All down to Cornwall for the simple life

A week in a B&B can be an ideal family break. But all the elements have to be in place. Sonia Purnell sees how they measure up in one farmhouse


The setting

The setting

Early Victorian stone farmhouse with sash-windows either side of the front door and a cream-painted stucco front wall. Polhormon Farm, near Mullion on Cornwall's Lizard peninsula, has a small but pretty walled front garden with a painted wooden gate and a wealth of cottage garden flowers such as clematis, sweet peas and gladioli.

The farm is approached down a long driveway from a winding country lane though pastures full of cows and pens for their calves. This is very much a working farm, with all the mess and smells. But beyond these agricultural realities is a spectacular, austere view (there are no trees because of the prevailing westerly winter gales) over emerald green fields plunging down to Poldhu Cove. The Victorians were far too sensible to bother with such natural magnificence, so the farmhouse faces away from the view - but also from the winds.

This is also a place of pilgrimage for radio enthusiasts as it was here that the first transatlantic signal was received from Guglielmo Marconi in 1901.

Welcome

On our mid-evening arrival, we were greeted by the farmer, Frank, who left tending his cows for a few moments to welcome us and find his jolly wife, Alice. She led us to our room and told us that breakfast was served from 8.30am to 9am. There was no choice in the matter. A nice touch was a flask of fresh milk in the room - normally unpasteurised, straight from the cows, but a recent tuberculosis scare meant that ours was from the supermarket.

The next night we found a second flask in our room without any prompting after Alice discovered how much milk our sons consume. Throughout the week, Alice was considerate (lending us things, finding a video for one son and some toys for the other) and a lot of fun. She even, without being asked, ironed some clothes I had washed and hung up on her clothes line. Frank kept us informed of various interesting events on the farm during the week‚ including the birth of twin calves, and invited us to help with the feeding and watch the milking.

On our departure, Alice strode out of her kitchen and shook my hand warmly saying how much she'd enjoyed us staying. The feeling was mutual.

The room

Our bedroom was small for four‚ although that was in part because the double bed was so huge. The single bed had a pull-out underneath. Good hanging and drawer space was provided by a large wardrobe.

The en-suite bathroom‚ with its sweet window-seat, was equally compact and furnished with basic toiletries. The furnishings were simple but the bed was comfortable. The metropolitan style-police might not be impressed by the washed-out Regency stripe wallpaper, heavy repro furniture, red velvet curtains and poly-cotton sheets, except perhaps in a retro ironic way. But the overall effect was homely and well-lit.

Breakfast

Another family and one or two other couples squeezed into the small dining room. There was a nylon lace tablecloth and blue-and-white crockery. Good, strong coffee and - with local ingredients - an excellent cooked breakfast was provided. When my eldest son mentioned that he liked Cheerios, a supply was tracked down and parked on our table the next morning. Jane, the elderly lady who served breakfast and cleaned the house, was a mine of local information - and gossip.

Price

From £70 per night for a family of four sharing the same room. Fantastic value.

Local amenities

The Lizard peninsula is a little rural world of its own beyond mainstream Cornwall. There is so much to do locally that we didn't bother venturing even to the Eden Project. Our favourite beach was Kynance Cove. Caves and soft golden sand - a perfect vision of the classic Cornish cove. The food was great at Halzephron pub at Gunwalloe, which has a heated terrace for sunset watching and a separate narrow room for families.

The village of Mullion had a wonderful, mostly organic grocery store and café (Culroger). The nearby Polurrian hotel may be rather "traditional English", but its clifftop terrace has unmissable views and the crab sandwiches make a good lunch, while Helford is the perfect English village.

Nearby Trebah Gardens has a great Tarzan adventure playground hidden in its woods. Further south, Cadgwith is a dream of a working fishing village with boats hauled up on the tiny beach. The Cove Inn sells a superior fish and chips for a fiver before 7pm. At Britain's most southerly point, the Lizard lighthouse is a wild and romantic spot.

Verdict

This was a classic, seaside holiday we'll remember for years. Now that Cornwall can even provide decent food - another meal we had at the Blue Fish in St Ives was epic - there is little you can fault the place on. We'll be back.

Polhormon Farm, near Mullion, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall (01326-240304)

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's pic YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star