World record holder Jonathan Edwards could have almost hopped, skipped and jumped from our holiday home to the beach.
I reckon Usain Bolt could have sprinted to the golden sands in about four seconds, the 90 degree left turn slowing him down somewhat.
And it would have taken the sprinter only slightly longer to have reached the high street shops and takeaways in one direction, and the seafront bars and restaurants in the other.
To say our holiday home in St Ives, booked through Cornish Horizons, was – to use estate agent patter – conveniently located would be something of an understatement.
There was a lovely view of the beach and harbour from our master bedroom on the second floor, while our daughter’s bedroom window framed the lovely parish church.
We were the first family to stay at four-bedroomed property The Coasters, newly converted from a tea shop and framing studio.
And, let me tell you, it takes a brave person to invite my family to ‘test drive’ a new holiday home.
Why brave? Well, for starters, there’s my one-year-old son Owen and his frightening fascination with anything that has a plug attached.
Then there’s my five-year-old daughter Cerys, who could trip over thin air, and my wife Jayne, who only has to look at something for it to break.
Porthminster and Harbour beaches in St Ives
As for me, I’ll admit my ‘manly’ refusal to ever read assembly or instruction manuals has left me out of pocket on several occasions.
This holiday, we would not be able to use our tried and tested excuses –
‘‘that’s just general wear and tear’’ or ‘‘we noticed that crack in the vase when we arrived’’.
My anxiety was made worse by the fact the detached property had the ‘wow’ factor and was furnished and equipped to such a high standard.
But it was testament to The Coasters that it withstood everything the Caffery clan could throw at it during our short break and survived intact.
In the unlikely event that guests should encounter a problem with the property, the local Cornish Horizons shop is literally next door.
The tea shop, by the way, has moved just two doors down, the other side of Cornish Horizons, and there’s a restaurant next to that.
I wasn’t lying when I said we were conveniently located! Despite this, come the evening, St Andrews Street is a very peaceful place.
In common with the vast majority of central St Ives holiday homes, the one – and only – thing The Coasters lacked was a parking space.
However, it did boast a very practical place right outside the front door where we were able to load and unload our luggage without blocking the road.
We parked overnight at St Ives train station, just a three-minute walk away, where cars are charged a very reasonable £7.50 per 24 hours.
St Ives was blessed with fine weather during our spring break and, with two young children, we felt obliged to make a beeline for the beautiful beaches.
The town has no fewer than four, which means you can usually find a sheltered spot no matter which way the wind is blowing.
The gently shelving Porthminster Beach below the railway station is perfect for paddling and castle building and has two of the best beach cafés you’re ever likely to find.
Harbour Beach in the heart of the town is great for little ones to explore when the tide goes out and for lunch you can choose from the dizzying array of Cornish pasties.
Porthgwidden is a delightful little sandy cove with beach huts for hire and, despite its size, has a lovely café, snack kiosk and toilets.
The largest beach is Porthmeor, a favourite for surfers because of Atlantic swells, which is overlooked by Tate St Ives gallery (closed until 2017).
The mile-long Carbis Bay, which can be mistaken for an idyllic Caribbean spot with its pristine sands and turquoise waters, is also within walking distance.
St Ives is not just ideal for young families, though.
One evening, with the kids tucked up in bed, I took a lonesome stroll around the harbour.
The array of bars and restaurants with romantic sea views reminded me of those carefree days when my wife and I holidayed in the Med.
I developed a sudden thirst and vowed that the next time we came to St Ives, we’d bring the babysitters too.
There is plenty of room for them at The Coasters afterall.
Top 10 at the toe of England
- 1. Paradise Park: Home to the World Parrot Trust, there are over 650 birds and animals to see, plus indoor and outdoor play zones for children.
- 2. Land’s End: You can’t come to west Cornwall without getting a selfie next to the famous signpost that tells you it’s 3,147 miles to New York.
- 3. Geevor Tin Mine: Venture into an 18th century mine and learn why great swathes of west Cornwall have been granted World Heritage status.
- 4. Minack Theatre: Extraordinary cliffside theatre that recalls Ancient Greece. Explore it by day or see a play in the evening.
- 5. St Michael’s Mount: Check the tide times before striding across the causeway to the dramatic, National Trust-owned castle, priory church and gardens.
- 6. Flambards: A theme park with thrilling rides for all ages plus a Victorian village, a Blitz street scene and life-size dinosaurs.
- 7. Cornish Seal Sanctuary: Hear the heart-warming stories of their rescue and rehabilitation and go behind the scenes on a ‘hospital’ tour.
- 8. Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens: Works by national and international artists in a subtropical landscape with views towards St Michael’s Mount.
- 9. Mousehole: Charming fishing village with a harbour that Dylan Thomas described in 1930 as ‘‘the loveliest in England’’.
- 10. Chysauster: These 2,000-year-old remains are among the finest examples of an Iron Age settlement in the country. Take a torch for the underground passage.
The tide retreating at St Michael’s Mount
Adrian Caffery and family stayed in St Ives as guests of Cornish Horizons.
The family-run company offers more than 450 holiday properties in coastal and country locations across Cornwall, including the largest choice in and around Padstow where you can book a studio apartment for two from £201 per week or a luxurious family house sleeping 12. Guests enjoy exclusive discounts at shops, surfing schools, restaurants (including Rick Stein’s café in Padstow) and some of Cornwall’s best attractions (including Flambards and The Eden Project).
Coasters House has two double bedrooms and a twin bedroom (all en suite, one with a wet room), plus a single room. While there are beds for seven, there must not be more than six occupants at a time. WiFi, electricity, bed linen and towels are provided in the rent. There is a cellar which can be used as storage for wetsuits and surf boards. Changeover day is Saturday. Pets welcome. It costs from £1,130 per week in May, rising to £1,995 per week in August. Brand new on the books, it currently has plenty of summer availability.
Call 01841 533331 or visit cornishhorizons.co.uk, where you can click on the special offers page.