Some people are born knowing how to cycle, skateboard or even horse ride. And although I wasn’t born knowing how to do the first two, I have discovered I may have been born with a gene that makes me a bit of a natural when it comes to horse riding. Ok I’ve based that on the sole fact that I didn’t fall flat on my face the first time I got on a horse but it’s a pretty good assumption by my standards. I was at the Boskell Horse Riding Centre in St Austell to explore and view the outstanding countryside of Cornwall. And as transport goes, horses are ideally suited to the beauty and tranquillity of this wonderful place. But before I went trotting along, I was given a crash course on how to ride my horse Kaya from my guide Emily. The basics I needed to master were how to get Kaya moving, how to make her go left or right and how to get her to stop. Above all, said Emily, I was to enjoy the ride and not be fearful because just like dogs, horses can sense fear. So with the saddle in place, I hopped on and as instructed squeezed my thighs and Kaya knew it was time to mosey off. It really did feel totally natural for me to be on the horse. I pretty much let go of any nerves I had and trusted that Kaya was going to look after me. The only moment of apprehension was when I was going down hills along the track. I was advised to stay upright and slightly lean backwards to keep me in balance. After a while, I forgot about being on horseback entirely and found myself fully immersed in the Cornish landscape. I could see the sea and surrounding villages visible from distances of many miles. I have been to Cornwall before but it was the first time I’d discovered the quiet pathways and enjoyed the sense of peace they offered in this way. My hour-long ride was over all too quickly, but with a trip to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, I still had a lot more to explore. Before I said goodbye to Kaya I offered her my sincere thanks and even offered the back of my hand for her to smell in true ‘horseman’s handshake’ style as a way of saying hello formally. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are truly spectacular and perhaps overshadowed by the Eden Project in the area. But it’s the intriguing story behind this wonder that is so fascinating and that sets it apart from most popular botanical gardens in the country. Our tour guide James was extremely helpful in unravelling the mysteries of the gardens as we explored the delights created by the Tremayne family. They were maintained over a period spanning the mid-18th century to the beginning of the 20th century until becoming neglected following WW1. The gardens are typical of the 19th century Gardenesque style with areas of different character and distinct designs. As an adult, I was completed bowled over by the magical jungle – I can only imagine how mesmerising it must be to explore it as a child. Trees, flowers, wildlife and food are all in abundance here – there are 15 types of mint alone. And even pineapples are grown here with the help of horse manure and specially heated glasshouses. Rare as they are though, the Queen and Prince Charles, have been sent fruit from the gardens to sample. Suffice to say, I wasn’t expecting to be given one to taste in a hurry. It’s easy to spend a whole day in the gardens but if don’t have the time, you can get more of the action at home from the comfort of your armchair. Just log on to their website and enjoy footage of the remote wildlife from around the gardens being streamed live throughout the day. With food for the soul taken care of, it was time to head back to Llawnroc Hotel where I was staying to nourish my rumbling tummy. And after a gruelling but enjoyable day I was looking forward to enjoying luxury, comfort and great food at this stylish hotel along the south coast in Gorran Haven. My room was incredibly spacious with stylish décor and countless plumped up pillows on my bed to ensure maximum comfort. After all I knew I deserved such luxury after my first ever horse riding experience. And the views from my bedroom window were simply stunning – so much so that I was almost late for dinner. Guests are truly spoilt by a mouth-watering menu at the Gwineas Bar & Bistro. With so much choice, it was hard to pick exactly what to eat. I had barely chosen my meal for the evening before started planning what I was going to have the next evening. Fish as you can imagine features heavily on the menu and as a fan of seafood I was in heaven. I chose the grilled Mevagissey scallops in garlic butter, fennel and lemon to start off with followed by a lemon and rosemary chicken for my main. The food was truly exquisite and so rich that it was hard to imagine that it was a healthy-eating haven for me. It just goes to show that eating well doesn’t mean having to compromise on taste.
The Llawnroc Hotel http://www.thellawnrochotel.co.uk 01726 843461 The Lost Gardens of Heligan http://www.heligan.com Boskell Riding Centre 01726 73049 Advance single fares from London Paddington to St Austell start from: £15.00. For the best tickets and offers buy your ticket in advance from http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.ukor on 08457 000125