We didn’t think we were going to get to go on our annual trip to Bude in North Cornwall this year. We traditionally visit during the Easter holidays in April but, of course, the coronavirus pandemic meant that our eagerly-awaited holiday was cancelled as we were still in the midst of a strict lockdown. As silly and overdramatic as it probably sounds, we were devastated, even though we knew it was for the best that we didn’t travel to Cornwall during Covid-19.
We look forward to escaping to our little home-from-home by the sea every single year and being told that we weren’t going to be able to go as planned was heartbreaking, particularly for the girls. We tentatively re-booked our stay for October half term (which was miraculously still available), naively hopeful that things would be back to normal by then, and resigned ourselves to patiently waiting for an extra six months. To ease the blow a little we reminisced over last year’s holiday in Bude and re-watched the video I made of our time there.
Once the news broke that holiday destinations and accommodation were to be allowed to open up again at the start of July, I have to admit I felt jealous of all the people who were planning to travel down to the south-west. Like everyone else in the UK, we all felt desperately in need of a change of scenery and a break. Neil was exhausted from ridiculously long hours back at work once his furlough had ended. For me, the endless juggle of working full time from home whilst homeschooling the three girls, who all have very different learning styles and levels of motivation, was starting to take it’s toll mentally and emotionally on all of us.
One Saturday morning my phone pinged: it was a message from Tim and Maria, who own The Beach Haven where we always stay. They’d had a cancellation for a week during the summer holidays (one of their regular guests was unable to travel to Cornwall during Covid-19) and wondered if we wanted to move our October trip forwards. Of course we said yes without hesitation. The joy on the girls faces when we told them just filled me with happiness – I knew they needed the break as much as the husband and I did. The even better news was that Sophie was able to come with us too! We hadn’t seen her since February, so knowing that we would all soon be reunited felt wonderful.
We knew that it would be a very different trip compared to what we’re used to, but we were ok with that. Armed with facemasks, hand sanitiser, deliberately low expectations and zero plans (other than to keep ourselves to ourselves as much as possible), we set off to see what things were like in Cornwall during Covid-19.
We always set off early in order to beat the traffic and not waste a single moment of our trip. We couldn’t check into The Beach Haven until 5pm (instead of the usual 4pm) due to extra cleaning procedures they’ve put in place because of Covid-19, but we knew we’d find a way to keep ourselves occupied for the day.
We arrived in Bude at about 11am and dropped our bags at The Beach Haven, where they could be stored safely and securely until it was cleaned and ready for us to check-in later on in the afternoon. Thankfully the torrential rain we’d had during the drive down had mostly reduced itself to a fine drizzle. We weren’t going to let a bit of wet weather stop us from having fun so we grabbed umbrellas and coats with hoods and headed straight for the beach.
Standing on a (mostly deserted) Crooklets Beach, watching the waves and hearing our daughters shriek with joy as seagulls swooped amongst the stormclouds was wonderful. The girls have done so well these last few months, coping with all the changes that lockdown brought, adapting to homeschooling and being together 24/7. They really needed this freedom – the chance to shake off their worries and just ‘be’.
We walked over the clifftops into town before squishing into the corner of a cafe for some lunch – the first time we’d eaten out since before lockdown. It felt a little weird but also quite nice to be doing something ‘normal’ and I felt quite relieved to have got that particular hurdle out of the way. So far Cornwall during Covid-19 seemed to be ok. We stayed there for a while, filling in soduku and crossword puzzle books I’d packed for moments exactly like these. One big supermarket food supply shop later and we were all happily settled into our home for the week, ready for a long sleep and more adventures the next day.
The girls only request for this holiday was to visit the beach as much as possible. So despite the grey skies and distinct chill in the air we wandered down to Crooklets Beach again and watched the wildness of the waves, the wind whipping our hair ferociously. I love the beach whatever the weather and have always felt a particular kind of magic whenever I’m by the sea.
The beaches of Cornwall during Covid-19 didn’t seem to be too busy at this point, I guess because the weather was less than favourable. I had a feeling that they would be much busier if the sun came out and it warmed up a little.
The drizzle increased as the day went on, which called for a quiet afternoon at The Beach Haven. The husband snoozed whilst the girls played with Sophie’s makeup – she spent absolutely ages applying eyeshadow and lipgloss on them, bless her. I mean, what else are big sisters for?! I love that they have that kind of relationship with each other and hope it continues long into adulthood.
So far this visit to Cornwall during Covid-19 seemed to be a good mix of what all good holidays should be: plenty of explorations & adventures combined with lots of time to relax and unwind from all the uncertainty that lockdown had brought over the last five months.
Meanwhile I went out for a wander on my own, eager to explore somewhere we’d not been to before. That’s one of the things I love about Bude – this was our seventh consecutive year of staying there and we still find new adventures and things to do every single time we visit.
I walked down to Crooklets Beach again and this time, instead of turning left and following the line of colourful beach huts and over the top towards Summerleaze Beach like we usually do, I turned right and headed up the path that leads to the top of Wrangle Point headland and the cliffs on the northern side of the beach. From the summit I could see a narrow path leading down to Wrangle Beach and upon further investigation knew it would be somewhere that Neil and the girls would love to see, especially as it involved a bit of rock scrambling to actually reach the edge of the water. I vowed to bring them here the next day for a mini adventure.
One really great thing about going off the beaten track a bit is that there is plenty of space to socially distance – not always easy when in Cornwall during Covid-19 as it’s such a popular destination.
As it was a bit of a last minute opportunity and decision to come down to Bude, I had some work already booked in my diary that I couldn’t really move to another date. Thankfully I can work from anywhere, so I spent the morning working with my client (happily The Beach Haven has good wifi) whilst the girls read their books, played Star Wars Monopoly and had some time to themselves.
The Beach Haven always has a stack of games for guests to play with. For people’s holidays in Cornwall during Covid-19 they’re asking guests to place anything they use (board games, books, CDs, DVDs etc) into a ‘quarantine box’ that they provide. At the end of your stay they get taken out of the property to be cleaned and quarantined for a week and are replaced with different games, books etc for the next set of guests. It’s a rotation system that keeps everyone safe and works really well.
After lunch we headed to Wrangle Point which I had discovered the previous day. Again, the weather was drizzly but not enough to stop us from going out. We really do try and make the most of every single day (whatever the weather) when we’re visiting somewhere, even if we know it really well.
We managed to time the tides correctly so we were able to scramble down over the rocks and onto the beach. It’s such a dramatic landscape and I love what gets revealed as the tide slowly sucks it’s way back out, exposing what lies beneath. Standing at the edge of the ocean, knowing that it stretches out way beyond how far our eyes can see, somehow makes me feel simultaneously all powerful and very, very small.
It’s a perspective shift that I’d needed. Lockdown has been hard on everyone (although of course it’s had many benefits too and I’ve loved this bonus time with my girls and husband) – escaping to Cornwall during Covid-19, as soon as it was safe to do so, was exactly what we all needed.
Once we’d had our fill of adventure we headed into town to seek out our first ice cream of the holiday. The girls were most indignant that we’d been in Bude for three whole days and hadn’t had an ice cream yet when we normally try and have one every single day during every trip we go on.
We made a bee-line for Scoop Ice Cream, a happy discovery from our visit to Bude last year. It was as cheerfully colourful inside as we remembered, with delicious flavours on offer. Raspberry Ripple, Rocky Road x2 and Double Chocolate were the orders for the day which put very big smiles on the girls’ faces. This year there was understandably no indoor seating provided at Scoop (it’s only a small shop so social distancing wouldn’t be possible, and only one family is allowed in to place an order at any one time). We ended up sitting on a bench in the little green just down the street watched the world go by. Oh, and Mimi got pooped on by a seagull!
There will be another post documenting the rest of our time in Cornwall during Covid-19 to follow this one, hopefully within a couple of weeks.
If you’re heading to Bude any time soon, or thinking of booking a trip here next year, do check out my other Cornwall posts for ideas: