and it was a basic party Tuk Tuk with 4 in the back and a lot of bassline! If they hadn’t of taken us back Me, Mel & Shaista would not have gotten into our hostel as the gate was locked and we were not tall enough to open it, luckily the boys were!

Our hangovers the next day were the ultimate payback.

The next day was spent at another pool, The Rani Beach hotel, a little closer and cheaper than the Camelot to crawl to in our states. We spend the day eating and sunbathing our hangovers out to prepare ourselves for the busy next few days!

That evening we had another group dinner all 28 of us and our lecturers who are also on the trip with us. We had the whole food area to ourselves on two big long tables and a buffet with a mixture of Sri Lankan curries! It was delicious and good fun, there was also some live music for us too.

After being very full and very hungover, bed was calling as the REAL University Crisis and Disaster trip started the following day!

Whats next? Negombo Lagoons, Buddhist temples and a gamma toe.

STAY TUNED, J x