The little fishing village with a big hook
If you really want to get away from it all and leave the rat race behind, there's a little corner of Cornwall that might just be your perfect hideaway, writes Sean O'Meara
Iremember childhood holidays and trips to the seaside with great affection. First there was myself, my brother and sister, free of seat belts, sliding across a vinyl seat in the back of a Ford Cortina, comics in hand, as dad negotiated the A roads of southern England.
Then, wielding a net and bucket, we charged around a Devon town for a week, chewing halfpenny sweets by day and eating chips for tea nearly every night.
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It was a time of simple pleasures without mobile phones and satellite TV.
I thought those kind of places had gone but in Polperro, just a few miles into southern Cornwall, we rediscovered the magic of holidays from days gone by.
That's not to say the small fishing village is stuck in the past but more that it's uncluttered by the worst parts of modern seaside life.
Among its few tightly winding streets, you won't find a fast food outlet, arcade or nightclub.
And you won't find too many cars either because its streets just aren't wide enough to make driving an easy experience. So, only residents and delivery vehicles are allowed in.
Instead, visitors park up in a giant car park at the top of the inlet and take the short 10-minute stroll into the village.
We were being looked after by Jan and Tiff at the Old Millhouse Inn, a cosy pub and restaurant nestled at the bottom of one of Polperro's winding lanes.
And after a welcoming sandwich and pint – for me, not my pregnant wife or 4-year-old daughter – we set off on our first expeditionary mission.
Beyond Polperro's single looping main road, fringed by tidy fishermen's cottages, pleasant tea rooms and classy gift shops, are a couple of pedestrianised alleyways which lead you down to the harbour.
It's a working harbour, too, with its own small fish market but as we found a spot to watch the sea rolling up on to the small beach, the day's activities had drawn to a close.
On our way back to our inn, after the obligatory cream tea, we noticed the shops were shutting too and the noise was starting to rise from the pubs and hostelries.
It was another nice reminder of how things used to be.
And as dusk approached, it was easy to picture smugglers – the village was a thriving entry point for those importers wishing to evade the taxman for hundreds of years – dragging boxes and rolling barrels through its skinny thoroughfares, before holing up in their favourite inn to share their seafaring tales.
We holed up back at the Old Millhouse Inn to enjoy an authentic seaside curry and plan the next day.
The next morning we struck out to explore a little more of our seaside retreat. There was a visit to the museum, a harbourside coffee break, tea towels bought, fudge purchased, another coffee break, a visit to Polperro's charming model village, a beer break back at the Old Millhouse and a late lunch at the wonderfully named Chips Ahoy.
That's the kind of holiday I remember and it was a nice feeling to do those sort of things again.
Don't get me wrong, you can get a mobile phone signal in Polperro and our pub did have Sky TV but it was good to wander a while without seeing a coffee shop chain or charity store.
For our final evening, we were guests at The Blue Peter Inn, self-styled as the last pub before France, and boasting a madly appetising range of home-made dishes, with seafood, not surprisingly, taking a star role.
Walking back to our inn, as the sun began to slide closer to the horizon and the seagulls returned to their roosts, we smiled.