Nothing beats St Ives on a warm sunny day, sitting at one of the many excellent cafes overlooking clear turquoise sea - except perhaps a stormy day, when Atlantic breakers roll in and the surfers hit the beaches. Spring and early summer in Cornwall is a lovely time of year, with the first snowdrops and daffodils giving way to wild garlic and scarlet campion along the hedge banks, pink thrift along the coast, and the famously beautiful, clear light.
Leo's Cottage has arguably the best sea views in town, and is in the heart of Downalong, the old fishing quarter - a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, artists studios and cafes. A quiet No Through Road and sea wall are all that separate the house from Bamaluz beach - a small cove with year round, unrestricted access for dog walkers and a golden, sandy beach at low tide.
Built around 1840, the house has been modernised (WiFi, heating, great showers, comfy mattresses, shaver sockets, dishwasher, washing machine, microwave) but its soul is still intact. You'll find interesting art, vintage furniture, fluffy towels, Egyptian cotton bed linen and a place that feels like home, painted in shades of chalky white and grey to reflect St Ives wonderful light. Floors are wooden or tiled, making it practical for pets and families with children.
- The South West Coastal path goes right past the door.
- A few seconds to the right is the harbour with its cafes, shops, pubs and pale gold sandy beach.
- Five minutes to the left: Porthgwidden beach, with its wonderful cafe. A great spot for swimming.
- Well-equipped kitchen, cosy breakfast room, seats eight
- Porch with stable doors facing the quiet street outside and the sea
- Tide clock: half past low tide or quarter to high?
Living room: Views to Godrevy Lighthouse and across St Ives Bay to make the most jaded heart sing. Facing east-west, this room gets wonderful light, morning and afternoon. Furnished with vintage finds and art from local galleries, the room runs the length of the second floor.
You might spot dolphins and seals, along with cormorants, kittiwakes, turnstones and other seabirds.
Two sofas, two armchairs, window seat and space for children to play, plus:
- Books, DVDs, Plasma screen TV/DVD player with Freeview channels and iPod dock, board games, cards.
- Double sofa bed, proper sprung mattress
- Small sofa
- Small bureau
- Turkish rugs
- Blankets for afternoon snoozes
Sea-facing area with sofabed can be curtained off for privacy.
West-facing rear window overlooks a small patio, a very quiet road and other fisherman's cottages.
- Multicoloured slate floors, white suite, limestone walls
- Bath with over bath power shower
- Shaver sockets
- Mirrored cabinets
- Heated towel rail
- Master bedroom - wonderful sea views, window seat; ensuite (walk in shower, basin, loo, shaver socket); wardrobe
- Smaller double, and small single room - both with views of the slate roofs and quaint streets of Downalong
- All have pretty mirrors, under bed storage, hanging space and chests of drawers.
- Landing cupboard with space to hang clothes
At the front of the house:
- A hose to wash down boards and sandy feet
- A porch to store wellies, coats and beach gear
- Stable doors open on to the quiet road outside.
To the rear
A small courtyard with a clothes line. The steps up to what was once the front door catch the afternoon sun.