You can hardly call it “back to normal”. We’re not even back last summer. Still, there is hardly a better way to have the worst winter in vivid memory than gazing up at the stars from a Cornish hot tub with a glass in hand.
As soon as the shackles were loosened on Monday, millions of us made our way to a “non-essential” shop or pub. Meanwhile, my family was heading straight to Cornwall on the M5 to make the most of the other big changes in the rules.
As of April 12th, in England and Wales, we will no longer be allowed to stay at home as long as it is a self-contained property (in Wales this can also be hotels with private bathrooms). In Scotland, domestic holidays are expected to be allowed from April 26th and in Northern Ireland independent accommodations will be able to reopen from April 30th.
Beach Ready: Richard Hardman was heading straight for Cornwall on the M5 to make the most of this week’s rule changes. Godrevy Head is pictured in St. Ives Bay
But, with all the remaining restrictions, can you still enjoy something that goes on a vacation? And is it worth it?
The answer from my “bladder” – three children, my wife and mother-in-law – was a resounding “yes” and “yes”.
Just be ready to accept that this won’t be quite like any previous holiday, and keep in mind that these rules will continue to apply on the next holiday weekend as well.
The most noticeable thing is the lack of human contact. The three of me are a pretty sociable bunch who always make friends at a beach, pool, or restaurant. But that’s almost impossible under the current rules.
Spontaneity is taboo; You have to plan ahead with military rigor.
The hardmans at the Via Ferrata activity center near Penryn, where you attach to cable paths and venture out onto cliffs
At the moment this is a reservation game and luck favors the organized. At our resort in Cornwall, for example, we had the indoor swimming pool all to ourselves – because we had to. Only one family can reserve a half-hour spot at a time (with a half-hour break for cleaning). The spa offers a top-notch range of massages and treatments, but you don’t stand a chance if you just stop by.
We booked Landal Gwel an Mor, a collection of Scandinavian style lodges in parkland overlooking the north Cornish coast between St Ives and Newquay.
It offers everything you would expect from a top resort – indoor pool, spa, tennis and golf course – as well as a well-stocked fishing lake. It’s also perfectly Covid compliant as each lodge has three good bedrooms, a proper kitchen, and (as for my kids aged 13, 12, and nine) a private hot tub.
Landal Gwel an Mor is “perfectly Covid-compliant,” writes Richard. One of the single-story lodges is shown
It’s a ten minute walk down the hill to Portreath Harbor. It was magical to be in line for ice cream again.
There are only wetsuits in the water, but the kids buzzed around pretty happily for hours.
Gwel an Mor (Cornish for “sea view”) is also right on the coast-to-coast Cornwall cycle path. We hadn’t brought any bikes (the last time I tried to attach the bike rack to the car was longer than it was on vacation). But that was soon resolved. Coastal Trail Cycle Hire comes to your door with everything. They also have bikes with electric boosters – heresy for purists, but we loved them.
One of the standout features of Gwel an Mor is the Feadon Farm Wildlife Center with its reindeer, wallabies, farm animals and all the creatures that ranger Gary Zammit has rescued lately.
During the day he holds meetings to build campfires or caves; At night he runs safaris with a large infrared screen on his back. We were blown away with all the wildlife action in the forest (right now, Covid means it’s just one family at a time, so book again).
As for the resort restaurant, The Terrace, you can eat outside, which is nice on a sunny day. But they also deliver to your door (try the salt and pepper squid).
If you want to have more fun with Covid, head to the Via Ferrata activity center near Penryn. It’s like one of those tree climbing adventures, only it’s built into two huge granite quarries.
Named after alpine climbing routes, cling to cable paths and climb over ropes and zip lines on ledges, along ledges, and over lakes (falling and dangling are part of the fun). And you have to try the cliff top cafe where the cakes are as good as the view.
Covid still seems to be casting a shadow this summer. We still have a long way to go. But from that week’s short, invigorating toe in Staycation water, I’d say the UK vacation prospects in 2021 are already very promising.