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Talking Location with Lily Graham – Cornwall

10th April 2017

#TalkingLocationWith... Lily Graham, author of The Cornish Escape.

I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love with Cornwall. It happened slowly at first, the way you notice someone across a room and your eyes wonder at the beauty before you. Later it was the hidden depths beneath the surface that captured me, the hint of mystery, the touch of magic too.

The author Lucy Diamond wrote that Devon is pretty, but Cornwall is beautiful. I can’t help but agree, not because Devon isn’t lovely, it is, but it’s a tamed sort of loveliness in some ways, with neat edges. Cornwall has a wild beauty that captures the imagination. With its sheer cliffs, dramatic views, miles of rugged coastline and rolling green hills, it’s little wonder that it has spurred so many myths and legends.

The Cornish Cove

The Cornish Cove at Port Isaac, see below

On a recent holiday in the Roseland peninsula we drove along lanes that looked so wild it seemed as if they had been burrowed out of the foliage, I couldn’t help feeling as if we were driving through a weaver’s nest. In amongst these lanes though were fields, little stone cottages, daffodils, rabbits, and sheep – it would be easy to conjure up Frodo and the Shire in such a setting.

Cornwall and fiction

It is this feeling that something mysterious could happen that attracts me the most to Cornwall in my fiction. My latest novel, The Cornish Escape is about a biographer who finds an abandoned cottage that dates back to 1905, with her life in ruins she decides on a whim to buy it and soon begins to uncover a mystery that leads back to the First World War.

 Cornwall

Portscatho

 

 

A beautiful door in St Mawes - inspiration for The Cornish Escape

A beautiful door in St Mawes – inspiration for The Cornish Escape

In my research for the cottage, which I wanted to belong to a large estate I found that the county is famed for its daffodils, growing most of the country’s supply, and decided to set part of the story on a daffodil farm called Idyllwild. I had such fun looking at pictures of masses of daffodils stretching along the Cornish coast and learning about how many varieties there really are.

It is the second time I’ve based a novel in this part of the world. The first one was A Cornish Christmas, which centres around a mother’s love for her daughter, the idea of whether when we’re gone if that’s really the end. I based the story in a fictional village called Cloudsea which is loosely based on parts of Fowey, whereas my fictional village in The Cornish Escape, Tregollan, is in many ways based on the Roseland Peninsula, with Portscatho and Veryan as my inspiration.

On a walk through the coastal paths near Porthcurnick beach I found a few houses that reminded me a little of my fictional abandoned cottage, nestled in the cliffs with no one around them and it was incredible to see – life imitating art in a way.

Some of my favourite places, tips and tricks:

It is hard to make a wrong choice when choosing to visit Cornwall. It does depend on what you’d like from your trip. If you’d like to be away from the crowds and see a slightly more rural part of the county with dramatic coastlines, the Roseland Peninsula is ideal. My favourite café there is The Hidden Hut, which is just as the name suggests a little hidden hut amongst the sand dunes, there are long wooden benches with views overlooking the sea. The food is wonderful – particularly the hot chocolate with marshmallows and the lemon rosemary polenta cake and a short walk away is Portscatho, which is such a pretty village with little cottages perched along the coastline with a rather fabulous pub, The Plume of Feathers.

The hidden hut

The Hidden Hut

Fowey is one of my favourite places in Cornwall, I love the estuary dotted with boats as well as the cottages along the water’s edge. The town has everything you need in walking distance – including a few bookstores. My favourite café there is The Pinky Murphy – it’s the best Cornish cream tea I ever had, they even use real strawberries and the décor is delightfully quirky. The towns close by such as Polruan are definitely worth a visit or a protracted stay too.

Cream Tea at The Pinky Murphy in Fowey

Cream Tea at The Pinky Murphy in Fowey

Further to the north of the county, a fun day out would definitely consist of a visit to Port Isaac, where they film Doc Martin. We took a recent trip there for afternoon tea in The Cornish Cove – the sweetest tea shop run by such wonderful ladies – picture 50s music, cute décor and the freshest bakes, and on a walk around the town we stumbled upon them filming. We had no idea they were. Soon after that we tried to spot all the places in the show – like the Doc’s practice, Louise’s cottage, and the incredible restaurant with the picture perfect views.

Louise's cottage from Doc Martin-1

Louise’s cottage from Doc Martin

1786811537.01.ZTZZZZZZGoing off-season can be a good idea – if you can. We were lucky at the end of March with very little rain and quite a few sunny days too, but after April most things are open so you may need to weigh that up as well. I discover new places to love each time I go. I’ve never been to Cadgwith, for instance, and that’s definitely on my list.

Thank you to Lily for sharing such fabulous tips for a real-life Cornish escape! You can buy The Cornish Escape here and connect with Lily via her website and follow her on Twitter

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Comments

  1. User: John Jackson

    Posted on: 10/04/2017 at 7:39 am

    Great post! Cornwall is something very special.
    I spent large parts of my childhood there. Unfortunately, all my Cornish relatives are no more. I DEFINITELY have a Cornish book in me though, probably based around the mining. My Gt-gt-Grandfather was the last purser of the Bottallack.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: Vivienne Child

      Posted on: 11/02/2018 at 2:30 pm

      I myself adore Cornwall always holidaying in Morgan porth at lucy and darells cottages, I find it magical the the little villages that are hard to get to and weather worn locals happy in their own little world, thank you for the memories your books bring back to me that I’ll always treasure.
      Yours truly
      Viv child

      Comment

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