A Nostalgic Return to St. Mawes

There’s something about me many of you may not know. When I was a child, my father worked for Royal Typewriter in Hartford and spent a considerable amount of time on business trips with the Imperial Typewriter Company in England. While working in England, a business associate told him about a beautiful seaside village in Cornwall known as St. Mawes. We first traveled there when I was 13 and during the next 10 years, I spent many summers in St. Mawes. This is why I love things from England so much. When I met David, I told him about this perfect seaside village that I was certain would remain unchanged and promised that someday we would visit it together. Today we were able to make that journey on what was truly a memorable day.

St Mawes is located on a remote peninsula in Cornwall. This morning we learned that due to high swells, the ferries from Falmouth would not be running. Instead we drove through the countryside on narrow winding roads with high hedgerows to the edge of the River Fal and took the King Harry Ferry on a five minute car ferry ride across pulled by chains. I remember it well from my childhood so was excited when I saw the website that said, “Experience the chains.”

We arrived at the southern part of St Mawes and parked in the car lot at the castle overlooking the sea. Today the castle has a visitor’s center and has been restored with cannons, wooden beam ceilings, and glass windows. Years ago I remember it only as an old abandoned castle on a windswept point of land.

Walking down the winding lane to the village, I recognized it all, The whitewashed houses looked the same and even a large house covered with ivy with a thatched roof was still there and beautifully maintained. We stopped in at the Hotel Tresanton, a hotel where we first started staying when I was in my late teens. The rooms of course did not look anything like my old brochure showing comfortable furniture covered with floral fabric. Instead, it has been beautifully updated and is quite elegant. I showed the woman at the reception my brochure and she was very welcoming, She told us that most of the same guests return year after year just as we had long ago. I had a little book I had written as a teenager about St. Mawes and the hotel and it was fun to read the story of how I had seen this place long ago. The small stuffed rabbit featured in the book still travels with me today.

Down by the pier in town, little had changed. Sailboats bobbed in the harbor, people strolled down by the sea wall eating ice cream, dogs raced on the pebble beach, and children were crabbing. We saw a young girl release her tiny crabs back into the water. As they scuttled down the slipway, she chased a seagull away and called out goodbye to the crabs.

As a child, my favorite hotel was the Idle Rocks. It’s right on the water and used to have a beach vibe to it. I knew that it is now considered elite and although the people were very nice, encouraging us to explore, it was very upmarket and people were dressed up just sitting around in the lounge. “St. Mawes is the Hamptons of England,” our hosts at our accommodation had told us. We learned that Prince Charles and Camilla go there. We walked out on the terrace and I found the exact same spot where I had my picture taken with a boy from Wales when I was 13. He was a guest and we used to play Monopoly together in the lounge of the hotel but back at school that fall I showed everyone the photo and said he was my Welsh boyfriend.

Walking back to the car at the castle, memories of being in St Mawes came flooding back to me. Some people wonder if it’s possible to go back to place you once loved years later. I believe that you can if you are open to places reinventing themselves to keep up with the modern world. Yes, St. Mawes is now part of the modern world; too, but for me, it will always be special.

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