Rather than jetting off somewhere exotic post-wedding, we decided a week of rest and recovery nearer to home would be a good plan (plus I’m still struggling with the big honeymoon question). Somewhere peaceful where we could laze around among beautiful countryside would be perfect – like Cornwall. During my research I came across the website for self-catering holiday company Unique Home Stays, and ended up wasting a good few hours fantasy holiday planning (check out this beauty, sadly a bit out of our price range!). In the end we plumped for Old Pear Tree Barn, a converted barn and piggery in the Cornish countryside, surrounded by green fields, sand dunes and the old pear tree that gives it its name.
Old Pear Tree Barn is just outside the tiny village of Cubert, about five miles from Newquay on the north Cornwall coast. It’s at the end of a private road out in the middle of nowhere, so is incredibly peaceful. You’re not right on the beach but can walk across the fields from there to Holywell Bay – the information sheet said it’s a 20-minute walk but we’re either very unfit or got lost as it took us more like 30–40 minutes each way! Holywell Bay is a backed by huge dunes with wild seas in a stormy September – though we couldn’t get too close to the waves as a future blockbuster was being filmed on the beach. This part of the coast is great for surfing or bodyboarding and you can take lessons in Holywell or nearby Perranporth Bay. You’re also close to Newquay, Truro and within day-trip distance of the Eden Project and Padstow.
The barn is ‘U’ shaped, with a topsy-turvy layout, so the kitchen/diner and bedrooms are on the ground floor and the lounge is upstairs. It sleeps four people, with an en suite double with patio doors on one side and a small twin room on the other side (so if you’ve got kids they’re far enough out of range that you won’t hear much!). There are two bathrooms which come equipped with lots of fluffy towels and Cowshed toiletries. The barn has been beautifully converted and is decorated in muted seaside colours with quirky wooden carvings and pottery. There’s plenty of outside space and the lounge has a wrap-around balcony to make the most of those stunning countryside views.
All Unique Home Stays properties come with a welcome hamper – ours had prosecco, chocolates, local jam, biscuits, snacks and olives. We also got everything we needed to whip up a full cooked breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, bread and milk. There are basics like oil, herbs, tea and coffee in the kitchen too so you don’t have to bring everything with you. If you want to eat in then there’s a small shop in Cubert and larger supermarkets about five miles away in Newquay. The kitchen’s really well-equipped with everything you’ll need. There’s also the 16th-century thatched Smugglers’ Den Inn at the end of the lane where we had a great meal, with lots of fish and Cornish mussels on the menu.
There is an orchard garden and lots of patio space outside the barn, filled with pots of colourful flowers and with recliners, a garden table and chairs and a BBQ if the weather’s good. However we mainly had September rainstorms instead of sun so ended up spending most of our time inside. The barn is really cosy though, with an environmentally friendly ground source heat pump which warms up the hot water and the underfloor heating throughout. On rainy days there are two comfy sofas and books, board games, a big TV and DVD player and an iPod dock provided to keep you occupied.
- Guests are… just you, and maybe the occasional passing sheep.
- Staff are… friendly and helpful, though you’re only likely to see the owners at check in or if you pop up to the Smugglers’ Den Inn which they run.
- Don’t forget… to bring shampoo and shower gel, you only get hand wash and hand cream supplied.
- Useful to know… there’s no mobile reception at the barn but they do have a decent wifi connection.
A four-night, Monday–Friday rental at the Old Pear Tree Barn (which now known as Forelle) in autumn/winter costs £470 for two people. You can also rent it for three-day long weekends or full weeks, with a slightly higher cost if there are four people. Prices range from £680 for a week off-season right up to £2080 during the Easter/summer holidays. There is also a £500 refundable damage deposit.
Note: all images © Unique Home Stays (www.uniquehomestays.com +44 (0)1637 881947), because we had awful weather, but we paid for our stay ourselves in full and all opinions are my own.