Around Saint Ives: no cycling - Southwest England in April - CycleBlaze

April 15, 2014

Around Saint Ives: no cycling


Gavin was busy serving breakfast when we descended to the dining room about 8:00. He and Charlotte looked so young to be running a guest house, maybe in their early 20s. Charlotte later told us that her parents had bought Tregony as a retirement project, but were still winding up their affairs in London, so she and Gavin were taking time off from PhD studies at a Welsh university to look after things in St. Ives. They were doing an admirable job of it.

View of St. Ives from our room in the guest house
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Shore of the Atlantic on the edge of St. Ives
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A beach directly below the guest house popular with surfers
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After breakfast, which featured the option of smoked haddock instead of bacon, we headed out the door into a ferocious wind. We were so glad to not be cycling today—it was hard enough to walk into the gale force gusts. We headed across the hills to the famous Leach Pottery Studio and Museum. “Founded in 1920 by Bernard Leach and Hamada Shoji, the Leach Pottery is among the most respected and influential studio potteries in the world.” The original studio has been turned into a museum, and a new modern studio still attracts scores of potters and apprentices from around the world. The gallery and shop display Leach's and Hamada's work as well as pieces from many other prominent potters. We arrived just as the studio opened at 10:00 and spent a leisurely morning there touring the museum, taking photos and watching videos on display in one of the galleries. There were only a few other visitors about, and we felt far away from the crowds and hubbub of the waterfront and beach areas.

Entrance to the Leach Pottery Museum
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The old climbing kiln at the Leach Pottery Museum, originally fired with wood and then later with oil
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By 1:00 we were ready for lunch and walked downhill through the gusty winds to the Mermaid Pub, where we enjoyed crab sandwiches again and lattes. Today there were many more lunch customers. The restaurant had no tap water, since a major water main east of town had broken just before noon, cutting off the water to most of St. Ives. The staff was making do with bottled water and melting ice, but they would obviously have to close if the pipe was not repaired quickly.

View across the harbour area to the eastern most beach of the four in St. Ives
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After lunch we walked through parts of the old cobbled area that we hadn't seen yet. The streets were lined with clothing and souvenir shops, clearly catering to the tourist market. There was also a very nice high-end pottery shop. St. Ives is considered an “art town” and has a branch of the Tate gallery, which was closed for renovation. Associated with the Tate is the Barbara Hepworth sculpture gallery in her former three-story home/studio and garden with its impressive sculpture. Barbara Hepworth was a well-known British sculptor, a contemporary of Henry Moore, who lived and worked in St. Ives for almost thirty years until she died in 1975. We enjoyed looking around the gallery with its high ceilinged bright rooms upstairs—it must have been a lovely place to work.

Somewhat “cultured out''we hiked back uphill to the guest house for a rest. It was still very windy, and there was still no mains water flowing anywhere in town. Around dinner time we headed down to the waterfront wondering if any restaurants would be open. Many were closed, but the Ocean Grill, upstairs with its wall of windows overlooking the harbour, had its own water supply and was open. We were lucky to get a table and ordered two individual pizzas. We enjoyed sipping our wine and looking out on the very wavy bay. The wind was from offshore, blowing right at the restaurant, and every time someone opened the glass door, it crashed inward—we hoped it wouldn't break. The place wasn't large and soon was completely full—they turned away many people while we were there. Partway through our meal we heard that the town water had come back on, so everything was back to normal when we returned to the guest house after dinner.

Looking out from our table at dinner on a very windy evening
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