The Olde House
Tel: 01208 813219
Arriving at The Olde House self-catering cottages is a bit deceptive at first. It is a working farm and looks like one, the drive has a large barn with agricultural machinery stored away and chickens wandering about. But as you drive around the corner a little ‘village’ opens up. This is where the cottages are. They are all named, mine was called Primrose it was to be my home for a long weekend while visiting the annual Oyster Rock Festival in the next village.
The accommodation was really spacious, two bedrooms one with a double and the other twin singles. Each had its own vanity washbasin and there was a large family bathroom with shower. The main living area is large. At one end of the room are two giant sofas, a TV and giant patio doors that open on to your own table and chairs. There are BBQs available so should the sun shine there’s nothing to stop you slapping a steak on coals. At the other end of the room is the kitchen with all the necessary essentials, toaster, kettle etc. and a big bonus, a slim dishwasher. In the kitchen area there is also room for a large farmhouse table that can comfortably seat six, seven if you include the highchair provided. The cottages are not all the same size, so if you have a larger party some will sleep eight.
My trip was all about finding somewhere good to stay and to go to the very family friendly festival. One of the main attractions for me was the ‘Flying Chef’s Theatre’ where the great and good in Cornwall gave food demonstrations. I was particularly impressed with Tom Hunter of The Scarlet Hotel in Padstow and Paul Ainsworth of No. 6 also in Padstow. As we watched they lay out there wares and proceed to cook amazing food with an air of simplicity that is hard to pull off at home. It is really great to watch a chef work in ‘real time’. You can actually see what can be achieved in a short space of time. I find the TV shows are quite frustrating, as you never really tell when something has been edited to make it look simpler.
Music plays a big part of the action at the festival, there was a circus Big Top where bands played over the tree days as well as a children’s circus. Performing to live music the show was really hypnotic and had all the children entranced. As I wandered around the site and came across many food producers from Cornwall it struck me how lucky the Cornish are. Everything is on their doorstep, I tasted a few good cheeses and an excellent venison salami made it back to London only to be devoured in one sitting by the family. I really should have bought two!
Back at the cottage I talked to Shaun Hawkey who helps run the family business. He explained to me “Dad started building up the business in the mid seventies by converting some of the farm buildings and then in the eighties building the new ones”. The site is very well equipped and there is plenty to do. If you have young ones then a daily visit to pets corner to watch feeding time is super fun, especially for a city kid, you can even hold the smaller animals. There is also an indoor heated swimming pool with sauna. Some years ago the Hawkey family invested in an expanse of solar panels that help heat the pool and provide power for the cottages. Shaun told me “people love to wander around the farm, it’s totally safe and chickens are people friendly as well, children love them”. The leisure centre has a play barn, adventure playground and a full sized snooker table for the grown ups. All these facilities are included in the price of your stay in the cottages.
The Olde House cottages are open all year round and are a great way of discovering north Cornwall. There’s even an old pub in the village selling good beer and food, it’s just a short stroll from the site. Of course further afield your choice widens. Padstow is a short drive and offers some of the best restaurants in Cornwall. Nathan Outlaw runs his own place just down the road in Rock and has recently been awarded its second Michelin Star. The beaches in this part of the world are outstanding especially out of season nothing beats a brisk stroll on the beach to blow the cobwebs away. As I returned to London on the Monday I felt my heart pulling me back, maybe it’s because I’m a townie or maybe because it really is one of the most beautiful spots in England? Of course I will be back I just can’t keep away.