“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” so begins the classic Charles Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities, and that phrase certainly seems apt when applied to the Pandemic of 2020/21.
The worst of times when so many people around the world died or became seriously ill, some with long term health conditions, hospitals at bursting point, lockdowns, personal restrictions, families unable to visit or hug each other, and businesses going bust.
But also the best of times when the crisis brought out the best in people, showing compassion and support for each other and the emergency services. It also gave the opportunity for many to re-appraise life/work balances in working from home, spending more time with immediate family, altering lifestyles, eating healthier and perhaps battling the bulge and getting fitter.
Personally, along with many others, I stopped going on holiday, having weekends away, dining out, pub and theatre visits, attending live music performances (and writing reviews!).
I started a new fitness regime, stopped snacking and discovered more local footpaths than I ever knew were there. Walking daily along the nearby Leeds Country Way to the next village for my newspapers over a period of 15 months meant that I walked the equivalent of John O’Groats to Land’s End and back to Birmingham, just to collect the newspapers. I also lost a stone and a half in weight and feel better for it.
My wife and I had both received the two Covid jabs so we were feeling a little more confident, though still cautious.
As national restrictions began to be lifted and daily life began to get back to something like the ‘new normal’ my wife and I took the plunge and booked a long awaited two week ‘staycation’ in a caravan at St. Ives, Cornwall.
We had decided on self-catering rather than a hotel and on a small site, so Ayr Holiday Park fitted the bill. This is the only caravan site actually in St. Ives itself and has been awarded 5 Pennant status by the A.A.
It had been many years since we ventured down to South West Cornwall and we were certainly looking forward to the break.
This site has a limited number of two and three bedroom static caravans, two self-catering apartments, hard standing and grass pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes with some camping pitches, yet is small enough to not feel crowded.
Our 2 bed static caravan was brand new in 2020 and in an excellent condition, having been immaculately cleaned and sanitised with all the home comforts one could wish for.
It is a quiet site, open all year, whilst almost all of the pitches have some sea-views.
The best and most unobstructed views are from the touring and camping pitches, right over Porthmeor beach and bay. (see photograph).
There is no club or pub on site which is good news for many, though it does have a small, adventure playground with pirate ship for the kids as well as excellently maintained, modern shower blocks with underfloor heating, dishwashing and laundry rooms, together with wet-suit rinse-and-dry facilities. There are picnic tables and benches on site too. A small Co-op shop is a short walk away.
The small Garrack Hotel is adjacent to the site and welcomes visitors from Ayr.
For a small fee, guests can book in advance at reception and use the heated indoor pool (9.4 metres), spa and sauna.
There is also a restaurant and bar here with a covered, outdoor area which has superb bay views. The meals are around the 10 -16 pounds mark and very good quality they are too.
The nearest beach is the magnificent Porthmeor, a crescent of golden sand with water sports facilities like surfing and paddle-boarding. It is only a ten minute, downhill walk from the site, as is the town and harbour itself. The walk back takes longer!
A second huge and sandy beach, Porthminster, with its superb beach cafes and restaurant is also within walking distance, just past the harbour.
No matter which beach you go to in St. Ives there are clean, free toilets, as well as cafes and restaurants at each location, even at the pocket-sized Porthgwillan beach.
Further afield, access is swiftly gained to the South West Coastal Path for keen walkers, whilst a short drive will take you to St. Michael’s Mount, The Minack open-air theatre and many picturesque coastal and countryside villages.
Alternatively, leave the car on site and use either bus or train from St. Ives to travel around the county, traffic jam, stress and extortionate car parking fee free.
For further information, go to www.ayrholidaypark.co.uk though it is almost fully booked for 2021 and some of 2022, you have to be quick and early to get a coveted spot at this beautiful site.
Make a visit here and you will be literally walking on Ayr. You will certainly experience the best of times.