Merlin’s Travels: Trewidden Gardens, Cornwall U.K.

This is a garden near Penzance in Cornwall, where we stopped by chance and because we were fancying a cream tea. On our way from Land’s End, I was a bit moody and you know.. what’s better than a fruit scone with clotted cream and homemade jam to cheer ourselves up? So we stopped here just to enjoy the tea room menu and.. we ended up visiting the fantastic gardens, I’d have regretted it if we hadn’t decided so. They were simply fantastic… plus enjoying the best scones of my Cornish stay! The garden is a lovely place full of camellias and century-old magnolia trees, some of them are champion trees. However, if you need more info, here’s the website:

I’ll let pictures speak for themselves…..

P.S. There are no pictures of the fantastic cream tea we were served because I usually prefer to dive into food instead of delaying to do it because I need to take a picture ūüėČ

Rhododendrons in flower
A puffed-up Merlin among bluebells and daffodils
More spectacular rhododendrons in flower
A lovely pond
Bluebell Wood
Rock Garden
Magnolia tree (champion tree)

See you soon on these pages,

Merlin xx


Merlin’s Travels: Land’s End, Cornwall U.K.

Land’s End was a place we had dreamed of since visiting¬†John O’ Groats (we were living near Thurso back then so it’s just a short drive from there). Both John O’ Groats and Land’s End are not the northernmost or southernmost points in mainland U.K., Dunnet Head in Caithness being the northernmost and Lizard Point in Cornwall the southernmost. The particularity is only the distance between them…. Having said that, in both places what you should expect is… basically nothing and a lot of touristic fluff. However, John O’ Groats was basically free until 4 years ago… whilst the tourism¬†industry¬†has transformed Land’s End in a money-making machine to see three cliffs (which are the same as elsewhere in Cornwall) and a signpost… I was terribly annoyed that only to enter the site by car you need to pay 5¬£, regardless of how long you will be there. We were there for an hour and it seemed ‘stretched’ and we were fighting boredom…. Not happy and not a site I’d recommend to visit; surely we won’t go back ever again. Last but not the least, if you want to put your face near the signpost you need 1) photoshopping yourself into a bare picture of the signpost or 2) pay 18 friggin’ pounds for a professional photographer who will take a picture of you and the signpost.¬†I obviously skipped the picture and I attach only the signpost LOL

Before getting to Land’s End, if there’s low tide you can¬†drive down and stop¬†at Sennen Cove, about 5-6 miles from Land’s End. There’s no free parking so have some coins with you to park the car. If there’s high tide, it’s only a rocky beach and it’s not worth it. So check tide times before going ūüėČ

Enjoy the pictures, they’re all here and I didn’t put any on my FB page this time, they were all the same! See you soon, Merlin xx


Land’s End cat – our first welcoming local (and the last LOL)
Land’s End view
View of the visitor centre
View of Land’s End Inn
View of cliffs and sea
More cliffs and sea
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More views of some cliffs
…. more cliffs….
The sign with the most expensive picture ever (if you want to be in it!!)

See you next time! ūüôā





Merlin’s Travels: St. Mawes, Cornwall U.K.

St. Mawes is a picturesque village on the South Coast of Cornwall, U.K. We got there in the late afternoon and there was no time for us to do anything but a short walk. We will probably have the chance to stay longer in our next holiday! Not much else to say apart from the fact I fell in love with the bay and the lovely houses with a thatched roof ‚̧ I recommend the visit and you might also stop at a lovely village called St. Just in Roseland, which is quite close to St. Mawes. We didn’t stop there because our car was making a fuss and so we had to postpone that too! Another info: because of the geographical shape of the bay, from St. Mawes you can go to Falmouth only by ferry. If you want to go around by car, it is a long, long way up to the A390, then through Truro and then back down; it takes a couple of hours to drive down there!! Enjoy the pictures ūüôā

Main beach
View of the bay and the fantastic colour of the sea
Houses with thatched roofs
More lovely houses
View of an alley
Another view of the bay with the castle in the background

See you soon!

Merlin x


Merlin’s Travels: Lost Gardens of Heligan

Lost Gardens of Heligan is a restored and lovely garden (one of the biggest in Europe), located near the town of Mevagissey, U.K. Until 1990 it was still covered by brambles, but it is now one of the most visited destinations in Cornwall. Spread on over 200 acres, it is full of luxurious vegetation, romantic corners, beautiful sculptures and picturesque views. It is worth spending a whole day there, especially if the weather is warm and sunny. There are two caf√©s and a farm shop, where we bought a delicious local cider ūüėõ Don’t be scared off by the price of the ticket, because it is totally worth it! (tickets can also be bought online and in advance, together with Eden Projects ones).

See you soon for more pictures from Cornwall!! ūüôā

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View of Mevagissey from the gardens
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The Italian garden

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Merlin’s Travels: Charlestown, Cornwall U.K.

Charlestown is a little town near St. Austell, Cornwall. It has a fantastic little harbour and it has been often the location where they have filmed many movies.

We got there on a Sunday and, even though it was very late in the afternoon, finding a parking spot was quite a challenge! We ended up parking up the hill. Although we only spent about an hour there, I fell in love with the place. Surely it’ll deserve another visit if I will ever make it to Cornwall again! ūüôā And now onto the pictures, which is what anyone is already waiting for ūüėČ I’m afraid I’ve no many about this lovely town because both my camera and my mobile phone decided to die at the same time, so I only got a few pictures and many of them too grainy or blurry to be used for the blog.

Charlestown – sculpture or ship?
Charlestown harbour with the tall ships
Beach and sea view on the east side of the harbour
Beach & sea west side of the harbour
East side of the harbour
The harbour
A very picturesque character.. or a pirate?

See you soon on these pages!

Merlin xx



Merlin’s Travels: Tintagel, Cornwall – U.K.

Tintagel Castle is a ruined castle on Tintagel island. The village nearby was originally called Trevena, however it adopted the name Tintagel because of the association with the castle (and the florishing tourism business!) in the mid-19th century. As many of you will likely know, Tintagel Castle in Cornwall has been the favourite place where to locate the legendary King Arthur’s castle. Although the actual castle, whose ruins are visible at present, were built in the 13th century by Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, the castle went through several destructions, fires, restorations and additions. The location was rumoured to be King Arthur’s birthplace since Geoffrey De Monmouth had placed the Arthurian legends in Cornwall in his Historia Regum Britanniae in the 12th century. Seemingly, the Earl also wanted to have a connection with the Arthurian legends and decided to built his castle there. Curiously, nor he or one of his descendants ever lived in Tintagel.

Of course, evidence of Arthur’s castle being located in Tintagel (or elsewhere) never existed; however, even if you don’t care about Arthurian legends, Tintagel Castle is still a place full of interesting history and archaeology (don’t miss the ruins at the top of the hill, more ancient that the castle!), astoundingly beautiful views and a coastline full of wildlife. It is definitively a ‘magic place’ to be ūüôā And I, as Merlin, could not avoid to be there in front of Merlin’s cave, could I? ūüėČ (psst…. I even bought a t-shirt!! ūüėÄ )

The castle has an upper part and a lower part; we didn’t have time to visit the lower one, we spent about one hour and a half there…. In ancient times a bridge was connecting the two parts, now all the paths have been restored by English Heritage but of course… you need to walk up and down many, many, many steps. If you can’t stand heights, don’t consider the visit because steps are narrow and go up quite a bit!!

Pictures don’t do justice to the place and a visit is highly recommended, both to the castle and to the village, where you can also visit the lovely and ancient Post Office. I regret we could not visit the Post Office inside because it was about to close but I attach a picture of it as well. Enjoy!

Tintagel Old Post Office
Tintagel Castle plaque
View from the entrance of the castle (upper part)
Entrance of the upper castle
Merlin at Tintagel Castle.. or Merlin’s Castle?!?!?
Tintagel on the other side
View of the lower castle seen by the upper castle
View from hall door
View from the exit of the old hall (upper castle)
View of the lower castle and Tintagel village from up the hill (upper castle)
View from the lower stairs
View sea dn Merlin’s cave from lower stairs and passage
View of lower castle from the road leading to the shop and old ticket office

Merlin’s Travels: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Me at Portreath beach, on April 23rd 2016

Hello everybody,

I could not avoid to dedicate my first post after¬†our one-week¬†holiday in Cornwall¬†to this fantastic county, of course!¬†It is also an introductory post, meaning that I will¬†also give a bit of¬†general information about Cornwall and then I will upload a few pictures of beaches and villages, in some cases¬†where we only spent a few minutes, just in time to stop and take the the camera out ūüôā At the end, there will also be a post dedicated to the¬†journey itself, we drove for 20 hours from West Cumbria to South Cornwall and then back.

Unfortunately, as you can see from the header photo, weather was not very merciful to us… Well, let’s admit it,¬†weather was downright awful! I was able to take as many pictures as possible, yet it was a matter of ‘being at the right place at the right time’. We were told beforehand, and even there by our cottage’s owners, that Cornish weather is a bit… ‘naughty’ and it changes from cold to warm, and viceversa,¬†in a matter of hours. To give you an idea, in one week¬†temperature went¬†from 16 degrees to 3 degrees, then back up one day, then half freezing the next;¬†in only one day, sunshine, hail and snow all made their appearance!!

Our rented cottage was situated between Illogan, a tiny village¬†not far from¬†the¬†main road A30 and Redruth (where you can find supermarkets, petrol stations, etc.). To be honest, the choice of location was really great, because it was central and it allowed us to drive around in any direction with complete ease and not wasting much driving time to get anywhere. Regarding the road network, Cornwall has basically only the A30 that is a dual-carriage way for the most part;¬†many other roads are one carriage way. An impressive amount of roads¬†are single track ones and unfortunately our satnav didn’t make any difference between dual/one/single roads (or even warned us¬†about it!), so we had to¬†drive around following the¬†OS map….¬†Needless to say, we often found ourselves driving in reverse too, especially when we encountered tractors ‘face-to-face’, and avoided a couple of collisions with speeding drivers….. Imagine that my husband and I both came from the Highlands (where single track roads are the only roads available inlandthe !) and we now live in Cumbria, so we are quite used to narrow roads. However Cornish single track roads take the top prize in narrowness:¬†they are lacking a lot of visibility if compared to both the Highlander and Cumbrian ones because nobody ever cuts the hedges on top… (in the Highlands of Scotland very often there are no hedges!). It is advisable to go around by bikes, if possible. So if you’re travelling in a motorhome or caravan¬†take a couple of bikes with you or alternatively you can rent bikes in many coastal villages and towns in Cornwall. Furthermore, walking shoes, waterproof clothes and a walking stick can be useful things to have with you, in particular if you want to reach beaches and places that are off-track.

Last bit of advice, first… book a lot in advance, there was nearly any available accommodation anywhere!! Secondly, have a lot of cash and coins with you, because there is rarely¬†free parking spaces near beaches or towns; we also had a few issues to withdraw cash for free (without commission). Having said that…. our week was certainly¬†eventful, lots of farm shops and tea rooms visited when the weather was dire outside and we looked for ‘shelter’ (fruit scones and Cornish clotted cream made the shelters really welcoming ūüėÄ ), and out and about when the sun was shining ūüėČ

Mevagissey port
Mevagissey harbour

Mevagissey was packed full of tourists and given the extreme narrowness of places and that parking spaces were not available at that time we visited, we left and only drove through the centre. It seemed a gloomy place to me so we chose not to go back. I took this picture from over the harbour.

St. Ives
St. Ives from the parking with the shuttle bus

Same situation at St. Ives, no parking spaces available in the town and a 40-minute queue to make it over the hill. We went to look for the parking lot where there is the shuttle bus going back to the centre but overall we needed 5 £ in cash (often 2-3 £ is the minimum to pay for 2-3 hours) and given that we were tired because of the 10-hour journey, we settled for going back to a later time, which we never did in the end. However, we dined in a lovely pub just out of St. Ives and then we went sightseeing.

Hayle Towans beach

From St. Ives you must stop at Hayle’s beach, because we got there at sunset but it must be awesome during the day ūüėČ

Portreath beach
Portreath beach

Portreath was really close to where we were staying so we visited it on our first day 23/04/16; the village is quite small and full of¬†holiday cottages and apartments, mostly empty at this time of the year. Beach and sea are awesome, although the sand is quite rough and not very fine. But do stop!! A view from the top of the hill is a ‘must-see’!

Porthgwarra beach
Portchapel beach

Porthgwarra and Portchapel beaches are, as you can see above, are amazingly beautiful. Long single track road to get there but it was worth it. Parking is 2¬£ for 2 hours, or 4¬£ for the whole day. Stop at Porthgwarra cafe’, because the coffee is very very good, and the walks around are worth the visit and¬†to stay the whole day there.

Sennen Cover, near Sennen – Land’s End

This was one of those beaches I had put at the top of my must-see list. I was a bit disappointed because the pictures I had seen they were probably taken with low tide. Unfortunately very often nobody signals a low-tide beach and the sea was also a bit rough, which detracted from the overall colour of the sea water. I’d have avoided to¬†drive down¬†there if known beforehand.

Porthleven, Helston

That day was stormy so the photo appears all gloomy. However, the trip down to Porthleven was done in a rush and late in the afternoon. Surely worth a visit¬†at another time of the day and the village is also nice, pictures came out very dark though so it’s not even worth¬†posting them.

Portholland beach

One of the beaches we stopped whilst on¬†our way¬†to somewhere else (St. Mawes in this case). It is amazing but parking places available near the beach are, probably, only¬†5 or 6 (they’re free though).

St. Michael’s Mount – Marazion, near Penzance

One of the things I regretted not to have seen is St. Michael’s Mount. I only got to Marazion in time to get nice pictures. A whole day is needed, whether you want to get there by boat or walking following the tides. Unfortunately we got there too late to do anything, having wasted the day at Land’s End (which will have its own post!).

Watergate Bay, Newquay (caption from the road)

There wasn’t a shred of parking place anywhere this bay, however it seems that the majority of beachgoers were surfers so we just passed by without stopping.

Holywell Bay, Newquay (right side of the beach)
Holywell Bay, Newquay (left side of the beach)

Last but not the least, this bay is simply amazing. We got there at 4 pm in the afternoon and stayed for 2 hrs/2 hrs and a half (we paid 2¬£ for the parking). Beach is under the National Trust care, like Crantock, and it is worth a visit for the whole day, because there are countless walks to do around the area. A pity we left it to the last day and after a whole day spent walking, we were too tired and barely walked to the main beach. On the right side of the beach there is a St. Cubert’s cave, very interesting but the pictures I took came out all blurred.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the beaches¬†and villages; hopefully I will see you soon again on these pages ūüôā

Merlin x