My latest travel feature, covering my recent, very happy, trip to southern Cornwall, is now up on Travelbite.
We caught the train to Falmouth on the morning after St Piran’s Day (Cornwall’s patron saint) in early March, revelling in the fact spring comes fractionally earlier to Cornwall than to my home city of Bristol. Before long we were seeing fields of golden daffodils, trees laden with vibrant camellias and creamy magnolias, not to mention countless tiny lambs (we even glimpsed one sheep giving birth as we whizzed past!). Train is definitely the best way to do this journey – peaceful, comfortable and offering outstanding views of some of England’s most beautiful scenery, particularly the stretch between Exeter and Teignmouth.
By early afternoon we’d changed trains at Truro and boarded a little pootler to Falmouth, joined by art students clutching portfolios.
St Michael’s Hotel and Spa was ready to welcome us in a waft of subtly scented air, and then we headed out to visit Falmouth Aquarium. This small, surprisingly information-packed four-storey building is right on Church Street, which, happily, is also one of the town’s prettiest shopping streets. Possibly thanks to the art school, this area teems with tiny galleries and cute artisan shops, as well as an abundance of stores selling sensible outdoorsy gear, with each of the buildings on the right hand side (as you walk from the hotel) offering gorgeous sea views, many with a cosy window seat to boot.
The aquarium is divided into three themed area – with tanks of coral reefs on the ground floor populated by crops of garden eels, pretty pop-eyed soldierfish and the extraordinary-looking frogfish (pictured here, thanks Falmouth Aquarium!) – we were lucky enough to see one using its lure (apparently a modified dorsal fin) to try and attract prey. Upstairs we met fish resident to the Cornish coastline, including lobsters, spiny spider crabs, mullets and more, and a number of fossils, bones and models to bring the surrounding waters from all eras to life.