Running From Knotweed to Boscombe Bed & Breakfast

A trip down South: tiring but well worth the journey!

One should never tackle a long distance car journey lightly, especially when it involves 300 miles of busy holiday traffic, sandwiched by some particularly nasty country roads…

Janet and I have always been equal rights advocates, even when it wasn’t fashionable to do so, for that reason we’ve not ascribed to stereotypical gender roles for most of our lives which means that we pretty much take it in turns to do everything. Whether it’s cooking the dinner, washing up or driving, we try and share all of life’s responsibilities so that we can both increase our confidence in these skills and also benefit from a break when we’re on the road. We were both grateful for those break when it came to our rather poorly planned drive down from Cambridge to Mevagissey last Christmas.

Why travel so far during Christmas?

Well, just a few weeks before I made a rather troubling discovery in our back garden. Whilst attempting to tame the wilderness that our garden had become I found myself coming up against a jungle of bamboo-like shoots. I swear that I’d never seen them in the garden before, but it looked like it had worked its way over our fence after overpopulating the scrap of land behind our home. A bit of digging online soon revealed its identity as Japanese knotweed, a particularly hardy relative of the bamboo that can seriously wreck house prices. After contacting our solicitor for some legal advice on getting rid of Japanese knotweed we decided that the best thing for us to do was get away for Christmas.

Roughly 300 miles sat between us and our destination, certainly one of the longer journeys that we’ve attempted and certainly picked a bad time of year for it! During the Christmas season the roads are often packed with tourists, making a long journey considerably more challenging than the sum of its parts. Of course, we weren’t to know this before setting off on our rather long-winded and excitement-killing journey. It’s a good thing we always set off nice and early for our journeys, so that eight hours after we set off, we could arrive at Boscombe Bed & Breakfast in Mevagissey.

Cornwall is one of those fantastic places that exudes a sense of peace and quiet, and there can be no greater example of this tranquillity than the peaceful port village of Mevagissey. It’s arguable that that this tiny fishing village has been a little ruined by mass tourism over the years, however savvy councillors have clearly protected the spirit its community as we’re happy to report that, even after decades away, Mevagissey has managed to retain its uniquely Cornish characteristics. Our bed for the night was a prime example of Cornwall’s excellent hospitality and also happened to be one of the chicest B&Bs we’ve yet to stay in.

Andrew and Lynn are the hosts here at the Boscombe Bed and Breakfast and it’s clear they know exactly what they’re doing. Their establishment is truly a class act, from the jug of fresh milk left in your fridge for tea and coffee, to the tasteful decorative choices that flow seamlessly from the hallway through to the bedroom and dining room. Our room was well equipped with everything that you’d expect from a modern bed and breakfast: discreet flat screen television, super comfy king-size bed and a luxurious plush bathroom, but Boscombe Bed and Breakfast surpassed our expectations with the level of comfort and style on offer.

After a peaceful night’s sleep we had high hopes for breakfast, both Paul and I were relieved to find out that the quality of service continued straight through to the breakfast table. We’ve often found that some B&Bs excel in one part of the breakfast service, but then drop the ball in other areas. Unsurprisingly, Andrew and Lynn made no such error. Cold options were splendidly prepared (my granola and yogurt was an unexpected highlight), whereas Paul’s full English was both generous and sumptuously prepared with quality local ingredients.

Boscombe B&B was such a welcoming stay that we were reluctant to leave for the day, but with the promise of another night’s stay ahead of us, we could at least look forward to another fantastic breakfast!

Taking a trip to Whitby: High Tor Guest House

First things first, Whitby is not your usual seaside town.

Before we check into the B&B, Janet and we took a little wander around this rightfully legendary seaside town. There’s a palpable history here in Whitby present in some exquisite old buildings and charming architecture.

Everywhere we look there are nods to the past: shops have traditionally painted signage, there are book shops everywhere and even the hotels seem to be getting in on the action, lending the town an eerie anachronism which is only highlighted by the impressive number of goths scattered throughout the streets. If we were visiting a metropolitan city then we would assume that there was some sort of rock concert on, but this is Whitby and there is an altogether different reason for this many black-clad people converging here.

When visiting Whitby in the years before publishing his most famous novel, Bram Stoker found himself drawn to the grand Gothic ruin of Whitby Abbey. So taken was he by the 7th Century building that he decided to have his titular vampire arrive in England by way Whitby; for that reason Goths and occult tourists alike flock to the town in droves (especially during Halloween) and spend thousands of pounds on jet trinkets and black coffees.

All of this useful contextual information is passed on to us by our hosts at High Tor Guest House, a charming, luxurious Victorian property run by Sue and Gary. 7 well decorated en suite bedrooms are kept in pristine condition in this tastefully decorated town house makes for a perfect getaway for couples. Janet was very pleased with the quality of the towels and complimentary toiletries, and I was more than happy with their generous cooked breakfast. Their Full English is a hearty plate, coming with 2 rashers of bacon, sausages, tomato, hash browns and mushroom. Janet opted for the lighter option of poached eggs on toast, and we were both happy with the range of preserves available to guests. The dining room is light and airy, the perfect place to spend a relaxed morning eating and reading the papers before heading out to explore Whitby.

Buying some Jet

Although the gemstone Jet can be found all over the world, the finest specimens are to be found in Whitby (or so the owners of numerous gift and souvenir shops are to have us believe). You won’t have to look hard to find a shop selling these wares, but their quality does vary from place to place, so it’s best to take a good look around before you settle on making a purchase. Staff in most of the shops aren’t pushy and will give you space to browse without pressuring you.

Visiting Whitby Abbey

The Abbey is a must-visit location and although the 199 steps leading up to the ruin are a much touted challenge, Janet and I didn’t find them too difficult, but were certainly grateful for the flask of tea that we brought up with us. As we’re both members of English Heritage, entrance was free for us, but prices seemed pretty reasonable for non-members (£7.90 for adults, £4.70 for children). At the top you’ll find some terrific views and a quick walk will take you to the Mansion Visitor Centre which houses plenty of interesting information.

Grabbing some Fish’n’Chips

Trenchers Fish’n’Chips doesn’t mess too much with the tried and tested formula of the English chip shop, in fact it’s so rigidly traditional that you might be initially put off. Hipsters seeking out a modern take on this seaside classic will probably turn their noses up at the door, but in doing so they’ll be missing out on the best Cod and Chips that Yorkshire has to offer. Trenchers was the only shop in the North short-listed for the top prize of the National Fish & Chip Awards, an honour that is well deserved.