Ode to Cornwall.

Cornwall, 1981.

Ahhhhhh, Cornwall. The scene of many happy childhood hols, but somewhere I hadn’t visited since, until last week.

Oh my, now I am completely obsessed with the plan of moving there. After three nights on the north coast, I am now consumed with thoughts of bracing sea air and cliff top walks and clotted cream. In my head, a move to the west country will result in not only a different life, but indeed an entirely different persona. My husband has suggested that my idea of being a surf instructor may be implausible, seeing as I can’t actually surf, and don’t really relish getting wet, and hate to be cold. And I am not sure he’s convinced by my plans for a yoga retreat (his objections similar in theme to those about the surf school).

In my head, with all that sea air, I am sure to transmogrify into an unlikely but wholesome mix of Cameron Diaz and George of the Famous Five, but so far, I am alone in my dreams. My only possible ally is the big girl. She was dead against a move and provided several compelling arguments why it would be a catastrophically terrible idea. After some thought, however, she returned with a point of clarification. It seems she could be persuaded to move anywhere if I’d let her have her own telly. Good to know. Her father and sister will take more work, I feel.

We are notoriously unlucky in our holiday weather. I have friends who won’t commit to summer plans until we have booked and paid for our accommodation. The two July weeks in Brittany where it rained 75% of the time (actually calculated and this doesn’t include the hailstorms) and dipped below 10 degrees on several occasions was a case in point. However, the day at the end of October when we arrived in Bude was as glorious a summer day as could be hoped for. Children frolicked in the sea in bathing costumes. It was incredible. Sadly, my children were not amongst the sea frolickers as I had dressed us FOR THE FORECAST – thank you, BBC Weather – and we were sweltering in hoodies and down coats. Still, after stripping off, so we were only boiling but not in imminent danger of heatstroke, we had a wonderful time, full of wholesome fun. I have already forgotten the irritations and squabbles that undoubtedly unfolded.

Padded coats provided a comfortable base for sunbathing on, at least.

Depressed on our return, I made a cake to rally my spirits. It was rather nice and very little faff. I recommend it. It’s plain and simple and tasty and feels like something Aunt Fanny may have packed for a day exploring Kirrin Island, i.e. marvellously good for you. I enjoy a slice as I search Rightmove for West Country property.

Clotted Cream cake

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract This Nielsen Massey stuff  is the best I’ve used. (It’s not cheap – a smaller bottle is about £5/6 in the supermarket, but it will last quite a long time and is nice if you were going to be making things like ice cream or custard at some point. Of course the cake will taste perfectly lovely if you get a supermarket vanilla extract for under a pound)
  • 225g of clotted cream – or nearest size to this available
  • 200g self raising flour.
  • Deep 20cm tin – greased with butter and lined with greaseproof paper. The bottom is the most important part to line if doing the whole thing seems a bit of a faff. If you don’t have a deep 20 cm tin, then use the closest thing you have. If you only have sandwich tins, this will be too much mixture, but you could make one and some cupcakes – obviously smaller cakes will need less time to cook (25 – 30 mins, say) If you only have a tin smaller in diameter, then the cake will be deeper and will need longer in the oven


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together (electric apparatus will be a great help here) until the mixture is pale and thick and mousse-y and the whisk leaves a thick trail when it’s lifted out of the bowl.
  3. Give the clotted cream a stir until it’s smooth and then fold it into the egg and sugar mix with a spatula or metal spoon. Be gentle so you don’t knock out all the air.
  4. Fold in the flour gently with the metal spoon/spatula and when it’s properly combined, pour it into your cake tin and smooth the top.
  5. Place it in the middle of the oven. It should take 50-60 mins to cook properly but check after about 40 mins. It won’t be cooked in the middle yet, but if the top is looking brown you could drape a piece of silver foil loosely over the top of the tin for the rest of the cooking time to stop it burning.
  6. It will be done when it’s a lovely golden colour and firm enough that when you press it, it springs back. If you poke a cake tester or a piece of spaghetti in the middle it will come out with no cake mix sticking to it.
  7. Leave it to cool in the tin for 15 mins or so and then allow to come to room temperature on a wire rack. If you don’t have one, the rack in a grill pan will do perfectly well.

It’ll keep for a few days in an airtight tin, or wrapped in foil and is very nice on it’s own with a cup of tea. Or with whipped cream and berries. If the clotted cream isn’t quite enough. It sometimes isn’t for me.

Seriously though. Why wouldn’t we just move here?

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