I’ve always yearned to be an adventurer. Explore new places, experience other cultures, try new foods, although I wouldn’t go so far as eating anything the wiggles, has lots of legs or is considered a vital organ. Once upon a long time ago I would have considered doing the whole Bear Grylls type of adventuring but these days I need a flushing loo that you can sit on and a bed with legs and a mattress that you’ld find for sale in a local branch of John Lewis. In other words, I need comfort.
Back in the days when big hair and Wham were the thing, I would happily travel by myself across Europe or to the States to visit friends. My first ever flight was at 17 when I flew to Zurich on my own. I then had to find the railway station and the night train that would take me to Innsbruck. It didn’t faze me at all. I love the whole travelling bit. I love airports, flying, railway stations and boats. If only I felt the same about driving. Take me out of my three mile radius comfort zone and I’m a quivering wreck. I have been known to drive down a motorway slip road with my eyes closed and fingers crossed. Needless to say this is not a manouvre to be attempted at any time and a good reason why I never drive on motorways or duel carriage ways!
I’m not a homebird but Mr R is. He is happiest chez nous, whereas I want to be going places. His idea of being adventerous is to go to B&Q rather than Homebase. He likes familiarity, I like the unknown. He enjoys returning to the same places for holidays, I like to try new destinations, although saying that we both adore Cornwall, especially Penwith and in particular, Penzance. He is getting better and now that he has discovered that it is exceedingly unlikely that he will plummet to earth when flying, we are discovering that it is possible to travel further afield than France!
I work in a school therefore I get a lot of holiday. I feel as though I’ve wasted that time off if I don’t go somewhere. My feet get itchy. I need adventures. There was nothing planned for this autumn’s half term break. Mr R couldn’t take any time off and friends were doing their own thing. By the second week I made the decision to go to Penzance by myself for a few days. Mr R thought I was joking when I told him of my plans on Monday morning.
“Bet you don’t go through with it” he said when he brought me a cuppa in bed before heading off to Leamington Spa and work.
“Bet I do” I replied whilst looking up train timetables to Penzance and buying a senior railcard.
And I did it. I went to Penzance by myself, had the most fabulous time and loved every minute.
I had toyed with the idea of staying in an Airbnb but couldn’t find anything that I liked so I looked at what Classic Cottages had available. It meant paying a little more but we’ve used them before and I knew that I could depend on finding my perfect little bolt hole through them so it would be money well spent. Within fifteen minutes The Garden Flat was booked and paid for. There was no going back.
With my senior rail card discount the return fare to Penzance was £65 which I thought was good value for a journey lasting five hours each way. I love rail travel. Watching the world go by with a good book and a coffee is much more fun than being stuck in traffic on the M5.
I know Penzance reasonably well so there was no issues with finding my way to my holiday home. It was only a twenty minute walk from the station so there was no need for a taxi. What I hadn’t bargained for was driving rain,near gale force winds, a hood on my coat that refused to stay up and an added soaking from the spray from the huge waves as they hit the prom. Suitcases also feel much heavier to pull when walking into the wind!
My little holiday home was just perfect. Although I knew what the flat looked like inside, it’s always rather thrilling to open the door and see it for real. I loved that the flat was a little retro and quirky with some upcycling and was warm and cosy. I put the radio and kettle on, opened the packet of shortbread and made myself at home.
I love Penzance. To me it’s a working Cornish town rather than one filled with tourists and holiday homes. It’s rough round the edges in places and has its fair share of empty shops in the main shopping area but there’s also a harbour, a prom (the only one in Cornwall), culture and a thriving art scene, fishermens cottages, traditional pubs, great food and lovely green spaces. Penzance also has its Jubilee Pool, a beautiful art deco open air pool that is the largest sea water lido in the UK. Not forgetting that Newlyn, Mousehole, Marazion with St Micheals Mount and the beautiful coastline of the Penwith peninsula is on your doorstep. There’s no need for a car as you can get around easily by bus.
I feel at home in Penzance. It’s my happy place.
The great thing about solo holidays is that you decide what you do and when you do it. I’ve always wanted to visit the Penlee Museum and Art Gallery but Mr R has never been keen. It’s not his thing. On my own I could go and stay for as long as I like without taking anyone else into consideration. I walked to Newlyn at my own pace and could stop as often as I liked to look at the view. I chose where to eat at lunchtime and if I wanted a cream tea two hours later then I did. On the subject of eating. I was worried about eating alone, but I needn’t have. Armed with a book and my phone, I didn’t feel at all self concious. Actually, the best thing to do when eating alone is people watch and dare I say, to eaves drop too!
The highlight of my trip was to meet up with my Instagram friend Beth who was also solo holidaying in Penzance. We had a wonderful evening at The Admiral Benbow pub listening to traditional cornish folk music and drinking cornish beer. Brilliant, brilliant fun.
I’ve had lots of comments from women like me to say how brave I was to go it alone and how they wish that they had the confidence to do it too. To them, and anyone else I would say do it. Maybe choose somewhere familiar for the first time and choose a town rather than somewhere remote so there’s plenty to see and do especially if you don’t have your own transport. Don’t worry about eating on your own. I was really well looked after at everywhere that I ate. You’ll really enjoy the “me time” and not having to take anyone else into consideration. I think we all need and deserve some quality time to ourselves and we all need an adventure or two. If I can do it, you can do it too!
I can’t wait to do it again. Roll on next time!