Much is written about the spell-binding beauty of St Ives (a lot by me, to be fair!) but we're certainly not the only family to be captivated by its charms. Indeed, on this last visit - our ninth year of schlepping down the M4 in an excited bundle the minute school breaks up for half term - I had the distinct impression that we were one of a thousand identi-kit families making their annual pilgrimage down to our 'secret' spot, all of us bemused by the rest, each of us put out that the place was so busy and each probably taking very similar photographs of our very similarly-dressed kids frolicking on the beach!
But despite the crowds (oh the CROWDS this time around) and the enormous amount of in-street scoffing, a phenomenon I'd not seen there previously and which is a massive pet hate - crumbly pasty and a lager anyone? - we had a fabulous time. We always do. It's why we keep going back.
St Ives is THE perfect recipe for a British seaside holiday. It boasts not one but four beautiful beaches within minutes of the town, each distinct in character, outlook and beauty. It has a fabulous surf school, the quaint little seaside streets are lined with galleries and lovely shops and of course, there's Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth when sandy hair is to be replaced by a culture fix.
This last time, we breakfasted at our favourite beach cafe overlooking the morning surf, we dined at sunset as seals played in the bay and we ate far too much of the best ice-cream in St Ives watching the boats bobbing in the harbour. The boys climbed rocks, collected seaweed, dug sand holes, tried body boarding and obtained that pleasing freckly glow that's so much a part of a beach holiday.
If you follow me on instagram, you'll have been bombarded with far too many pictures of our adventures and if you've never been to St Ives, you won't be surprised to know that I highly recommend it. But please can you go in the first week of February or for a windy 3-day break in November?!